By Diane Turner
A psychologist helps to analyze mental processes as well as human behavior by recording, observing or interpreting how people act around each other and in the environment. They will conduct scientific studies regarding the function of the brain, collect information through tests, surveys, interviews and experiments and use this knowledge to help better understand and predict human behavior.
The salary of a psychologistwill vary based on how this knowledge is applied. Most psychologists will enter the field by working directly with patient, using their understanding of the mind to help these people better understand and manage their emotional reactions. Psychologists may diagnose mental, emotional or behavioral disorders a person is experiencing and provide a treatment plan to help manage these issues. They can also work with couples, families or individuals to help address behaviors or other issues that can be putting strain on these individuals. They may collaborate with social workers or physicians to provide the best possible treatment for these individuals.
In order to work as a psychologist, you will need to earn an advanced degree, which is much of what drives the average psychologist salary. Those working in a clinical setting will typically need to earn a Ph.D. or a Doctor of Psychology, known as a Psy.D. Those that plan on working in a school setting will need to earn a master’s with a specialization in psychology or a doctorate in psychology. This will typically include educational training that will help these individuals manage the specific needs in the education system presents such as schedule planning or career assistance. In order to work with clients, psychologists will also need to earn a license from the state where they work. They will also need to periodically attend additional educational programs to maintain this license.
Psychologist Average Salary
The average psychologist salary is $73,090. Many of the factors that impact how much the psychologist average salary include the area where the psychologist works, the type of practice they take on and the level of education the psychologist has earned before entering the field.
Psychologist Salary Factors and Influences
The industry where the psychologist is employed has a great deal of impact on the salary they can expect to make. The top paying industriessalary for a psychologist includes:
Employment Services Average Salary: $97,060
Business Schools or Computer Management Training Average Salary: $95,670
Scientific Research and Development Services Average Salary: $87,500
Management of Companies and Enterprises Average Salary: $87,500
Home Health Care Services Average Salary: $86,340
Most of these industries require organizational therapists that will help clients both with mental distress and providing them with the necessary skills to function successfully in the work, school or personal environment. Those that are employed by a more valuable company are much more likely to earn a competitive wage, both because they will be working with a larger group of people and because these industries will have a larger budget to field a psychological department.
However, these industries will likely only hire a few individuals for the entire company, making jobs here very competitive. Areas that boast the highest concentration of psychologists tend to have an average psychologist salary that better reflects this competition.
Offices of Other Health Practitioners Average Salary: $83,650
Psychiatric and Substance Abuse Hospitals Average Salary: $76,580
Educational Support Services Average Salary: $67,390
Outpatient Care Centers Average Salary: $69,300
Other Residential Care Facilities Average Salary: $53,380
As you can see, these industries tend to have salaries that are much closer to the national average than those listed above. These types of facilities are more likely to hire a staff of trained psychologists to take on their needs, which lowers the amount they will have to keep each on the payroll. The areas that have the highest employment levelssee a similar trend with the psychologist average salary.
Elementary and Secondary Schools Average Salary: $71,510
Offices of Other Health Practitioners Average Salary: $83,650
Individual and Family Services Average Salary: $67,900
State Government Average Salary: $79,550
Outpatient Care Centers Average Salary: $69,300
These industries fall somewhere in between. Many agencies will only have a few trained psychologists on staff, but they also tend to have tighter budgets on hand, driving the average salary toward the national average.
The area where a psychologist is employed will also have a significant impact on what they can expect to earn. Note the highest paying areas of the countryand the salary of a psychologistoffered in these areas.
Trenton-Ewing, NJ Average Salary: $121,950
San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles, CA Average Salary: $108,670
Hanford-Corcoran, CA Average Salary: $107,550
Montgomery, AL Average Salary: $107,230
Newark-Union, NJ-PA Average Salary: $106,480
San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA Average Salary: $106,480
Gainesville, FL Average Salary: $105,820
Boulder, CO Average Salary: $105,620
Salinas, CA Average Salary: $105,290
Napa, CA Average Salary: $103,790
As you can see, these are all well above the average. This phenomenon is largely due to the high amount of professional industries in these areas depending on organizational psychologists as well as the high populations that influence the area. Psychologists will need to consider these influences carefully before completing their education. They will often need to earn additional specializations or become licensed in a specific area in order to fully take advantage of these opportunities.
Psychologist Salary Compared To Related Fields
The average salary of a psychologist is typically much higher than other fields that regularly deal with human behavior or behavior modification.
Average Salary for a Psychologist: $73,090
Average Salary for Mental Health Counselors, Marriage or Family Therapists: $39,710
Average Salary for School and Career Counselors: $53,380
Average Salary for Substance Abuse and Behavioral Disorder Counselors: $38,120
Average Salary for Sociologists: $53,220
Compared to other similar industries, psychologists are required to get significantly more education than other fields. Many others on this list are only required to earn a bachelor’s degree while psychologist will typically need to earn a Ph.D. before they can begin earning experience to enter the field.
Psychologist Salary by State
The psychologist salary by stateshows a distinct gap in the available salaries around the country. Compare the highest paying states for the psychological field below to the national average.
Psychologist Salary in New Jersey: $96,200
Psychologist Salary in Hawaii: $94,960
Psychologist Salary in New York: $84,580
Psychologist Salary in Rhode Island: $82,100
As you can see, these areas tend to have a significantly higher salary offering than the national average. This is for a variety of reasons. Many of these areas have higher populations that drive the need for more social care. These areas also have more competitive employment or educational facilities, driving the need for an organizational psychologist that can work with these individuals. Areas that require specialized mental health care see an increase in the salary these individuals can expect to earn. To illustrate this point, compare these salaries to those from the areas with the highest employment levels for psychologists.
Average Salary in California: $84,580
Average Salary in New York: $84,090
Average Salary in Texas: $64,260
Average Salary in Pennsylvania: $72,060
Average Salary in Illinois: $68,180
As you can see, these areas all boast a higher population, increasing the demand for social services. These areas are also known for being very high in industry as well as higher education, providing more venues where a trained psychologist would be necessary. Once again, the type of psychology that would be needed by industries in this area will largely be specialized, focusing on organizational therapy pursuits. The average salary for a psychologist will be raised in areas where psychologists will need more experience and advanced training in order to take on the responsibilities of their job.
Areas that put a heavier emphasis on health and well-being are also more likely to see an increase in salaries for psychologists. States that have a culture that focuses more on religion or religious counseling may not see an increased demand for professional psychologists. Areas that have more reputable educational facilities that teach psychology are also likely to see an increase in demand for professional psychologists as these individuals are more likely to appreciate the services these professionals can provide.
Psychologist Types of Salaries
Psychologist: Average Salary:$85,021
A psychologist will meet with patients, evaluating their emotional, mental and behavioral disorders. They will diagnose these disorders as well as the extend of the mental disturbance and determine the appropriate course for treatment. Psychologists cannot prescribe medication so they will largely use talk therapy to help manage distress This profession requires an advanced degree as well as a license to practice in the field. They may require 2-4 years of experience before taking on patients without supervision.
Counseling Psychologist of Higher Education: Average Salary: $60,546
Counselors or counseling psychologist in a higher education setting will meet with faculty and students at a college or university. They will treat these groups through indirect or direct methods as necessary. This may include talk therapy or providing the resources necessary to help manage on the job or career based goals. Those that wish to work in this environment will need to earn a master’s degree in counseling or clinical psychology as well as a license to practice in the state where they are employed. Higher positions in this field may also require 4-6 years of experience.
Organizational Psychologist: Average Salary: $117,807
Organizational psychologists will focus their practice on conducting organization, appraisal and talent management projects. They will help to implement tolls and guides that will help an employee select the right career and gain the training they need to manage workplace or family issues. They may also develop surveys to help companies access job satisfaction. These positions will require a master’s degree with a specialty in this field and at least five years of experience in psychology before they may practice.
History of Psychologists
Psychology did not emerge as its own science until the end of the 19th century, though the idea of studying the inner workings of the mind as a means of understanding or altering human behavior dates back to the 1600s. Once psychology was established as a science, it was largely based on introspection, a technique most in the field considered somewhat unreliable. A few years later, American psychologist William James developed the school of functionalism which helped people understand how to properly function in their given environments.
Much of modern psychology comes from a mixture of sources, with perhaps the most dominating being the works of Sigmund Freud. Freud focused much of his work and teachings on determining how a patient’s conscious and unconscious experiences affected their behavior and personality. This has been largely molded by behaviorism, the belief that people accept and reject different beliefs based on the information in their unconscious mind, treating psychology more like a behavior than a reaction.
Today, psychologists are expected to have a wide, working knowledge of these overlapping concepts to help determine the best way to treat a patient’s anxieties or mental disorders. Classroom study will introduce each school of thought as well as a variety of biological influences that will help the psychologist create their own practice.
PsychologistsSalary Outlook – Conclusion
Overall, psychologists are expected to see a wide range of career growth. Industrial or organizational psychologists will see a 35 percent employment increase, clinical, school or counseling psychologist as well as general psychologists will see a 22 percent increase in employment and all other psychologists seeing an 18 percent increase in the field with the average salary of a psychologist matching this growth accordingly.
There is a greater demand for a psychological presence in hospitals, schools and social service venues as knowledge about the role of mental health in everyday life continues. Clinical and counseling psychologists are also seeing an increase in demand as mental disorders such as depression become more prominent. People are also turning to psychologists more readily to assist with jobs stress, marriage or family problems that are taking a toll on them mentally. Many veterans of war, trauma survivors or those with severe handicaps also regularly visit psychologists to help manage the difficulties associated with these conditions.
Psychologists are also branching out in the school system, taking on new responsibilities. In addition to providing students with an environment to talk about their mental distress, psychologists will provide a sounding board to students that would like assistance planning their futures. The salary for a psychologist is in flux as schools begin to manage their budgets with constant cuts to the educational system. However, these positions are also increasing in value due to the higher demand students have for access to materials that will assist them with accessing secondary education, helping these positions hold steady over time.