How Much Do Criminal Psychologists Make?

August 7, 2014 – 02:38 pm

Criminal psychologists can earn more than clinical psychologists.Criminal psychologists can earn more than clinical psychologists.

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A criminal psychologist is responsible for determining the reasoning behind a defendant's or a criminal’s activities and behaviors. Sometimes referred to as a forensic psychologist, these professionals work with law enforcement and sometimes testify in court cases — either on the side of the defense or the prosecution — to explain their interpretation of the accused’s mindset. Salaries in this field of psychology are similar to the national average for the occupation as a whole.


In 2011, psychologists averaged $73, 090 a year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Because high salaries of seasoned psychologists can skew this figure, the median wage is often a better indicator of earnings. About half of all psychologists earn at least $67, 880 a year or more. But both figures don’t reflect the psychologist's area of focus. A criminal psychologist is paid a different scale than, let’s say, a school psychologist.

Criminal Justice

A survey by the American Psychology Association in 2009 found that a psychologist in the criminal justice system earned a median wage of just over $80, 000 a year. The top 25 percent of criminal psychologists earned roughly $100, 000 a year or more, while the bottom 25 percent earned $65, 000 a year or less.

Related Reading: Is a Forensic Psychologist & a Criminal Profiler the Same Thing?


As with any job, education affects earnings, and a psychologist is no exception. Most psychologists in the criminal justice system need a Psy.D. degree, or a Doctor of Psychology, to practice. But wages increase with a clinical Ph.D. In fact, psychologists with a clinical Ph.D. earn roughly $9, 000 more a year than those with a Psy.D., according to the American Psychology Association.


From 2010 to 2020, psychologists are expected to experience an employment growth of 22 percent, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports. While not as fast of a job growth as those specializing in industrial-organizational psychology, which is essentially psychology of the workplace, it’s still much faster than the national average for all U.S. occupations — 14 percent.


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  • avatar How To Become a Criminal Psychologist
    • As seen on popular television shows, it is the job of the criminal psychologist to get clues and pieces of information from a crime scene. It is also his job to analyze the information he gathered to piece together a crime. It is his job to determine who the suspect is, and what his motivation is to commit the crime. Despite the ease that the actors portray in a television series, becoming a criminal psychologist is not an easy task. The path to this career often requires detours that will take you back to school. It usually takes at least eleven years of study to qualify for this job. …

  • avatar What is the starting pay for a criminal psychologist?
    • The starting pay is about $60,000. for now.