Job type

Forensic psychologist

£31k - £65k

Typical salary

37 – 39

Hours per week

Forensic psychologists explore what makes people commit crimes.

More info

  • Use psychological knowledge and techniques to help solve crimes and protect the public
  • Rewarding work as part of a team to investigate, solve and prevent criminal behaviour
  • You'll need emotional strength to cope with seeing distressing crimes and working with those who commit them

As a forensic psychologist, you'll use your specialist knowledge of psychological theory and criminal behaviour to support police investigations through criminal profiling; rehabilitate and treat offenders or patients in prisons, high security hospitals and specialist mental health residential units; support prison staff and other professionals within the welfare or criminal and civil justice systems; and carry out research to improve and develop professional practice.


  • Work with offenders to help them understand and overcome their problems and behaviour patterns
  • Prepare specialist risk assessments for offenders
  • Advise on the best location for prisoners
  • Develop treatment and rehabilitation programmes
  • Provide psychological therapy
  • Offer expert advice to parole boards, mental health review tribunals or court cases
  • Produce formal written reports
  • Help to write policies and strategies
  • Train and mentor new and trainee psychologists
  • Find ways to reduce stress and improve life inside prisons


You could be based in one location, or work across a number of sites like secure hospitals, prisons, rehabilitation units, secure and open residential units and police stations. You may also visit courts and tribunals to give expert witness testimony. Your work may be physically and emotionally demanding.

You'll work closely with a wide range of people, including prison officers, psychiatrists, violent or sexual offenders, young people and high-risk offenders with severe personality disorders.

You'll need

For this role, you'll need counselling skills including active listening and a non-judgemental approach, knowledge of psychology, the ability to understand people's reactions, knowledge of English Language, sensitivity and understanding, the ability to accept criticism and work well under pressure, and basic computer skills.

You'll need a British Psychological Society (BPS) accredited degree in psychology, a postgraduate master's in forensic psychology and 2 years' supervised practice. You may be able to study for an approved postgraduate conversion course, if you're a graduate in a subject other than psychology or your psychology degree is not accredited by the BPS. Some universities offer a doctorate programme in forensic psychology, which is equivalent to both an accredited master's and supervised practice.

Postgraduate training is competitive, so an upper second class degree or higher and relevant work experience is preferable.

You'll need to register with the Health and Care Professions Council.

You may be able to also start your career in HM Prison Service as an interventions facilitator. You could study for a psychology degree part time, while you work. Once completed, you could apply for trainee forensic psychologist roles.


You could progress on to run a prison psychology department, move into a policy and strategy-based role, or a management post focusing on specific issues. You could also move into freelance and consultancy work, for example as an expert witness.