How Much Does an Average Forensic Psychologist Make a Year?

November 7, 2016 – 02:13 pm

Forensic psychologists study the human brain to solve legal questions.Forensic psychologists study the human brain to solve legal questions.

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Forensic psychology applies psychology to the legal system, according to the American Psychological Association. These psychologists use the techniques of psychology, including evaluation and treatment of clinical disorders, to provide reports, testimony and consultations to courts, attorneys and other individuals involved in the judicial system. As our technology and our tools for studying the human brain grow and advance, so does the job outlook for those practicing forensic psychology. If you're deciding to major in forensic psychology, looking for a new job, or opening up a private clinical practice, you can expect a good income.

Academia and Research vs. Practice

Most salary estimates provide salaries for forensic psychologists who are practicing rather than performing research. If you are entering a career in research or academia, your salary will generally be determined by the university or institution that employs you. Additionally, much of your funding may be provided through grants, for which you or the department will need to apply. The median salary for an assistant professor of psychology at a four-year college is approximately $52, 000, while that of a researcher working at a university is around $63, 000. Psychologists working for a consulting firm, however, have a median salary of around $75, 000.


Most salary studies analyze psychologists as a whole, rather than studying forensic psychologists individually, so the best method would be to examine the salary for the type of forensic job you'd like to have. The median wage for all psychologists in 2010, regardless of education or experience, was $68, 640 per year, while the average salary for psychologists working in industry was $87, 330 yearly, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Psychologists, as a whole, includes professors, researchers and those in individual clinical practice, while individuals in industry all work for private companies. In 2006, a psychologist who spent 80 to 100 percent of his time in forensics made an average of $167, 000 per year, while the median was $99, 000 per year, based on a study published by "The Clinical Neuropsychologist."

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


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  • avatar Does VCU offer a forensic psychology program or specialty?
    • We do not have a forensic program within our department. However, some of our clinical and counseling students have pursued opportunities in forensics through practicum sites and other resources in the area. Please check with the clinical and counseling program directors for more information. VCU, however, does offer degree programs in forensic science.