Forensic psychologists earn high salaries for their combined expertise related to psychological and legal issues. This field is growing, and the Montana Department of Labor and Industry projects that the number of forensic psychologists in the state will increase by 10.7% between 2014 and 2024. This level of growth is expected to generate an average of 19 jobs a year in Montana.
Law enforcement officials consulted with high-level forensic psychologists to try and catch the person who placed a pair of severed legs off Moulton Reservoir Road in Butte in 2012. As of July 2015, the killer had not been caught.
Other forensic psychologists serve as expert witnesses in cases ranging from child custody during divorce, to murder trials. A number of these professionals work with mentally ill inmates. Given the size and sparse population of Montana, it is difficult to provide good services for people with mental illness, and many of them end up in county jails while they await transportation to the Montana State Hospital.
According to a report released by the Treatment Advocacy Center and the National Sheriff’s Association, estimates of the number of inmates in the Montana State Prison who have a serious mental illness were 15% in 2014. This percentage equals 224 people—greater than the capacity of the Montana State Hospital. The situation at the prison is so grave that the warden suggested building a special unit for mentally ill inmates in 2007.
Salaries by Location of Forensic Psychologists in Montana
Forensic psychologists who were employed by the Montana Department of Corrections in Deer Lodge earned $76,482 and $59,613 in 2015. In contrast, a forensic psychologist in Miles City earned $109,200 that year.
The Montana Department of Labor and Industry reported that the average annual salary for forensic psychologists in the state was $59,230 in 2014, while the median salary was $53,260.
Only 36.8% of the 380 forensic psychologists employed in Montana in 2014 were located in Billings and Missoula. The largest number of Montana’s forensic professionals was employed in the southwest balance of the state. One hundred and twenty such professionals practiced in this area in 2014.
Shown here for comparative purposes, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics provides the salaries for forensic psychologists in Montana’s major cities and rural areas as of 2014: