Criminal psychologists, also known as forensic psychologists, interact directly with a variety of criminals, both alleged and convicted. Criminologists view crime from a different vantage point, creating an understanding of criminality from statistics within social systems. Both occupations work to reduce the impact of crime in society.
Criminologists and criminal psychologists attend post-secondary institutions to obtain a master's degree or a Ph.D. in their respective fields. Criminologists usually need a master's degree or Ph.D. in sociological fields such as forensic science or criminology. (see references 1) Criminal psychologists study forensic psychology, a field that requires familiarity with a broad range of disciplines, including law, psychological investigation and analysis, mental disorders and patient treatment. (see references 2) Due to these significant educational prerequisites, criminologists and criminal psychologists spend many years earning their degrees.
What They Do
Criminal psychologists focus on individual patients while criminologists delve into systemic issues involving criminal behavior. The duties of a criminologist emphasize research -- gathering statistics and reports, conducting interviews, hosting focus groups and performing surveys. This information provides the raw data necessary to spot trends and learn about the causes and effects of crime. (See references 3) Criminal psychologists perform diagnostic examination and analyses of patients. These findings inform the court of issues such as competency to stand trial and danger to the public. These psychologists also provide treatment for patients and testimony as witnesses. (See references 4)
Where They Work
Criminal psychologists work with patients in a variety of different correctional facilities as well as hospitals. They also work in courtroom settings when providing expert testimony to judges, lawyers and juries. (see references 4, page 3) Many Criminologists work in police stations, enjoying direct access to detailed statistics. Similar to psychologists, criminologists conduct interviews, surveys and detailed analyses of prison and hospital populations. Due to the vast amount of crime information on the Internet, they also can conduct research anywhere an Internet connection is found. (See references 3)
Pay and Outlook
Criminal psychologists earn an average of $52,000 per year. With enough experience and education that amount can increase to more than $100,000. (see references 5) The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that demand for criminal psychologists will rise approximately 14 percent between 2008 and 2018. (see references 6) During this same period of time, criminology-related jobs are slated to increase by 22 percent for the private sector and 5 to 17 percent for the public sector. Criminologists pay ranges from $28,731 up to approximately $80,000. (see references 7)
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