Forensic psychology represents the point at which a psychological understanding of what motivates human behavior intersects with the law. Forensic psychologists are licensed clinical psychologists that apply their psychological knowledge to legal matters, both criminal and civil.
One such renowned forensic psychologist is Dr. Stephen M. Pittel, who has worked with law enforcement and criminal justice system professionals to develop and evaluate prison-based substance abuse treatment and drug diversion programs in Oregon, as well as California, Delaware, and Massachusetts.
Dr. Pittel, who has specialized in both civil and criminal cases throughout the course of his thirty-year career, is considered a pioneer in the field of substance and abuse research and treatment. He has published more than 150 scientific papers and reports, many of which detail the effects of psychoactive drugs, including LSD and related hallucinogenic drugs. He has also served as a consultant to the White House Office of Drug Abuse Policy, the National Institute on Drug Abuse, and the State Department Bureau of International Narcotic Matters.
Dr. Pittel—and countless others—have made significant strides in the field of forensic psychology in Oregon. If you want to make your mark in this exciting subset of psychology and work in a clinical capacity, you must be state licensed to do so through the Oregon Board of Psychological Examiners.
Steps to Become a Forensic Psychologist in Oregon
Before you can apply for a clinical psychologist license in Oregon and begin working in the field of forensic psychology, you must complete the following steps:
Step 1. Earn a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology
To earn state licensure as a clinical psychologist in Oregon, you must possess a doctoral degree in psychology. You can attain this educational goal by first completing your undergraduate degree and completing basic courses in the field of psychology.
A well-rounded bachelor’s degree in psychology or forensic psychology will prepare you for admission into a competitive graduate program and satisfy your undergraduate requirements to advance in this field.
Bachelor degrees in forensic psychology available through schools in Oregon include:
- Bachelor of Science (BS) in Forensic Psychology
- Bachelor of Science (BS) in Psychology with a forensic science concentration
- Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Forensic Psychology
In addition to a foundation in the sciences or liberal arts, a bachelor’s degree in forensic psychology will likely include a core that includes courses like these:
- Foundations of psychology
- Criminal behavior
- The court system
- Psychological psychology
- Abnormal psychology
- Ethics in criminal justice
- Research methods and statistics
Internships at the undergraduate level are strongly encouraged, as they provide students with opportunities to observe and review their skills while enjoying valuable, hands-on experiences.
Step 2. Earn a Master’s and Doctoral Degree in Forensic Psychology
Upon the successful completion of an undergraduate degree, you must begin assessing your graduate school options, which will include completing one of the following:
- A terminal master’s degree program, followed by a doctoral program in forensic psychology
- A doctoral program in forensic psychology that encompasses all master’s degree requirements
Master’s Degrees in Forensic Psychology
A master’s degree in forensic psychology emphasizes both theory and research, providing you with practical training in the areas of assessment and treatment. Most programs accommodate students who plan to progress on to doctoral study or plan to enter the field as master’s level practitioners.
These graduate-level programs may be designed as:
- Master of Science (MS) in Forensic Psychology
- Master of Science (MS) in Clinical Psychology with a forensic concentration
- Master of Arts (MA) in Forensic Psychology
- Master of Arts (MA) in Forensic and Legal Psychology
- Master of Science (MS) in Criminal justice, forensic psychology concentration
Strict admission requirements are standard for graduate programs in forensic psychology. Therefore, in addition to a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university, you may be required to possess the following:
- Exemplary undergraduate GPA
- Competitive GRE scores
- Letters of recommendation
The core requirements of a master’s degree program often include courses such as:
- Theory and practice of forensic psychology
- Evaluation and treatment of specialized populations
Many institutions also allow students to focus their master’s program on areas such as law or public administration. For example, a concentration in law may include courses that include:
- Advanced employment law
- Criminal procedure: investigation and adjudication
- Children and the law
- Law and public policy
A capstone project or field experience is often required to round out classroom experiences in a master’s degree program.
Doctoral Degrees in Forensic Psychology
Whether you are entering a doctoral program in forensic psychology with a bachelor’s or master’s degree, your program must be accredited by the American Psychological Association (APA).
The Oregon Board of Psychological Examiners has adopted APA accreditation as the standard for education in Oregon. Currently, the APA accredits five clinical psychology/forensic psychology doctoral programs in Oregon.
You will find that doctoral programs in forensic psychology are often designed as either PhD or PsyD programs. Although both prepare you for licensure as a clinical psychologist in Oregon, PhD programs are often designed for professionals who plan to work in a research or academic capacity, while PsyD programs are focused more on clinical practice.
Just a few of the doctoral programs in forensic psychology you may pursue through schools in Oregon include:
- PhD in Forensic Psychology
- PsyD in Clinical Psychology with a forensic science concentration
- PhD in Clinical Psychology with a forensic specialization
You may also choose to complete a JD/PhD or a JD/PsyD. These are dual programs that prepare you for a clinical psychologist license in Oregon, while also preparing you to sit for the bar.
Admission into doctoral programs in forensic psychology tends to be quite competitive, with only a fraction of applicants accepted each year. You can expect to be required to possess:
- Exemplary bachelor’s/master’s GPA
- Competitive GRE score
- Well-rounded resume
- Professional references
- Admission essay
Just a sampling of some of the required forensic and assessment courses in a doctoral program in forensic psychology include:
- Adult forensic psychology
- Juvenile forensic psychology
- Correctional psychology
- Neuropsychological assessment
- Projective assessment
- Child assessment
Your doctoral program will likely culminate in the completion of:
- At least one practicum at a forensic site
- A thesis and dissertation on a forensic topic
Step 3. Complete a Post-Doctoral Experience
To qualify for a clinical psychologist license in Oregon, you must complete at least one year of post-doctoral supervised work experience. This experience must take place after you have earned your doctorate. The Board recognizes this work experience as at least 1,500 hours of psychological services performed over a period of no less than 12 months.
The Board will require you to enter into a Resident Supervision Contract during this time.
Just a few of the post-doctoral residency programs recognized by the APA in Oregon include:
- Morrison Child and Family Services, Gresham
- Child Development and Rehabilitation Center, Oregon Health and Science University, Portland
- Portland VA Medical Center, Portland
- University of Oregon Counseling and Testing Center, Eugene
Step 4. Apply for a Clinical Psychologist License in Oregon
Once you have successfully completed your education and post-doctoral residency requirements, you must apply for a clinical psychologist license with the Board. This process includes submitting the following:
- $300 application fee
- Application for Licensure
- Official graduate transcript (sent directly from the educational institution)
- Supervisor reference forms
- Professional reference forms
You will also be required to complete a background check as part of the licensure process.
You can monitor your application progress through the Board’s online applicant tracking system.
Step 5. Pass the Required Examinations for Licensure
Once the Board has received and reviewed your application package, you will receive notice from the Board that you are eligible to take the following examinations, both of which are required for licensure:
Oregon Jurisprudence Exam, administered by the Board
You may take the Oregon Jurisprudence Exam before or after the EPPP and before or after the completion of your post-doctoral supervised work experience. To sit for the exam, you must send a written request and the $150 fee to the Board at least 30 days prior to the exam date. You can view upcoming examination dates here.
Once you are scheduled for the exam, you will receive a letter of approval and the appropriate study materials from the Board.
Examination for the Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP)
The Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards (ASPPB) administers the EPPP. You must send the Board a written request to the Board to sit for this examination. Once the Board has determined your eligibility, you will receive an email from ASPPB with the exam registration instructions. The ASPPB currently utilizes Pearson VUE examination services.
Step 6. Begin a Career in Forensic Psychology in Oregon
As a licensed clinical psychologist in Oregon specializing in forensic psychology, you may begin your career in a number of settings, such as:
- Mental hospitals
- Court systems
- Government agencies
- Police departments
- Private practice
Just a few of the locations in Oregon where forensic psychologists work include:
- Oregon Department of Corrections
- Oregon State Hospital, Salem
- Mary’s Home for Boys, Beaverton
- Professional Therapeutic Community Network, Salem
- Center for Behavioral Intervention, Beaverton
Step 7. Maintain Your Psychologist License in Oregon
You must renew your Oregon psychologist license on a biennial basis. If you have an even-numbered license, you must renew your license in odd-numbered years; if you have an odd-numbered license, you must renew your license in even-numbered years. All renewals are due on the last day of your birth month.
You must complete at least 40 continuing education credits during your license period. Continuing education must include:
- 4 hours of professional ethics and/or Oregon State laws and regulations related to the practice of psychology
- 7 hours in pain management (one-time requirement provided by the Oregon Pain Management Commission)
You can learn more about continuing education requirements here.
The following professional associations often provide continuing education opportunities:
- Oregon Psychological Association
- Lane County Psychologists Association
- Western Psychological Association
Forensic Psychologist Salary Information for Oregon
In 2014, the United States Department of Labor released salary statistics showing that forensic psychologists earned an average annual salary of $71,910 and an average hourly wage $34.57 in Oregon. However, as the field of forensic psychology continues to experience strong occupational growth trends, professionals that work in this largely competitive field will likely find a greater selection of high-paying jobs.
Employment projections published by the federal government indicate the number of forensic psychologists employed throughout the country will increase by 11% between 2012 and 2022. Meanwhile, forensic psychologists working in Oregon will benefit from a much higher employment growth rate of 20%. This rapid employment increase ranks forensic psychologists among Oregon’s fastest-growing professions that require a master’s degree or higher.
More Experience Equals More Money for Forensic Psychologists
One of the defining factors distinguishing a forensic psychologist’s expertise is their level of experience. As such, the highest-paid forensic psychologists in Oregon start acquiring field experience via apprenticeships, internships, and/or fellowships well before they enter the job market. Upon becoming a licensed professional, forensic psychologists often develop extensive work histories through their involvement in diverse cases involving criminal, civil, and family court proceedings.
Aside from gaining experience through paid positions, forensic psychologists in Oregon can also engage in continued education activities that place an emphasis on field training, offer pro bono services, and become a member of the Oregon Psychological Association to accumulate additional experience while creating a strong community presence.
In 2014, the United States Department of Labor reported that forensic psychologists in entry-level positions were paid an average annual salary of $38,000, while those in their mid-career period earned a much greater average annual salary of $69,200. The most experienced forensic psychologists practicing in Oregon earned an average annual salary of $111,300.
Forensic Psychologist Salaries by Location in Oregon
Since each community has a unique demand for forensic psychologists, professionals will experience that salaries can differ considerably according to their location of employment in Oregon.
For example, in 2014 the United States Department of Labor found forensic psychologists employed in the Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro OR-WA area earned an average annual salary of $75,470. However, forensic psychologists practicing in the city of Bend received a much lower average annual salary of just $58,250: