Criminal Psychologist

By Spencer Daniel

Description of Occupation

  • A large part of what a criminal psychologist does is study why people commit crimes. However, they may also be asked to assess criminals in order to evaluate the risk of recidivism (how likely the person is to re-offend in the future) or make educated guesses about the actions that a criminal may have taken after committing a crime. In addition to helping law enforcement solve crimes or analyze the behavior of criminal offenders, criminal psychologists are also often asked to provide expert testimony in court.

Education Requirements/Job Outlook/Salary Range

Educational Requirements

  • Ph.D. or Psy.D.
  • Other Requirements Depending on one's educational path, internships and licensure may be required.

Projected Job Growth (2012-2022)

  • *12% (for all psychologists)

Median Salary (2015)

  • **$60,880 (for criminal psychologists)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics; **


Working Conditions

  1. Many people who work in this field spend a great deal of time in office and court settings. A criminal psychologist might spend a considerable amount of time interviewing people, researching an offender’s life history, or providing expert testimony in the courtroom.
  2. In some cases, criminal psychologists may work closely with police and federal agents to help solve crimes, often by developing profiles of murderers, kidnappers, rapists, and other violent individuals.
  3. Criminal psychologists are employed in a number of settings. Some work for local, state or federal government, while others are self-employed as independent consultants.
  4. In addition to working directly with law enforcement and the courts, criminal psychologists may also be employed as private consultants. Still others opt to teach criminal psychology at the university level or at specialized criminology training facilities.