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Forensic Scientist vs. Forensic Psychologist: What Are the Differences?

Learn about the two careers and review some of the similarities and differences between them.

Forensic science and psychology are two interesting and complex fields. If you’re considering a career in either field, you may be wondering how they differ. Forensic scientists use scientific methods to collect and analyze evidence, while forensic psychologists use psychological principles to understand and interpret human behavior. In this article, we compare and contrast these two professions, highlighting the key differences between them.

What is a Forensic Scientist?

Forensic Scientists are responsible for collecting, preserving and analyzing scientific evidence related to criminal and civil cases. They may work in a crime lab or in the field, collecting evidence from crime scenes. Forensic Scientists use their knowledge of chemistry, biology and physics to analyze evidence and solve crimes. They may specialize in a particular area of forensic science, such as fingerprints, DNA or ballistics. Forensic Scientists typically work for government agencies or private companies and must have at least a bachelor’s degree in a natural science.

What is a Forensic Psychologist?

Forensic Psychologists are trained in psychology and use their knowledge to assist in legal matters. They may work with police departments to help profile criminals, work with lawyers to select jurors for a case or provide psychological evaluations of witnesses or defendants. Forensic Psychologists may also work with victims of crimes to help them recover and heal emotionally. In some cases, Forensic Psychologists may be asked to testify in court about their findings.

Forensic Scientist vs. Forensic Psychologist

Here are the main differences between a forensic scientist and a forensic psychologist.

Job Duties

Forensic psychologists conduct evaluations to determine a person’s mental state and whether they are fit to stand trial. They may also evaluate a defendant’s competency, sanity or criminal history. These professionals rely on scientific methods to gather information about a person’s behavior and thoughts.

Forensic scientists use evidence gathered at crime scenes to identify suspects. They may analyze fingerprints, DNA samples, blood stains or other physical evidence. These experts use scientific methods to help law enforcement agencies solve crimes.

Job Requirements

Forensic scientists typically need at least a bachelor’s degree in forensic science or a related field, such as biology, chemistry or physics. Many also pursue internships or fellowships to gain experience in the field. Some states also require forensic scientists to be licensed.

Forensic psychologists usually need a doctorate in psychology, which can take four to seven years to earn. They must also complete an internship and pass a professional exam. Some states also require forensic psychologists to be licensed.

Work Environment

Forensic psychologists typically work in an office setting, but they may also travel to meet with clients. They may also visit prisons and other facilities where people are incarcerated. Forensic psychologists often work long hours, especially when working on a case or during trial periods.

Forensic scientists usually work in laboratories, although some may work for the police department or another law enforcement agency. They may spend most of their time at work performing tests and analyzing evidence. Forensic scientists can also work overtime if there is a rush on completing a test or analysis.


Forensic scientists and forensic psychologists both use scientific skills to analyze evidence and solve crimes. Forensic scientists typically have a background in chemistry, biology or another science, while forensic psychologists usually have a background in psychology.

Both professions require strong analytical skills to examine evidence and draw conclusions from it. They also both need to be able to communicate their findings clearly, whether they are writing reports or testifying in court.

Forensic scientists use their technical skills to perform tests on evidence, such as DNA analysis or bloodstain pattern analysis. They also need to be able to operate complex laboratory equipment. Forensic psychologists use their interviewing and assessment skills to interview witnesses and suspects. They also use their knowledge of psychology to understand why people commit crimes and to help develop profiles of unknown criminals.


Forensic scientists earn an average salary of $67,721 per year, while forensic psychologists earn an average salary of $96,025 per year. Both of these salaries may vary depending on the level of education you have, the state in which you work and the type of employer you work for.


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