A career in psychology can provide a lifetime of rewards. Your psychologist mind is probably saying that the most important are the intangibles that come from the positive impact you get to have on peoples’ lives. We agree with you. But what about your salary as a psychologist? Let’s look at a few stats.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2012, which is the latest reported median pay for psychologists on their website, a psychologist makes $69, 280 per year. Similarly, reports the national psychologists salary average to be $67, 000 as of April 17, 2015. The HR Report data from, however, states that as of April 2015, the median salary for psychologists in the U.S. is $88, 120. Salary.com varies from Indeed.com and the BLS by almost $19, 000 which is most likely due to the fact that Salary.com uses real-time survey feedback. All reported salary averages are dependent on the sample size and the demographic and geographic spread of the respondents; as you’ll see below, salaries range dramatically by geographic region, degrees earned, and by years of experience.
While an advanced degree provides a great foundation for a psychology career, and is typically required, the field of psychology is all about working with people – which makes real-world, on-the-job experience invaluable. With this data below from, the best psychology salaries generally go to those with the most experience. These are the average national salaries for 1, 994 reporting professionals with jobs in psychology and psychiatry by years of experience. These salaries were updated April 11, 2015:
- Less than 1 year: $69, 315
- 1-4 years: $80, 911
- 5-9 years: $86, 634
- 10-19 years: $106, 374
- 20 years or more: $120, 877
According to PayScale.com, the following are the reported average yearly psychology salaries in for five of the most popular psychology career fields:
|Experience||0-5 yr||5-10 yrs||10-20 yrs||More than 20 yrs|
|Clinical Psychologist||$65, 000||$75, 000||$87, 000||$96, 000|
|Counseling Psychologist||$55, 000||$69, 000||$70, 000|
|Forensic Psychologist||$57, 000||$72, 000||$85, 000||$120, 000|
|School Psychologist||$51, 000||$60, 000||$78, 000|
|Industrial-organizational Psychologist||$89, 000||$107, 000||$109, 000|
As in all career fields, your salary as a psychologist will be influenced by a variety of factors. What you earn as a professional may be higher or lower than the average national salary based on the following factors:
- Geographic location
Where you choose to work will play a big part in determining how much you’ll earn as a psychologist. For instance, in New York City, salaries for qualified psychologists are typically much higher than in rural locations, such as Lincoln, Nebraska. However, when considering location, you must also take into account the cost of living. The cost of living in New York City is much higher than it is Lincoln, Nebraska. Whether you decide to work in the big city or choose to set up shop in a rural town, your salary will will likely be similar to that of other psychologists in your area. Check out the national salaries by state in the map above.
All things being equal, experience is one of the largest factors influencing salaries. For recent college graduates, or those just getting started, salaries are often lower than for psychologists who’ve been working in the industry for several years. Experience is a great qualifier and a great teacher. With time, your skills as as a psychologist as well as your confidence will increase. Another benefit of experience is developing your professional reputation. You’ll gain recognition among your peers and reputation within your community that will help to sustain and grow your business and professional worth.
- Education Level
As you attain higher levels of education your earning potential will increase, as will your your attractiveness to potential employers and partners. Psychologists with a masters or doctoral degree usually have the best job prospects. Earning an advanced degree will not only expand your job prospects, but it will enable you to negotiate a higher salary or compensation package.
- Type of Industry
The industry you choose to work in, as well as your psychology specialty, will greatly impact your near and long-term earning potential. For example, industrial and organizational psychologists working for a large corporation will likely earn more than their counterparts working in other healthcare industries. For some psychology specialties, hospitals and clinics tend to pay higher salaries than other employers and vice versa.