Salary Outlook Ph.D vs Psy.D. in School Psychology

Thanks to our society’s growing understanding of the connection between emotional health and learning outcomes, individuals with a background and education in school psychology are finding more plentiful jobs with higher-level salaries.

School psychologists (along with clinical and counseling psychologists) are looking at a very healthy job market, with the Bureau of Labor Statistics projecting 14 percent growth through 2026 and median annual wages more than twice the national median ($75,090 vs. $37,690).

SEE ALSO: Top 5 Online PhD in School Psychology Programs

For those with a Doctor of Psychology (PsyD) in school psychology, the employment outlook, including for wages and salary, is very bright indeed. Let’s take a look at what school psychology degree-holders can expect to make, which areas are the country are the most lucrative and what specific jobs in the field pay the best.

School Psychology Salaries

There are a couple of ways federal data classifies psychologists and counselors working within schools, and the distinction is based largely on their degree. For individuals with doctorates, such as a PsyD degree, expected salaries are much higher than for those with job titles like “school counselor,” though it’s possible an individual with a PsyD degree could have a job with that title.

But because of that distinction, school psychologists are classified on the federal level in a group with clinical and counseling psychologists thanks to the need for all three to have a doctorate to be considering for licensure in each state. Conversely, school counselors are grouped with career counselors because they need a master’s degree rather than a doctorate, along with state-level certifications specific to where they hope to work.

While it can’t be said that these two roles are interchangeable, they often are confused for one another, and school psychologists almost certainly will do one-on-one counseling with individual students, but school counselors, on average, make about $20,000 less per year than school psychologists.

It’s helpful when painting the national picture of the school psychology job market to consider statistics on both jobs, since the employment outlook is similar for both, and within some institutions, there may be overlap in their job duties.

School psychologist

Among psychologists, school psychologists have some of the lowest median salaries, though they still are far above the national median of just over $37,000.

Median annual wage by occupation*

School psychologists                                        $75,090

Social scientists                                                $76,970

Industrial-organizational psychologists            $87,100

Other psychologists                                          $97,740

States by average annual income*

New Jersey                                                      $97,790
Alaska                                                               $96,350
Hawaii                                                               $95,500
California                                                          $94,910
Oregon                                                             $93,070
New York                                                          $91,180
Connecticut                                                      $88,920
Virginia                                                              $87,090
District of Columbia                                          $85,310
North Dakota                                                    $84,300
* School, clinical and counseling psychologists

School counselor

Nearly half of school counselors are employed at the elementary and secondary level, and they make higher wages than other counselors or social workers.

Median wage by occupation

Counselors, social workers, social service specialists      $43,860

School and career counselors                                           $55,410

States by average annual income **

New Jersey                                                                        $72,190
Alaska                                                                                 $69,820
California                                                                            $68,000
New York                                                                            $67,100
Massachusetts                                                                   $66,640
Virginia                                                                                $66,310
District of Columbia                                                            $65,820
Connecticut                                                                        $64,910
Maryland                                                                            $63,840
** Educational, guidance, school and vocational counselors

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Where the Jobs Are

While we’ve seen which states have the highest average salaries for school psychologists and school counselors, where you live may determine the availability of jobs where you can best use your education. For those investing in a PsyD in school psychology, it can be instructive to know which areas have the highest rates of job openings they could fill.

School psychologist

States by location quotient ***

Vermont                                 1.98

New Mexico                          1.89

Rhode Island                         1.85

New York                               1.63

Minnesota                              1.56

Massachusetts                      1.49

California                               1.44

Colorado                                1.43

Utah                                       1.36

Connecticut                           1.34
Metro areas by location quotient ***

Hanford, California                4.62

Vallejo, California                  3.29

La Crosse, Wisconsin           3.15

Pittsfield, Massachusetts      2.95

Boulder, Colorado                 2.82

San Luis Obispo, California  2.71

Mankato, Minnesota              2.59

Ithaca, New York                   2.56

Las Cruces, New Mexico      2.52

Fresno, California                  2.51


School counselor

States by location quotient ***

Vermont                                 1.61

Connecticut                           1.52

Arizona                                  1.51

Hawaii                                    1.32

Georgia                                  1.31

New York                               1.28

Wyoming                               1.26

Missouri                                 1.25

Oklahoma                              1.25

District of Columbia               1.23

Rhode Island                         1.23

Metro areas by location quotient ***

Ithaca, New York                   4.98

Columbia, Missouri                3.40

Athens, Georgia                    3.29

College Station, Texas          2.89

Auburn, Alabama                  2.87

Flagstaff, Arizona                  2.86

Corvallis, Oregon                  2.52

Carbondale, Illinois                2.40

Lafayette, Indiana                  2.39

Provo, Utah                           2.15
*** Location quotient is based on an area’s rate of jobs relative to the national median; a number under 1 means the area has a lower concentration of jobs than the national median.

Salary Outlook for Jobs in School Psychology

Jobs in school psychology extend beyond school psychologist or counselor, and a PsyD in school psychology can be applied to jobs across a huge range of industries, both inside and outside the educational sphere, though individuals with degrees in school psychology will likely be most attracted to jobs related in some way to education or young people.

Here are some of the highest-paying psychology jobs you can get with a school psychology PsyD:

  • Behavioral Scientist: $75,000-$150,000
  • Learning Design Manager: $60,000-$130,000
  • Psychometrician: $75,000-$140,000
  • School Counselor: $70,000-$110,000
  • Grief Counselor: $50,000-$60,000
  • Mental Health Counselor: $40,000-$80,000
  • Adolescent Therapist: $75,000-$135,000
  • Psychological Consultant: $85,000-$120,000
  • Applied Social Scientist: $100,000-$175,000
  • Assessment Psychologist: $75,000-$125,000
  • Leadership Counselor: $60,000-$130,000
  • Military Readjustment Counselor: $80,000-$110,000
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A school psychologist is more than just the person who helps you sign up for the SATs (though they might do that, too). Because learning and education are such crucial parts of development into a well-rounded individual, it’s necessary to ensure that while students’ minds are being expanded and they’re taking in new information, that educational institutions are also considering their emotional well-being and their long-term mental fitness.

SEE ALSO: Top 5 Educational Psychology Ph.D. Online Programs

For those with a School Psychology PsyD, there’s never been a better time to look for a new job or start your career.