Is forensic psychology a good career?

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Random18374748
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So I’m starting uni in September and I will be doing a psychology degree and my aim is to become a forensic psychologist.
Many people say it’s not worth it, it’s so hard trying to get accepted onto the masters course etc.
I just wanted a few opinions and a little more info about the career, like the income, is there much job availability etc. is it worth me doing the degree?
It is something I have always been passionate about and is so so interesting.
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Coventry University Student Ambassadors
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(Original post by Random18374748)
So I’m starting uni in September and I will be doing a psychology degree and my aim is to become a forensic psychologist.
Many people say it’s not worth it, it’s so hard trying to get accepted onto the masters course etc.
I just wanted a few opinions and a little more info about the career, like the income, is there much job availability etc. is it worth me doing the degree?
It is something I have always been passionate about and is so so interesting.
Hi there,

In terms of job availability, the main employer of forensic psychologists is HM Prison Service. However, there are also opportunities in the broader criminal justice field and elsewhere and you may be employed by the Home Office, police, social services, NHS, social services, universities, etc. When it comes to salary, trainee forensic psychologists working for HM Prison Service (HMPS) can be paid a starting salary of between £27,021 and £34,461.Fully-qualified, registered psychologists within HMPS earn between £37,218 and £46,846, while senior registered psychologists can earn £41,586 to £53,952. Salaries for forensic psychologists within the NHS are at a similar level. Those in training are on Band 6 of the Agenda for Change (AfC) pay scale and earn £31,365 to £37,890, while fully-qualified psychologists (Band 7) earn between £38,890 and £44,503. With higher levels of experience, salaries of more than £51,668 can be reached.

I have friends who are on the master's course at the moment; they have never mentioned that it was hard to get accepted for the MSc. If that is your passion - do not hesitate. Go for it!

Hope that helps!

Ivaylo
BSc Psychology, MSc Health Psychology student
Student Ambassador at Coventry University
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bones-mccoy
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A quick Google search can give you info on what qualifications are needed to become a Forensic Psychologist, the average income and the sectors in which you can find employment.

Getting onto the MSc isn't the difficult part, really, it's finding relevant employment afterwards and getting onto the DClinPsy or Stage 2 which are the most competitive. The most important thing to bear in mind imo is the dedication and effort required to become a qualified psychologist - it's certainly not something that happens overnight and you need to be resilient and prepare for disappointments along the way. Most FP's end up doing an undergrad, MSc and then a doctoral level qualification, plus work experience inbetween, so it takes at least 7 years to qualify.
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Kaila2464
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(Original post by bones-mccoy)
A quick Google search can give you info on what qualifications are needed to become a Forensic Psychologist, the average income and the sectors in which you can find employment.

Getting onto the MSc isn't the difficult part, really, it's finding relevant employment afterwards and getting onto the DClinPsy or Stage 2 which are the most competitive. The most important thing to bear in mind imo is the dedication and effort required to become a qualified psychologist - it's certainly not something that happens overnight and you need to be resilient and prepare for disappointments along the way. Most FP's end up doing an undergrad, MSc and then a doctoral level qualification, plus work experience inbetween, so it takes at least 7 years to qualify.
I thought you only needed a DClinPsy if you plan to become a clinical psychologist? I plan on becoming a clinical psychologist but in case that didn’t work out I was looking into forensic psychology
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bones-mccoy
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(Original post by Kaila2464)
I thought you only needed a DClinPsy if you plan to become a clinical psychologist? I plan on becoming a clinical psychologist but in case that didn’t work out I was looking into forensic psychology
Apologies, I meant the DForenPsy. You need a doctoral level qualification to become either.
Last edited by bones-mccoy; 5 months ago
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cjkpsych
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Hi,

I'm currently on this path myself.

As others have said, the FP MSc is relatively easy to get onto following a psychology degree as long as you have some relevant work experience or volunteering to back you up. I would recommend volunteering for organisations such as Victim Support or the like as they don't require too much personal time but it gives a good introduction to multi-disciplinary working and the CJS.

Following the MSc, you have two routes - doctoral qualification or BPS/PgDip Stage 2.

Doctoral:
Currently two universities offer the Stage 2 doctorates. University of Birmingham offers a 3 year course with an integrated MSc in Applied Forensic Practice (if you leave after the first year I believe). The MSc is not a requirement however from everything I've heard, you would need extensive other experience to get on without it. Speaking from personal experience, I would not have been ready for doctoral training straight out of undergrad. This is covered by the doctoral student loan, however there currently is a difference of around £6-7k as the loan doesn't cover the fees. And the placements are unpaid unless you're lucky enough to find somewhere to sponsor you doing the course.
University of Nottingham offer both the 3 year doctorate which has an MSc as the first year, or a 2-year top up which you would need 60% in your accredited MSc to qualify for as well as 100 days supervised by a qualified psychologist. Getting the 100 days is where a lot of people struggle, as in the Prison Service they don't tend to hire APs and the roles supervised by a psychologist are usually forensic psychologist in training whilst which you would complete the independent stage 2 route. The 3 year version is covered by student loan (although not completely as above) but the top-up doesn't qualify for the student loan and would therefore need to be self-funded. The placements here are also often unpaid.

Stage 2:
These routes are usually completed by forensic psychologist in training within HMPPS. Sometimes these roles also come up in the HS, although as someone else has mentioned, HMPPS are the biggest employers of FPs.
These routes are completed whilst you're working, so even if the workplace won't pay the fees, you have a job to use to pay them. FPiT recruitment has recently moved to a national campaign whereby they recruit once a year through assessment centres (you need a completed MSc at this point) and look at placing you if successful. However these positions are extremely competitive; through the grapevine I heard for the last recruitment in May 2021, there were over 1000 applications for just 150 places.

From personal experience, what I wish I did was complete the undergraduate degree and then get a job as an Interventions Facilitator within HMPPS. This role does not require a degree, but involves working in a prison, delivering the offending behaviour programmes (which qualified psychologists and trainees also deliver) to the prisoners. You would be in the programmes department rather than the psychology department, but it's very hands-on and there's a lot of communication between departments. I did undergrad and MSc then IF role. In hindsight, the MSc would've been much easier following my role as an IF after seeing the theories etc come to life in a practical setting.

In summary, becoming a forensic psychologist is a very long road and very competitive. It's also not very well funded compared to other routes such as the Clinical Psychology doctoral students who get paid a wage and their fees paid by the NHS. There is good progression as a FP within HMPPS and the NHS, and I've seen psychologists move up to senior/lead/regional relatively quickly so long term it can be a rewarding and worthwhile career - just be prepared for a long 7/8 years to qualification!
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