Forensic Psychologist Salary
How much does a forensic psychologist make? According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (bls.gov), psychologists in general make an average of $68,640 annually. The American Psychological Association (APA), which categorizes forensic psychologists as practitioners of applied psychology, found that the mean salary for careers in this category was somewhat higher, at $85,000.
The forensic psychology salary in an academic, hospital or other institutional setting is in keeping with the salaries of his peers in other applied psychology positions. However, a forensic psychologist in private practice has the potential to earn a great deal more. In a well-established private practice with a good reputation and a strong network within the legal system, a forensic psychologist can earn $200,000 to $400,000 annually. At this level of earning, long days and nights are required, with 12-hour stretches of work the rule as trials approach.
Forensic Psychologist Job Description
The APA first recognized forensic psychology as a distinct specialization in 2001. Forensic psychologists work in all the areas where law and psychology intersect, providing assessments and treatments to those involved in the legal system. They find roles in the courts, mental health facilities, treatment facilities, law enforcement agencies, correctional institutions, in teaching roles at universities, and in private practice. Many forensic psychologist positions require close work with lawyers, court officers, police officers and medical professionals. Duties and responsibilities vary according to the nature of the forensic psychologist’s position.
Forensic Psychologist Duties
- Interview and assess participants in criminal and civil trials
- Assess the public reaction to a crime
- Evaluate juries
- Provide reports to courts and attorneys
- Prepare police officers for community engagement
Alternate Job Titles
Workplace titles for forensic psychologists often indicate the sub-specializations they practice within the field. Some of these specializations include victimologist, police psychologist, and correctional psychologist.
How To Become A Forensic Psychologist
A forensic psychologist may prepare for his role in graduate school, with a specialized curriculum, or he may come to it after years of clinical practice in another specialty. As is the case with all areas of clinical psychology, becoming a forensic psychologist is an arduous, time-consuming, and study-intensive path.
How Long Does It Take To Become A Forensic Psychologist?
Typically, a forensic psychologist has spent four years in school as an undergraduate, followed by another four to seven years in graduate school. This latter variation depends on the type of graduate degree the student pursues: a research-based Ph.D., for example, can require a full seven years to complete, while the more practice-based P.Sc. can be finished in as few as four years. Which to choose depends on the intended focus of the forensic psychology career.
In order to practice as a forensic psychologist, a doctoral degree in psychology is required. A Ph.D. or an Ed. D. is useful to those who intend to go into academic careers or research-heavy roles. For those who plan to practice in a clinical or counseling setting, a Ps.C. provides adequate training and background.
It not necessary that the graduate degree be earned in a forensic psychology program. While some students seek out programs designed particularly for future practitioners in the field, few schools offer such specialized degrees. For the most part, psychology students with an interest in forensics choose their focus within a more general program. That the program is accredited by a nationally recognized body, such as the American Psychological Association (APA) or the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards (ASPPB), allows for later certification and licensure. For some, the path to forensic psychology begins only after they have undertaken their professional lives as they gain experience in the workplace.
In order to enhance their knowledge of the law, some students combine a doctorate in psychology with a J.D, or juris doctor. This serves to make them more appealing to attorneys or other potential clients. Similarly, a degree in neuropsychology, the study of how brain structure affects behavior, can be of great use to a forensic psychologist. Earning either of these degrees adds several years to the education required in the profession.
Professional certification for forensic psychologists is administered by the American Board of Forensic Psychologists (ABFB) working in conjunction with the American Board of Professional Psychology (ABPP). Certification is voluntary, and indicates that the applicant has completed educational and training requirements that make him suitable to practice the profession. It has no relationship to state licensure.
The licensing requirements for forensic psychologists vary from one state to another. Generally, however, an applicant must have earned a doctoral degree from an accredited program, have accumulated supervised practice hours, and pass the Exam for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP). What constitutes a passing score on the EPPP in one state may not in another; because of this and other differences in the licensing process, check each state board for its specifics.
The demand for forensic psychologists is increasing. Positions for psychologists in general are expected to increase by around 22 percent over the next decade. Uses for psychologists within the legal profession are increasing as well, and currently the need for forensic psychologists outstrips demand.
States With Highest Employment Levels (All Psychologists)
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