Top 50 Highest Paying Careers in Psychology
Beyond helping others better understand their behaviors, thoughts, and feelings, a career in psychology can be quite rewarding. The field of psychology offers a wide range of potential career paths across industries. Depending on your level of education or level of specialization, individuals in the field can command an array of salaries. Listed below are the top 50 highest paying careers you can have in psychology.
1. Child Psychiatrist – $193,076
Child psychiatrists work alongside children and their parents in the diagnosis and treatment of mental disorders in younger populations. These practitioners must have special skills to build rapport with children in order to gain their trust and develop a working relationship. Geographic location and years of experience may affect what these professionals make; however, the median salary is estimated at $193k per year.
2. General Psychiatrist – $181,347
The average pay for psychiatrists is a generous six-figure salary of about $181k each year. Psychiatrists have completed at least 11 to 12 years of educational and clinical training, including 4 years of college, 4 years of medical school, and 3 to 4 years of residency in psychiatry. These physicians assess people for mental disorders, diagnose and treat symptoms, prescribe psychopharmacological medications, and provide psychotherapy.
3. Engineering Psychologist – $179,160
Engineering psychologists study and observe how humans interact with machines and technology. They may consult with architects and product designers to develop technological products that can be used safely and efficiently. The pay for engineering psychologists differs based on the setting in which the psychologist works. Private consultants who have earned doctoral degrees can earn as much as $179k, while those with master’s degrees can earn approximately $90k per year.
4. Addiction Psychiatrist – $154,000
One type of psychiatry that is expected to grow faster than others is addiction psychiatry. These types of psychiatrists provide treatment to patients who are struggling with addiction problems as a singular issue or in conjunction with a psychiatric disorder. These physicians must go through the same training as general psychiatrists, but they receive their residency training in the area of addiction. Annual salary is upwards of $154k for this type of psychiatrist.
5. Executive Coach – $110,000
These individuals work one-on-one with various company’s managers and leadership teams to improve on-the-job performance. Such professionals are typically higher-level psychologists who specialize in behavior change and business culture. Executive coaching can rake in as much as $110,000 per year.
6. Occupational Psychologist – $97,820
An occupational psychologist may work in a research firm, human resource department, academic institutions, a large-sized company, employee assistance program, government or private consultancy firms, or in private practice. These psychologists assess a work environment and strategize to develop methods that make the environment more conducive to work. For occupational psychologists, about $98k falls at the median salary.
7. Senior Marketing Manager – $96,523
Individuals in this career may hold an MBA, although a bachelor’s degree in psychology can prepare them for this career path. Senior marketing managers study target markets, create marketing strategies, offer product development planning and feedback, and strive to better understand the specific objectives of their clients. These professionals may have positions within a company’s marketing department or work on a consultation basis through a marketing agency. The average annual salary for senior marketing managers is around $97k.
8. Geriatric Psychologist – $92,000
Geriatric psychologists assess, diagnose, and treat the psychosocial, emotional, and behavioral problems experienced by the elderly. These psychologists require at least a master’s degree, although most have a doctoral degree in either clinical or counseling psychology with additional coursework and training in geriatrics. The median salary nationally for geriatric psychologists is approximately $92k.
9. Development Psychologist – $91,000
Developmental psychologists concern themselves about the process of human development and maturation. These professionals work in schools, government agencies, and health care centers. The average salary for a developmental psychologist ranges from $69k to $91k.
10. Pain Psychologist – $91,000
This type of clinical psychologist focuses on discovering the causes and providing psychological treatment for chronic pain. Pain psychologists strive to help their patients live normal and productive lives despite the pain. The median salary of psychologists in this specialty area is $91k.
11. Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner – $90,661
A psychiatric nurse practitioner (NP) may administer therapeutic procedures, prescribe medications with the approval of a physician, conduct physicals and psychological evaluations, and view a patient’s psychological functioning in the context of medical treatment. The median yearly earnings for this career path fall around $91k.
12. Correctional Psychologist – $90,409
Psychologists working in federal prisons deliver mental health care to inmates by psychological assessments, diagnosis, and a range of treatment approaches. These psychologists’ pay may vary depending on the specific prison where they are employed and the geographic location. Those employed in our nation’s federal prisons are paid between $62k and $90k.
13. Neuropsychologist – $88,559
Neuropsychologists have specialized training in the physical structure and functioning of the human brain. These types of psychologists are often useful in assessing brain injuries or abnormalities. Neuropsychologists may work in laboratory settings in hospitals, universities, private research labs, or private practice. They earn an average yearly salary of about $89k.
14. Professor, Higher Education – $88,460
Postsecondary professors typically have earned a master’s degree or doctoral degree in the subject or specialty area. These individuals are charged with teaching students across a broad range of subjects, conducting research within their field, publishing within peer-reviewed journal, and overseeing the theses or dissertations of students. Professors in higher education can command about $88k each year.
15. Social Psychologist – $85,830
Social psychologists earn a bachelor’s degree in psychology before moving forward and pursuing a Ph.D. These professionals are researchers who study the effects people’s physical and social environments have on their lives. Social psychologists made a median annual income of about $86k in 2011.
16. Experimental Psychologist – $85,489
Experimental psychologists are those you read about completing studies in reputable journals in psychology and other related fields. These professionals use the scientific method to collect data and perform research about human behavior and the mind. Experimental psychologists with 5 to 9 years of experience can command salaries up to $85k.
17. Human Resources Director – $81,559
Human resources directors in higher-level positions generally hold master’s degree in human resources or business administration. These professionals supervise employees within an organization in improving leadership, coaching, recruitment, hiring, and training practices. The median annual pay for human resources directors is around $82k.
18. Sports Psychologist – $80,000
To become a sports psychologist, many students enroll in doctoral programs in clinical or counseling psychology and take additional coursework in sports medicine, physiology, kinesiology, and marketing. Those working in university athletic departments can make between $60 and $80k each year, while those working in private practice can earn even more.
19. Spiritual Psychologist – $77,000
A spiritual psychologist helps relieve the suffering associated with mental, emotional and behavioral issues by getting in touch with a patient’s spirituality. They work in churches, hospitals, and rehabilitation centers. Most of these practitioners have a Ph.D. although some practice with a master’s degree only. The median salary for spiritual psychologists is $77k.
20. Industrial-Organizational Psychologist – $76,950
I/O psychologists may work in universities, local and federal governments, and corporate settings. These psychologists work with organizations to improve recruitment procedures, training and testing protocols, and workplace engagement and productivity. The average salary for industrial-organizational psychologists is in the ballpark of $77k.
21. Research Scientist – $75,957
These scientists are concerned with data collection for research studies. Some research scientists’ work actively applies in business, government, or academia. However, many research scientists work in laboratories and strive to purely understand the implications of their research and present these findings in papers and journals. About $76k is the average national salary for research scientists listed by PayScale.
22. Health Psychologist – $73,090
Health psychologists are licensed psychologists that specialize in one of four areas: clinical health psychology, community health psychology, occupational health psychology, and public health psychology. These practitioners provide greater understanding for the multitude of factors – emotional, socioeconomic, and psychological – that contribute to various medical conditions. The average range of salaries is right at $73k, although pay can vary depending on specialty and experience.
23. Clinical Psychologist – $72,825
Clinical psychologists help to identify and treat psychological, emotional, and behavioral disorders affecting human beings of all ages. They determine which type of treatment approach will be most effective toward alleviating symptoms and improving the functioning of their patients. According to PayScale, clinical psychologists earn a median yearly salary of $73k, although those in private practice may earn as much as $265k.
24. Counseling Psychologist – $72,540
Counseling psychologists must earn at least a master’s degree, although most go on to the Ph.D. level before starting practice. These psychologists work with their patients to help them identify maladaptive thought and behavior patterns so they can live more rewarding lives. The mean yearly salary for counseling psychologists is at about $73k, but the setting and specialization of this professional can alter salary greatly.
25. Genetics Counselors – $69,540
Genetics counselors are professionals who help individuals and families understand inherited medical conditions like diseases that run in families. They may work alongside other healthcare providers or on a consulting basis to help individuals make decisions about or manage their risk of genetic illness. The median salary, as provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, for genetics counselors is estimated at $70k per year.
26. Military Psychologist – $65,000
Pay for psychologists who are employed in the military varies based on the amount of military experience and rank. These professionals may earn a number of additional benefits, too. The average salary for military psychologists is between $40k and $65k.
27. Trauma Psychologist – $63,000
Trauma psychologists assist patients who have endured extreme, life-threating situations, such as combat service in the military, sexual assault, physical assault, natural disasters, and other serious traumatic events. The average salary for trauma psychologists is approximately $63k.
28. Forensic Psychologist – $61,496
Forensic psychologists, or criminal psychologists, work in law enforcement (i.e. prisons, courts, government agencies, psychiatric hospitals, etc.) and evaluate the competency of criminals for trial, diagnose mental illness, and study the details of crimes to determine an appropriate profile for suspects. What you make as a forensic psychologist is largely determined by how long you’ve worked in the field and where you are located geographically. PayScale lists the median salary right at $61k.
29. Community Psychologist – $59,000
These psychologists work in community clinics, hospitals, and mental health centers to address the psychological, behavioral, and emotional problems of the people who live in the region. The median annual salary for a community psychologist is estimated at $59k, and depends on experience and geographic location.
30. School Psychologist – $57,552
As their name suggests, school psychologists generally work in schools. They help to identify, assess, and treat psychological, behavioral, and emotional problems affecting students. They help determine which students require diagnoses of learning disorder or mental illness, and work with parents and teachers to provide practical accommodations. The average yearly pay for a school psychologist is around $58k.
31. Educational Psychologist – $57,000
Educational psychologists conduct research to learn more about how humans learn. These types of psychologists often work in schools and educational institutions to help improve learning systems. According to Indeed, the average annual salary for an educational psychologist is $57k.
32. Psychiatric Nurse (RN) – $56,157
These registered nurses deliver specialized care to patients who are suffering from psychiatric illness. They may work in homes, mental health facilities, psychiatric hospitals, or senior living facilities. In addition to fulfilling the requirements necessary for becoming a registered nurse in their specific state, these professionals also obtain specialized training in psychiatry and mental health. The median yearly pay for psychiatric nurses is an estimated $56k.
33. Special Education Teacher – $55,060
Special education teachers work with children and adolescents who are dealing with physical, emotional, and/or learning dysfunctions that inhibit their ability to succeed in the school setting. These teachers modify the general education lessons to meet their students’ ability levels. $55k was in the middle range of salaries for special education teachers, according to 2012 BLS data.
34. Board Certified Behavior Analyst – $54,976
Board certified behavior analysts are concerned with changing the maladaptive behavior patterns of children with developmental disabilities. They work with their patients and the patient’s families to create personalized treatment plans directed at improving their functioning at home and at school. Board certified behavior analysts must earn a master’s degree in behavior science and obtain licensing in their state. The mean pay for this career is $55k.
35. Social Services Director – $54,000
Professionals in this career may hold a bachelor’s degree in social work, psychology, social services or a related field. Social services directors are in charge of coordinating social services duties, such as admitting new patients or transferring patients home or to a long-term treatment facility. They serve as managers, working to assist, empower, and educate their staff as well as patients and families. Social services directors can bring home about $54k each year, based on the middle range of salaries.
36. Career Counselor – $53,610
These professionals guide and assist individuals develop skills necessary to make practical career and/or educational decisions. They may conduct assessments and provide counseling to determine which strengths an individual has that may be advantageous in their occupational development. BLS.gov lists the median pay for career counselors at about $54k.
37. Clinical Supervisor – $52,673
Within the field of psychology, clinical supervisors are generally professionals that promote, develop, and coordinate the services of a health care clinic. They handle a wide range of tasks relating to daily operations and human resources. Oftentimes, clinical supervisors have a background in nursing. PayScale lists clinical supervisors as having annual incomes of about $53k.
38. Licensed Clinical Social Worker – $51,965
Licensed clinical social workers (LCSW) earn master’s or doctorate degrees in social work prior to receiving the appropriate state licensures. These mental health professionals provide counseling in addition to connecting their clients with community resources for well-rounded health, such as occupational training, housing, and medical care. LCSWs can command anywhere from $40k to $79k per year with the average pay at around $52k.
39. Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist – $51,730
These types of therapists work with their patients within the context of their marriages and families to diagnose and provide treatment for emotional and psychological disorders. Marriage and family therapists work in private practice, interdisciplinary practices, outpatient care centers, and government agencies. The mean annual wage provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics is approximately $52k.
40. Marketing Analyst – $51,097
Marketing analysts assist companies with gaining a thorough understanding of their marketing reach, target customers, and the psychology behind their products. They help their clients develop marketing strategies based on current market trends. The middle range of salaries for marketing analysts is $51k. Higher salaries are possible depending on bonuses, profit sharing, geographic location, and experience level.
41. Corporate Sales Manager – $49,099
Corporate sales managers may utilize psychological concepts to drive sales and develop marketing plans for their target businesses or customers. These professionals build working relationships with individuals within their target markets, develop improved sales solutions, and provide customer service. The middle range of salaries for corporate sales managers falls at about $49k.
42. School Guidance Counselor – $46,392
School counselors’ jobs focus on assisting the students within a specific educational institution with reaching their academic, personal, social, and professional goals. School counselors work alongside students, parents, and teachers to resolve issues relating to student behavior or academic problems. The average national salary for a school counselor is $46k.
43. Recreational Therapists – $46,060
Recreational therapists are in charge of preparing, implementing, and organizing evidence-based recreational activities for patients in medical institutions, such as nursing homes, rehabilitation centers, psychiatric centers, and hospitals. They also evaluate patients to determine the level of activity they may undertake. Recreational therapists make approximately $46k per year at the middle range.
44. Crisis Intervention Specialist – $45,000
Crisis intervention specialists are trained mental health professional who are called upon during times of high stress (i.e. suicide, rape, natural disasters, mass murders, etc.). These specialists may work in schools, community mental health centers, or at online or telephone crisis centers. They conduct psychological evaluations to assess their client’s unique needs, refer clients to longer-term counseling or psychological services, and advocate on behalf of those in distress. The average salary for a crisis intervention specialist is $45k per year.
45. Licensed Professional Counselor – $43,942
Licensed professional counselors (LPCs) assist patients with reaching optimal mental health by helping them to develop adaptive coping skills and learning and maximizing on their strengths. These professionals may work for themselves, in hospitals, mental health clinics, and nursing homes. The average annual salary for LPCs is right at $44k, based on data from PayScale.
46. Veterans Counselor – $42,590
Veteran’s counselors are tasked with the unique and complex job of serving those who have served our country. These counselors may work with veterans in a number of areas, including finances, family, relationships, housing, job searches, and transitioning back to civilian life. Veteran’s counselors may also conduct preliminary assessments to determine if a veteran requires further psychological treatment for psychiatric disorders such as PTSD. The median income for individuals in this profession is $43k.
47. Art Therapist – $40,962
Art therapists hold master’s degrees in psychology, art therapy, counseling or social work. These therapists work with patients to enhance their mental and emotional functioning using a variety of creative approaches. Art therapists may work in hospitals, schools, private practice, nursing care facilities, and rehabilitation centers. The average yearly salary for art therapists is $41k.
48. Psychometrist – $40,232
Psychometrists typically work under the supervision of licensed psychologists conducting, scoring, interpreting, and writing up reports for psychological assessments. Most employers require at least a bachelor’s degree in psychology, while many require master’s degrees. Psychometrists earn a median annual salary of about $40k.
49. Substance Abuse Counselor – $35,352
These counselors are on the front lines helping to minimize our nation’s drug and alcohol problem. Substance abuse counselors work hand-in-hand with patients who are struggling with substance abuse and addictions. These counselors utilize a wide range of techniques in order to help their patients become sober and develop healthier coping strategies to prevent future relapse. Geographic location and experience greatly affect the salaries of substance abuse counselors, which is at $35k in the middle range.
50. Behavior Therapist – $35,213
Behavior therapist must hold, at minimum, a master’s degree in psychology or a related field. These mental health professionals help treat mental illness through behavioral approaches. They may work with a wide range of clients or a select population, such as children with developmental disorders or adults with borderline personality. The average yearly income for behavior therapists is right at $35k; the longer the career, the great chance for higher pay in this job.
As you can see, there are a wide variety of potential career paths you can take in psychology with earnings starting in the mid-30k on up depending on education and experience level.