With a master's degree in forensic psychology there are many career options. Some careers individuals with this education pursue include a correctional officer, parole or probation officer, or counselor.
The discipline of forensic psychology applies common psychological theories and practice to the field of criminal justice and the law. Graduates of master's degree programs usually cannot pursue careers as forensic psychologists due to the doctoral degree requirement of many institutions. However, many other career paths are viable, including positions as correctional officers, counselors and parole officers.
|Career||Correctional Officer||Parole or Probation Officer||Mental Health Counselor|
|Required Education||High school diploma or equivalent (for state and local corrections agencies), bachelor's (for federal corrections agencies)||Bachelor's degree||Master's degree|
|Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)*||4% (for all correctional officers and jailers)||4% (for all probation officers and correctional treatment specialists)||20%|
|Median Salary (2015)*||$40,580 (for all correctional officers and jailers)||$49,360 (for all probation officers and correctional treatment specialists)||$41,880|
Source: *US Bureau of Labor Statistics
Education Information for a Master's Degree in Forensic Psychology
Master's degree programs in forensic psychology commonly take two years of full-time study to complete, and they can take up to four years part-time. Students in forensic psychology master's degree programs can specialize in the study of topics such as child protection, domestic violence, sex offenders, the court system and corrections. Graduates of these programs gain the skills necessary to perform evaluations, interventions and rehabilitation planning for many different problems and situations.
Since a doctorate in psychology is traditionally required for employment as a psychologist, many students earn their master's degrees en route to a Ph.D. or Psy.D. However, some standalone master's degree programs are available for students pursuing other positions for which an education in forensic psychology is beneficial, such as those listed below.
Job Possibilities and Salary Info for Graduates
Correctional officers work in jails, prisons, juvenile detention centers and similar facilities. A forensic psychology degree can give these individuals a better understanding of the criminal mind, helping them in their interactions with inmates.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), correctional officers and jailers employed as of May 2015 made a median salary of $40,580. The BLS projects a 4% job growth between 2014 and 2024.
Parole or Probation Officer
Sometimes known as case managers, these professionals supervise and help rehabilitate individuals who have been recently released from prison or who've been put on probation instead of being incarcerated. Forensic psychology coursework in rehabilitation, client assessment and advocacy is useful for these workers.
Probation and correctional treatment officers made a median annual salary of $49,360 as of May 2015, as reported by the BLS. The lowest-earning ten percent of workers earned $32,900 or less, and the highest-earning ten percent earned upwards of $86,140. The BLS reports a slower than average job growth of 4% for all probation officers and correctional treatment specialists.
Counselors help clients deal with issues ranging from mental health problems to substance abuse. These professionals provide clients with therapy and support. A counselor with a forensic psychology degree often works with criminal offenders, victims of crimes or those with drug or alcohol addictions.
The median annual wages of mental health counselors as of May 2015 were $41,880, according to the BLS. Substance abuse and behavioral disorders counselors earned a median of $39,980 as of May 2015.
A master's degree in forensic psychology can prepare students for work as a correctional officer, a parole or probation officer, and a mental health counselor. While all three fields are predicted to experience some growth over the next several years, the employment of mental health counselors is forecast to expand much faster than the average rate of all occupations.