Highest Paying Psychology Careers
Which psychology jobs pay the best salary?
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 as of 2019, 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.
Average Yearly Salary: $216,090
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 ($222,460 annually vs. $233,920 annually).
2. Industrial-Organizational Psychologist
Average Yearly Salary: $102,530
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 $57,500 a year.
Average Yearly Salary: $93,440
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: $90,340
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. Also known as human factors engineers, 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. Psychology Teacher
Average Yearly Salary: $85,050
Education Required: Postsecondary psychology teachers must have earned a master’s degree or doctoral degree. High school psychology teachers need at least a bachelor’s degree and must also obtain state certification.
Psychology teachers prepare and teach coursework in psychology, counseling, and related career paths. They prepare the next generation of psychologists for many of the other careers listed on this page. They may also conduct psychological research and write research papers on behalf of the university they work for. University psychology teachers earn $85,320 per year on average, while junior college psychology teachers earn $84,280. However, psychology professors at top universities and research institutions earn starting salaries of about $110,000. Psychology teachers at high schools are less common and earn about $60,000 per year.
6. Clinical Psychologist
Average Yearly Salary: $81,330
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 $60,000 a year, whereas clinicians with 14 year of experience earn about $115,000 a year.
7. Counseling Psychologist
Average Yearly Salary: $81,330
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.
8. School Psychologist
Average Yearly Salary: $77,430
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. Forensic Psychologist
Average Yearly Salary: $61,220
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.
10. Sports Psychologist
Average Yearly Salary: $60,000
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 $50,000 and $85,000, but sports psychologists who work with athletes in professional leagues may earn well over $100,000 a year.
11. School Psychologist
Average Salary: $58,360
Educational Requirements: Most states require completing a 60-credit school psychology specialist program, which leads to a master’s or EdS degree. Approximately 32% of school psychologists hold a PhD, PsyD, or EdD degree.
School psychologists work within the educational system to diagnose and treat behavior and learning problems in children.10 They often collaborate with other professionals, including teachers and doctors as well as parents, to help kids overcome social, emotional, behavioral, and academic problems.
According to the Occupational Outlook Handbook published by the U.S. Department of Labor, jobs in this field are expected to grow by approximately 10% over the next decade.
12. Outpatient Care Center Psychologist
As some of the highest-earning psychologists, those who work in outpatient care centers make an average salary of $133,660, according to the U.S.Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Psychologists who practice in an outpatient environment perform tasks like screening patients for depression, completing psychiatric evaluations and diagnostic tests, creating medication management strategies, and counseling family members. Because of Affordable Care Act laws and regulations, there will be an increased demand for psychologists in outpatient care centers. Psychologists in outpatient care centers are required to have the same licenses and academic credentials as clinical psychologists. A Doctor of Psychology degree is the most common degree for clinical psychologists.
13. Military Psychologist
A military psychologist works with other healthcare personnel to provide psychological and psychiatric treatment to service members and their families. Military psychologists can work with patient-service teams in military medical environments on bases, in combat, or in any other military-related environment. Generally, military psychologists are also service members. They rank as officers because of their academic accomplishments. The American Psychological Association (APA) points out that the military offers incentives through its Health Professions Scholarship Program, which covers tuition, books, and fees for the final two years of a doctoral program. The average military psychologist’s salary depends on their rank, the branch of the military, and their service record. In some cases, the salary is above $70,000 according to the APA.
The skills learned in an online B.A. Psychology program will give you a foundation in psychology to help you start your career in human services. The ability to understand others helps people become better communicators, leaders, and problem-solvers – skills that transfer to virtually any industry. Graduates are prepared to pursue careers in psychology that pay well. With a B.A. in psychology, job opportunities are growing in nearly all human service settings. Graduates might also go on to obtain more education in an advanced degree program.
15. Health psychologist
Average salary: $81,630
Health psychologists study the social and psychological factors that affect our health and illness. Some health psychologists work in a clinical setting to directly help patients learn strategies to improve their health.
16. Experimental psychologist
Average salary: $81,350
Experimental psychologists examine what influences our behavior and why we behave the way we do. This type of psychology focuses on extremely in-depth research, with psychologists collecting data and publishing their findings.
17. Developmental psychologist
Average salary: $67,990
Developmental psychologists are experts in human development and growth. Some developmental psychologists work with children who are developmentally delayed. Others might focus on the senior adult population.
18. School counselor
Average salary: $58,120
School counselors’ similar job description is similar to that of school psychologists, but it takes less education to get there: Most school counselors only need a master’s degree, not a doctorate. They primarily work to improve students’ mental health.
Average salary: $51,760
Social workers support people who need help. There are several different types of social workers — you could work with patients in a hospital, with children in foster care, or with military families, for example.
19. Substance abuse counselors
Average salary: $47,660
This type of counselor works with patients who struggle with addiction. Unlike psychiatrists, substance abuse counselors cannot prescribe medication or provide medical therapy. They act as a mentor to patients who need the support.
20. Mental health technician
National average salary: $31.73 per hour
Primary duties: The primary duty of a mental health technician is to provide operational assistance to doctors in the handling of patients with mental illness or emotional imbalances. They perform tasks such as creating treatment plans, administering prescriptions, and nursing duties such as bathing and dressing. Mental health technicians provide guidance and positive role modelling to their patients. They also educate families on ways of facilitating their patients’ recovery.
21. Psychiatric nurse
National average salary: $40.77 per hour
Primary duties: Psychiatric nurse’s primary duties involve providing psychological care to psychiatric patients. They also provide support to patient’s families. Psychiatric nurses work with doctors in transcribing doctor’s orders, administering medications, and other treatments as directed. They also monitor their patient’s progress and record noticeable behavioural changes. To become a psychiatric nurse, you require a bachelor’s degree in nursing with a focus on psychiatry or mental health. You also need to be registered to handle patients in the province of practice. Psychiatric nurses find work in hospitals, nursing homes, correctional facilities, and rehabilitation centres.
22. Counselling psychologist
National average salary: $56.36 per hour
Primary duties: Counselling psychologists specialize in treating patients undergoing emotional crises, anxiety, stress, and behavioural disorders. They offer patient consultation, assess patients, and identify patient problems. They develop and implement individualized treatment plans and evaluate patients’ responses to those plans. It may require counselling psychologists to plan for long-term counselling and multiple visits to patients with troublesome cases. They keep a detailed account of their patient’s history, which helps them refer their client to other specialized professionals, such as a psychiatrist.