In Washington, Graduate degree and post-graduate certificate programs in forensic psychology are offered by many colleges and universities. Students enrolled in undergraduate psychology programs are also able to complete coursework in forensic psychology, in preparation for advanced study and a professional career in the field.
Many forensic psychologists find employment in the criminal justice system, carrying out a variety of functions. During trials, forensic psychologists conduct psychological evaluations to assess criminal responsibility and they are responsible for determining whether or not a defendant can enter an insanity plea. Forensic psychologists also work with law enforcement, consulting on cases and profiling suspects. Juvenile detention centers employ forensic psychologists, as do adult prisons and jails. There are numerous job options for forensic psychologists. Candidates who possess only a Bachelor’s degree are able to find work, usually working under the supervision of a psychologist with an advanced degree; however, a number of positions which require a Master’s or doctorate degree.
To become a licensed forensic psychologist, the State of Washington requires that candidates have 3,300 hours (3,000 internship hours and 300 practicum hours) of supervised professional experience, have a doctoral degree in psychology or forensic psychology, and pass the Washington jurisprudence exam.
Unique opportunities for advanced training and education in forensic mental health are available in Washington. The Washington Department of Social and Health Services sponsors forensic psychology fellowships at the University of Washington. The yearlong fellowship requires that candidates possess a doctoral degree in Psychology from a college or university accredited by the American Medical Association, and has completed a pre-doctoral internship program. Fellows are able to choose from several tracks including, Adult Forensic Psychology, Juvenile Forensic Psychology, and Sex Offender Evaluation. They learn mental health law and therapeutic approaches, in addition to, how to assess the risk an offender poses to society, deliver testimony as an expert witness, conduct various types of psychological evaluations, and treat mental ill offenders.
In Washington, the average income of forensic psychologists is $77,000 per year. Nationally, forensic psychologists earn, on average, $68,640 annually. Employment of forensic psychologists is expected to increase through 2016 (bls.gov).