Forensic psychologists earn high salaries for their combination of psychological and judicial expertise. Criminal profiling is one area that many of these professionals pursue, and legendary criminal profiler John E Douglas consulted with police in Washington to assist in identifying and apprehending the Green River Killer. Other forensic psychologists specialize in serving the court as expert witnesses in child custody cases or determining the competency of individuals to stand trial.
The Center for Forensic Services at Western State Hospital just outside of Tacoma has 500 patients that include defendants being evaluated for their mental state at the time of their offense and/or inpatient evaluation for competency to stand trial. Additionally, a number of forensic psychologists work with mentally ill inmates. Unfortunately, this is an issue in Washington as many of the people who were discharged from the state’s mental hospitals have subsequently ended up in jails.
More than 30% of the inmates of the Yakima County Jail are getting psychiatric treatment according to a joint 2014 report by the National Sheriff’s Association and the Treatment Advocacy Program. The jail in Pierce County has seen a recent increase in mentally ill inmates and has renovated part of the jail to accommodate them.
Salaries for Washington’s Forensic Psychologists
In 2015, the salary for forensic psychologists who worked for the Washington State Department of Corrections ranged from $73,744 to $99,024. The official job title for these professionals is psychologist – forensic evaluator.
The median salary for forensic psychologists in Washington was $66,685 in 2014 according to the state’s Employment Security Department. Professionals in the 75th percentile of this occupation earned an average of $77,542, while those in the 25th percentile earned an average of $56,784.
More than half of the forensic psychologists located in Washington in 2014 were in the state’s major cities:
- Seattle-Bellevue-Everett: 8%
- Tacoma: 7%
- Spokane: 0%
Job Growth for Forensic Psychologists in Washington
The Washington Employment Security Department reported that the number of forensic psychologist jobs in the state is expected to increase by 1.7% annually between 2012 and 2022. This rate of increase is projected to be higher than at the national level. This agency expects that 131 forensic psychology positions will become available on average each year.
The rate of job growth for forensic psychologists is expected to be even higher in a number of counties in Washington:
- Whatcom County: 3%
- Skagit County: 3%
- Island and San Juan Counties: 3%
- Cowlitz and Wahklakum Counties: 2%
- Clark County: 2%
- Snohomish County: 0%
- Chelan and Douglas Counties: 9%
- Grant and Adams Counties: 9%
- Okanogan County: 9%
- King County: 8%
- Spokane County: 8%
Forensic Psychologist Salaries Throughout Washington
Shown below is a full analysis of forensic psychology salaries throughout Washington’s major metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas as of 2014 (US Bureau of Labor Statistics):