Salary Outlook Ph.D vs Psy.D. in Behavioral Health Degree

Students who have a strong interest in the psychology field may be interested in a doctoral degree (Ph.D. or Psy.D.) in behavioral health. A graduate degree in behavioral health concentrates on skills you need for human services, counseling and related psychological services. Typical areas of study in this doctoral degree program include:

  • Advanced study of vital behavioral health concepts, including history, theories, current tends, techniques, approaches, research and best practices.
  • Understanding of behavioral health skills: DSM manual and ICD codes, new brain technologies, clinical and documentation skills, regulations. Understand scope of practice, assessment, diagnosis and client treatment.
  • Cultural competency: Discuss how culture, diversity and social justice affect behavioral health, as well as the role of religion and spirituality.
  • Information technology in behavioral health: Understand how to evaluate diverse technology for use in behavioral health settings, including electronic and medical health records and keeping of records. Doctoral students will understand privacy, security and confidentiality related to patient records

If you are interested in a Ph.D. or Psy.D. in behavioral health, it is smart to understand your salary potential overall in psychology and behavioral health. Below are details about salaries with a doctoral degree in behavioral health.

The Difference Between a Ph.D. and Psy.D.

You can earn either a Ph.D. or Psy.D. in this field. But what is the difference? Generally, the Ph.D. in behavioral health is focused more on research, conducting experiments and analyzing behavior data. Many graduates with this degree will work in research laboratories and/or academia.

SEE ALSO: What is Difference PhD vs PsyD of Psychology?

On the other hand, a Psy.D. in behavioral health that is focused more on the clinical aspects of behavioral health. The Psy.D. generally prepares the student for a career in professional and/or private practice in psychology or behavioral health. (

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Salary Outlook For Behavioral Health Overview

The Bureau of Labor Statistics provides salary data for several fields related to behavioral health. First, BLS states the median salary for substance abuse, behavioral disorder and mental health counselors in 2017 was $43,500, but the top 10% with the most education and experience such as a Ph.D. or Psy.D. holder, earned a median salary of $70,800. (

SEE ALSO: 10 Best Careers with a PhD in Behavioral Health also reports the average salary for a behavioral health therapist is $49,800. The salary range is between $39,000 and $63,000.

Also, below are some common jobs and salaries that you can find with a Ph.D. or Psy.D. in behavioral health according to

  • Mental Health Specialist: $52,715. A mental health specialist helps clients who are living with serious mental illness and how it affects those around them. This field is related to psychology, but the mental health specialist is often trained in behavioral health, and is often the first person that provides advice in the field. (com)
  • Behavioral Health Specialist: $48,977. A behavioral health specialist offers direction and counseling to people who face addiction, mental illness and physical limitations. (com).
  • Mental Health Counselor: $40,400. A mental health counselor is a healthcare worker who treats and diagnoses various mental health problems and mental illnesses. Mental health counseling normally consists of helping patients who are working through illness or psychological problems. (com).
  • Psychologist: $77,000. A psychologist studies behavioral, emotional, cognitive and social processes as they observe, interpret and record how people relate to each other and the environment. They use their conclusions to improve processes and behaviors for their patients. See also clinical psychologists. (gov).
  • Substance Abuse Counselor: $51,000. A substance abuse counselor offers behavior modification therapy to people who struggle with alcohol or drug abuse. This can lead to support groups and group counseling, as well as potential one on one sessions with your patients. (com).

Salary Overview for Overview for Psychologists

In the field of psychology, which is tied closely to behavioral health, the median salary for all professionals is $77,030, with the most educated and experienced earning $124,500 per year. ( The median salary for major industries for psychologist are as follows:

  • Government: $94,900
  • Hospitals: $83,800
  • Ambulatory healthcare services: $77,000
  • Elementary and secondary schools: $74,400 reports the average salary for clinical psychologists is $76,300, while those with a Ph.D. or Psy.D typically earn $110,000 per year. ( That site also reports the average salary for a counseling psychologist is $56,450, with a top salary potential for doctoral holders at $90,000. (  That website also reports the average salary for psychologists is $76,300, with a range between $48,000 and $110,000. (

Job Outlook

The job outlook for doctoral holders in behavioral health is strong, as this degree can apply to several fields and occupations with rising interest in the US.

For example, job growth for substance abuse, behavioral disorder and mental health counselors will rise by an impressive 23% through 2026, much faster than average. More people will be seeking help for their behavior disorders as states are looking for treatment and counseling services for drug offenders rather than putting them in jails. (

Further, the job outlook for the psychology professions also is looking good. Job demand for all psychologists in the US will rise by 14% through 2026, which is faster than average. ( Demand for clinical and counseling psychologists will rise as people are looking for help to deal with their mental and behavior problems. This is common because our population is aging and elderly people typically need more forms of psychological help and counseling.

More Demand for Behavioral Health and Psychology Professionals Reflects Healthcare Job Trends

Employment for healthcare occupations generally in the US is increasing quickly as the US population is growing older. The Bureau of Labor Statistics states employment in all healthcare occupations will rise by 18% through 2026, much faster than average. ( In this time, 2.4 million new jobs will be added, and many of them with be in doctoral level jobs in psychology and behavioral health.

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Professionals earning their Ph.D. or Psy.D. in behavioral health will have the ability to earn a good salary in many professions, from psychologist to behavior health specialist in the coming decade.