As experts of both psychology and law, forensic psychologists work within correctional facilities, courts, and hospitals to support criminal investigations, analyze criminal motivation, serve as expert witnesses and more.
Forensic psychologist Charles Denison, who rose to fame as an expert witness in a recent case that involved the conviction of accused pedophile Wayne Bailon of Laramie, earned his B.B.A in Business Management from Texas Wesleyan University, and his M.A. in Psychology and Ph.D. in Psychology from the University of Denver, Colorado.
Working in the Laramie area, Denison’s primary specializations include:
- Forensic and criminal psychology
- Psychological assessment and testing
- Personnel selection and fitness-for-duty evaluations
- Violence and threat assessments
- Sex offender evaluations
- Competency evaluations
If you’re ready to begin your career as a forensic psychologist in Wyoming and contribute to the judicial process like Denison, you’ll need to start by becoming licensed through the Wyoming Board of Psychology.
Steps to Become a Forensic Psychologist in Wyoming
For a quick guide on how to become a licensed forensic psychologist in Wyoming, follow these steps:
Step 1. Enroll in a Forensic Psychology Undergraduate Degree Program
Through earning a degree in forensic psychology, you will develop a strong base understanding of psychological theories and legal issues. You can then build upon this foundation, learning about the psychological impact of crime, mental disorders, and criminal motivation.
Undergraduate degrees in forensic psychology include Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Arts degrees in:
- Forensic Psychology
- Psychology with a Forensic Psychology specialization
- Applied Psychology with a Forensic Psychology specialization
- Criminal Justice with a Forensic Psychology specialization
Or, you may be able to enroll in an accelerated BA/MA degree in forensic psychology.
Your college will offer a forensic psychology degree program that consists of psychology core courses, forensic psychology courses, internships, and a final project.
Forensic psychology courses include, but are not limited to:
- Psychology & Law
- Abnormal Behavior
- Crisis Intervention
- Psychology of Sexual Offense
- Psychology Research and Statistics
Through your final project and internship, you will be given the chance to conduct original research that will train you for graduate-level work in forensic psychology.
Step 2. Complete a Master’s and Doctoral Program in Forensic Psychology
To be eligible for a Wyoming psychology license, you must hold a doctoral degree from a university accredited by the:
- American Psychological Association (APA)
- Canadian Psychological Association (CPA)
- Designated by the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards
You can enroll directly in a dual degree doctoral program that awards a master’s degree before offering post-graduate courses, or you can enroll in a terminal master’s degree then apply for a doctoral program separately.
Many doctoral programs accept applicants based on their bachelor’s degree; however, enrolling in a terminal master’s degree will give you more time to develop your original research before applying to a doctoral program.
Master’s Degrees in Forensic Psychology
Earning a master’s degree in forensic psychology will give you a strong theoretical and practical foundation, upon which you can build you future research and practice.
Master’s degrees in the field include, but are not limited to a Master of Arts or Master of Science in:
- Forensic Psychology
- Psychology with a Forensic specialization
- Forensic Mental Health
- Experimental Psychology with a Forensic specialization
- Criminology with a Forensic specialization
- Forensic Psychology & Counseling
- Experimental Psychology with a Forensic specialization
- Legal Studies with a Forensic specialization
- Forensic Psychology / Juris Doctor
Although each school is different, most forensic psychology master’s programs have minimum admissions requirements that include
- Hold a BA or BS in psychology (or a related field) from an accredited university
- Hold a 3.0 GPA or higher
- Have taken courses such as statistics, abnormal psychology, and introduction to psychology
- Have two letters of recommendation
- Have high Graduate Record Exam scores
Master’s degree programs in forensic psychology generally consist of 30-50 credit hours, that include:
- Foundation courses in psychology
- Specialization courses in forensic psychology
- Comprehensive examinations
- Final thesis or research project
Typical courses include, but are not limited to:
- Statistics and Research Methods
- Evaluating Criminal Responsibility
- Evaluating Competency to Stand Trial
- Clinical Practice in Forensic Contexts
- Ethical Issues in Forensic Psychology
- Psychological Bases of Criminal Behavior
- Forensic Evaluation and Assessments
- Forensic Interviewing Techniques
By completing a thesis, you will be prepared to enroll in a doctoral program and engage in doctoral-level research.
Doctoral Degrees in Forensic Psychology
Doctoral programs include:
- PhDs, which are generally considered research-based degrees
- PsyDs, which are generally considered practice-based degrees
In either case, the degree will be formatted as a PhD or PsyD in:
- Clinical Forensic Psychology
- Forensic Psychology
- Clinical Psychology with a Forensic specialization
- Psychology and Law
For reference, the APA-accredited psychology doctoral program in Wyoming is located in the city of Laramie.
Doctoral degree programs may have higher admissions standards than master’s programs. Along with masters-level admissions requirements, doctoral programs may request:
- Proof of previous research
- Proof of intensive practicum experience
- High scores on the Psychology GRE Subject Test
The Wyoming Board indicates that your doctoral program must include at least 3 years of full-time graduate courses, including at least 40 credits of courses concerning subjects such as:
- History and systems of psychology
- Research design and methodology
- Statistic and psychometrics
- Biology and behavior
- Cognition and behavior
- Social bases of behavior
- Individual differences
- Professional standards and ethics
- Cultural and individual diversity
- Psychopathology or dysfunctional behavior
- Theories and methods of assessment and diagnosis
- Effective psychological intervention
The Board also requires that you spend 2 continuous academic years in full-time residency at your academic institution with a minimum of 1500 hours of student-faculty contact.
Finally, you will complete Supervised Pre-Doctoral Experience and an Internship. Because you are aspiring to work in a forensic setting, you should strive to conduct your practicums in forensic settings, such as correctional departments, prisons, courts, hospitals, and more.
For reference, APA-accredited internship programs in Wyoming include, but are not limited to:
- Wyoming State Hospital – Department of Psychology in Evanston
- Cornerstone Behavioral Health in Evanston
Step 3. Complete 3000 Hours of Supervised Psychology Experience
After you earn your doctorate, you will want to make sure that you have completed at least 3000 hours of supervised experience.
You may have completed all 3000 hours in your doctoral program. If so, then you can skip this step. If not, you can complete up to 1500 hours in a post-doctoral supervised professional experience program.
Before you begin your post-doctoral program, you will want your supervisor fill out the Post-Doctoral Supervision Agreement Form and send to the Wyoming Board of Psychology to approve your experience.
Your experience will need to be earned with a program that is APA-accredited, or was a member of the Association of Psychology Postdoctoral and Internship Centers (APPIC).
You experience will be evaluated based on your demonstrated:
- Skill level
- Ability to maintain good professional relations
- Possession of emotional maturity
- Understanding of professional and ethical standards
- Personal character
- Reputation among colleagues
- Capacity for professional growth
After you complete the 3000 hours of supervised experience, you’ll be ready to submit your application for examination and licensure.
Step 4. Submit an Application for Wyoming Psychology License
By submitting this application, you will be eligible to sit for the national written exam and to receive your Wyoming license upon passing that exam.
To complete the application, submit all application materials, including
- Application for License
- Verification of Doctoral Program
- Official Transcripts from Doctoral Program
- Professional Experience Reference
- Supervised Pre-Doctoral Practicum or Internship Verification Forms (enclosed in application, as well)
- Supervised Post-Graduate Experience Verification Forms (enclosed in application, as well)
- $275 Application Fee
You can send all materials to the Board at their address:
Wyoming State Board of Psychology
2001 Capitol Avenue, Room 104
Cheyenne, WY 82002
Step 5. Pass the National Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP)
Once the Board approves your application, you will be send informational materials on registering for and taking the national written exam, which is created and monitored by the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards.
Before you register for the exam, make sure to:
For example, the EPPP includes questions on psychology subjects including, but not limited to:
- Growth and Lifespan Development
- Assessment and Diagnosis
- Treatment, Intervention, Prevention, and Supervision
- Research Methods and Statistics
- Ethical/Legal/Professional Issues
You must earn a 70 percent, or score of 500, to pass this exam. Upon passing, send you Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology Score Transfer Report directly to the Wyoming Board.
Once the Board receives your passing scores, you will be issued a Wyoming psychology license.
Step 6. Begin Your Forensic Psychology Career in Wyoming
As a forensic psychologist, you will be able to apply for jobs such as:
- Forensic Clinician
- Victim Advocate/Therapist
- Therapist for Juvenile Offenders
- Expert Witness
- Forensic Consultant
Some example organizations in Wyoming that are likely to hire forensic psychologists include, but are not limited to:
- Wyoming State Hospital – Evanston
- Wyoming Department of Corrections – Laramie
- Probation & Parole Office – Cody, Lyman
- City of Wyoming Police Department – Wyoming
- Cheyenne Police Department – Cheyenne
- Sheridan Police Department – Sheridan
- Casper Police Department – Casper
- Laramie Chief of Police – Laramie
- Wyoming Behavioral Institute – Casper
An example job listing will illustrate the type of work a forensic psychologist in Wyoming would complete (job listing is shown as an example only and does not constitute a job offer):
Forensic Psychologist for Wyoming State Hospital in Evanston – the professional in this position should hold a doctorate in clinical psychology with a specialization in forensic psychology, and should be licensed by the state of Wyoming as a psychologist.
This professional will evaluate and examine court-ordered defendants for competency to stand trial and mental state at the time of the offense. The psychologist will then provide recommendations to courts, provide other specialized forensic assessments (risk assessments), supervise and train post-doctoral students and pre-doctoral interns, and conduct clinical assessment and treatment.
Step 7. Earn 30 Credits of Continuing Education and Renew Annually
You will need to renew your license by June 30th of each year. However, to renew, you will first earn 30 credits of continuing education every two years.
To keep track of your continuing education, set up your Wyoming Board of Psychology continuing education tracking system account. This account will automatically demonstrate your continuing education compliance to the Board.
Forensic Psychologist Salary Information for Wyoming
Forensic psychologists are highly compensated for their combined expertise of psychology and jurisprudence. This combination of skills has a number of applications, from serving as expert witnesses to determining parental custody in the case of divorce to evaluating criminal defendants for competency to stand trial. In addition, a number of these professionals work with inmates who suffer from mental illness.
The Wyoming State Hospital received the highest level of accreditation awarded by the Commission for the Association of Rehabilitation Facilities. The hospital has a dedication Criminal Justice Service that performs forensic evaluations on both hospitalized patients and those in the community.
Despite the quality of care provided, the geography of Wyoming makes it difficult to provide mental health services to all those who need it. With the state hospital being in Evanston, many seriously ill mentally ill people are housed in county jails for lack of a better option.
Wyoming has addressed this epidemic by developing Crisis Intervention Teams (CIT) in a number of communities. Law enforcement officers who have had this training are much better equipped to respond to incidents involving the mentally ill and to help find an appropriate course of action for such individuals. As of April 2014, seven counties in Wyoming had at least one CIT program.
The number of forensic psychologists in Wyoming is expected to grow between 2012 and 2022 according to Wyoming Labor Market Information. The rate of increase during this time frame is expected to be 10.6%.
Salaries for Wyoming’s Forensic Psychologists by Region
The state of Wyoming paid its forensic psychologists salaries that ranged from $65,957 to $98,946 a year effective July 1, 2014.
The median salary for a forensic psychologist in Wyoming was $69,921 in 2015 according to Wyoming Labor Market Information. Experienced forensic psychologists in the 90th percentile of this occupation earned an average of $111,508 a year, while entry-level professionals in the 10th percentile earned an average of $42,143.
The salaries in Casper and Cheyenne varied dramatically in 2015:
Shown below for comparative purposes are the salaries of forensic psychologists in Wyoming’s major cities and nonmetropolitan areas (US Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2014):