What is a Psychologist?

A psychologist (also known as Clinical Psychologist, Counseling Psychologist, and School Psychologist) is someone who studies the way people think, feel, and behave, and diagnoses and treats any associated problems therein. Some provide mental health care, such as those in clinical settings, where others engage in research and provide consultation services. There are 56 different divisions of the American Psychological Association, reflecting the many different branches of psychology. For more information on how to become a psychologist, please visit our psychologist job description page.

Work Environment

Psychologists have a wide variety of possible work environments. Some work in hospitals and clinics, while others work at schools, correctional facilities, or in private offices. Others still are faculty members in universities and engage in research.

Most psychologists are active both in the above settings as well as research ones, though. Counseling and clinical psychologists tend to work in a private practice, as it can be more lucrative than other environments.

Work Schedule

A psychologist’s work schedule is highly dependent on the type of setting they work in. Those employed in government, business, or academic settings will typically have a predictable daytime schedule, following normal business hours. Psychologists working in hospitals, nursing homes, and other health care centers, however, will generally work shift schedules, which can include working evenings and weekends.

Mean Annual Psychologist Salary

The average annual income of a psychologist in the US is $72,710. Individuals who fall in the lowest 10% of all psychologists can expect to make less than $39,020 each year whereas others with more experience in the top 10% can expect well over $112,380 each year.

Psychologist Salary: Quick Summary

2013 Mean Salary$72,710 per year
$34.96 per hour
Top 10% Salary$112,380 per year
$54.03 per hour
Bottom 10% Salary$39,020 per year
$18.76 per hour
Number of Jobs, 2013104,480

Psychologist Job Outlook and Prospects

The outlook for psychologists is good for the next few years; it is expected to grow by 12%, or 18,700 jobs through to 2022, with increased demand in various social service agencies. The growing need in hospitals, schools, and substance abuse clinics is also expected to spur a need for more psychologists. Schools, particularly, are anticipated to need psychologists as awareness of the mental health issues in child increases.

The job outlook does differ between specialties, though; counseling and health-related psychological training are anticipated to be the highest growing areas for psychologists.
In terms of regions, California, New York, Pennsylvania, and Texas seem to have the highest number of jobs.

What Affects The Salary of a Psychologist

A psychologist’s salary is dependent on the area of psychology one focuses on. It varies according to the area of psychology, with clinical, counseling, and school psychologists earning an average $72,710; industrial-organizational psychologist salary is, on average, $98,800; and the average for all other psychologist salary is $86,380. In general, the highest paid psychologists are those working in the industrial-organizational sector (including areas such as human resources, administration, and management, as well as sales and marketing). Of these, those working in management, scientific, and technical consulting services have the highest average salary, at $125,980.

Education and Specialization 

A psychologist requires, at minimum, a master’s as well as a doctoral degree in psychology. The master’s program can be in either arts or sciences of psychology. At the doctoral level, for those wishing to engage in psychologist services for clients, a one-year internship with supervision is generally required.

Some schools allow students to enter a doctoral program immediately following a bachelor’s degree, reducing the time spent in school. While there are positions for those holding only a master’s degree (a shorter program than a doctoral one), a doctoral degree will yield a higher salary.

Experience and Position 

The majority of psychologists have a doctoral degree, and so increased experience on the job will result in a higher salary. Advanced-level positions will pay higher than entry-level. Further to that, particular specializations are in higher demand, such as neuropsychologists or engineering psychologists. Industrial-organizational positions, however, tend to be the most lucrative.


With the multiplicity of possible areas for focus in psychology, the industry is highly variable. However, as mentioned, industrial-organizational psychologists tend to earn the highest wages. While a starting salary for a master’s holder will be in the $40,000 range, a doctorate-level entry position will receive above $50,000. According to the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology, the top five percent of their earners have a salary greater than $250,000 per year.


While the greatest number of jobs for psychologists tends to be in more densely populated areas (such as California and New York), the demand in more rural regions will yield a higher salary. While this is highly dependent on the specialization chosen, area such as Rhode Island and Hawaii, along with New York, pay better than others, averaging above $90,000 for most focuses.

Psychologist Salary: Top 5

Top Paying Metropolitan AreasTop Paying StatesTop Paying IndustriesStates with Highest Employment Level
Allentown, PA: $117,050Rhode Island: $92,580Business Schools and Management Training: $100,310California: (17,550 jobs) $79,520
San Luis Obispo, CA: $111,420Hawaii: $90,420Employment Services: $94,290New York: (10,610 jobs) $84,850
Boulder, CO: $109,260New York: $84,850Assisted Living Facilities: $92,550Pennsylvania: (5,730 jobs) $73,620
Birmingham, AL: $107,310New Jersey: $83,870Scientific Research and Development Services: $83,960Texas: (5,390 jobs) $63,100
Bakersfield, CA: $101,570Alabama: $80,430Specialty Hospitals: $83,070Illinois: (5,030 jobs) $68,100

Psychologist Salary State By State