Salary Outlook for Cognitive Psychologist

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Cognitive psychology uses human learning and development principles and cognitive processing to overcome problematic behaviors and emotional thinking. It uses these principles to help patients to lead more productive and happier lives. Cognitive psychologists perform research, training, education, and work in clinical practice with individuals and groups. (

Cognitive psychologists must understand applied behavior analysis, cognitive therapy, behavior therapy, social learning concepts, and emotional processing theories. They are trained in college to use this psychological knowledge to patients.

Some of the problems that cognitive psychologists address include:

  • Anxiety disorder
  • Depressive disorder
  • Substance abuse
  • Health-related problems
  • Autism disorders
  • Relationship problems
  • Stress management
  • Problems with daily life

Cognitive psychologists serve many populations, such as children, adolescents, adults, and the elderly. In this work, cognitive psychologists measure both behavior and cognition. They devise conceptualizations for each case that center on learning principles and ways that cognitions and emotions are processed. Evidence-based treatments are adapted to each patient.

Students interested in a cognitive psychology career must earn at least a master’s degree, and most require a Ph.D. to earn the most money. Below is income information for this profession.

Cognitive Psychologist Salary Information

Below are reliable sources of salary data for cognitive psychologists.

Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

BLS data shows the median salary for all psychologists is $79,000. For 10% of earners at the top of the wage scale, the wage is at least $129,000. Earning your Ph.D. in cognitive psychology and working in private practice or a hospital will pave the way to the highest income. (

Median wages for psychological professionals also depends on the industry:

  • Government: $96,400
  • Hospitals: $86,500
  • Ambulatory healthcare services: $79,100
  • Elementary and secondary schools: $75,800

Some cognitive psychologists may desire to work as a college professor or researcher. BLS reports the median salary for professors of psychology is $76,700.  ( At state universities, the median wage for a college professor is $81,200. At private schools, the salary is $78,500.

The American Psychological Association reports brain and cognitive scientists who work as industrial and organizational psychologists earned more than $114,000 in 2012. The mean annual salary for brain science and cognitive psychologists at universities was $76,000 in 2009. ( reports the average salary for a Ph.D. in cognitive psychology is $89,000. It also states a salary for a human factors engineer with this degree is $104,000, and $73,000 for a research analyst. (

This source also reports an average clinical psychology salary of $77,500, with a range between $49,000 and $111,000. Many cognitive psychologists have a background in clinical psychology.

Salary for cognitive and clinical psychologists goes up with work experience. A first-year psychologist earns $66,000, and one with 20 years of experience makes $92,000.

Clinical psychologists with an average salary of $77,500 can make more or less depending on the city of residence:

  • Washington DC: +9%
  • New York City: +2%
  • Boston: +1%
  • San Diego: -2%
  • Chicago: -5%
  • Los Angeles: -6%
  • San Francisco: -20%
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This website reports the average salary for cognitive psychologists is $53,100 per year, with a range between $20,000 and $113,500. It also finds that many cognitive psychologists to earn between $31,000 and $66,000. (

Average Cognitive Psychologist Salary by State

StateHourly WageAnnual Salary
New York$40.57$84,392
New Hampshire$39.11$81,357
North Dakota$36.99$76,939
Rhode Island$36.93$76,817
South Dakota$35.39$73,614
New Jersey$35.31$73,455
West Virginia$35.27$73,365
South Carolina$34.92$72,632
New Mexico$32.70$68,024
North Carolina$29.76$61,893 June, 2020

Job Outlook for Cognitive Psychologists

 BLS reports careers for all psychologists will increase by 14% through 2028. This is much faster than average when compared to other occupations. An aging US population – with people living active and healthier lives – want their mental health problems treated so they can enjoy life. (

Also, demand is rising for psychologists because the connection between physical and mental health is better understood than decades ago. There is more demand for psychological services in social services, hospitals, and private practice.

Cognitive psychologists often spend their careers in a university or research position where they teach or perform research. But there has been job growth in human and computer interaction, organizational psychology and software development. There are now more opportunities for cognitive psychologists in the private sector.

Some cognitive psychologists work in a clinical setting. They treat problems related to mental health disorders, such as Alzheimer’s, speech problems, loss of memory, or difficulties with loss of memory or perception. These professionals may work in a government or private research position. Some work in hospitals, mental health centers. Others work as consultants and expert witnesses.

With a master’s degree in cognitive psychology, there are employment opportunities in industrial and organizational psychology. This profession is focused on improving worker and workplace productivity so that companies are more profitable and efficient.

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Earning a master’s or doctoral degree in cognitive psychology can mean an excellent salary for many years. Working for the government or in private practice with a Ph.D. can translate to a salary of $120,000 or more, so it is an excellent field to enter to earn a good income, with the added benefit of helping people.