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Forensic psychologist median annual salary

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The field of forensic psychology is still fairly young—although psychologists and law enforcement have worked together for decades, it was not recognized as a psychological specialty by the American Psychological Association (APA) until 2001.

In this Article

The field is primed to grow as the legal system recognizes more ways their knowledge can be utilized. Like other professions that require advanced education to be qualified, salaries for forensic psychologists are well above the median salary for all occupations.

While the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) does not detail salaries specific to forensic psychologists, the earnings of general psychologists can give you a good starting point when trying to estimate your potential earnings:

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.

Where do forensic psychologists earn the most money?

Psychologists tend have the greatest earning potential on the west and east coasts in populous metropolitan areas. This may be to account for the cost of living, as well as job demand. Many of the median annual salaries for psychologists in the top paying states are six-figure incomes, with the 90th percentile of annual incomes reaching $133,200.

Metropolitan areas in California, Oregon, and Florida rank highly as top paying regions for psychologists.

Metro Area Median Annual Salary
San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA $135,990
Sacramento--Roseville--Arden-Arcade, CA $132,260
Baltimore-Columbia-Towson, MD $117,500
Springfield, MA-CT $116,600
Dayton, OH $114,420
New Haven, CT $113,570
New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA $113,570
Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MD $113,510
San Diego-Carlsbad, CA $113,420
Boston-Cambridge-Nashua, MA-NH $112,860

Populous areas naturally have more crime, and therefore may have a greater need for forensic psychologists. According to the BLS, states employing the largest numbers of psychologists are California, Illinois, and Texas, followed by Florida and Minnesota.

It’s important to keep in mind that these numbers do not include self-employed professionals. States that lie between the Midwest and West Coast, such as Idaho, Wyoming, and the Dakotas for example, have the lowest employment of psychologists.

States with largest number of psychologists

California

Illinois

Texas

How do forensic psychologist salaries compare to similar occupations?

General psychologists tend to have a larger annual median salary when compared to certain specialized psychologists that work in schools or clinical settings. Industrial-organizational psychologists, on the other hand, have the highest median salary compared to all other types of psychologists that the BLS has data for.

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

Job outlook

Psychologist jobs in general are increasing about as fast as average across all occupations, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). However, the demand for mental health services increased drastically as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. This trend could continue and, with it, the demand for psychology professionals.


kendall upton

Written and researched by:

Kendall Upton

Staff Writer