The work that forensic psychologists perform lies at the intersection of criminal justice and psychology. This allows these clinical psychologists to work side-by-side with detectives, police officers, and federal agents to analyze criminal intent and investigate criminal cases.
In one recent case, a Salt Lake City man by the name of Brian Mitchell attempted to present himself as mentally unstable to defer a court hearing after being apprehended for kidnapping and sexually assault. Fortunately, the forensic psychologist Dr. Michael Weiner, after spending 1500 hours investigating Mitchell’s mental state found him to be mentally stable and fit to stand trial.
This declaration of mental stability allowed Mitchell to stand trial, where he was found guilty of kidnapping the 14-year-old girl, forcing her to marry him, and raping her daily for over five years.
The work of a forensic psychologist goes deeper than just the facts—it uncovers human motivation and behavior to determine whether criminals are mentally stable or instable and whether they should be prosecuted or rehabilitated.
As chairman of The Forensic Panel, Dr. Weiner has worked on sensitive cases in Guantanamo Bay, conducting forensic examinations and testifying as an expert witness in court. He has also conducted cutting-edge research on solutions for mass killings.
Steps to Becoming a Forensic Psychologist in Utah
If you’re ready to begin your career as a forensic psychologist in Utah, you’ll start by becoming licensed as a psychologist with the Utah Psychologist Licensing Board.
For instruction on how to become a forensic psychologist in Utah, follow these simple steps:
Step 1. Earn a Bachelor’s Degree in Forensic Psychology
You’ll start your pursuit of a Utah psychologist license by earning an undergraduate degree in forensic psychology. Bachelor’s degrees in forensic psychology available through schools in Utah include, but are not limited to:
- Bachelor of Arts or Science in Forensic Psychology
- Bachelor of Arts or Science in Psychology with a Forensic emphasis
- Bachelor of Arts or Science in Criminal Justice with a Psychology emphasis
Bachelor’s degrees in forensic psychology are comprised of between 120-125 credits of coursework that includes:
- Introduction to Criminal Justice
- Introduction to Forensic Psychology
- Law and Justice
- Forensic Law
- American Law
- Sociology of Deviant Behavior
- Research Methods
Your bachelor’s program will also give you the chance to participate in an internship, where you will gain vital hands-on experience in the field, before moving on to graduate study.
Step 2. Earn a Master’s and Doctorate in Forensic Psychology
Working towards a doctorate in psychology may involve enrolling in a terminal master’s degree program before pursuing post-graduate work. Relevant master’s programs available in Utah include:
- Master of Arts or Science in Forensic Psychology
- Master of Arts or Science in Psychology – Forensics
- Master of Arts in Forensic Psychology/Juris Doctor in Law
Minimum admissions requirements for master’s degree programs generally consist of requirements such as these:
- Hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university
- Hold a 3.0 GPA or higher
- Provide a personal statement
- Provide three letters of recommendation
- Provide GRE scores
Alternately, some PsyD and PhD programs allow you to enroll directly after completing your bachelor’s degree. In either case, relevant post-graduate degrees available in Utah include:
- PhD or PsyD in Forensic Psychology
- PhD in Clinical Psychology – Forensics
- PsyD in Clinical Forensic Psychology
- PhD/JD in Forensic Psychology and Law
You will want to enroll in an American Psychological Association (APA) or Council on Accreditation (CoA)-accredited program. APA-accredited doctoral programs in clinical psychology in Utah are located in Provo and Salt Lake City.
Doctoral programs are highly competitive, and along with the previous admissions requirements will consider applicants’:
- Previous research experience
- Previous internship experience
- Psychology Subject Test GRE scores
Earning a master’s degree before enrolling in a doctoral will give you more time to develop your research and analytical skills, which may help to increase your competitiveness in the doctoral program applicant pool.
However, jumping straight into a doctoral program that awards a master’s degree along the way may help you streamline the licensing process.
A master’s degree will generally include around 40-60 credits, including:
- Required courses
- Elective courses
- Externship or Theses
A doctoral degree program will consist of 90-100 credits, including:
- Required courses
- Elective courses
- Supervised practicum experiences
- Doctoral dissertation
- Doctoral examinations
Both programs will allow you to specialize in various areas of forensic psychology, such as:
- Forensic Psychology in the Community
- Mental Health Applications
- Program Planning and Evaluation in Forensic Settings
- Psychology and Legal Systems
- Juvenile Sex Offender Therapy
- Corrections Psychology
Once you complete your doctoral degree, you will be ready to move on to your post-doctoral supervised training requirements.
Step 3. Complete a Minimum of 4000 Hours of Supervised Psychology Training
Once you’ve earned your doctoral degree, you will be ready to complete 4000 hours of supervised forensic psychology training. You’ll complete this training in no less than two years and no more than four years.
To gain training in a forensic setting, you will want to apply to organizations and agencies such as:
- Correctional facilities
- Juvenile detention centers
- State and local police stations
- Federal and state courts
- Victim trauma therapy centers
You can also choose to earn your supervised hours at an APA-accredited institution in Utah, such as:
- VA Salt lake City Health Care System – Salt Lake City
Step 4. Submit a Utah Psychologist License Application
Once you’ve completed your supervised hours, you’re ready to submit your application for examination and licensure.
This application will make you eligible to:
- Take the national and state licensing exams
- Upon passing the exams, receive your Utah psychologist license
To apply, submit these documents:
- State of Utah Psychologist License Application
- Attached Verification of Supervised Experience
- Official doctoral transcripts
- $200.00 application processing fee
If you are submitting the documents in person or via express delivery, send them to this address:
Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing
Heber M Wells Building, 1st Floor Lobby
160 E 300 S
Salt Lake City, UT 84111
If you’re sending the documents through the U.S. postal service, send them to the following address:
Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing
PO BOX 146741
Salt Lake City, UT 84114-6741
Step 5. Pass National Written Exam and Utah State Laws Exam
Once you submit your application, the Utah Board will review it and approve you to take the Examination for the Professional Practice of Psychology and the Utah Psychologist Laws and Ethics Exam.
Examination for the Professional Practice of Psychology (EPPP)
You will need to take and pass this exam within one year of the date that you applied for a Utah psychologist licensure.
To complete this exam, follow these simple steps:
- Register for the EPPP with the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards
- Read the EPPP Candidate Handbook
- Schedule the exam with Pearson VUE
This exam will cover various psychological domains, such as:
- Neural bases of behavior
- Interpersonal group dynamics
- Development across a full lifespan
- Treatment of disorders in diverse communities
- Research methodology
Pearson VUE venues where you can take your exam are located in various Utah cities, such as:
To pass this exam, you will earn a 70% or higher and transfer your scores directly to the Utah Board.
Utah Psychologist Laws and Ethics Exam
The Utah Board will inform you on the date and time which you can take this exam; however, you must make sure to take and pass this exam within six months of the date that you applied for a Utah psychologist licensure.
The exam study guide covers all areas of law that you could be tested on, including, but not limited to:
- Psychologist Licensing Act
- Aging and Adult Services
- Ethical Standards for Psychologists
- Utah Health Data Authority Act
- Utah Healthcare Malpractice Act
- Abuse and Neglect Reporting Law
Once you pass this exam with the Board, you will be issued your Utah psychology license.
Step 6. Begin Your Career as a Forensic Psychologist in Utah
Once you’ve received your psychology license, you can apply for forensic psychology jobs in Utah, such as:
- Forensic Clinician
- Forensic Psychologist
- Inpatient/Outpatient Forensic Clinician
- Forensic Evaluator
- Expert Witness
- Clinical Director
Organizations and agencies throughout Utah that may hire forensic psychologists include, but are not limited to:
- Utah Department of Corrections
- Salt Lake City Police Department
- Ogden Police Department
- Rape Recovery Center (RRC)
- Utah Office for Victims of Crime
- New Beginnings Behavioral Treatment Agency
- Copper Hills Youth Center
- Cottonwood Treatment Center
Step 7. Complete 48 Hours of Continuing Education to Renew Your License Every Other Year
Your Utah license will expire on September 30th of every even numbered year. To renew, you will need to simply:
- Fill out the renewal form
- Attach $128.00 renewal fee
- Verify completion of 48 hours of continuing education
For your continuing education, make sure that at least 6 of the 48 hours are credits concerning ethics or law.
You may complete your continuing education courses with APA-accredited continuing education providers in Utah, such as:
- Academy of Biotechnology – Salt Lake City
- Alta Psychological Services – Cottonwood Heights
- Jung Platform LLC – Salt Lake City
- Department of Veteran Affairs – Salt Lake City
Forensic Psychologist Salary Information for Utah
Forensic psychologists in Utah enjoy the exceptional employment opportunities available to them here. In 2014, the United States Department of Labor calculated that the number of forensic psychologists in Utah would grow by 25% between 2012 and 2022, which is more than 14% greater than the national employment growth rate for this profession.
This trend places forensic psychology among the state’s top fifty occupations that require a master’s degree or higher.
Forensic Psychologist Salaries Based on Experience
Although some forensic psychologists work as independent contractors, those hired by local employers are frequently offered salaries based upon their experience level.
As such, it is imperative that forensic psychology students complete internships, fellowships, and/or mentorships before entering into the job market. After earning a doctoral degree, forensic psychologists are encouraged to accept as many family, civil, and criminal cases as possible to build solid work histories that reflect a reputation of excellence in the field.
In 2014, the United States Department of Labor reported that forensic psychologists in Utah earned an average annual salary of $61,720 and an average hourly wage of $29.68. Forensic psychologists placed in entry-level positions due to their limited experience were given a much lower average annual salary of $24,200 and an average hourly wage of just $11.65. On the other end of the spectrum, those with ten or more years of experience were awarded a considerably higher average annual salary of $99,700 and an average hourly wage of $47.91.
Forensic Psychologist Salaries in Utah According to Location
In 2014 the US Department of Labor conducted salary surveys of psychologists working throughout Utah. Results showed that forensic psychologists employed in the Ogden-Clearfield area earned an average annual salary of $71,380 and an average hourly wage of $34.32. That same year, those in the Provo-Orem region received an average annual salary of $67,150, while forensic psychologists working in St. George were paid an average annual salary of $63,300 and an average hourly wage of $30.43.