There are a number of career options available to forensic psychologists and West Virginia is an ideal location to pursue one’s professional goals in this field. Forensic psychologists are hired by correctional facilities, courts, mental health and rehabilitation facilities, colleges and universities, and government agencies. In West Virginia, there are undergraduate and graduate-level degree programs offered that will meet the educational needs of anyone preparing for a career in forensic psychology. These programs generally require several core courses in psychology and criminal justice, and additional courses in sociology and mathematics. A supervised clinical practicum or residency is required to earn a doctorate degree and to log the necessary work experience required to become licensed after graduation.
Within the legal system, forensic psychologists may consult on many different types of cases or choose to focus on one or more areas of specialization. Adult and juvenile offenders and defendants are evaluated by forensic psychologists who determine their degree of criminal responsibility, the risk they pose to the public, what treatment is needed, and how much supervision will be necessary upon release.
Forensic psychologists, being educated in both psychology and law,also work on disability compensation cases involving worker’s compensation, Social Security and other social insurance claims. Evaluations are conducted by forensic psychologists in family court cases involving child custody and other family law cases, as well as, in personal injury, workplace discrimination, and other civil court cases. Victim advocacy and research are also career paths taken by forensic psychologists.
The average annual salary of a forensic psychologist in West Virginia is $85,000, which is higher than the national average. Forensic psychologists working in the private sector earn higher incomes than their counterparts working in the public sector. In order to compete for the top jobs as a licensed forensic psychologist a doctorate in clinical or forensic psychology is necessary; however, there are positions which require only a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree. Employment of forensic psychologists working in private practice, as well as, the public sector is expected to increase thru 2016.
Related: Becoming a Forensic Psychologist.