Highest Paying Psychology Careers

The field of psychology is very diverse. There are many potential paths your career can take, and a wide range of salaries you might earn. Of course, it's useful to know which careers pay the best, especially in difficult economic conditions. To that end, here's a guide explaining which psychology careers have the highest annual salaries, and what education and training are required for those careers. Keep in mind, though, that salaries can vary greatly depending on a number of factors, such as years of experience, educational achievement, geographic location, and more.

1. Psychiatrist

Average Yearly Salary: $167,610

Education Required: Psychiatrists must first earn a bachelor's degree, then complete medical school, then undergo a four-year residency. This amounts to about 8 years of post-undergraduate study.

Psychiatrists are medical doctors who specialize in diagnosing and treating mental illnesses and disorders. The field of psychiatry is one of the highest paying fields associated with psychology, largely due to the amount of schooling and training required. Even so, salaries in this field can vary widely depending on geographic location, area of specialization, and the type of services rendered. A psychiatrist who works in a physician's office, for example, will generally earn less than a psychiatrist who works in an outpatient care center ($159,300 annually vs. $188,210 annually).

2. Industrial-Organizational Psychologist

Average Yearly Salary: $97,820

Education Required: Most professionals in this field hold a doctorate in industrial-organizational psychology, and job opportunities (and salaries) are more abundant for those who have completed this level of schooling. However, there are some jobs available to those who hold a master's degree.

Industrial-organizational psychologist work with companies and corporations, using psychological principles to make intelligent hiring decisions, increase productivity levels, and conduct market research. Once again, the salaries for this profession vary greatly depending on experience. The upper echelon of these professionals earns more than $250,000 each year, but a typical starting salary for a doctoral graduate is around $55,000 a year.

3. Neuropsychologist

Average Yearly Salary: $90,460

Education Required: Doctorate degree in neuropsychology or clinical neuropsychology.

Neuropsychologists study behavior, cognition, and emotion by studying the physical structures and functions of the brain. This may include performing brain scans, conducting cognitive tests, studying the effects of various drugs and substances on the nervous system, and treating individuals struggling with brain injuries. Neuropsychologists work in a number of settings, such as hospitals, mental health clinics, colleges and universities, research centers, and pharmaceutical labs.



4. Engineering Psychologist

Average Yearly Salary: $79,818

Education Required: There are some entry-level jobs available to psychologists with master's degrees, but those with doctorate degrees will have a much easier time finding jobs and will earn higher salaries.

As the name suggests, engineering psychologists fuse the principles of psychology and engineering. They study human behavior and capabilities, specifically as they relate to system design and operation, as well as technology and machinery. These professionals work in a number of settings, increasing efficiency and productivity while minimizing injuries and risk. Salaries vary largely depending on their area of employment. Working in the private sector, for example, usually yields much higher earnings than working in a university setting.

5. Clinical Psychologist

Average Yearly Salary: $72,540

Education Required: Clinical psychologists typically need a doctorate degree in psychology (Ph.D. or Psy.D.). They must then complete a supervised residency which lasts one or two years, and pass their state's licensing exams.

The field of clinical psychology employs the most workers of any field within psychology. These professionals assess, diagnose, treat, and prevent mental illnesses and disorders. They work in a wide range of settings, such as mental health clinics, hospitals, and private practices. As with other psychological professions, salaries vary widely. The most important factor affecting salary is years of experience. Clinicians with 5 years of experience, for example, earn about $54,000 a year, whereas clinicians with 14 year of experience earn about $100,000 a year.

6. Counseling Psychologist

Average Yearly Salary: $72,540

Education Required: Counseling psychologists must hold a Ph.D., Psy.D., or Ed.D. degree.

The fields of counseling psychology and clinical psychology are closely related; in fact, the two involve roughly the same type of work, such as mental health treatment and psychotherapy. The difference is that clinical psychologists typically work with individuals suffering from more severe kinds of mental disorders, and counseling psychologists work with individuals suffering from less severe disorders. Many counseling psychologists, instead of working with clients, choose to teach at universities, conduct scientific research, or offer vocational counseling.

7. Forensic Psychologist

Average Yearly Salary: $59,440

Education Required: Most forensic psychologists hold a doctorate degree, although some jobs are available with a master's degree.

Forensic psychologists work within the law enforcement and judicial systems, using their knowledge of psychology to solve crimes and understand criminals. Their work may involve constructing psychological profiles of criminals, investigating cases of domestic and child abuse, testifying in court, sorting out child custody disputes, and training law enforcement officers.

8. School Psychologist

Average Yearly Salary: $58,360

Education Required: School psychologists generally must complete a specialist program in school psychology. These programs consist of 60 hours of graduate-level coursework, and culminate in either a master's degree or an Ed.S. degree. Roughly one-third of professionals working in this field hold a doctorate degree.

School psychologists work closely with other professionals in the education system--teachers, counselors, administrators, and parents--to help children thrive not only emotionally and psychologically, but also academically. The work of a school psychologist involves assessing and diagnosing learning problems, offering counseling to children, designing behavioral interventions, and fostering supportive learning environments. It's estimated that job prospects for school psychologists will grow by 11% over the next ten years.

9. Sports Psychologist

Average Yearly Salary: $55,000

Education Required: Sports psychologists typically need to hold a master's or doctorate degree in sports psychology, or a graduate-level degree in a related area such as counseling or clinical psychology.

Sports psychologists apply their knowledge of psychology to the realms of sports and athletics. They work to understand and optimize athletes' motivation and ability, with the goal of helping athletes improve performance, train more effectively, and recover quickly from injuries. Salaries vary depending on the areas in which they work. The average salaries range from $45,000 and $80,000, but sports psychologists who work with athletes in professional leagues may earn well over $100,000 a year.



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