Forensic Psychology Salary: What You’ll Earn

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

Median Annual Salary

forensic-psychology-salaryForensic psychologists are part of the larger field of psychologists.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ current Occupational Outlook Handbook, the median national annual salary for psychologists is $75,230.

Actual salaries may vary greatly based on specialization within the field, location, years of experience and a variety of other factors.

What’s my earning potential?

Salaries for forensic psychologists can be excellent, with the BLS reporting that the top 10 percent earned more than $121,000. 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?

Psychology Career Median Annual Salary*
General Psychologists $75,230
Organizational Psychologists $82,760
Clinical, Counseling and School Psychologists $73,270

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ 2018-19 Occupational Outlook Handbook; Psychologists.

*The salary information listed is based on a national average, unless noted. Actual salaries may vary greatly based on specialization within the field, location, years of experience and a variety of other factors. 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.

What is the job growth for the field?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of psychologists is expected to grow 14 percent through 2026, which is much faster than average. This growth will add 32,500 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:

  • Police departments
  • Government agencies
  • Prosecutors’ offices
  • Law firms
  • Insurance companies
  • Hospitals
  • Consulting firms

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.

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