Salary Outlook Counseling Psychology Ph.D vs Psy.D.

With a Psy.D. or Ph.D. in counseling psychology, you have the unique opportunity to help people with their personal and mental health problems, as well as enjoy a lucrative career.

Counseling psychology focuses on how individuals and groups function personally and in relationships throughout the lifespan. Counseling psychology deals with the emotional, personal, work, school and physical health issues that people could have at various stages of their lives. (

In your doctoral in psychology program, you will focus on some of the common life stresses and more serious issues that people struggle with on their own, in families, groups and organizations. These counseling professionals also assist people with emotional, physical and mental health issues, so that they can improve their sense of well being, reduce feelings of distress and solve problems and crises.

Specialized knowledge that students learn in a Ph.D. or Psy.D. in counseling psychology program are:

  • Learn the health aspects and strengths of couples, individuals and groups
  • Understand environmental situations and how they influence our lives
  • Understand problems and issues of diversity and social justice
  • Learn about the role of work and careers in people’s lives

Issues addressed in counseling psychology include:

  • Adjustment problems in school, work and career
  • Relationship problems, such as marriages and with children
  • Skill and learning deficits
  • How to manage stress and negative events in your life
  • Regular difficulties relating to others generally

Earning your Ph.D. or Psy.D. in this field is a major commitment, so it is wise to understand the potential salary you can earn once you have finished the program and obtained state licensure. Below is detailed information about salary potential in counseling psychology with a doctoral degree.

What Is the Difference Between a Ph.D. and a Psy.D?

Doctoral students can earn a Psy.D. or Ph.D. in counseling psychology. Which is best for you? If you are interested in an academic or research career in counseling psychology at a college or university, you may want to select a Ph.D. program. Much of your coursework will focus on research and academic aspects of counseling psychology, with fewer practical courses in apply the knowledge with patients.

A Psy.D. degree in counseling psychology offers you applicable counseling practice skills that are usually used in a private practice setting. The majority of professionals earning this degree will be working as counseling psychologists with patients. (

Salary Outlook for Counseling Psychology

The Bureau of Labor Statistics or BLS states the median salary for counseling psychologists in 2017 was $75,090. However, the top 10% with a doctoral degree and many years of experience can earn a salary as high as $124,500. (

SEE ALSO: How to Become a Counseling Psychologist

The data also shows the following median wages for psychologists in top industries:

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

Below are some of the other occupations that you may work in with a Psy.D. or Ph.D. in counseling psychology, and the median salary:

  • Counseling psychologist: $75,000: You will assist patients to work through mental health problems, such as anxiety and depression, as well as problems in their marriages, workplace, and home. An important part of this work is to identify strengths and weaknesses and assist them to navigate through major personal issues.
  • Clinical psychologist: $75,000: Learn to assess, diagnose, treat mental, behavioral and health disorders. Clinical psychologists are trained to help their patients deal with serious problems, such as personal issues, but also more serious mental health disorders, including bipolar disorder and major depression. See how to become a clinical psychologist.
  • Forensic psychologist: $75,100: You will use the principles of counseling and clinical psychology in the criminal and legal areas to help judges attorneys and other legal minds to understand the various psychological aspects of a case. You also may perform criminal profiling to assist law enforcement to pinpoint a suspect for a crime. See how to become a forensic psychologist.
  • Substance abuse and behavior counselor: $70,000: Provide advice and support to people who suffer from drug addiction, mental health issues, eating disorders and alcoholism. See how to become a behavioral psychologist.
  • School psychologist: $75,100. Apply important clinical and counseling psychology principles to many kinds of educational and developmental issues that children and adolescents have. School psychologists may address major behavioral and student learning issues that are preventing them from getting the most from their education. Also, they may create new student performance plans, and offer to counsel to families and students. See how to become a school psychologist.
  • Marriage and family therapist: $48,000, but up to $81,000 with an advanced degree. Assist married couples and single people to solve major relationship problems regarding money, sex, stress, job issues and more. Also, you will help clients to more effectively process reactions and deal with major life changes, such as death or divorce.
  • Social and community service manager: $64,000, but up to $109,000 with an advanced degree. This type of manager is in charge of the coordination and supervision of various social service programs and community organizations. They often need to prove to supervisors that programs and services are providing the help to people and the community as expected.
  • Career counselor: $55,000 but those with an advanced degree can earn up to $91,900. Perform complex aptitude and achievement tests to help clients better understand their skills, abilities and interests. Also, help your clients to make vital career decisions based upon their skills and abilities that were shown in the tests. You may also guide them on the type of degree or training to choose for their career.
  • Clinical social worker: $79,740. This is a more advanced type of social worker that is trained to treat serious mental and emotional problems. Many people who suffer from these issues actually work more often with a clinical social worker than a counseling psychologist, so this is a good career path with your doctoral degree. You may provide individual, group and family therapy to deal with mental health problems. You could also devise detailed treatment plans with physicians and many other healthcare workers.

Job Outlook

The job potential for counseling psychologists with a doctoral degree is excellent. The psychology field should see 14% increase in jobs through 2026. This strong rise in demand is being fueled by the growing US population, and more older people wanting assistance with their mental and personal issues so that they can live more fulfilling lives. ( There should be strong job demand for counseling psychology services in schools, hospitals, government agencies and mental health organizations.

More Counseling Psychologists Needed As Healthcare Job Demand Soars

You can be reassured that your choice of a doctoral degree in counseling psychology will result in ample job opportunities. The Bureau of Labor Statistics notes healthcare job demand will rise by 18% through 2026. (


With a Ph.D. or Psy.D. degree in counseling psychology, you will be well educated and can earn an excellent salary and strong job stability. Plus, you can have the personal satisfaction of helping people at their time of most need.