Clinical Psychologist Salary Outlook with Ph.D.
For most students of psychology, earning a doctoral degree means they’ve reached the highest possible academic heights. In addition to signaling mastery of the subject, obtaining a doctoral opens up many new career opportunities. For clinical psychology students, a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Clinical Psychology is ideal.
Let’s learn more about the doctoral options within clinical psychology, what students need to know about the degrees and how earning potential may depend on where you live.
What’s On This Page
- Clinical Psychologist Doctorate Options
- Clinical Psychologist Career Tracks
- Clinical Psychologist PhD Salary Outlook
- Clinical Psychologist Ph.D. Salary by State
- Projected Clinical Psychologist Ph.D. Jobs
Clinical Psychology Doctorate Options
Within the study of psychology, there are two main types of doctoral degrees that have some important differences — the Ph.D. and the Psy.D., or Doctor of Psychology. In most cases, earning either type of degree will help a clinical psychology student prepare for their career of choice, but students should be aware of the differences.
SEE ALSO: 5+ Best Online PsyD Accredited Programs
Ph.D. degrees have been around for about as long as the concept of higher education, and professional doctorates began to grow in popularity in the United States in the early part of the 19th century. The Psy.D., on the other hand, is much newer, having been developed in the 1960s and 1970s as a clinical alternative to a Ph.D.
Traditionally, Ph.D. degrees are rooted in research, theory and academia, and this is still true to an extent, though it also depends heavily on the focus area. This is an important distinction for students of clinical psychology. Within its very name, clinical psychology is about the practice of psychology and not just the study of it.
For the typical clinical psychology student, the biggest difference between a Ph.D. and Psy.D. will be the focus of their coursework. Psy.D. tracks will probably be heavier with hands-on work, while Ph.D. programs will probably have students spending more time on major research projects or in lab settings.
Ph.D. programs also typically take at least a year or two longer, though for clinical psychology students, these added years can be very important, as the extra time may help them complete a pre-doctoral internship or practicum. These hours spent working directly with individuals in a clinical setting are typically required for state psychologist licensure.
Clinical Psychology PhD Career Tracks
Earning a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology doesn’t have to send students down just a single possible career path. In fact, the degree probably will have among the broadest applications of all psychology doctorates. That’s because of the research-based nature of a Ph.D. combined with the hands-on aspects of clinical psychology. For students, that means they can potentially secure satisfying employment in a host of areas and roles.
Clinical psychology Ph.D. career options by industry
|Counseling & Therapy||Medicine & Science||Business & Consulting||Education & Instruction|
|Clinical Psychologist||Lab Director||Human Resources Director||Psychology Professor|
|Licensed Clinical Social Worker||Clinical Researcher||Executive Coach||School Superintendent|
|Mental Health Counselor||Health Psychologist||Industrial-Organizational Psychologist||Program Administrator|
Potential career options will vary based on each individual’s personal areas of interest. Clinical psychology Ph.D. students who are interested in how to apply neuroscience research in therapeutic methods may want to take courses in experimental psychology, while those interested in working in educational spaces will want to load up on classes that cover developmental psychology.
While clinical psychology is a specialty unto itself, clinical training can extend into many niches and cover a range of population groups. Possible focus areas and groups for clinical psychology training include:
- Behavioral Disorders
- Major Mental Illness
- Criminal Justice
- Substance Use Disorder
- Group Dynamics
Clinical Psychology PhD Salary Overview
The old saying “Education opens doors” is meant to evoke the idea that new opportunities become available as one pursues additional educational realms, and it’s certainly true when it comes to the study of psychology. But not only does education open doors to new possible careers, earning a doctoral degree can massively boost a person’s potential salary.
To understand what Ph.D. graduates in the clinical psychology space can expect to earn depending on where they live, we calculated average annual salaries across a total of nine occupations for every state, according to data published by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Here are the jobs we included:
- Clinical, Counseling and School Psychologists
- Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder and Mental Health Counselors
- Psychologists Rehabilitation Counselors
- School and Career Counselors
- Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Workers
- Marriage and Family Therapists
- Postsecondary Psychology Professors
- Human Resources Director
New Jersey has the highest annual wage for the nine clinical psychology jobs we examined, with an average yearly salary rate of more than $90,000. California and the District of Columbia aren’t far behind, both with salaries over $86,000 per year. Salary rates in Montana and West Virginia are on the lower end of the spectrum, but in both cases, levels for clinical psychology professionals are higher than for the average worker in the state.
Average annual clinical psychology Ph.D. salary by state. Click for more details on each.
|District of Columbia||$86,164.44|
Among the nine jobs we studied, Human Resources Directors have the highest average annual salary in the U.S., earning more than $120,000 on average. Rehabilitation Counselors, on the other hand, have the lowest average annual rate at just under $42,000.
Average annual salary clinical psychology Ph.D. jobs
|Human Resources Directors||$120,071.96|
|Clinical, Counseling and School Psychologists||$81,417.20|
|Postsecondary Psychology Professors||$79,369.00|
|School and Career Counselors||$57,865.49|
|Marriage and Family Therapists||$52,926.60|
|Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Workers||$49,151.20|
|Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder and Mental Health Counselors||$49,022.94|
Clinical psychology Ph.D. jobs are expected to grow in every state through 2028, though some states will see much faster growth than others. Utah’s 31% growth rate for these jobs is the fastest in the country, while Arizona and Colorado are also expected to see openings expand by more than one-quarter. Maine’s 4% average growth rate is the lowest, though it’s generally on par with projected growth in the economy overall.
Average projected growth in clinical psychology job openings by state, 2018-2028
|District of Columbia||12.7%|
All nine jobs are expected to see openings increase by quite a bit through 2028. In fact, the slowest growth rate, for Human Resources Directors, of 9.3% is almost double the 5% expansion rate projected for all jobs in the U.S. through 2028. Marriage and Family Therapists and Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder and Mental Health Counselors are expected to see their career opportunities expand by more than 20%.
Average projected growth in clinical psychology Ph.D. job openings, 2018-2028
|Marriage and Family Therapists||21.8%|
|Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder and Mental Health Counselors||21.2%|
|Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Workers||16.8%|
|Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychologists||15.4%|
|Postsecondary Psychology Professors||12.4%|
|School and Career Counselors||9.8%|
|Human Resources Directors||9.3%|
For most people, especially those trained in helping other people cope with emotional and behavioral health concerns, earning a high wage is not their sole concern. But it certainly doesn’t hurt. While earning potential for Clinical Psychology Ph.D. graduates may depend in large part on where in the country they live, for all of these jobs, the future appears bright, indeed.