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How Much Do Mental Health Psychologists Make?

Mental health psychology is a form of counseling psychology, according to the American Psychological Association (APA). Mental health psychology focuses on how people function personally and in their relationships across the lifespan. Mental health psychology deals with the social, work, emotional, school, and physical health problems that people have. (APA.org)

Mental health psychologists help patients better deal with common life stresses and more severe mental and emotional health issues. Mental health psychologists assist patients to enhance their feeling of well being and to reduce feelings of upset and resolve major personal problems.

The skills and procedures you may use as a mental health psychologist include:

  • Family, group and individual psychotherapy and counseling
  • Trauma management and crisis intervention
  • Assessment methods for diagnosing psychological disorders
  • Workshops and programs that inform and educate the public about school, family, mental health, and workplace issues so problems can be mitigated as soon as possible.
  • Clinical supervision
  • Psychological test construction and validation
  • Program evaluation and treatment outcomes

To become a mental health psychologist, you will need to earn at least a master’s degree. You need a Ph.D. if you want to work in private practice as a mental health psychologist.

Deciding to become a mental health psychologist is a big decision. Learn below about your salary potential before you decide to embark on a master’s or Ph.D. program in psychology.

Mental Health Psychologist Salary Information

Below are good data sources of salary information for mental health psychologists.

Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

BLS reports the median wage for all psychologists, including mental health psychologists, is $79,000 as of 2018. For the top 10% of earners, the salary was at least $129,000. If you earn your Ph.D. in psychology or mental health counseling, you can probably earn towards the top of the wage scale. (BLS.gov)

Median wages for mental health professionals also depends on the industry:

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

BLS data also shows that the median wage for mental health counselors is $4,600, with the top 10% earning $72,900. (BLS.gov). Top industries for mental health counselors are:

  • Government: $51,600
  • Hospitals: $48,300
  • Individual and family services: $44,100
  • Outpatient mental health and substance abuse centers: $43,100
  • Residential mental health and substance abuse facilities: $38,100

If you earn your Ph.D., you may wish to be employed as a college professor. BLS reports the median salary for psychology and mental health counseling professors is $76,700. (BLS.gov). At public universities, the median income for a college professor is $81,200. At private schools, the wage is $78,500.

APA.org

APA provides extensive salary information for many types of psychologists. While they do not mention mental health psychology, these average salaries could be useful for your knowledge. (APA.org)

  • General psychology: $80,000
  • Clinical psychology: $80,000
  • Counseling psychology: $85,000
  • Educational psychology: $75,000
  • Social psychology: $85,000
  • Other psychology fields: $78,000

Payscale.com

Payscale.com reports the average salary for a psychologist is $76,300, with a range between $48,000 and $113,000. (Payscale.com). The salary for a psychologist can vary widely by city:

  • San Francisco: +20%
  • New York City: +4%
  • San Diego: +4%
  • Portland: +4%
  • Boston: -1%
  • Chicago: -2%
  • Los Angeles: -3%

Payscale.com reports the average salary for a mental health counselor is $41,200, with a range between $31,000 and $58,000. (Payscale.com). The wage in this position can vary from the average by city:

  • Seattle: +26%
  • New York City: +13%
  • Boston: +11%
  • Denver: +1%
  • Chicago: -6%
  • Richmond: -9%
  • Atlanta: -12%

Ziprecruiter.com

According to Ziprecruiter, the national average salary for mental health counselors is $58,300, with a range between $29,000 and $95,000. Most mental health counselors earn between $44,000 and $66,000. (Ziprecruiter.com)

This source also reports the average salary for counseling psychologists is $85,900, with a range between $21,500 and $159,000. Most counseling psychologists earn between $54,500 and $101,500. (Ziprecruiter.com)

Job Outlook for Mental Health Psychologists

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the job outlook for all psychologists is excellent. There will be a rise of 14% in psychologist jobs by 2028, which is much faster than average. As the US population is aging and living healthier lives, more people want to address their mental health issues to live happier for all their years. (BLS.gov)

Also, more psychologists are needed because the link between mental and physical health is better understood than a few decades ago. More psychologists are employed in hospitals to help people with illnesses and diseases.

The job outlook for mental health counselors is also excellent. BLS reports a 22% increase in jobs will occur by 2028, which is much faster than average. More mental health counselors are needed in all parts of society as more people want to deal with their mental health problems. (BLS.gov).

Summary

A career in mental health psychology is a fine choice. With a Ph.D. in counseling psychology or a related discipline, you can make at least $65,000 to start as a counseling psychologist. As a mental health counselor, you will probably not earn as much, with a salary starting around $50,000. But if you work in private practice as a mental health professional with a doctorate, a salary of at least $100,000 is likely.

NARROW YOUR PROGRAM SEARCH

Ann Steele, Ph.D.

Ann Steele, Ph.D.

Editor-In-Chief

Ann Steele, Ph.D., is Editor-In-Chief of PsydPrograms.org. Ann has training as a clinical psychologist and psychoanalyst who has worked with adults, couples, adolescents, and preteens throughout San Diego county.