Forensic psychology represents the intersection of law and psychology, which places forensic psychologists side-by-side with detectives, police officers, and court officials to investigate crimes, determine criminal culpability, assess risk, and more.
One of Colorado’s leading forensic psychology professors—Dr. Wachtel—has been featured on Fox, CBS, NBC, and BBC, offering interviews to discuss criminals cases he’s worked on. Among these were nationally known cases like the Aurora theatre shooting, the Ridgeway investigation, and the Westminster mass shooting.
Steps to Becoming a Forensic Psychologist in Colorado
If you’re ready to begin your career as a forensic psychologist, you will first need to become licensed as a clinical psychologist with the Colorado State Board of Psychologist Examiners.
For guidance on how to become a forensic psychologist in Colorado, follow these simple steps:
Step 1. Complete Your Education in Forensic Psychology
Through a baccalaureate program you will be introduced to the concept of criminal responsibility, as well as the techniques and applied use of psychological assessments.
You will begin your pursuit toward a career in forensic psychology by enrolling in a college that offers a baccalaureate degree program in forensic psychology, including:
- Bachelor of Science in Forensic Psychology
- Bachelor of Arts in Forensic Psychology
- Bachelor of Science or Arts in Psychology – Forensic concentration
- Bachelor of Arts or Science in Criminal Forensics – Psychology concentration
Your school will offer a degree program that consists of between 120-130 credits, including courses such as:
- Introduction to Forensic Psychology
- Abnormal Psychology
Upon graduation, you will be ready to apply for graduate programs in forensic psychology—including both master’s and doctoral programs.
Graduate and Doctorate
To enroll in most graduate programs in forensic psychology—both master’s and doctoral—you will want to meet the school’s minimum admission criteria, which generally includes requirements such as:
- Hold a bachelor’s degree in psychology
- Have at least 18 credit hours of psychology courses (including statistics)
- Be in good academic standing
- Submit official GRE scores
Applicable graduate programs include, but are not limited to:
- Master of Arts or Science in Forensic Psychology
- PhD in Forensic Psychology
- PsyD in Forensic Psychology
Master’s programs will consist of 30-60 credit hours, and doctoral programs can consist of up to 100 credit hours.
While a PhD will generally consist of more research-based courses and practicum, a PsyD will generally consist of more practice-based courses and practicum.
Potential courses in a forensic psychology degree program include, but are not limited to:
- Trauma and Crisis Intervention
- Substance Abuse and Evaluation
- Ethics and Professional Issues
- Mental Health Law
- Evaluation and Treatment of the Adult Offender
- Evaluation and Treatment of the Juvenile Offender
- Violence and Risk Assessment
- Forensic Psychology in Correctional Settings
- Psychology of Terrorism
Step 2. Complete 1500 Hours of Supervised Experience
After you complete you education, you will enroll in an APA-accredited internship that will give you, at minimum, 1500 hours of experience over at least 12 months.
APA-accredited internship sponsors in Colorado include, but are not limited to:
- University of Colorado School of Medicine – Aurora
- Colorado State University – Fort Collins
- Denver Health Medical Center – Denver
- Community Reach Center – Commerce City
- Aurora Mental Health Center – Aurora
As an aspiring forensic psychologist, you will want to search for internship opportunities in forensic environments, such as:
- Police Departments
- State Departments
- Trauma Centers
Step 3. Submit Application for Original License by Examination
To submit this application, you will go to the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies Licensing Services for Psychologists, where you can find all of your application materials.
From the Department’s Licensing Services page, you will download and submit the following documents:
- Psychologist licensure application
- Enclose $70 application fee
- Complete and return the Affidavit of Eligibility
- Submit official transcripts
- Submit post-degree experience and supervision form
This single application allows the Board to consider you for both the licensing exams and your Colorado licensure.
Anything not submitted online can be mailed to the Board at this address:
Division of Professions and Occupations
Office of Licensing—Psychologist
1560 Broadway, Suite 1350
Denver, CO 80202
Step 4. Pass the Examination for the Professional Practice of Psychology (EPPP)
Once you finish your doctoral degree, internship, and submit your application— the Office of Licensing will place your name on the eligibility list of approved Colorado test takers and send the list to Professional Examination Services (PES).
Once PES receives your eligibility, they will send you an exam application, and you will be cleared to register for the exam directly with PES.
When you apply, you will need to pay the $600 examination fee and a Test Center Appointment Fee of $87.50.
Test centers in Colorado are located in Colorado cities such as:
- Greenwood Village
Finally—once you are registered for a date and time— you will be able take the EPPP, which is detailed on the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards website.
Before going to your exam appointment, make sure to read the EPPP Candidate Handbook, which outlines:
- The content of the exam
- Steps to apply and register for the exam
- Technical instructions on taking the exam
- How to receive exam results
- How to retake the exam
Step 5. Take the Colorado Mental Health Jurisprudence Examination
The last exam you will need to pass before receiving your Colorado psychologist license is the Colorado Mental Health Jurisprudence Examination.
To take this exam, you will pay and $18 online examination fee to the Board, and upon payment, you will receive your user ID and exam-specific passcode. Although the exam isn’t timed, you will have a 60-day window once you receive your ID and passcode to complete it.
This open-book, multiple-choice exam covers various aspects of Colorado’s mental health law, including:
- General Mental Health Statutes (21 percent)
- Confidentiality and Privilege (15 percent)
- Prohibited Activities and Violations (25 percent)
- Board Rules (19 percent)
- Disciplinary Provisions and Proceedings (11 percent)
The exam is on a scale of 200 to 500; to pass this exam, achieve a score of at least 500. You will receive your scores immediately, along with any instructions on how to proceed.
Upon passing both the EPPP and the Jurisprudence Exam, you will be issued you Colorado license.
Step 6. Begin Your Career as a Forensic Psychologist in Colorado
As a forensic psychologist, you can go into private practice or you can apply to work in Colorado’s police departments, prisons, jails, courts, and more.
With your license, you can apply for forensic psychology job titles such as:
- Forensic Psychologist
- Forensic Clinician
- Faculty – Department of Forensic Psychology
- Outpatient Forensic Psychologist
- Forensic Evaluator
- Assessment Psychologist
- Alternative to Incarceration Psychologist
- Trauma Therapist
Step 7. Renew Your License Every Two Years
You will need to renew your license by August 31st of odd-numbered years. To renew, you will need to complete 20 hours of continuing education during the two-year cycle.
APA-approved continuing education sponsors in Colorado include, but are not limited to:
- APA Division 22 – Rehabilitation Psychology
- Association for Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback
- Eating Recovery Center
- Global Education Group
- Marriage and Family Health Center
- University of Denver
Forensic Psychologist Salary Information for Colorado
As Colorado’s justice system continues to create a demand for forensic psychologists, professionals working in this specialized subfield can expect to see strong salary offers, even for entry-level positions. In 2014, the United States Department of Labor projected that the number of forensic psychologists employed in Colorado is expected to rise by 16% between 2012 and 2022.
This employment projection is especially impressive considering that the anticipated national employment growth rate in this field is just 11%.
In 2014, the US Department of Labor found that Pueblo was among the top ten metropolitan areas in the nation with the highest concentration of forensic psychologist jobs. In that same year, forensic psychologists in Pueblo also earned the highest annual salaries in their field statewide.
Experience Leads to Higher Salaries for Colorado’s Forensic Psychologists
Whether self-employed or working for police departments, mental health facilities and government agencies, high-end salaries are typically achieved through considerable experience.
As a result, many future forensic psychology students accumulate applied experience through internships and mentorships while they complete their doctoral studies. Upon graduation, many also engage in postdoctoral fellowships before entering into the field as professionals.
In Colorado, entry-level forensic psychologists typically earn just a third of what their more experienced colleagues earn. The highest paid workers in this subfield have spent several years gaining experience case-by-case, earning them a reputation for being able to competently traverse the legal system.
In 2014, the United States Department of Labor reported that forensic psychologist in Colorado earned the following average salaries depending on their experience level:
- Entry-Level: $33,500
- Mid-Career: $70,400
- Experienced: $113,800
Forensic Psychologist Salaries in Colorado According to Location
Forensic psychologist salaries have a tendency to differ according to geographic location of employment. In fact, forensic psychologists in some areas of Colorado earn more than $15,000 more on average than in others. For instance, in 2014 forensic psychologists employed in the city of Greeley received an average annual salary of $69,610, while those working in the Pueblo area earned an average of $85,580: