Psychologists Salary and Wage Information



In addition to being one of the most rewarding and fulfilling occupations, psychology is also a relatively high paying career field. According to Salary Wizard, on average, psychologists make around $76,000 a year – some much more. Among the highest paid psychology professionals are Industrial-Organizational (I-O) Psychologists, Engineering Psychologists, Forensic Psychologists and Clinical Psychologists. While many psychologists work for medical facilities and corporations, about 35% of psychologists are self- employed and operate their own private practices. Venturing out on your own can be risky but psychologists who operate their own practice are some of the highest paid psychology professionals.

While a doctoral degree provides a strong foundation for a successful career in psychology, experience, on- the-job training, and interpersonal skills are required to maximize salary potential. The following are close approximations for the average yearly psychology salaries for five of the most popular psychology occupations, as reported by PayScale.com.

Experience 0 - 1yrs 1 - 4yrs 5 - 9yrs 10 - 19yrs 20+ yrs
Clinical psychologist $51,100 $54,500 $64,500 $71,500 $76,000
School psychologist $39,300 $44,500 $56,500 $62,000 $65,000
Counseling psychologist $39,500 $45,000 $59,000 $62,500 $65,400
Forensic psychologist $54,200 $54,000 $61,100 $74,900 $79,800
Industrial-Organizational
(I-O) psychologist
$43,700 $58,100 $74,900 $88,500 $105,500

Factors Influencing Salary Potential

How much you can earn as a psychologist is influenced by a number of factors. These include:

  • Experience
    All things being equal, experience is arguably the number one factor affecting salary. There is no substitute for experience, and this is especially true about psychology. Psychologists who have been working in their field for a number of years can expect to make substantially more than they did straight out of graduate school. With time, your professional skills improve, as will your effectiveness as psychologist. As your skills increase, you can expect to receive promotions, raises and even new job offerings. Over time you'll develop a reputation among your peers and clients that will help you establish your professional worth and grow your book of business.

  • Location
    Even if you're one of the best and brightest psychologists in your field, you're just not going to earn as much as a psychologist practicing in New York City if you choose to work in a rural area like Lincoln, Nebraska. Where you set up your practice will be one of the determining factors in your earning potential as a psychologist. Obviously, the highest earning opportunities are going to be found in large cities, like New York City, San Francisco, Chicago, etc. Not only are salaries typically higher in these areas but the have a lot more people who require counseling, therapy and mental health services. However, when choosing where you work, you'll want to consider both earning potential as well as cost of living. While you can earn a lot more working in New York City, the cost of living is substantially lower in Lincoln, Nebraska.

  • Industry
    The industry were you practice as well as your specialty as a psychologist will have a big impact on how much you make. Some of the highest paid psychologists include industrial-organizational psychologists working for private corporations. Some of the lowest paid psychologists include school psychologists and counselors working for the public education system.

  • Education Level
    While earning an advanced degree will expand your job prospects and increase your earning potential, these days most practicing psychologists have a doctoral degree – the terminal degree in the field of psychology. Getting certified in a psychology specialty will help to distinguish you as an expert in your field of practice.

Salaries by Specialty

Explore salary, wage and compensation information by selecting a psychology, therapy or counseling specialty below. (Salary information taken from American Psychological Association (APA), U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Payscale.com, Salary.com, Airforce.com and GoArmy.com)


Air Force Psychologist
Air Force psychologists make between $35,000 and $60,000 a year based on rank and experience. Psychologists working in the Air Force are compensated according to the same payscale as other healthcare professsional employed by the military. At level O-1 (Second Lieutenant) healthcare professionals make $33,941 a year. However, by the time they reach O-10 (General) they can make as much as $230,000 a year.

Army Mental Health Specialist
Mental Health Specialists employed in the private sector typically make more than those employed by the army. Mental health specialists employed by the army typically make between $20,000 and $40,000 a year. However, like other military personnel their pay is based on rank, experience and time served. In addition, army personnel receive other noncash benefits that increase the total value of their annual compensation by about 40%.

Army Psychologist
The average salary for an army psychologist is roughly $60,000 a year. However, salary will be determined in large part by rank achieved, time served, experience and seniority. Psychologists in the army are entitled to special pay in addition to their base salary. Special pay typically ranges from $2,000 to $5,000 a year. Army psychologists receive allowances for health care, child care, housing and food which can equal over $30,000 a year.

Art Therapist
Salary and benefits for art therapists is comparable to compensation provided to other therapy professionals. Art therapists typically earn just under $60,000 a year. Compensation for art therapists is influenced by a number of factors including location, education and experience. Art therapists working in New England and along the West Coast typically earn more than those working in the midwest.

Career Counselor
Career counselors earn between $31,250 and $57,830 a year, however, successful career counselors can make even more. Career counselors working in colleges and universities almost always make more than those employed by high schools. Earning an advanced degree will increase a counselors earning potential. Wages and compenstation are also influenced by experience, employer and location.

Child Counselor
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, child counselors earn an annual mean wage of just over $50,000 a year – on par with other counselors, including marriage and family therapists. The top 10% of child counselors make over $75,000 a year. Earning an advanced degree will increase a candidates earning potential.

Child Abuse Counselor
Child abuse counselors typically earn an annual wage on par with other counselors. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, couselors earn a mean annual wage of just over $50,000, with the top 10th percentile making over $75,000 a year. Salary is influenced by level of education, experience, employer and location.

Child Psychologist
Just out of college most child psychologists earn between $30,000 and $45,000 a year. With 5 to 10 years of work experience child psychologists will see their earning potential increase to $55,000 to $80,000 a year. With over 10 years of experience a child psychologist can make between $80,000 and $120,000 year. On average, a child psychologist makes around $65,000 a year.

Child Welfare Social Worker
As of 2010, the median annual salary for child welfare workers was $41,920 a year. Those in the bottom 10th percentile made less than $25,000 a year while those in the upper 10th percentile made over $64,000 a year.

Clinical Psychologist
Clinical psychology is one of the higher paying branches of psychology. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for a clinical psychologist is approximately $66,000 a year. For those working in private practice the wage is even higher – $68,500 a year. The middle 50% of all clinical psychologists make between $48,000 and $84,000 a year. The top 10% percentile make over $110,000 a year.

Clinical Social Worker
Just starting out, clinical social workers can expect to make between $30,000 and $35,000 a year. With just four years of experience average page goes to $35,000 to $40,000 a year. Social workers with more experience can earn up to $50,000 a year.

Cognitive Psychologist
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics the average annual salary for cognitive psychologists is roughly $57,000 a year. However, for cognitive psychologists working at universities the median annual salary increases to $65,000 a year according to the American Psychological Association (APA). Cognitive psychologists workin as industrial-organizational (I-O) psychologists with private corporations can make up to $115,000 a year.

Community Counselor
Community counselors earn a salary on par with that earned by other licensed professional counselors. The mediam salary for licensed couselors is approximately $43,000 a year.

Consumer Psychologist
A consumer psychologist with a bachelor's degree can look forward to an average annual salary between $30,000 and $35,000 a year. Starting pay for consumer psychologists with a graduate degree is around $40,000 a year. Seasoned consumer psychologist can make up to $80,000 a year.

Counseling Psychologist
The average starting salary for counseling psychologists is between $35,000 and $40,000 a year. With just three years of experience average salary figures increase to $40,000 year and with more than five years of experience counseling psychologists can earn anywhere between $45,000 and $55,000 a year. Salaries between $60,000 and $70,000 a year are not uncommon for counseling psychologists with more than ten years of experience.

Developmental Psychologist
According to the American Psychological Association (APA) the median annual salary for developmental psychologists employed at universities ranges between $70,000 and $90,000 a year. Developmental psychologists working in the private sector and as research administrators can earn over $110,000 a year.

Disability Case Manager
The median annual salary for disability case managers is about $50,000 a year. As with other mental health professionals, salary is influenced by level of education, experience and location.

Disability Policy Worker
While specific data on salary levels for disability workers is not available, policy workers earn about the same amount as social workers with similiar experience and educational backgrounds. The average annual salary for disability policy workers is estimated at $45,000 a year.

Domestic Violence Counselor
On average, domestic violence counselor make the same amount as all other counselors employed in the United States. The mean annual salary for counselors nationwide, as reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), is roughly $50,000. The top 10th percentile of all counselors make over $75,000 a year.

Educational Psychologist
Educational psychologists working in elementary schools and high schools have median annual income of approximately $68,000 a year. Educational psychologists working in development and research have median annual income of approximately $84,000 a year.

Engineering Psychologist
Engineering psychologists are among the highest paid psychology professionals in the United States. According to a survey produced by the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society (HFES) engineering psychologists with a doctoral degree employed in the private sectors average about $110,000 a year. The same survey indicated engineering psychologists employed in academia make about $93,000 a year. Those working for government make around $100,000 a year.

Exercise Therapist
On average, exercise therapists make roughly $45,000 a year, but often earn anywhere from $15,000 to $60,000 a year.

Existential Therapist
The average salary for an existential therapist is right around $50,000 a year. Existential therapy is a newer career field and not a lot of salary information is available. Factors including experience, location and employer affect annual compensation for existential therapists.

Experimental Psychologist
Experimental psychologists typically make around $35,000 straight out of college. With a doctoral degree and 5-9 years of work experienced that can make up to $87,000 annually.

Forensic Psychologist
According to the BLS, the median annual salary for forensic psychologists is right around $60,000 a year. Fifty percent of all forensic psychologists make between $45,000 and $78,000 a year. The top 10% of forensic psychologists make over $100,000 a year. Entry-level positions for forensic psychologists with a doctoral degree start around $65,000 a year and go up from there. For those with a bachelor's or master's degree, entry-level positions can pay anywhere from $35,000 to $50,000 a year. Forensic psychologists working in private practice as consultants average between $80,000 and $90,000 a year.

Geriatric Social Worker
On average, geriatric social workers make between $32,000 and $46,100 a year, however, as in other medical fields, the salary for geriatric social workers can vary greatly. Most social workers receive additional compensation in the form of health insurance and benefits, paid vacation and life insurance. More information about compensation can be obtained through the National Association of Social Workers (1-202-408-8600) or the Association of Gerontology and Higher Education (1-202-289-9805).

Gerontological Counselor
Information about compensation for gerontological counselors is limited. They usually make the same amount as other counselors with similiar duties and job descriptions. It's estimated that they make between $30,000 and $50,000 annnual, with the upper 10th percentile making more than $65,000 a year. Unlike traditional counselors, gerontological counselor usually work in health career where wages are somewhat higher than other sectors.

Geropsychologist
While specific salary data is unavailable for geropsychologists, they should make about as much as other psychology specialists who have similar job responsibilities and duties. It's estimated that geropsychologists make between $40,000 and $70,000 a year – on average.

Health Psychologist
Entry-level positions for licensed health psychologists usually start out around $40,000 a year. Health psychologists with several years of experience can make over $85,000 a year. The American Psychological Association (APA) reports that about 13% of health psychologists – who work in human services – make about $80,000 a year.

Industrial-Organizational Psychologist
Industrial-organizational (I-O) psychologists are unquestionable among the highest paid psychology professionals in the nation. According to the BLS, the mean annual salary for I-O psychologists is $88,000 a year, but many make well over $100,000 a year. Compensation for I-O psychologists is affected by employer, industry, field of expertise and location. I-O psychologists with a doctoral degree usually make more than those with a master's or bachelor's degree. The upper 5% of I-O psychologists make more than $200,000 a year.

Licensed Professional Counselor
Licensed professional counselors (LPCs) work in various capacities including school counselor ($35,000 to $53,000 a year), marriage counselors($32,000 to $55,000 a year), career counselors($31,000 to $51,000 a year), and substance abuse counselors ($30,000 to $45,000 a year). Pay is influenced by field of expertice, employer, level of education and location.

Marriage and Family Counselor
Marriage and family counselors with a master's degree have median annual wage of roughly $55,000 a year. Marriage counselors with a PhD earn about $60,000 a year. The median salary for marriage and family counselor employed in private practices is roughly $59,000 a year. Salary figures will vary by location.

Marriage and Family Therapist
The median annual salary for family therapists is about $45,000. The middle 50% of all marriage and family therapists make between $35,000 and $57,000 a year. The upper 10th percentile of marriage and family therapists make over $70,000 a year.

Media Psychologist
Media psychologists have a median annual salary of $55,000. However, as media psychologists work in a variety of fields with varying job responsibilities, annual salary and compensation figures can vary quite a bit.

Medical and Public Health Social Worker
Medical and public health social workers are among the highest paid of all social workers. The median salary for public health social workers is approximately $48,000 a year. The middle 50 percent of these workers earn between $35,000 and $58,000 a year. The upper 10th percentile of medical and public health social workers earn more than $69,000 a year. Public health social workers employed in hospitals earn approximately $53,000 a year, in home health centers, $46,000 a year, in local government $44,000 a year, in nursing care facilities $41,000 a year and in individual and family services $38,000 a year.

Mental Health/Sub. Abuse Social Worker
The median annual salary for mental health social workers is around $40,000 a year. Approximately 50% of all mental health social workers earn between $29,000 and $49,000 a year. Mental health and substance abuse social workers in the top 10th percentile make over $60,000 a year.

Military Chaplain
The average annual salary for military chaplains is $45,000 a year. Military chaplains typically make between $40,000 and $50,000 a year. However, like other military personnel, military chaplains qualify for pay raises based on rank and receive additional compensation in the form of health insurance, housing allowance, food reimbursement and child care.

Military Counselor
Counselors employed by the military, on average, make anywhere from $35,000 to $60,000 a year. Compensation varies by rank, years of service and seniority. Military counselors receive other compensation in the form health insurance, housing and food allowance, and child care.

Military Psychologist
Military psychologists typically earning between $40,000 and $65,000 a year. They receive additional compensation in the form health insurance, 30 days paid vacation, retirement benefits, low-cost life insurance, cost of living allowances and child care.

Music Therapist
The average salary for music therapists, according to a survey from the American Music Therapy Association, is roughly $50,000 a year. However, the same survey reported annual earnings as low as $20,000 and as high $188,000.

Navy Psychologist
Annual salary figures for navy psychologists range from $35,000-60,000 a year. However, navy psychologists also receive compensation in the form health insurance, housing and food allowance, child care, as well as a few other perks such as tuition reimbursement and a living expense stipend.

Neuropsychologist
Neuropsychologists are among the highest paid psychologists in the United States. It's not uncommon for neuropsychologists to make over $100,000 a year. Neurospsychologists working in hospitals, physician's offices and in research and development command the highest salaries. Many of the highest paid neuropsychologists live along the East and West Coasts.

Primary Therapist
On average, primary therapists earn between $25,000 and $45,000 a year. As in other fields of psychology, salary is influenced by location, employer and experience.

Psychotherapist
Data provided by the BLS suggests that psychotherapists earn between $35,000 and $65,000 a year. The website Indeed.com reported a median annual wage of roughly $59,000 for psychotherapists. However, experienced psychotherapists or those that run a thriving private practice can earn much more than the average figures quoted above.

Rehabilitation Counselor
The median salary nationwide for rehabilitation counselors is approximately $32,000 a year. The middle fifty percent of all rehabilitation counselors earn between $25,000 and $42,000 a year. The upper 10th percentile earn over $57,000 a year.

Rehabilitation Psychologist
Rehabilitation psychologists earn between $45,000 and $100,000 a year. Earning potential is influenced by location, experience, and specialty.

School Psychologist
While school psychologist is one of the fastest growing career fields within psychology, earnings for school psychologists are about average. School psychologists can expect to earn between $45,000 and $65,000 a year. Those with a PhD or in administrative positions can earn more.

Social Psychologist
According to the American Psychological Association (APA) the median salary for social psychologists varies between $76,000 and $116,000 a year. The median salary for social psychologists employed by universities is $76,000, for those employed in research positions ,$80,000, and for those in research administration and educational administration positions, $116,000.

Sports Psychologist
Sports psychologists typically make between $45,000 to $80,000 a year. However, some sports psychologists take over $100,000. Competition for sports psychology jobs is fierce.

Substance Abuse Counselor
Annual salaries for substance abuse counselors range from $30,000 to $48,000 a year. As in other fields, salaries for substance abuse counselors are influenced by location, experience and employer.

Veterans Counselor
Counselors that work with the VA have average annual salaries ranging from $35,000 to $60,000. Veterans counselors work for both governmental and private agencies.

Victims Advocate
Victim's advocates typically work with state agencies, local courts or non-profit organizations. The median salary for victim's advocates is approximately $47,000 a year. An advocates earnings are influenced by level of education, employer and location. You'll want to find out the average annual salary for victim's advocates in the area you plan on living before pursuing a career in this field.

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