How Much Do Psychologists Make?

Therapist Salary: How Much Do Psychiatrists and Psychologists Make?

How Much Do Psychologists Make?

Curious about how much therapists make? As with any type of job, therapists’ salaries differ their geography, education level, experience, and practice setting. Within mental healthcare, there is a wide range of salaries – nationally, therapists make anywhere from $30,000 to $100,000. Psychologists and psychiatrists can make even more than that!

To understand this range, it's important to look at where in the country the therapist practices, what their credentials are, and who their client population is, as all of these pieces impact how much he or she takes home in salary! Read on for a breakdown of salaries for therapists, psychiatrists, and psychologists, and what trends may impact their income.

Typical therapist salaries range widely – from $30,000 to $100,000

For a therapist (who is not a psychiatrist or a psychologist), salaries depend in part on education and training, as well as clinical specialization. Individual therapists may make anywhere from $30,000 per year to over $100,000.

Additionally, a therapist’s salary depends in large part on the setting in which they practice. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports, for example, that the national annual median for therapists is:

  • $30,350 for therapists who work in community rehabilitation centers
  • $47,000 for mental health counselors in hospitals
  • $72,580 for family therapists who work for the government

Typical psychologist salary is about $77,000 annually

The 2017 median salary for psychologists in the United States was $77,003 per year, or about $37 per hour. Again, this figure varies depending on geography and on the setting in which the psychologist works.

Psychologists who work for the government generally earn the most money on average, followed by those who work in hospitals and then in schools. For instance, Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the national annual median for therapists is:

  • $74,470 for psychologists who work in school settings (elementary and secondary)
  • $94,910 for psychologists who work in government positions

Psychiatrists average over $200,000 annually – making them the highest-paid professionals in the mental health field

Generally speaking, psychiatrists are the highest-paid mental health professionals, because they have medical credentials and more extensive education requirements. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that psychiatrists generally earn an average of over $200,000 annually, or over $100 per hour.

As with other therapists’ salaries, psychiatrists’ earning can vary according to geography and the nature of their clinical practice. For example, psychiatrists who work in the offices of physicians or other medical professionals often earn the most, while those who work in hospitals tend to earn less.

It’s common knowledge that certain areas of the country have a higher cost-of-living than others (I’m looking at you, New York and California!). Therefore, therapist salaries will be higher in these areas than in their less-expensive counterparts.

To put this range in perspective, a social worker in Iowa makes $51,000 on average, while a social worker in California makes $73,000.

That’s quite a big difference! However, keep in mind that the California social worker will have higher cost of living — greater rent rates, more expensive groceries each week, etc. so it ly balances out.

How long you went to school and what training you have

There are many different ways that a person can become a therapist and the route that you take impacts your salary potential. You might notice credentials next to therapists’ names — LCSW, LPC, MFT. These credentials show which educational program the therapist went through, such as:

  • Masters in Social Work for LCSWs
  • Masters in Counseling for LPC
  • Masters in Marriage and Family Therapy for MFT
  • Doctorate in Psychology for PsyD or PhD
  • Medical training and residency in Psychiatry for MDs

Each type of therapy credential has their own salary range, and generally those who went to school for longer periods have higher salaries. For example, according to the Bureau for Labor Statistics, MFTs make on average $49,610 per year while psychologists make an average of $80,370 per year. Psychiatrists make the most money, earning more than $200,000 per year.

Education doesn’t stop after the therapist graduates, though – most therapists will specialize or become certified in a specific type of therapy to boost their earning potential.

With continued education and additional training, a therapist can increase his or her salary by offering more expensive services.

An example of this is becoming certified in Eye Movement Reprocessing and Desensitization (EMDR) therapy or completing the Gottman Method trainings to become a couples therapist – sessions using these techniques will cost more because not all therapists can offer the services.

What type of practice setting you’re in and who you're seeing

A third determining factor for a therapist’s salary is in which type of practice setting they see clients. You might have heard of private practice, which is when the therapist owns the business through which he or she determines client-load and fees. There are also therapy practices that employ therapists and offer standardized salaries.

Other settings include healthcare systems, community rehabilitation centers, schools, or government agencies. Each type of setting offers different compensation — according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports, here are the the national annual median for therapists in different settings:

  • $30,350 for therapists who work in community rehabilitation centers
  • $47,000 for mental health counselors in hospitals
  • $72,580 for family therapists who work for the government

You can see the differences in salary, with government work generally offering higher salaries. Schools and education systems also offer high salaries for therapists (and you might even get summer and winter breaks the kiddos!). And, of course, those who are further along in their career with many years of experience are more ly to receive higher salaries than those just starting.

Overall, being a therapist can provide stable career with a substantial income. Factors such as educational-level and type, years experience, and setting play into how much a therapist makes each year. Those who run their own private practices get to set their fees and determine how many clients they see, which means they have more control over much they make each year.

If you're looking to move away from salaried positions and boost your private practice, Zencare can help! Learn more about how we can help you grow your online presence, attract ideal clients, and build your dream practice.

We're looking for clinically excellent and compassionate therapists and psychiatrists to refer clients to. We'd love to learn about your practice!

Zencare is the simplest way to find your ideal therapist. Browse therapist videos and book a free phone call to find a great fit! Our women-led team is based in Brooklyn, NY.

With the right forethought, transitioning to private pay can be an excellent move for your practice! Here are five steps to keep in mind as you make this exciting and beneficial move.

If you develop a committed practice of caring for yourself, then you can help others on their mental health journeys for years to come. Here are 9 ways for therapists to honor and prioritize your own mental health.

Still not sure if adding photos or videos to your online presence is worth it? Here, we share eight reasons why it is, using data to back it up.

If you are in a life threatening situation, please do not use this site. Call the 24h National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1 (800) 273-8255 or use these resources. If your issue is an emergency, call 911 or go to your nearest emergency room.

© 2021 Zencare Group, Inc.

If you are in a life threatening situation, don’t use this site. Call the 24h National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1 (800) 273-8255 or use these resources. If your issue is an emergency, call 911 or go to your nearest emergency room.

© 2021 Zencare Group, Inc.


Here’s How Much Money Psychologists Make In Every State

How Much Do Psychologists Make?

The number of psychologists in the U.S. is projected to increase by 14%, adding an additional 26,100 … [+] jobs by 2028.


The field of psychology has been on the rise and is set to continue its dramatic growth as an industry. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ (BLS) Occupational Outlook Handbook, employment of psychologists is projected to increase much faster than average, with approximately 26,100 psychologist jobs being added from 2018 to 2028, an increase of 14%.

Using occupational data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, we've analyzed and compiled a round-up of the average psychologist salary by state in the U.S., defined as clinical, counseling and school psychologists by the BLS. Read on for a full breakdown of where psychologists make the most money and where they're making the least.

10 States Where Psychologists Earn the Most Money

The national average annual wage of a psychologist is $85,340, according to the BLS, about 64% higher than the average annual salary for all occupations, $51,960. However, psychologist salaries can vary dramatically from state to state, more so than the salaries of many other occupations. Below is a list of the top-10 highest-paying states for psychologists.

  1. California average psychologist salary: $108,350
  2. Oregon average psychologist salary: $103,870
  3. New Jersey average psychologist salary: $98,470
  4. Hawaiiaverage psychologist salary: $94,550
  5. New Yorkaverage psychologist salary: $94,140
  6. Alaskaaverage psychologist salary: $91,450
  7. Connecticutaverage psychologist salary: $90,870
  8. Georgiaaverage psychologist salary: $89,190
  9. North Dakotaaverage psychologist salary: $87,090
  10. Louisianaaverage psychologist salary: $86,630

California has a very high median household income compared to the U.S. overall, so seeing that state pay psychologists the most isn’t surprising.

What is surprising is seeing a state Louisiana among the top-10 states for psychologist salaries because, with most other occupations, Louisiana tends to rank toward the bottom.

The average psychologist salary in Oregon grew a robust 48% in the last five years, from $71,910 in 2013 to $103,870 in 2018.

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The bottom-10 states where psychologists make the least money are geographically mixed, though patterns are apparent. The U.S.

South, Upper Midwest and Mountain division of the West comprise the list of the states where psychologist salaries are the lowest.

In the worst-paying state for psychologists, West Virginia, the average psychologist salary is over $26,00 less than the U.S. average salary. Here’s a look at the 10 worst states for psychologist’s salaries:

  1. West Virginia average psychologist salary: $59,200
  2. Oklahoma average psychologist salary: $60,760
  3. South Carolina average psychologist salary: $63,050
  4. Montana average psychologist salary: $63,720
  5. Idaho average psychologist salary: $64,270
  6. Kentucky average psychologist salary: $64,330
  7. Kansas average psychologist salary: $65,320
  8. Arizona average psychologist salary:$66,040
  9. Nebraska average psychologist salary: $66,510
  10. Mississippi average psychologist salary: $67,570

Growth rates in psychologist salaries are middling to below-average in these 10 states. South Carolina, for instance, has experienced healthy growth of 20.8%, with psychologist salaries increasing from $52,190 in 2013 to $63,050 in 2018. In Idaho, on the other hand, salaries have outright fallen by 1.2%.

How Much Do Psychologists Make in Each State

Below you’ll find the average annual wage for psychologists in all 50 states from 2013 to 2018. Oregon has experienced the largest growth (48%) in its average psychologist salary, followed by North Dakota (40.8%), Alaska (40.2%), Georgia (37.2%) and California (34.7%).


Clinical Psychologist Salary

How Much Do Psychologists Make?

Let’s not beat around the bush: a lot of people become psychologists because there are big bucks waiting for you on the other side of your degree program.

Yes, it’s true that a career in psychology allows you to help people with real mental health issues depression and anxiety. Maybe you even get to work with kids and families, and change lives along the way. Clinical psychology is littered with opportunities to make a difference, and that’s a real kind of compensation.

But there is also plenty of cold, hard cash floating around in the industry.

That’s because, according to the National Institutes of Mental Health, mental illness is common in the United States. More than 51 million Americans live with some sort of mental health issue, nearly one in five adults. Those can range from run-of-the-mill anxiety to full-blown schizophrenia. All of them need professional treatment from psychologists.

But at the same time, according to the National Center for Education Statistics, there are only around 6,000 doctoral graduates from psychology programs entering the workforce each year. And not all of those are even necessarily going to pursue clinical licensure and patient therapy work.

The gap between skilled clinicians and patients with mental health issues means that American psychologists are in high demand, and that demand means they can command big money.

How big? Well, it’s a little more complicated to figure that part out. Psychologist careers go through several different phases, so it’s not as simple as picking one single number and saying that is the right salary. Just as important, clinical psychologists can find jobs in different parts of the country and different industries, all of which goes into calculating average salary.

So a clinical psychologist average salary is best understood by looking at what psychologists make in those different phases of their careers.


How Do You Know How Much Clinical Psychologists Make?

Before we dive into all the dollars and cents, you should know where it comes from and how much you can trust it.

The go-to source for salary data for just about every profession in the United States is the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). A part of the federal Department of Labor, BLS tracks all kinds of work and career trends, including employment levels and benefits in addition to salary data.

This is all collected through several different national surveys that are conducted of both employers and employees with statistically significant sample sizes. The surveys data are fed into complex models that establish the overall salary range by job classification and region.

Clinical psychologist salaries are not tracked independently from other types of psychologists.

BLS definitions don’t always line up exactly with what the industry itself considers a standard job title, though. Clinical psychologists are one of the positions that falls into that kind of crack.

The Bureau breaks the psychologist role down into several other sub-categories. As of 2020, one of those is called Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychologists, which you might imagine would cover all clinical psychologists. In psychology, you’re considered a clinical psychologist if you are involved in the direct treatment of patients.

But there are two problems with those values. First, the Bureau shows that jobs within this category are overwhelmingly listed as being within elementary and secondary schools. That means the largest influence on the salary numbers are actually school psychologists, who have a different background and lower pay range than the typical clinical psychologist.

Second, there are many practicing clinical psychologists who don’t really fall into those tightly defined roles. They end up in the BLS category for “Psychologist, All Other,” instead. But that category itself doesn’t provide straightforward data for clinical psychologists either because it includes salaries for psychologists in non-clinical roles policy advisors or researchers.

You can see that these categories are pretty much in alignment, with median salaries that just break the six-figure mark.

  • Psychologists, All Other — $105,780
  • Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychologists in Offices of Other Health Practitioners — $101,860

You came here for real answers and that means pinning down real data. To really drill down and identify precisely what you can expect to earn as a clinical psychologist, it’s worth laying all this out.

For our estimates here, we’ll use the psychologists, all other category as our baseline for clinical psychologist salaries. That might seem counter intuitive at first, but there is reason to believe it is the most accurate since it excludes the lower salaries that school psychologists earn.

Clinical Psychologist Starting Salary Range

Online psychology degrees have made career preparation in the field very accessible.

Although most clinical psychologists are required to have doctorates in order to become licensed to practice, a handful of states offer associate psychologist licenses that allow clinical psychologists to get started in the industry by working under supervision with just a master’s degree. Those are exactly the kind of jobs you will find at the lower end of the starting salary range.

Of course, even doctorally-prepared clinical psychologists don’t start off at the average salary for the profession, or even anywhere close to it. You earn a reputation in this business as your skill level and expertise increase, so you can expect your salary to climb in the years after you get started.

What is the average starting salary for a clinical psychologist?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary in 2020 for psychologists at the lower end of salary scale, which is where starting salaries would fall, range between $44,500 and $76,730. Those with doctoral degrees will be toward the upper end of that range, while those who have only master’s degrees at the beginning will fall toward the lower end.

Clinical Psychologist Salary in Mid-Career

Mid-career clinical psychologist salaries are the land of the median. At this stage in your career, you have shaken off those new-graduate misconceptions, taken on a few tough cases, scored some victories, notched some defeats. You’ve climbed the rungs from the bottom levels of the psychologist salary ladder and ended up somewhere in the lower six figure range.

But here is also where you will start to notice differences your specialization and industry.

BLS tracks psychologist salaries for those employed specifically in the offices of mental health practitioners, which probably covers the bulk of independent psychology practices. The median there comes out at $103,560, which lands right between the two categories we named above.

Psychologists who work in individual and family services, another hotbed of clinical practice, average $100,640 per year.

But location can make a huge difference, too. BLS tracks the differences for both state and metropolitan area. The top states for clinical psychologist salaries are:

  • California — $124,910
  • Alaska — $118,270
  • Illinois — $115,340
  • Virginia — $109,060
  • Colorado — $103,560

The top 5 highest paying metro areas are:

  • Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim — $138,810
  • Sacramento-Roseville-Arden-Arcade — $126,040
  • Jacksonville — $125,230
  • Salinas — $122,360
  • Chicago-Naperville-Elgin — $118,550

Do clinical psychologists make good money?

Clinical psychologists make excellent money, more than $100,000 per year on average. You have to balance the salary against some other factors, however:

  • Clinical psychologists must earn doctoral degrees, a high bar to clear with big tuition costs and seven years or more of graduate studies
  • Many clinical psychologists work in independent practice, which increases risks and pressure around income level
  • Working independently can also reduce other kinds of compensation, such as benefits and bonuses

On the other hand, the freedom of running your own office and being your own boss can be worth a lot, even if you can’t add it up in dollars and cents. It’s nice to have options!

Clinical Psychologist Pay at the Peak of the Profession

While you can jack up your compensation just by working in the right industry or relocating to the poshest Florida or California suburb you can find, you will also notice that your income level keeps rising as your experience and reputation grow. You keep learning through practice, through continuing education, through your own insight and personal development.

That kind of growth and expertise ends up being worth big money to employers or clients. So by the time you have twenty years or more under your belt, you can expect to be entering the upper ranks of the profession. How much do clinical psychologists make in the top ten percent of the field?

According to BLS, they pull in more than $133,470. Those in the top quarter, still a pretty elite group, make as much as $119,460. And keep in mind, those numbers are just the salary potential.

You will also ly be looking at improvements in other kinds of compensation at that level, whether bonuses if you work for a bigger organization, or more flexibility in your working arrangements and choice of casework if you are self-employed.

There is a reason psychologists with plenty of years of practice behind them have the big houses and nice cars. At this stage, you’ve earned them!

How much does a clinical psychologist with a PhD make?

Since almost all clinical psychologists have a doctoral degree of some sort, either a PhD or a PsyD, you have to distinguish your earning potential through other factors, such as specialization or the industry you work in.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics shows the median for the general category for psychologists to be $105,780. For clinical, counseling, and school psychologists in offices of other health practitioners specifically earn $101,860.


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