How Much Does a Psychologist Make a Year?

By Kim Franke-Folstad · March 08, 2024 · 8 minute read

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How Much Does a Psychologist Make a Year?

The median annual wage for psychologists in the U.S. is $85,330, according to the latest data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). But salaries can vary significantly, ranging from less than $50,000 to more than $140,000.

How much money you can make as a psychologist may depend on several factors, including the industry you choose to work in, the level of education you attain, and where your job is located. Here’s a look at what psychologists do and how they are paid.

What Are Psychologists?

Psychologists are mental health professionals who are trained to help individuals and groups understand and address various behavioral, emotional, and organizational challenges. There are several different types of psychologists, including:

•   Clinical and counseling psychologists, who evaluate, diagnose, and treat mental, emotional, and behavioral disorders such as depression, anxiety, grief, anger, and addiction.

•   Industrial/organizational psychologists, who help organizations solve workplace issues and improve work-life balance.

•   School psychologists, who specialize in dealing with problems that can affect students’ behaviors and learning.

•   Neuropsychologists, who study how damage to a person’s brain or body can impact behavior and cognition.

•   Forensic psychologists, who may collaborate with various law enforcement agencies, attorneys, judges, and others on certain aspects of a legal case.

It’s important to note that a psychologist is not the same thing as a psychiatrist, though they are often confused. A psychiatrist is a medical doctor who can prescribe medications. A psychologist typically holds a doctoral degree in psychology, which is a social science.

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What Does It Take to Become a Psychologist?

Do you have good observational skills? Are you a problem solver? Do you pride yourself on your ability to build a rapport with others? Do you have empathy for those who are experiencing emotional or behavioral issues?

If so, you may find you’re well-suited for a career as a psychologist. But you’ll also have to get the education and training necessary for the job.

Psychologists usually must have at least a master’s degree to get into the field, and depending on what type of work you hope to do, you may need a doctoral degree as well. Clinical and counseling psychologists, for example, typically need a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in psychology or a Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.) degree.

Industrial-organizational psychologists usually earn at least a master’s degree, with coursework that focuses on understanding how people behave in the workplace. School psychologists also may need at least a master’s degree with a focus on student development and other educational issues. And most degree programs can also require an internship and clinical experience.

Most states also require psychologists to obtain a license. And there are several certifications available that specific employers may require.

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How Much Do Starting Psychologists Make a Year?

The average salary for a starting psychologist in 2024 is $89,326, according to the job site, but entry-level salaries currently can range from $75,493 to $101,117.

Of course, the work you do, your education level, certifications, and even your work location can impact how much you might earn as a beginning psychologist. The job site ZipRecruiter lists Washington, New York, Vermont, California, and Maine as the states where starting clinical psychologists currently earn the most money.

What Is the Average Salary for a Psychologist?

So, how much can you make per year if you choose a career as a psychologist?

You can expect your specialty to have a big influence on how much you earn. According to BLS statistics, industrial-organizational psychologists currently earn the highest salaries, while school psychologists earn the least.

Staying up to date by continuing your education and training may help boost your salary as well. And building a reputation through research and publishing can also make a psychologist more valuable to employers and clients.

If you’re hoping to negotiate for a more competitive paycheck, it’s important to remember that salaries — or how much a psychologist makes an hour — may be affected by the cost of living or demand in a particular region.
Here’s how psychologists’ average annual salaries break down by state based on ZipRecruiter data.

Average Psychologist Salary by State

State Average Annual Salary
Alabama $129,310
Alaska $176,920
Arizona $132,948
Arkansas $130,467
California $145,770
Colorado $165,086
Connecticut $132,272
Delaware $155,187
Florida $106,610
Georgia $120,463
Hawaii $173,156
Idaho $139,446
Illinois $152,897
Indiana $135,754
Iowa $131,180
Kansas $123,671
Kentucky $138,059
Louisiana $119,804
Maine $142,367
Maryland $150,294
Massachusetts $174,781
Michigan $136,667
Minnesota $137,219
Mississippi $131,343
Missouri $146,175
Montana $130,944
Nebraska $147,086
Nevada $167,279
New Hampshire $139,791
New Jersey $143,454
New Mexico $136,445
New York $156,917
North Carolina $141,923
North Dakota $176,893
Ohio $133,380
Oklahoma $142,442
Oregon $177,795
Pennsylvania $143,748
Rhode Island $164,679
South Carolina $144,913
South Dakota $167,182
Tennessee $127,338
Texas $138,507
Utah $127,431
Vermont $153,232
Virginia $152,942
Washington $169,179
West Virginia $111,019
Wisconsin $142,067
Wyoming $137,573

Source: ZipRecruiter

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Psychologist Job Considerations for Pay and Benefits

Besides a pretty good paycheck, another plus to becoming a psychologist is that you may not have to worry about job security. The BLS is projecting overall employment of psychologists will grow by 6% over the next decade, which is faster than the average for all occupations combined. And job growth for those who specialize in clinical and counseling psychology is projected to grow by 11%.

Of course, the pay and perks you’ll receive as a psychologist will likely be tied to the specialty you choose and the salary negotiation tactics you use. Whether you’re a school psychologist or work for a major corporation, you can expect to be offered benefits such as health insurance, a retirement plan, paid time off, and opportunities for continuing education.

Depending on the type of work you do, you may also be able to participate in profit-sharing, receive regular bonuses, work a flexible schedule, or earn income from consulting or writing books.

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Pros and Cons of a Psychologist’s Salary

Probably the biggest downside of choosing a career as a psychologist is the amount of time and money it can take just to get started. After getting your bachelor’s degree, it may take two or more years to complete your master’s degree, and then another four to seven years to earn your doctorate degree. Add on even more time for training — and to study for your license — and it could be several years before you can pursue the job you want. And by that time, you may have some substantial student debt to pay down.

On the plus side, you’ll be in a career that can be both personally and financially rewarding.

Here are some more pros and cons to consider:


•   You’ll be helping people. As a psychologist, you can have a meaningful impact on others, whether you’re working with children or adults.

•   The demand (and respect) for psychological services is increasing, as mental health is now considered an important part of our overall well-being.

•   Whether you’re drawn to research, counseling, or clinical practice, a career in psychology can offer a wide array of job options. You may even be able to design a job and flexible schedule that suits your needs.

•   You may benefit personally from skills like empathy, critical thinking, and creative problem-solving that you gain as a psychologist.


•   Trying to help people who have behavioral and emotional issues can be stressful. It may be difficult to leave work at work.

•   You may run into ethical dilemmas that make dealing with a client and/or employer a challenge.

•   If you decide to open your own practice, you’ll have to deal with the business side of things as well as the work you’re doing with clients.

•   Depending on the type of work you do, your job may be dangerous at times. You may have to counsel a person with anger issues, for example, or someone who has committed a violent crime, which could put you at risk.

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The Takeaway

Working as a psychologist can be a fulfilling career, and finding and keeping a job in this growing field shouldn’t be too difficult. But you can expect to make a substantial investment in time and money before you finally get the job you want. And how much money you make as a psychologist can depend on several factors, especially when you’re starting out. The specialty you choose, who your employer is, and where your job is located can all affect your earning potential.

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Can you make $100,000 a year as a psychologist?

Yes. According to the latest ZipRecruiter data, psychologists in every state make an average annual salary that’s more than $100,000.

Do people like being a psychologist?

Psychologists who responded to the website CareerExplorer’s ongoing survey on job satisfaction rated their career happiness a 3.5 out of 5 stars. And U.S. News & World Report, which ranks jobs based on salary, upward mobility, work-life balance, among other factors — gave “psychologist” the No. 5 spot on its list of “Best Science Jobs.”

Is it hard to get hired as a psychologist?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, job growth for psychologists is expected to be strong through the next decade. If you get the proper education and training, and have a passion for helping others, it shouldn’t be too hard to find work in this profession.

Photo credit: iStock/Dean Mitchell

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