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Forensic Psychology Salary: What You’ll Earn

Forensic psychology could be lucrative once you’ve earned your degree. Here are some salary ranges.

classroom of students raising their hands
classroom of students raising their hands

Median Annual Salaries

Forensic psychologists are part of the larger field of psychologists as far as salaries are reported, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ 2021 Occupational Employment Statistics. Take a look at median annual salaries by state here.

Psychologists, All Other

National data

Median Salary: $102,900

Projected job growth: 2.8%

10th Percentile: $39,760

25th Percentile: $73,910

75th Percentile: $120,240

90th Percentile: $133,200

Projected job growth: 2.8%

State data

State Median Salary Bottom 10% Top 10%
Alaska $113,340 $74,360 $137,780
Alabama $104,420 $39,560 $123,800
Arkansas $95,200 $26,230 $119,770
Arizona $105,000 $47,780 $124,090
California $116,490 $52,520 $165,060
Connecticut $113,570 $42,180 $133,760
District of Columbia $105,300 $51,670 $135,030
Florida $104,720 $48,690 $127,590
Georgia $101,340 $64,650 $119,770
Hawaii $105,640 $23,680 $142,380
Iowa $113,630 $62,350 $129,040
Idaho $92,120 $48,920 $113,630
Illinois $101,600 $38,310 $130,050
Indiana $98,280 $39,380 $120,790
Kansas $102,380 $29,350 $122,150
Kentucky $104,420 $64,270 $121,330
Louisiana $103,040 $43,720 $119,930
Massachusetts $112,860 $49,170 $133,370
Maryland $114,050 $52,170 $159,700
Maine $72,790 $48,770 $104,420
Michigan $64,650 $39,340 $121,410
Minnesota $64,500 $39,560 $130,360
Missouri $105,960 $46,760 $121,530
Mississippi $92,120 $26,230 $119,770
North Carolina $96,430 $46,890 $119,770
North Dakota $101,360 $48,920 $128,380
New Jersey $98,680 $38,210 $127,750
New Mexico $101,980 $26,350 $120,540
Nevada $99,740 $48,920 $128,770
New York $110,550 $30,160 $138,400
Ohio $105,500 $39,090 $132,390
Oklahoma $99,420 $39,630 $124,900
Oregon $108,160 $49,190 $169,620
Pennsylvania $107,540 $50,520 $130,210
Rhode Island $62,410 $29,820 $151,680
South Carolina $110,550 $47,580 $136,840
South Dakota $101,340 $26,230 $119,770
Texas $105,930 $52,960 $127,130
Utah $104,420 $44,990 $135,690
Virginia $107,630 $61,550 $134,780
Vermont $98,280 $77,020 $119,770
Washington $111,030 $56,730 $131,210
Wisconsin $95,200 $46,580 $124,690
West Virginia $40,730 $31,140 $110,550
Wyoming $113,630 $26,230 $169,620

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) 2021 median salary; projected job growth through 2031. Actual salaries vary depending on location, level of education, years of experience, work environment, and other factors. Salaries may differ even more for those who are self-employed or work part time.

What’s my earning potential?

Salaries for forensic psychologists can be excellent, with the BLS reporting that the top 10 percent of psychologists earned more than $133,200. As with most psychology careers, experience and chosen field of specialty play an enormous factor in salary.

How do forensic psychology salaries compare to other psychology careers?

Career Median Annual Salary
Psychologists, All Other $102,900
Industrial-Organizational Psychologists $105,310
Clinical and Counseling Psychologists $82,510
School Psychologists $78,780

What is the job growth for the field?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of psychologists is expected to grow 6 percent through 2031, which is on par with all other careers. This growth will add 11,300 psychologists to the workforce. Why? Due to an aging population and health care costs associated with unhealthy lifestyles, personal and family problems and crime and punishment, there will be increased demand for forensic psychology professionals in schools, law enforcement agencies, social service agencies, consulting firms, and mental health centers.

With the growing interest in this popular field, jobs will most likely go to those with doctoral degrees, while master’s degree-holders will find the road to entry into the forensic psychology workplace highly competitive. National long-term projections of employment growth may not reflect local and/or short-term economic or job conditions and do not guarantee actual job growth.

How much competition will I face for a job?

Job prospects will be best for forensic psychologists with a doctoral degree. Graduates with a master’s degree will find stiff competition for jobs because of the limited number of forensic psychology positions that require only a master’s degree. Bachelor’s degree holders will also be limited in the forensic psychology careers they may pursue, although some might find work as an assistant in a rehabilitation center.

What kinds of companies hire forensic psychologists?

Often, people in forensics will work as independent contractors and consultants. According to the BLS, forensic psychologists are most frequently employed by the following types of industries or offices:

  • Federal executive branches
  • Health practitioners offices
  • Prosecutors’ offices
  • Law firms
  • Insurance companies

How do I advance in my forensic psychology career?

Education is key to forensic psychologists, and those who provide expert analysis or testimony often have a master’s degree or doctorate. In addition, those who provide expert testimony need many years of work experience in their profession, as well as a sterling reputation in the field. If you decide you want to take the educational route to become a forensic pathologist, you’ll need to earn a medical degree and complete a residency program, as well as get board certified in forensic pathology.

Experience in law enforcement, legal procedures, and computer science may also help advance your career within the field of forensic psychology.

Like any profession, forensic psychology has its exciting days and its routine ones. In the end, however, the research, analysis and informed opinions that forensic psychologists produce have a powerful impact on the criminal justice system and the public at large.