In any field of study or career, there are both positives and negatives to the work that is being done. Some fields have more intense advantages and disadvantages and forensic psychology is one of those fields. Although the reward of helping people and making a difference in the world is high as a forensic psychologist, so is the burnout rate and the intensity of the work being done.
If you are considering becoming a forensic psychologist it is important to be aware of the pros and cons that come with the job. As long as you are aware of the positives and negatives associated with the job, it is possible to have high career satisfaction due to realistic expectations as well as tools in place to support you outside of the job.
Being a forensic psychologist is an important and necessary job and your work and dedication to the career will always be appreciated as it is not a job that just anyone can do and it takes specific skills and commitment to succeed.
Advantage: A Rapidly Growing Field
As the world progresses, it has shown a continued need to understand the human mind and its capabilities in both a positive and negative aspect. Technology and history have allowed humans to continue to learn more and more about the human condition and behaviors. As doctors and scientists continue to learn more about the brain, the need to understand the motivations behind criminal behavior is key. This is where forensic psychologists come in and apply the research they have used to help the criminal justice system.
As a future forensic psychologist, you will be kept up to date with emerging forensic technologies and research used in the field. Using the cutting-edge technology you will improve research, help solve criminal cases and support the victims of crimes by providing answers and closure more effectively and efficiently. If you are someone that thrives with change and fast-paced work as well as intellectual challenge, this rapidly growing career is a great fit.
Disadvantage: Burnout Happens Easily
As to be expected, forensic psychology is an intense career both physically and emotionally. Long hours can occur in the middle of a case or research project that can lead to a not-so-healthy work-life balance. If you choose to work with the victims involved in the crime it can be intense to help victims heal from the trauma they have experienced.
It can also begin to take a toll emotionally if you focus too much on all of the heartbreaking things that sometimes happen in the criminal justice world. This is definitely a job where you need to be able to compartmentalize and leave work at work once you are off the clock. The good news about the burnout rate is that people in the field are well aware and there are things you can put in place to help.
Making sure that you have your own support system for your mental health is key, and many psychologists recommend seeing a therapist for themselves personally. Exercise and adequate sleep are also a priority for those working in the field as you can have extremely long days in the middle of a case. As long as you make sure to take care of yourself while working, you can work to avoid burnout and keep a balanced life.
Advantage: A Variety of Options
Forensic psychology is a complex and dynamic field with a variety of opportunities available for jobs. You can work in either the private or public sector. There are opportunities to work in the criminal justice system or to focus more on the research behind forensics psychology.
As you gain experience in the field and are ready for a change, you can move into different roles. Often those that work in one area of the field in the beginning, such as starting out in a mental health facility may then switch roles to work as a researcher in a university setting. Typically individuals that enter the career enjoy fast-paced work and will enjoy the variety of options available as a forensic psychologist.
Disadvantage: Slow Start to Your Career
Becoming a forensic psychologist takes a lot of patience, time, and dedication. Before you can actually begin to make money in the field you’ll be in school for a while earning degrees. Many jobs require a higher-level degree such as a master’s degree or even a doctorate which can mean a minimum of seven years of schooling.
Forensic psychology has a variety of different requirements for licensing and internships as well depending on which path you take. The salary also starts out a little lower and takes time to build. The good news is there is room for growth in the field and raises do occur.
Advantage: Flexible Schedule
Many professionals benefit from having a flexible schedule and becoming a forensic psychologist often allows for flexibility in your day-to-day tasks and schedule. After you become established in your career it’s also possible to open your own independent practice where you can set your own schedule that works with your lifestyle.
Whether you’re doing research or working on a case and meeting with victims, you can often set the hours that you are working. This flexibility is a major advantage in this career as many careers don’t offer this kind of leniency in a schedule. This also allows for time for yourself which can help with avoiding burnout.
As important as it is to think about the disadvantages and advantages of becoming a forensic psychologist, it’s also important to remember that this would be true for any career choice as there is no such thing as a perfect job. However, if you are looking for a career that provides intellectual challenges as well as helps others, then becoming a forensic psychologist may be as close to perfect as you can get in your career choice.