How Much Do Counseling Psychologists Make?

According to the American Psychological Association (APA), counseling psychology is a general practice and health service provider specialty. It focuses on how patients function in their personal lives and relationships. (

Counseling psychologists deal with the social, work, emotional, school, and physical health problems that people may have during their lives. These psychologists, usually with a Ph.D. or Psy.D. degree, help patients with mental, emotional and/or physical health issues to enhance their feeling of well being, reduce feelings of distress and resolve personal crises.

The APA notes the most common problems addressed by counseling psychologists are:

  • Work and school adjustment issues
  • Making good decisions about work and career, and how to deal with transitioning from school to work, and from work to retirement.
  • Marriage problems and difficulties with children
  • How to manage stress and handle negative life events
  • How to deal with personal and social adjustment with growing up
  • Mental health disorders such as anxiety, depression and eating disorders

Some of the skills and procedures you will use in counseling psychology include:

  • Counseling and psychotherapy for individuals, families and groups
  • Trauma management, crisis intervention and handling of disasters
  • Assessment methods to diagnose psychological disorders
  • Programs that inform and educate the public about issues about mental health, family, relationships and the workplace.
  • Training and clinical supervision
  • Test validation and construction

To work in the popular counseling psychology profession, you need to earn your Ph.D. or Psy.D. degree (See PsyD vs Ph.D.) to practice independently and to hold many of the best-paying psychology positions. Below is more information about the salary you can expect as a counseling psychologist.

Counseling Psychologist Salary Information

One of the best data sources for psychologist salary information is the Bureau of Labor Statistics or BLS. This official government source states the median salary for all psychologists was $79,000 in 2018. The top 10% earned $129,200, which generally requires a Psychology doctoral degree and many years of counseling work experience. For counseling psychologists, the reported salary is $76,990. (

Also, median annual salaries for all psychologists were:

Median salaries by industry for psychologists were:

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

APA reports the median salary for all psychologists in a 2015 survey was $85,000. Counseling psychologists also had a median salary of $85,000. Psychologists with a Ph.D. had an $85,000 salary, while holders of a Psy.D. earned a median of $75,000. (

APA also states that psychologists in professional services earn $85,000, while those in research positions earn $95,000. Psychologists in management positions earn $110,000. reports the average salary for counseling psychologists is $56,774, with a range of $34,000 to $88,000. (

This website also states the following differences in pay for counseling psychologists by city:

  • Los Angeles: +23%
  • New York City: -12%
  • Chicago: -12%
  • Washington DC: -31%

This website states the average salary across the country for counseling psychologists is $85,777. The range is between $21,000 and $159,000. The site notes most counseling psychologist salaries fall between $54,500 and $101,000 per year. (

Average Counseling Psychologist Salary by State

StateHourly WageAnnual Salary
New York$45.85$95,360
New Hampshire$44.20$91,930
North Dakota$41.80$86,938
Rhode Island$41.73$86,800
South Dakota$39.99$83,180
New Jersey$39.90$83,000
West Virginia$39.86$82,899
South Carolina$39.46$82,071
New Mexico$36.95$76,864
North Carolina$33.62$69,937 June, 2020

Job Outlook for Counseling Psychologists

The Bureau of Labor Statistics data shows demand for counseling and other psychologists will rise by 15% through 2028. This is much faster than average when compared with all occupations.

Jobs for counseling and clinical psychologists should increase because of higher demand for psychology services in hospitals, mental health centers, and social service centers. More psychologists are needed to offer services to aging Americans and help older Americans deal with physical and mental changes that occur with age. (

SEE ALSO: Counselor Education Degree vs. Counseling Psychology

It also is worth looking at the field of marriage and family counseling; many professionals with a Ph.D. degree in counseling psychology become a marriage and family counselor. This field will see a 22% increase in jobs by 2028. Growth is occurring from the use of integrated care, which is treating several medical or mental health problems at once by a group of specialists.

Marriage and family counselors work with other counselors, such as those with skills in substance abuse, behavior disorder etc. to provide the best results for the patient.


The career field of psychology is one of the fastest-growing in the country. More Americans are going to psychologists and counselors to work through their mental health and personal problems. They are living healthier and longer lives, and want to have their mental health issues addressed so they can live the best life possible.

Because of the rising demand for counseling psychologists, the salary you can expect with a doctoral degree is rising. With a Ph.D. you should be able to earn at least $65,000 per year when you start working. With enough experience, you can easily make $125,000 or more, depending on where you work and the size of your private practice.