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Posted at: Oct 4, 2017, 12:36 AM; last updated: Oct 4, 2017, 12:36 AM (IST)CAREER COMPASS: CRIMINAL PSYCHOLOGIST

Equipped to map a criminal mind

Work profile

  • A criminal psychologist can be hired by the state or a private party. Those qualified can even work as freelance consultants or instructors at various institutes.
  • Teaching the subject can be another career option.
  • The job of a criminal psychologist requires you to be extremely patient when it comes to procuring information.

Anuja Kapur

A modern subject, used to investigate criminals, is a boon for law enforcement agencies of any country. In India too, the subject has found many takers.

A course in criminal psychology is ideal for those  are interested in reading people’s mind. The subject not only entails study of a criminal’s psyche, but is also about his behavioural patterns. Criminal psychologists have to be thorough with the legal regulations to work in tandem with the police and judicial system. They are trained to see the world discreetly. 

Criminal psychologists can extract information about the accused just by analysing his body language. They can trace everything about the subject in question, be it his ulterior motive or the course of action. They do a holistic study of the criminal’s background and even his acquaintances to understand what provoked him to commit a crime. Every minute detail is strained through to turn it into a reliable piece of information. When involved in a case, criminal psychologists cannot turn a blind eye to any aspect. In fact, they look at the same thing from different perspectives.   

It is the duty of criminal psychologists  to furnish the authorities with a complete psychological categorisation of the suspect. This further helps the agencies to make strategies and suggestions that can be used in the interrogation process. Psychologists are also great counsellors. In their own way, they exert pressure on the suspect to bring out the truth

Make a beginning

An aspiring clinical psychologist can be from science or humanities stream. Interested candidates must apply for this course at the undergraduate level, which is for three years. A degree in humanities or science is mandatory for those who want to pursue criminal psychology at the post graduate level. 

Many elite colleges provide admission for undergraduate courses on the basis of Plus II scores. Some institutes also conduct a separate exam to assess the aptitude of the applicants. 

Know the basics

Formal education, both theoretical and practical, is necessary in order to become a licensed psychologist. It takes about five years to complete the education, which includes classroom work, practical training, research, and a dissertation.

It’s always beneficial to know about the pros and cons of any profession before choosing it. A hasty decision of taking up this profession can be detrimental for you. It takes a lot of hard work, and courage to become a criminal psychologist as there are many risks involved. You become the virtual binocular of the police and can be summoned any time to testify. Those interested must assist a veteran in this field to have a first-hand experience. You may undergo firearm training as well, especially if hired by an intelligence agency.  

Scope and need

The demand for criminal psychologists will be everlasting in our society that is plagued by crime. Our country, thus, needs criminal psychologists in large numbers. As mentioned earlier, they prove to be a great support to the police. Decisions are taken only after taking their inputs. This makes them great advisers. 

Though time consuming,  this profession offers many exciting challenges.

— The writer is a practising criminal psychologist 


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