Forensic psychologists utilize their expertise in psychology and the law to help individuals and society and tend to receive high salaries for doing so. Their roles range from advising the family courts during custody cases, to evaluating the competency of mentally ill defendants in criminal trials. Profiling is another aspect of the job for many forensic psychologists. This is particularly germane to Oklahoma given their involvement in the Timothy McVeigh terrorism case.
A number of forensic psychologists are employed at the Oklahoma Forensic Center. Prosecutors were furious with the recommendation of the center’s Director of Forensic Psychology that Dr. Stephen Paul Work was fit to be released after being treated for the mental illness that led him to brutally murder his nine-year old son. While the Oklahoma Forensic Center has 200 beds, this is not enough to treat the large number of mentally ill inmates in the state. As the state hospitals have been downsized and closed, the county jails in Oklahoma have noted an increasing number of mentally ill inmates according to a joint 2014 report published by the Treatment Advocacy Center and the National Sheriff’s Association.
A report released by the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services published in 2014 estimated at least 200 inmates in the Tulsa Jail have mental illness at any given time, while that number is estimated to be 500 at the Oklahoma County Jail.
Given the need for forensic psychologists in Oklahoma, the state’s Employment Security Commission estimates that the number of these professionals will increase by 8.84% between 2012 and 2022. This should generate an average of 50 jobs in Oklahoma each year.
Salaries for Oklahoma’s Forensic Psychologists by Location
Forensic psychologists for the Oklahoma Department of Corrections were paid $72,000 in 2015.
The Oklahoma Employment Security Commission provides the salaries of forensic psychologists in the state for 2015. The median salary for a forensic psychologist that year was $47,490, while those in the 90th percentile of this occupation earned an average of $77,880.
This agency also provides the salaries for forensic psychologist in Oklahoma’s major metropolitan areas for 2015:
Nearly two-thirds of Oklahoma’s 1,120 forensic psychologists are concentrated in the Oklahoma City and Tulsa metropolitan areas. In 2015, there were 450 such professionals practicing in Oklahoma City, while 280 were employed in Tulsa.
Shown below for comparative purposes is salary data for forensic psychologists in the metropolitan and rural areas of Oklahoma as of 2014 (provided by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics):