Forensic psychologists are well compensated for their specialized knowledge of psycholegal issues. This field is growing faster in Virginia than it is nationally, with Virginia Labor Market Information showing an increase in the number of forensic psychology jobs of 1.6% a year between 2012 and 2022. Such a high level of growth should generate an average of 148 jobs a year in Virginia during this ten-year period.
Virginia is home to an exceptionally high number of forensic psychologists since the FBI’s Behavioral Research and Instruction Unit (BRIU) is located in Quantico. In addition to consulting throughout the country, its expert forensic psychologists train new FBI agents in behavioral science and profiling, along with providing training to Virginia’s criminal justice, military, intelligence, and academic communities.
Other forensic psychologists in Virginia serve as expert witnesses. Their expertise ranges from domestic issues such as child custody cases to determining whether a defendant is competent to stand trial. Many other forensic psychologists work with mentally ill inmates to improve their condition and promote rehabilitation.
In 2008, a state mental health commission estimated that 15% of all of the inmates in Virginia’s prisons and jails had a serious mental illness. A report from Virginia’s Inspector General reported that the jails in the state held three times more individuals with serious mental illness than the state hospitals did in 2014.
The inadequate treatment of the seriously mentally ill in Virginia has had major repercussions; since after not being treated following his hospitalization for severe mental illness, Seung-Hui Cho went on to commit the shootings at Virginia Tech.
Salaries of Forensic Psychologists Employed with the Virginia State Government
Level III forensic psychologists in Virginia are employed by a number of criminal justice agencies. Three individuals worked for the Department of Corrections Division of Institutions in 2013 and earned salaries ranging from $89,390 to $91,813 that year. The overall average salary for forensic psychologists in Virginia was $90,778 that year.
The salaries of the seven level III forensic psychologists who worked for the Department of Juvenile Justice ranged from $77,418 to $89,891 in 2013. The average salary that year was $86,857. The salaries for forensic psychologists at other agencies are shown below:
- Division of Community Corrections: $90,280
- Greensville Correctional Center: $87,999
- Marion Correctional Center: $83,000
According to the Virginia Department of Labor, experienced forensic psychologists in Virginia earned an average salary of $107,600 in 2014. The median salary was $67,400, while professionals who were new to the field averaged $40,800
Forensic Psychologist Salaries in Virginia’s Metropolitan and Rural Areas
Shown below for comparison are salaries by percentile for forensic psychologists throughout Virginia as of 2014 (US Department of Labor):