Salary Outlook for Master’s in Clinical Psychology

Nearly 28,000 students earned master’s degrees in psychology during the 2017-18 school year, making psychology one of the most popular focus areas for graduate studies in the U.S., according to federal education officials.

But while psychology is a popular and growing field of study, it’s also quite a diverse one, and the career outlook for psychology students could very well come down to the niche they choose to study. For many students, getting a Master’s in Clinical Psychology could be the final step in their educational journey, or it could be an important middle ground between a bachelor’s degree and a doctoral in the field.

Let’s take a look at what students with a Master’s in Clinical Psychology can expect to earn and how salary figures vary across the country.

Masters in Clinical Psychology Career Paths

There is no single career objective for clinical psychology students, which means there’s great variety when it comes to educational needs and options. Generally, the more closely psychology students hope to work with members of the public or within clinical settings, the greater the educational expectations.

For example, as we mentioned, a Master’s in Clinical Psychology often is the step taken before embarking upon a doctoral program in the field, and the most natural career option after earning that degree would be becoming a clinical psychologist. In that case, because the individual in question would be working directly with patients and clients to provide mental health services, they would need extensive education and professional experience that they are unlikely to receive in a master’s program.

On the other hand, many professionals who study psychology go on to jobs where they don’t use their knowledge of human behavior to help treat others who have emotional or mental health disorders. One example of this type of job would be in market research or advertising, where understanding the biological and behavioral factors that impact decision-making is helpful.

Let’s take a look at a couple of sample educational paths depending on the desired job:

Clinical psychology degree options by desired occupation

Clinical PsychologistMarketing DirectorCareer CounselorPsychology Professor
Bachelor’s in PsychologyBachelor’s in MarketingBachelor’s in SociologyBachelor’s in Psychology
Master’s in Clinical PsychologyMaster’s in Clinical PsychologyMaster’s in Clinical PsychologyMaster’s in Clinical Psychology
PhD or PsyD in Clinical PsychologyPhD or PsyD in Clinical Psychology

Some but not all professionals who work directly with patients to help them cope with behavioral and mental health problems require professional licensure. But for those who will go on to seek a state-issued psychologist license, almost every state requires (or strongly prefers) applicants for this licensure to first obtain a doctorate in psychology. This typically will come in the form of either a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Psychology or a Doctor of Psychology (PsyD).

Master’s in Clinical Psychology Salary Overview

In addition to a Master’s in Clinical Psychology possibly being a necessary step to obtaining an individual’s ideal job in psychology, this type of degree can help provide an immediate shot in the arm when it comes to earning potential.

That’s because compared to the average high school graduate, a master’s degree holder makes more than double. And the bump from bachelor’s degree to master’s degree, while more modest, is still considerable with professionals having graduate and professional degrees making about 33% more than those with only a bachelor’s degree, according to Census Bureau estimates.

To figure out what salaries can be expected by professionals with a Master’s in Clinical Psychology under their belt, we examined data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics for four potential job titles:

  • Human Resources Director
  • Clinical, Counseling and School Psychologists
  • Market Research Analyst
  • Rehabilitation Counselors

New Jersey boasts the highest average annual salary level across the four jobs we analyzed, with the average topping $106,000. The District of Columbia wasn’t far behind at nearly $102,000, with California, Rhode Island and New York rounding out the top five. On the other end of the scale, the lowest average salary figure was in West Virginia, where the average clinical psychology master’s graduate can expect to make just under $60,000. While that’s well below the national average for these four jobs, it’s considerably higher than the average annual wage overall in West Virginia.

Average annual clinical psychology master’s degree salary by state

New Jersey$106,160.00
District of Columbia$101,737.50
California$93,462.50
Rhode Island$93,287.50
New York$92,550.00
Colorado$91,785.00
Connecticut$90,877.50
Washington$88,647.50
Massachusetts$87,182.50
Virginia$86,670.00
Delaware$85,590.00
New Hampshire$84,652.50
Oregon$84,102.50
Maryland$82,387.50
Minnesota$82,095.00
Georgia$81,952.50
Pennsylvania$81,772.50
Alaska$80,650.00
Texas$79,970.00
North Carolina$79,395.00
Michigan$79,357.50
Ohio$77,657.50
North Dakota$77,460.00
Maine$77,395.00
Illinois$75,952.50
Nevada$75,815.00
Wisconsin$75,000.00
Iowa$73,862.50
Missouri$73,855.00
Utah$72,605.00
Louisiana$72,172.50
Indiana$71,580.00
Arkansas$71,312.50
Florida$70,830.00
Alabama$70,820.00
Hawaii$70,490.00
Kansas$70,072.50
Vermont$69,527.50
South Carolina$68,865.00
Wyoming$68,830.00
Nebraska$68,650.00
Arizona$68,617.50
South Dakota$67,955.00
New Mexico$67,727.50
Tennessee$65,652.50
Oklahoma$64,692.50
Montana$64,665.00
Kentucky$64,655.00
Idaho$63,822.50
Mississippi$63,217.50
West Virginia$59,892.50

Human Resources Directors are the best-paid clinical psychology master’s degree graduates with average national salaries of more than $120,000, while Rehabilitation Counselors have the lowest average annual wage figure, coming in just over $41,000.

Average annual salary, selected clinical psychology master’s degree jobs

Human Resources Directors$120,071.96
Clinical, Counseling and School Psychologists$81,131.80
All$77,214.41
Market Research Analysts$65,819.41
Rehabilitation Counselors$41,463.33

Of course, possible salaries today are subject to rapid change. So it’s also helpful to examine what’s expected when it comes to job openings for the four example jobs in clinical psychology that we studied. In every state, the four jobs average out to an increase in employment through 2028, according to Department of Labor data. (Data was not available for Alabama, Kentucky, Texas or Washington.)

With clinical psychology master’s employment growing by more than 30%, Utah has the most robust job opening projections of any state. Arizona, Colorado and Nevada are next, each with growth expectations of more than 25%. The slowest growth rates are expected to be in Alaska (7.7%) and Michigan (7%).

Average projected growth in clinical psychology master’s degree job openings by state, 2018-2028

Utah32.5%
Arizona26.0%
Colorado25.8%
Nevada25.1%
Georgia23.3%
New York22.9%
Oregon20.4%
Tennessee19.2%
Arkansas19.0%
Florida18.5%
Maryland18.5%
Connecticut17.1%
North Carolina16.7%
Iowa16.5%
South Carolina16.1%
Montana16.0%
District of Columbia15.8%
Virginia15.2%
Indiana14.9%
California14.7%
Wyoming14.3%
West Virginia14.1%
South Dakota14.1%
New Hampshire14.0%
Hawaii13.1%
Nebraska12.8%
Rhode Island12.6%
Missouri12.5%
North Dakota11.9%
New Jersey11.9%
Massachusetts11.9%
Oklahoma11.8%
Ohio11.7%
Idaho11.7%
Delaware11.0%
New Mexico10.7%
Minnesota10.4%
Pennsylvania10.3%
Kansas10.1%
Vermont9.9%
Wisconsin9.7%
Illinois9.6%
Louisiana9.0%
Michigan7.7%
Alaska7.0%

On average, the four jobs should see openings grow by about 13% through 2028, which is nearly three times higher than the rate at which all job openings are expected to increase in the entire U.S. Market Research Analysts will see the highest growth, while Human Resources Directors will see the most modest growth rate.

Average projected growth in clinical psychology master’s degree job openings, 2018-2028

Market Research Analysts20.4%
Clinical, Counseling and School Psychologists14.7%
All13.0%
Rehabilitation Counselors9.9%
Human Resources Directors7.1%

Conclusion

As understanding of human behavior continues to grow and people become more accepting of the need to consider psychological factors in all areas of life, the need for people with a deep knowledge of human behavior and emotions will continue to grow. Whether it’s a terminal degree or simply the next step on a long and fulfilling academic journey, a Master’s in Clinical Psychology could be quite a lucrative prospect.