When students come to talk to me about getting into graduate school and earning a degree in forensic psychology one of the most common questions is “how much can I expect to earn”? This is a good question and certainly one to consider amongst all the variables involved in a career choice. This article provides information on the earning potential of a forensic psychologist.

There are, of course, a host of other variables to consider in addition to salary, such as: whether you have the determination and drive to complete a doctoral degree; whether you would be able to handle working in forensic settings; and whether you would be fulfilled with this type of work. Interestingly (to me, at least), I never once considered how much I would make in my decision to enter this field; although, in some respects, I wish that I would have. I considered variables such as a wide variety of roles and responsibilities (so as not to get bored with my career choice), career opportunities, and flexibility (so as to be able to manage my own time, as opposed to “clocking in” at a job). I guess I just assumed that a doctoral degree would net a high-paying job. Truth be told, there is a good amount of variability in the salary that a forensic psychologist might earn but, relatively speaking, it is a profession that pays well. Not as well as some—such as business, dentistry, or software development—but well. And, of course, the salary you earn depends upon the type of employment you obtain (and all accounts confirm that you will obtain employment). The thing to remember about forensic psychology is that you have a lot of different options and a lot of potential roles so you are easily able to supplement any salary with additional income through private practice or consulting.

In a nutshell: job prospects and salaries for the field of forensic psychology look great. Forensic psychology is one of the fastest growing fields within psychology. The field of forensic psychology is in a growth stage and the need for forensic psychologists is expected to grow by around 15% through 2016, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics; a faster rate of growth than the national average. If you’ve been reading other posts on this website you will know that there is a dire need for psychologists within the correctional and mental health systems. This demand is growing and is one of the primary areas of employment opportunity within this field.

Forensic Psychology Salary

Recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that the mean annual salary for forensic psychologists is $86,510, with a range between $41,200 – $119,940. These are aggregated data that do not account for years of experience but provide a reasonable expectation regarding what one can earn with a doctoral degree in psychology.

Percentile

10%

25%

50%

(Median)

75%

90%

Annual Salary

$41,200

$64,710

$89,900

$106,090

$119,94

The following are some data provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics that might assist in career planning; however, it is important to note that these data reflect salaries at a place of employment and thus do not take into account any additional income earned through private practice or consulting, which can be a lucrative prospect.

Private/Independent Practice or Consulting – Forensic Psychology Salary – Forensic Psychologist Salary

The money to be earned in private practice or consulting in clinical forensic psychology tends to higher than that earned for private practice or consulting in clinical psychology (non-forensic). The primary reason is the additional experience and training required to be a consultant in forensic settings or for forensic issues. Private practice or consulting rates vary by experience, credentials, geography, and type of consulting but an average hourly rate for these services can range from $150 – $450 an hour. The most important caveat here is that in order to engage in private practice or consulting that involves working with forensic populations, you must be licensed; thus, you must have obtained a doctoral-level degree (PhD or PsyD). These opportunities are not available to individuals who have earned a Masters degree.

Forensic Psychology Salary – Forensic Psychologist Salary – By State

The following Bureau of Labor Statistics data show the states with the highest employment level for forensic psychologists:

State

Annual mean salary

California

$96,000

Florida

$96,380

New York

$90,590
Maryland

$97,560

Texas

$82,460

The following Bureau of Labor Statistics data show the top paying states for forensic psychologists:

State

Annual mean salary

Arizona

$102,310

New Hampshire

$97,710

Maryland

$97,560

Florida

$96,380

California

$96,000

The following Bureau of Labor Statistics data show the metropolitan areas with the highest employment levels for forensic psychologists:

Metropolitan area

Annual mean salary

Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale, CA Metropolitan Division

$88,990

New York-White Plains-Wayne, NY-NJ Metropolitan Division

$101,180

Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV Metropolitan Division

$101,760

Baltimore-Towson, MD

$85,040

Boston-Cambridge-Quincy, MA NECTA Division

$78,660

Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, FL

$83,380

Chicago-Naperville-Joliet, IL Metropolitan Division

$99,930

Pittsburgh, PA

$82,120

Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis, WI

$76,120

San Antonio, TX

$84,210

The following Bureau of Labor Statistics data show the top paying metropolitan areas for forensic psychologists:

Metropolitan area

Annual mean salary

Jacksonville, FL

$127,580

Miami-Miami Beach-Kendall, FL Metropolitan Division

$125,290

Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, AZ

$105,950

Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV Metropolitan Division

$101,760

New York-White Plains-Wayne, NY-NJ Metropolitan Division

$101,180

Tucson, AZ

$100,010

Chicago-Naperville-Joliet, IL Metropolitan Division

$99,930

Edison-New Brunswick, NJ Metropolitan Division

$98,760

Eugene-Springfield, OR

$97,920

West Palm Beach-Boca Raton-Boynton Beach, FL Metropolitan Division

$97,070

Image courtesy of Bureau of Labor Statistics