The study of forensic psychology involves developing an understanding of psychological principles within the context of the criminal justice system. The work of forensic psychologists involves studying human behavior, criminology, and the legal system, and applying the findings to research, rehabilitation or as a way to serve law enforcement directly.
The Alabama Board of Examiners in Psychology is responsible for licensing practicing psychologists in the State in the following areas of specialization:
- Clinical psychology
- Counseling psychology
- Industrial/organizational psychology
- School psychology
Steps to Becoming a Forensic Psychologist in Alabama
To work as a forensic psychologist in Alabama, you must be licensed as a clinical psychologist, which requires the successful completion of a number of steps:
Step 1. Meet the Education Requirements for Licensure
To become a forensic psychologist in Alabama, you must ensure you meet the educational requirements for licensure, which include possessing a doctoral degree from a department or school of psychology. To become a forensic psychologist in Alabama, you must seek recognition to practice clinical psychology in Alabama.
As such, you must present evidence of your competence in clinical psychology through specific academic preparation. Your education will be considered to have met the Board’s educational requirements if you graduate through an American Psychological Association (APA) accredited program.
There are currently three APA-accredited programs in clinical psychology in Alabama.
However, if your education is not APA accredited, you must ensure it meets the following organizational and curriculum criteria:
- The curriculum must have consisted of at least three academic years of full-time graduate study, with at least two of those years being at the institution where you were granted your doctoral degree.
- At least one year of your full-time graduate study must have been in full-time residence at the institution where you were granted your doctoral degree
- The curriculum must have included at least 60 semester hours of graduate-level coursework in psychology, excluding your internship, and it must have been programmatic and sequential in nature.
- All graduate courses must have resulted in a B or above.
- Clinical psychology coursework must have included the following areas (a minimum of 27 semester hours):
- Abnormal behavior/psychopathy
- Intellectual assessment
- Personality assessment
- Theory of intervention and treatment of mental disorders
- Practicum in psychological assessment
- Practicum in psychological intervention
- Advanced clinical electives
The dominant model for forensic psychologists, according to the APA, is a doctoral degree in clinical psychology, although a number of specialized programs in psychology and law are a popular option for individuals seeking careers as forensic psychologists.
Advanced coursework in psychology and law often includes:
- Psychological assessment
- Correctional psychology
- Forensic assessment
- Forensic psychology
- Practicum in psychology
- Seminar in psychology and law
Just a few of the doctoral programs with a focus on clinical forensic psychology include:
- D. in Forensic Psychology
- D. in Forensic Psychology
- D. with a concentration in Forensic Psychology
- Law and Psychology J.D./Ph.D. program
- D. in Clinical Psychology with a concentration in Forensic Psychology
- D./Ph.D. or Ph.D. with a concentration in Forensic Psychology
A forensic psychology doctoral degree often includes coursework such as:
- Psychology in the Courts
- Treatment of Forensic Populations
- Ethical Issues and Professional Responsibilities in Forensic Psychology
- Advanced Psychopathology
- Quantitative Reasoning and Analysis
- Criminal Behavior
- Assessment in Forensic Psychology Settings
Step 2. Complete an Approved Internship
Upon completion of your doctoral program, you must complete an internship that is accredited by the American Psychological Association. Internship experiences through the APA last between one year (no less than 11 months) and 24 consecutive months.
There are currently 3 accredited APA internship programs in Alabama:
- University of Alabama at Birmingham Medical Center
Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurobiology
- Central Alabama Veterans Health Care System
- Tuscaloosa VA Medical Center
Many forensic psychologists seek further postdoctoral work in forensics. There is currently one APA accredited postdoctoral residency program in forensic psychology in the United States.
Step 3. Apply for a Clinical Psychologist License in Alabama
Upon completion of the educational requirements for licensure as a clinical psychologist, you are required to submit the following to the Alabama Board of Examiners in Psychology:
- A completed and notarized licensure application form
- A check or money order (payable to the Alabama Board of Examiners in Psychology) for $200
- Official transcripts of all educational training (must be sent directly to the Board from the respective institutions)
- Four positive references from psychologists, three of whom must be licensed at the doctoral level; one must be from your doctoral dissertation or doctoral directed study advisor, chairperson, or program director, and at least one reference from your internship supervisor or the director of internship training
Note: The application package is not available online. You must send your mailing address to firstname.lastname@example.org to request an application package.
The Board reviews and evaluates applications at its regularly scheduled meetings (usually on the second Friday of odd-numbered months).Once your credentials and application are reviewed, you will be notified of the Board’s decision via mail.
Step 4. Pass the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP)
You must apply for licensure as a clinical psychologist in Alabama and receive authorization before you can apply to sit for the examination. The Alabama Board of Examiners in Psychology will review your credentials, determine if you meet the requirements, and notify you of your eligibility.
The Alabama Board of Examiners in Psychology uses the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP). You must achieve a scaled score of 500 to pass the EPPP, which has 225 questions. You are allowed 4 hours and 15 minutes to complete the EPPP.
You must schedule your examination with Prometric Testing Center. The cost of the examination is $600. Before signing up, it is recommended that you read the ASPPB’s Information for EPPP Candidates brochure and the Taking the EPPP: A Step-by-Step Guide.
Step 5. Take the Professional Standards Examination
After being admitted by the Board, you must also take and pass the Professional Standards Examination (PSE), a multiple-choice examination of 40 questions that covers material about:
- Alabama License Law
- The APA Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct
- The APA General Guidelines for Providers of Psychological Services
You must score a minimum of 80 percent on the PSE to pass. There is no time limit to complete the examination, although it generally takes less than an hour to complete.
You can schedule an appointment to sit for the exam in the Board office in Montgomery, Monday through Friday. The cost of the exam is $50, and you must pay the fee upon admittance.
Step 6. Maintain your License
Once your psychological license is granted, it will be current through the end of the current fiscal year. Annual renewal is required after the first year. You can expect to receive a renewal notice on or before September 15.
You are required to complete at least 20 hours per year of continuing education and pay the $50 renewal fee. The online license renewal form can be found here.
Continuing education opportunities for forensic psychologists in Alabama may be found through a number of state and national professional associations/organizations:
- Alabama Psychological Association
- International Association for Correctional and Forensic Psychology
- American Board for Forensic Psychology
- American College of Forensic Psychology
- American Academy of Forensic Sciences
Forensic Psychologist Salary information for Alabama
According to the American Psychological Association, even though forensic psychology has taken great strides in the past two decades, it is still considered an emerging field. Forensic psychologists that earn strong reputations through time-tested experience are often awarded the highest salaries.
In fact, experience is such a significant factor in earning potential that forensic psychologists in Alabama with several years of experience received roughly four times that of recent graduates just starting out in the field (United States Department of Labor, 2014):
- Entry Level: $28,600
- Mid-Career: $92,400
- Experienced: $109,200
Salaries for Alabama’s Forensic Psychologists
In 2014, the United States Department of Labor announced that the nonmetropolitan region of Southeast Alabama was home to the highest concentration of forensic psychologists in the country. Here, forensic psychologists earned an average annual salary of $85,750 and an average hourly wage of $41.23.
The Southeast Alabama nonmetropolitan division was also named the third highest paying nonmetropolitan area for forensic psychologists. Employers located in this region offered an average annual salary of $85,750 (average hourly wage of $41.23).
In addition, Alabama as a whole was ranked the fifth highest paying state in the nation for forensic psychologists. In Alabama, these specialized psychologists enjoyed an average annual salary of $85,400 (average hourly wage of $41.08).
Forensic Psychologist Salaries by Region in Alabama
Forensic psychologist salaries tend to vary depending upon a given community’s level of demand for their services. For example, in 2014, the United States Department of Labor found that forensic psychologists employed in the Montgomery and Birmingham-Hoover metropolitan areas earned an average annual salary of more than $80,000. However, those working in the city of Mobile received an average annual salary that was just under $50,000:
*The hourly wage is equal to or greater than $90 while the annual salary is equal to or greater than $187,199. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics does not report salary data greater than these values.