Louisiana offers no shortage of options for educated and qualified forensic psychologists. You could work with family local law offices on issues related to custody disputes, or serve the criminal courts as an independent consultant performing psychological assessments and expert witness testimony. You may even elect to work on rehabilitative services within the Louisiana Department of Corrections.
With the right combination of education and dedication, you could go into private practice like Jill Hayes, one of Louisiana’s most well-known forensic psychologists. Hayes started her career in Louisiana when she completed a forensic psychology fellowship at a local university before going on to complete the FBI Citizen’s Academy. Eventually settling into the niche of forensic psychology private practice relating to criminal and civil legal cases, Hayes has been featured as an expert on Court TV’s Forensic Files and A & E’s American Justice.
If you’re ready to get started on your career as a forensic psychologist working in civil and family law, or within Louisiana’s criminal justice system, use this guide to learn more.
Steps to Becoming a Forensic Psychologist in Louisiana
The Louisiana State Board of Examiners of Psychologists is the agency you will work with to become a licensed psychologist, which is required before offering specialized forensic psychology services in Louisiana.
You can launch your career by following these steps:
Step 1. Earn a Bachelor’s Degree in the Field of Psychology
To be eligible for licensure as a psychologist in Louisiana you must have a doctoral degree in this field, but it all starts with a strong foundation in undergraduate studies.
As a prospective undergraduate student you can choose from several types of degree programs that are relevant to your goal of becoming a forensic psychologist. These may be offered online, as well as through schools with campus locations in Louisiana:
- Bachelor’s Degree (BA/BS) in Forensic Psychology
- Bachelor’s Degree (BA/BS) in Psychology with a concentration in Forensics
- Bachelor’s Degree (BA/BS) in Forensic and Correctional Psychology
- Bachelor’s Degree (BA/BS) in Criminal Psychology
- Bachelor’s Degree (BA/BS) in Criminal Justice with a concentration in Forensic Psychology
Bachelor’s degree programs are typically 120 semester credits in total and completed over the course of four years. Your credit load can be divided as follows:
- 36 credits in your psychology or forensic psychology major
- 24 elective credits in the field of psychology
- 60 credits of general undergraduate requirements
Core courses within your major can cover topics that include:
- Psychological disorders
- Criminal psychology
- Juvenile and criminal justice system
- Abnormal psychology
- Criminology and corrections
- Forensic psychology research methods
As you near the end of your bachelor’s program it will be time to start thinking about graduate school. Some programs are structured as direct bachelor’s-to-doctoral degree program that takes around four years to complete. However, the more traditional and commonly accepted route is still to earn a terminal master’s degree first before going on to a doctoral program.
Step 2. Earn a Master’s Degree in Forensic Psychology
Each graduate school has its own unique entrance requirements, which will typically include some if not all of the following:
- An undergraduate degree that includes coursework in psychology or forensic psychology
- Minimum GPA
- Resume or CV
- Personal essay
- Letters of recommendation
- Minimum score on the GRE general and/or psychology subject tests
Terminal master’s degree programs available through schools in Louisiana include:
- Master’s Degree (MA/MS) in Forensic Psychology
- Master’s Degree (MA/MS) in Psychology with a concentration in Forensics
- Master’s Degree (MA/MS) in Criminal Justice with a concentration in Forensic Psychology
Master’s programs usually consist of between 36-48 semester credits taken over the course of two years. These programs can typically be divided into the following segments:
- 36 credits in core courses, with additional credits that may be awarded for:
- Thesis research and writing
- Internship or practicum
Important courses that are part of your major will cover subjects that include:
- Psychological assessments
- Forensic mediation
- Advanced theories in delinquency and crime
- Evaluation and treatments within the criminal justice system
- Minorities, crime, and the criminal justice system
- Intelligence testing
You will likely write a master’s thesis before going on to a doctoral program. You can choose a topic within the field of forensic psychology as your subject. You can also customize any required internships to give you valuable experience in the field of forensic psychology.
Step 3. Earn Your Doctoral Degree in Forensic Psychology
The doctoral degree you earn in the field of psychology must be from a regionally accredited institution that holds itself to high standards in order to meet Louisiana’s licensing requirements.
The Louisiana State Board of Examiners of Psychologists recognizes all doctoral programs that are approved by the American Psychological Association (APA) as being of acceptable quality. If you complete a program that is not APA-approved you will need to convince the board that your education is of sufficient quality by submitting an additional form with your application for licensure.
APA-approved doctoral programs in Louisiana are located in the cities of:
- New Orleans
- Baton Rouge
The entrance requirements for doctoral programs are similar to those required for master’s programs. You may also find additional entrance requirements or preferences may include:
- Relevant work experience
- Published academic articles
- Research and practical experience
There are two main options for doctoral study in the field of forensic psychology:
- PhD/PsyD in Forensic Psychology
- PhD/PsyD in Clinical Psychology with a concentration in Forensics
PhD programs tend to include a significant concentration on research, while PsyD programs cater more to students who want an emphasis in clinical practice. Graduating from either type of program will fulfill the education requirement to become eligible for a Louisiana psychologist license.
A two-year doctoral program may be structured as follows:
- 36 semester credits in specific forensic psychology concentrations
- Field work, practica and internships
- Doctoral thesis
As a doctoral student you may choose to specialize in any of the following areas within the field of forensic psychology:
- Clinical psychology
- Child protection psychology
- Juvenile delinquency counseling
- Crisis intervention
- Correctional counseling
- Investigative psychology
- Victim psychology
- Adult and juvenile forensic assessments
- Criminal behavior
Step 4. Complete the Supervised Experience Requirement
To be eligible for a psychology license you must complete 4,000 hours of supervised work experience as detailed:
- Internship – this must be with an approved agency and be at least 1,500 hours in total, including 375 hours involving direct client contact. You need to complete your internship within two years, and if you receive academic credit for your internship then it will not be credited towards your 4,000-hour requirement. A maximum of 2,000 hours from an internship may be credited towards the 4,000-hour requirement.
- Postdoctoral experience – this needs to be completed after you have earned your doctoral degree, and must total at least 2,000 hours.
Examples of where you can complete your supervised work experience include:
- Southeast Louisiana Veterans Health Care System in New Orleans
- Louisiana School Psychology Internship Consortium in New Orleans
- Southern Louisiana Internship Consortium in Baton Rouge
You also have the option of being licensed in a particular area of specialization, including that of clinical psychology. It is highly recommended that you obtain a specialization in clinical psychology if you want to have the maximum amount of flexibility to work as a forensic psychologist.
To be eligible for licensure in this area of specialization you need to complete a practicum in clinical psychology before you start your internship. This practicum must be at least 300 hours in length, and include 100 hours of direct client contact as well as 50 hours of individual supervision. Practica are usually completed on a campus setting.
You also have the option of becoming specialized in the area of clinical neuropsychology, which will entail the completion of an additional practicum in this field. You can consider this if you intend to work in this specialization as part of your forensic psychology practice.
Step 5. Apply for a Psychology License
The Louisiana State Board of Examiners of Psychologists has recently made a new agreement with the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards (ASPPB) that allows you to also apply for licensure through the ASPPB’s Psychology Licensure Universal System (PLUS). You can do this online via ASPPB PLUS.
Applying through PLUS also gives you more flexibility if you decide in the future to move to a different state and you want to become licensed there via reciprocity.
You can also complete the traditional paper application and associated application packet forms for licensure and submit these directly to the Louisiana State Board of Examiners of Psychologists at the following address:
8706 Jefferson Highway, Suite B
Baton Rouge, LA 70809
Step 6. Pass Your Required Tests
Once you have completed your education you will need to pass the following exams in the order listed to become licensed:
- National Examination for Professionals Practice in Psychology (EPPP)
- Louisiana Jurisprudence Examination
- Louisiana Oral Examination
The application you file for licensure with the Louisiana State Board of Examiners of Psychologists or ASPPB PLUS will be reviewed to see if you have met the necessary requirements up to this point. If you have, the agency you applied with will clear you to register for your first test.
Examination for Professionals Practice in Psychology (EPPP)
Once you have been cleared to take your first exam you can register for the EPPP online. The ASPPB is also the organization that sponsors this exam, which you can take at Prometric testing locations throughout the state:
- Alexandria – 8100 Highway 71 South
- Baton Rouge – 4354 S Sherwood Forest Boulevard, Suite D-220
- Lake Charles – 517 Broad Street
- Metairie – 2424 Edenborn Avenue
- Bossier City – 4350 Viking Drive, Suite 3
You can prepare for this exam by studying the EPPP Candidate Handbook. You will have 4.25 hours to complete 225 multiple-choice questions. Subjects evaluated on the exam include:
- Professional, ethical, and legal issues – 15 percent
- Prevention, intervention, treatment, and supervision – 14 percent
- Diagnosis and assessment – 14 percent
- Cognitive-affective bases of behavior – 13 percent
- Biological bases of behavior – 12 percent
- Growth and lifespan development – 12 percent
- Cultural and social bases of behavior – 12 percent
- Statistics and research methods – 8 percent
A passing score is considered to be a scaled score of 500 (70 percent).
Note that you can apply for a license and take the EPPP before you have completed your supervised postdoctoral experience.
Louisiana Jurisprudence and Oral Examinations
Once you have passed the EPPP you will be eligible to take your Louisiana jurisprudence and oral examinations. These are offered on a monthly basis, and the Louisiana State Board of Examiners of Psychologists will send you the jurisprudence exam once it receives your EPPP scores.
Upon passing your jurisprudence exam you will be scheduled for an oral exam.
The information you must know to pass both of these examinations is contained in the board’s Statutory Reference Compilation packet. This covers the laws and rules that pertain to working as a psychologist in Louisiana.
Step 7. Start Your Career as a Forensic Psychologist in Louisiana
Once you have passed your exams you will be issued your license to practice as a psychologist. After you have finished celebrating it will be time to embark on your new career in forensic psychology.
As a new professional starting out in your field you can consider many options. These include starting your own consulting firm as a forensic psychologist, pursing employment with a governmental agency, or searching for forensic psychology jobs with a local professional practice.
Examples of local potential employers that could benefit from your skills as a forensic psychologist include the following. These are only examples and do not represent actual job offers:
- Kirkland and King, clinical and forensic psychology practice based in New Orleans
- East Baton Rouge Office of the Public Defender
- Shreveport City Prosecutor
- Community Service Child Protection in New Orleans
- Criminal Investigations Division with the Lafayette Police Department
- Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services
- Louisiana State Police’s Bureau of Investigations
- Louisiana Department of Corrections
You can learn more about the licensing process and forensic psychology jobs in Louisiana through professional organizations such as:
- Louisiana Psychological Association
- Louisiana Psychiatric Medical Association
- Mental Health America of Louisiana
- American Board of Forensic Psychology
- Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers
- American College of Forensic Psychology
- American Academy of Forensic Sciences
Step 8. Renew Your License
You will need to renew your psychology license every year by July 31st. To renew your license you need to earn a certain amount of continuing education.
While you renew your license every year, you need to report your continuing education (at least 30 hours) every two years. In other words, to be eligible to renew your license you must earn at least 30 hours of continuing education biannually.
You can determine which year you must report your continuing education based on your psychology license number. If you license number ends in an odd number then you must report your continuing education by July 31st of odd-numbered years, and vice versa for even-numbered licenses.
You can earn continuing education through:
- Accredited colleges and universities
- Hospitals that provide opportunities for supervised work experience
- Any sponsors of continuing education that are APA-approved
- Activities that are sponsored by the Louisiana State Board of Examiners of Psychologists
- Activities that are sponsored by the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals
- Publication of a peer-reviewed articles
Forensic Psychologist Salary Information for Louisiana
At the end of a near 30-year long investigation, a Louisiana jury indicted millionaire Robert Durst on weapons and drug charges. Durst first came to major media attention in the 80s when his wife Kathie disappeared weeks after receiving treatment for bruising on her face.
Following the indictment, the Los Angeles times interviewed local forensic psychologist Vonda Pelto, who spoke on Durst’s mental state. “A good sociopath, psychopath, can lie to your face and be so, so believable.”
Forensic psychologists like Pelto assist in high profile cases like the Kathie Durst murder, and are very well compensated for their unique expertise.
Salaries for Forensic Psychologists Working in Louisiana
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics expects that psychology job prospects will increase by 12% between 2012 and 2022. Job prospects improve even further in Louisiana’s metropolitan areas. As specialized psychologists, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics expects increased job growth and higher pay for forensic psychologists.
Forensic psychologists fulfill a large number of roles in Louisiana’s criminal justice system. A few of these positions and their salary ranges have been listed below. This data was collected from a survey of job boards conducted in July 2015 and is shown for illustrative purposes only:
- Parole Evaluator – $39,686 to $54,238
- Trial Consultant – $47,000 to $67,000
- Criminal Psychologist – $57,000 to $95,000
- Expert Witness – $61,000 to $83,000
Forensic Psychologist Salaries Throughout Louisiana
The table below shows salaries for forensic psychologists working across Louisiana’s metropolitan and non-metro areas (US Department of Labor, 2014):