How Are Salaries Determined for Psychologists?

Salaries for psychologists are determined by the type of services provided and the level of education achieved by the psychologist. It can also be determined by the areas in which the psychologist specializes, and the location in which they are practicing in.

Salary by Education Level

Education plays a big part in how much you will be making as a psychologist. Below is an estimation of how much you will likely be making based on the education level you have achieved. Keep in mind that these are just base national averages, and salaries can vary greatly based on specialty, employer, experience, location, and much more.

  • Bachelor's Degree in Applied Psychology – Estimated salary, is $54,734 per year or $26.00 per hour.
  • Master's Degree in Applied Psychology – Estimated salary is $80,314, or $38.61 per hour.
  • Doctorate Degree in Applied Psychology – Estimated salary is $81,912, or $39.38 per hour.

Salary by Specialty

The expected rate depends largely on the type of psychologist you become, for example, a child psychologist’s salary ($89,402 on the high end) will differ slightly from a clinical psychologist's salary ($87,150 on the high end), or drastically, for example, when comparing organizational psychologist ($149,683 on the high end) with a legal psychologist ($79,094 national average).

Salary by Employer Type

Psychology is a broad field and there are many different types of employers and job types. This will also be a factor in deciding how much you will make annually. Some psychologists, such as forensic psychologists, will make make a much higher salary working for law enforcement, rather than working in consulting as an independent contractor.

It’s also worth considering the number of employers available for hire, and which employers have more demand for psychologists. According to the most recent data from The Bureau of Labor Statistics, the largest employer of psychologists is elementary and secondary schools (27% of the employers hiring psychologists), tieing with self-employed psychologists, which take up the same percentage of the psychological job market.

Salary by Location

Supply and demand play a significant factor in many career choices, including your career choice as a psychologist. While your particular services may be needed in one state, there might be more competition in the psychological field in another state, lowering your salary significantly. This is typically apparent when you compare the prices in rural areas where there are fewer options for psychologists available for hire. Some examples of mean annual salaries (as of 2021) by location include:

  • New Jersey – $143,150
  • California – $122,790
  • New York – $120,350

Psychologist Job Outlook & Employment Projections

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job outlook for psychologists (6%) is slightly higher than the national average for all jobs (5%), with a creation of 11,300 jobs in the next decade, with a job pool of 181,600 psychological jobs in 2021. The median pay for the entire psychological field is $81,040 per year.

Psychologist vs. Counselor Salary Comparison

Median Annual Wage$81,040$45,160
Highest Paying IndustryIndustrial-Organizational PsychologistMarriage Counselor
Top Paying StateCaliforniaNew Jersey
Job Growth Outlook19%10%
*Based on 2021 BLS data
Joel Gill
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