Michigan has a high demand for forensic psychologists, and the state’s Department of Technology, Management and Budget expects the numbers of these professionals to grow by 0.6% a year between 2012 and 2022. This level of growth should generate an average of 96 jobs a year.
In fact, the nonmetropolitan area of the balance of Lower Peninsula Michigan had the fourth highest number of forensic psychologists of any rural area in the country in 2014 according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
The salaries for forensic psychologists can be particularly high in Michigan’s rural areas. The BLS reported that the nonmetropolitan area of Upper Peninsula Michigan had the fourth highest average salary for forensic psychologists of any such area in the country.
In addition to their work consulting with employment and child custody issues, forensic psychologists are common expert witnesses. This was an issue in a landmark 1940 case in Michigan known as the People Vs. Hawthorne. The court refused to allow a psychologist who had a Ph.D. to testify as an expert witness in a case where the defendant was pleading not guilty by reason of insanity. The Supreme Court of Michigan eventually ruled that the court should have allowed the man to serve as an expert witness. This ruling was controversial at the time, since many believed that an M.D. was necessary to properly rule in such a case.
A number of Michigan’s forensic psychologists currently work with mentally ill inmates. Michigan has a dedicated 210-bed, $93 million Center for Forensic Psychiatry. However, a number of prisoners in Michigan’s jails are mentally ill. Their numbers increased drastically after then-Governor John Engler closed what he considered to be underutilized state mental hospitals and moved most of the patients into the care of the community in 1997.
The Sheriff of Oakland County told WXYZ that the number of mentally ill inmates in his jail has more than tripled since the state hospitals started to close. As a result of this trend, some counties in Michigan created mental health courts to divert mentally ill defendants to treatment instead of jail. One study said that this approach saved Wayne County over $1 million.
Job Growth for Forensic Psychologists in Michigan by Region
According to the Michigan Department of Technology, Management and Budget, the number of forensic psychologists is expected to dramatically increase between 2010 and 2020 in certain regions in the state:
- Northwest lower peninsula: 5%
- Northeast lower peninsula: 3%
- Grand Rapids area: 9%
- Kalamazoo area: 1%
- Ann Arbor area: 4%
- Flint area: 5%
- Thumb area: 5%
Salaries for Michigan’s Forensic Psychologists
Forensic psychologists for Michigan’s Center for Forensic Psychiatry earned from $52,062 to $80,517 a year in 2014. Managers in this field earned salaries ranging from $60,778 to $100,651 a year.
The Michigan Department of Technology, Management and Budget provides the salaries of forensic psychologists throughout the state as of 2014. The median salary of these professionals was $67,750, while experienced forensic psychologists in the 90th percentile of their occupation earned an average of $109,610. Professionals just starting out averaged $37,980 a year.
Shown here for comparison is data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics on salaries for forensic psychologists throughout Michigan (2014):