As a forensic psychologist, you will be an expert in both psychology and the law—applying psychological assessments to criminal and civil investigations.
The Gainesville Sun reported on forensic psychologist, Dr. Harry Krop, who investigated the Casey Anthony trial, visiting her in jail multiple times to conduct psychological assessments. Through interviews, Krop was able to uncover sexual abuse in her past by both her father and brother, which may have contributed to her behavior.
His research with her eliminated rumors that held she was a psychopath, sociopath, and pathological liar—and instead, pointed to the presence of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Dr. Krop has also investigated cases such as the Gainesville serial killer, Danny Rolling, and Alleen Wuornos, the nation’s first women serial killer.
To meet the demand for resources among the forensic psychologist community as demand grows for the services they provide, the Florida Psychological Association launched a Forensic Psychology Division, which offers:
- Forensic division bylaws
- Forensic practice information
- Open access journals of forensic psychology
Steps to Becoming a Forensic Psychologist in Florida
If you’re ready to become an expert forensic psychologist, you first need to become licensed as a psychologist with the Florida Board of Psychology.
For step-by-step instruction on how to become a forensic psychologist in Florida, follow these steps:
Step 1. Earn an Undergraduate Degree in Forensic Psychology
The first step toward your Florida psychologist license is earning an undergraduate degree in general psychology or forensic psychology.
When you go to school for forensic psychology, you will get to study the relationship between psychology and crime, including issues such as criminal responsibility, competency, psychopathology, and more.
Bachelor’s degree options available through schools in Florida include:
- Bachelor of Arts or Science (BA or BS) in Psychology
- Bachelor of Arts or Science (BA or BS) in Forensic Psychology
- Bachelor of Arts or Science (BA or BS) in Psychology – Forensic Studies
Your college’s forensic psychology degree program will include general education courses, required core courses, forensic psychology electives, free electives, and a final research project.
Required courses may range from introduction to psychology courses to advanced forensic courses, such as:
- Applied Statistics
- Introduction to Criminal Justice
- Forensic Law
- Research: Statistics for Psychology
- Sociology of Crime and Violence
Your degree program will most likely include an internship, and as a forensic psychology major, you should strive to earn your internship hours in a forensic setting—such as a jail, court, or trauma center.
Step 2. Complete Graduate and Post Graduate Education Requirements
Many students who finish their baccalaureate degree in forensic psychology think that the next natural step is a master’s degree. However, most doctoral programs admit students on the basis of their bachelor’s degree and undergraduate research.
Still, earning a master’s degree will help you prepare for advanced post-graduate work and make you a more competitive applicant for doctoral programs. Master’s degrees relevant to forensic psychology available through schools in Florida include:
- Master of Arts in Criminal Justice (MA)
- Master of Arts in Forensic Psychology (MA)
- Master of Arts in Psychology – Forensics (MA)
- Master of Legal Studies (MLS)
- Master of Arts in Forensic Psychology / Juris Doctor in Law (MA/JD)
- Master of Arts in Counseling – Criminal Justice
With either a bachelor’s degree in forensic psychology alone, or in combination with a master’s degree, you can apply to doctoral degree programs such as these:
- PsyD or PhD in Clinical Forensic Psychology
- PsyD or PhD in Forensic Psychology
- PsyD or PhD in Clinical Psychology – Forensics
Whichever degree you choose, you will want to make sure the program is approved by the American Psychological Association (APA). Florida is home to ten APA-accredited doctoral programs in clinical psychology.
Both master’s programs and doctoral programs will have admissions criteria, and although each school is different, most include requirements such as these:
- Hold a bachelor’s degree (preferably in psychology)
- Be in good academic standing
- Submit official GRE scores
Some programs will also require that you have taken certain courses, such as statistics and research methods, or that you have taken another national exam, such as the GRE Psychology Subject Test.
Master’s programs will generally include around 40-60 credit hours, while doctoral programs generally include about 100 credit hours. They both consist of core and elective courses, internship requirements, and dissertation credits.
Within these programs, you may get the opportunity to study varying tracks and concentrations, such as:
- Child and Adolescents
- Law Enforcement
- Child and Family
- Sex Offenders
Despite the track you choose, most doctoral programs in forensic psychology will offer core courses such as:
- Violence and Risk Assessment
- Evaluation and Treatment of the Offender
- Mental Health Law
- Forensic Mediation
Once you’ve completed your doctoral program, you will be ready to begin earning your supervised hours of work experience.
Step 3. Complete 4000 Hours of Supervised Experience
After you complete your doctoral program, you will be able to begin your supervised work experience.
The Florida Board allows your doctoral-level internship to count for up to 2,000 of these hours; however, a minimum of 2,000 post-doctoral hours will need to be completed, as well.
Because you are aspiring to work as a forensic psychologist, you will want to complete your internship hours in a forensic setting, such as a correctional institute or trauma rehabilitation center.
APA-approved internship sponsors in Florida include, but are not limited to:
- Institute for Child and Family Health, Inc. – Miami
- Federal Correctional Institution – Tallahassee
- Miami-Dade County Community Action and Human Services Department – Miami
- Florida Department of Corrections – Zephyrhills
Step 4. Submit an Application for a Florida Psychologist License by Examination
Once you’ve completed your educational and supervised experience requirements, you’ll be ready to submit your application for a Florida psychologist license by examination.
When you submit this application, the Board will approve you to first take the Florida licensure exams, then receive your Florida psychologist license.
To submit this application, complete these steps:
- Submit completed application
- Submit official transcripts as proof of graduation from a doctoral-level, APA-approved program
- Submit Supervising Psychologist Verification Form
- Submit Certificate of Completion of Board-approved 2-hour prevention of medical errors course
- Submit $390.00 fee (includes application fee, licensure fee, and Florida Laws & Rules Examination fee)
You will submit the completed application, fees, and supporting documents to the Board at their address:
Department of Health
Board of Psychology
P.O. Box 6330
Tallahassee, Florida 32314
If you are submitting the application without the required fees, then mail the application to this address:
Department of Health
Board of Psychology
4052 Bald Cypress Way, Bin C-05
Tallahassee, FL 32399
Step 5. Pass National and State Licensure Examinations
Once the Board approves you application, you will be able to take the National Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP) and the Florida Psychology Laws and Rules Examination.
Once you pass both of these exams, you will be issued your Florida psychologist license.
National Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology EPPP
This exam is administered by the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards.
Through the association’s website, you can:
This exam will cover eight major domains of psychology, including:
- Biology and Behavior
- Cognition and Behavior
- Cultural and Social Bases for Behavior
- Psychological Development
- Assessment and Diagnosis
- Intervention and Prevention
Once you are finished with the exam, you will submit an EPPP score transfer report to send your scores directly to the Florida Board of Psychology.
Florida Psychology Laws and Rules Examination
Once the Board approves your application, you will be sent information and instructions on registering for and taking this exam, which is administered by the Board.
You will take this this computer-based exam at a local Prometric testing center.
You will have sixty minutes to complete forty multiple-choice questions on Florida statutes, including:
- Chapter 490
- Section 90.503
- Chapter 394
- Chapter 415
- Chapter 64B
- Chapter 456
- Chapter 39
Step 6. Begin your Career As a Forensic Psychologist in Florida
Once you’ve passed your exams and been issued a Florida psychologist, you’ll be ready to begin your career as a forensic psychologist.
Forensic psychologists generally work in organizations such as:
- Correctional facilities
- Law enforcement agencies
- Attorney Offices
Job titles for forensic psychologists include, but are not limited to:
- Forensic Clinician
- Forensic Psychologist
- Forensic Evaluator
- Forensic Clinical Director
Florida organizations that may employ forensic psychologists or enlist forensic psychology consultants include, but are not limited to:
- Cognitive Health Network – Miami
- Correct Care Solutions – Homestead
- Lifestream Behavioral Center – Tavares
- FCI Tallahassee
- Orlando Police Department – Orlando
- Tampa Police Department – Tampa
- Florida State Prison – Raiford
Step 7. Complete Continuing Education to Renew your Florida Psychologist License
Every two years, you will need to renew your Florida license online.
However, to renew, you must first complete 35 hours of continuing education, including:
- Medical errors – 2 hours
- Ethics and Florida psychology law – 3 hours
- Domestic violence – 2 hours
To complete this continuing education, you will want to go to workshops or courses from Board-approved continuing education providers, such as:
- The American Psychological Association
- Graduate level courses accredited by the APA
Other methods of obtaining continuing education include:
- Presenting a continuing education course
- Attending a workshop or seminar
- Attending a national, state, or regional psychology convention
- Attending a Board meeting
- Serving as a volunteer expert witness
- Home study approved by the APA
APA-approved continuing education sponsors in Florida include, but are not limited to:
- Advanced Mental Health Training – West Palm Beach
- Brooks Rehabilitation – Miami
- Florida Psychological Association – Tallahassee
Forensic Psychologist Salary Information for Florida
Employment projection reports conducted by the United States Department of Labor indicate that the number of forensic psychologists working in Florida will increase by 21% between 2012 and 2022. This growth rate is 10% faster than the projected national employment growth rate. This ranks the profession among the state’s top fifty fastest-growing occupations.
Experience Linked to High Forensic Psychologist Salaries
In May 2014, the United States Department of Labor reported that forensic psychologists employed in Florida earned an average annual salary of $74,040. However, further research showed that many forensic psychologist salaries in Florida deviated from these averages due to varying experience levels. For example:
- Forensic psychologists with a few years of experience were paid an average annual salary of $67,600 and an average hourly wage of $32.52 by mid-career.
- Forensic psychologists with the most field experience earned an average annual salary of $107,400 and an average hourly wage of $51.63.
Common ways that forensic psychologists increase their earning potential include:
- Establishing an independent practice o their own
- Completing fellowships, internships or mentorships related to forensic psychology before entering the job market
- Participating in training opportunities provided by professional organizations like the Florida Psychological Association
- Receiving hands-on experience through formal education courses offered by local, accredited colleges and universities
Forensic Psychologist Salaries by Location in Florida
Before accepting a job offer in Florida, forensic psychologists should consider how their geographic location could shape their future salary (US Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2014):