What is Salary Outlook for PhD in Psychology?

Getting your Ph.D. in Psychology can be a smart career decision if you want to work either as a licensed psychologist or in academia and/or research in psychology. Many professionals earning their Ph.D. tend to have more of an interest in working as a professor in a university or conducting psychological research at a research facility or college. But it is possible to work as a practicing psychologist also with a Ph.D. in this field.

Earning your doctoral degree in psychology is a serious endeavor. This will take a lot of time and money. Is it worth it to you? To assist in making this decision, one of the first matters to understand is what your possible salary will be once you are finished with the program.

The time commitment to a Ph.D. in Psychology program (See No GRE Online options) is substantial. Students can expect to spend at least four to six years of full time study to complete this rigorous degree. You also will likely be required to complete a dissertation that is a contribution of original psychological research to the field. That project alone can take up to two years to complete. Another factor in getting your Ph.D. is the likelihood of ending the program with substantial debt. A survey in Training in Education in Professional Psychology determined students with a Ph.D. had a median debt load of $80,000. (StudentLoanPlanner.com).

Salary Outlook

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS.gov), the median salary for all practicing psychologists was $77,000 in May 2017. The lowest 10% earned $42,300, and the top 10% with the most experience earned $124,500.

BLS data also revealed the following salary information:

  • All other psychologists: $97,400
  • Industrial and organizational psychologists: $87,100
  • Clinical, counseling and school psychologists: $75,000

Further, in May 2017, median wages for psychologists in major industries were:

  • Government: $94,900
  • Hospitals: $83,900
  • Ambulatory healthcare services: $77,000
  • Elementary and secondary schools: $74,400

Payscale.com also has a lot of salary information about psychologists with doctoral degrees. Payscale.com finds the average psychologist salary is $74,500. (Payscale.com). That source also reported a range of salary for psychologists between $46,000 and $112,000. For clinical psychologist, the average salary at Payscale.com is $76,300. (Payscale.com). Payscale also states the average for a Ph.D. in psychology is $86,000.

That source further found these salaries for professionals with a Ph.D. in psychology:

  • Psychologist: $89,500
  • Clinical psychologist: $76,200
  • Research analyst: $67,600
  • Associate professor: $77,500
  • Professor: $79,500
  • Research scientist: $79,900

Because many students in these programs want to become academics, it is important to look at the median wages for all postsecondary teachers. BLS data shows the median salary for college professors and instructors in 2017 was $76,000. (BLS.gov). The lowest 10%, usually those with only master’s degrees and less experience, earned $39,000, while the top 10% with Ph.D. earned $170,100. BLS also reported the median salary for psychology professors and teachers was $73,700.

The median wages for postsecondary teachers in top industries were:

  • State colleges and universities: $79,300
  • Private colleges and universities: $77,000
  • Local junior colleges: $76,800
  • State junior colleges: $56,000

High Salary Growth Ph.D. in Psychology Job

If you want to earn the highest possible salary in the psychology field, you probably would want to become a psychiatrist. It should be understood that a psychiatrist is a medical doctor, and an MD is required, and many also earn a Ph.D. in psychology. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the mean hourly wage of psychiatrists is $103. The mean annual wage is $216,000, and there currently are 25,250 workers employed as psychiatrists in the US. (BLS.gov).

Ph.D. Job Outlook

Getting your Ph.D. degree should offer you many good job opportunities. In the future, BLS reports employment for psychologists will increase by 14% through 2026. This rate of growth is faster than average when compared to other jobs. Further, employment for clinical, counseling and school psychologists will rise by 14% through 2026. This is faster than average as well. It is thought that more demand for psychological services in mental health centers, schools and social service agencies will boost demand for psychologists.

It is anticipated that greater demand for psychological services in schools, mental health centers, and social service agencies will increase demand for psychologists. (BLS.gov).

The job demand for clinical psychologists will rise because more Americans living longer lives want help with their psychological problems. More of these mental health professionals also will be needed to offer mental health services to veterans and the elderly.

Also, job demand for postsecondary teachers is expected to rise by 15% through 2026, which is faster than average. (BLS.gov). The number of students attending postsecondary schools is expected to rise in the next 10 years. Students will continue to look to higher education to get the skills and training they need to meet their career goals. More post secondary teachers will be needed to serve these students. Note that colleges and universities are more likely to hire part time teachers to meet the demand, which means a lower salary and fewer benefits.

Ph.D Job Demand Reflects Rising Healthcare Occupation Increase

The higher need for psychologists and related mental health professionals is occurring along with the rising demand for overall healthcare services in America. It is expected there will be an increase in healthcare jobs by 18% through 2026. This is much faster than average when compared with other occupations. There will be at least 2.4 million new jobs added. Healthcare jobs, including psychology occupations, will be adding more workers than all other occupational groups. (BLS.gov).

Conclusion

In summary, earning your Ph.D. in psychology is a good career choice for professionals who want to work in academia, research, or in clinical psychology. There should be amble job possibilities where you can earn a higher than average salary for the coming decade or more. Keep in mind that the Ph.D. is most appropriate for the professional who wants to work in academia or research. The Psy.D. degree is primarily an option for those who want a strictly psychological practice career.

References

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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.