We live in an era where a degree isn’t enough for success. In order to get ahead in today’s competitive job market, you have to have a master’s degree and sometimes even a doctorate. Psychologists are no exception. It is not uncommon for them to hold multiple degrees, including doctoral degrees. If you want a high paying job as a psychologist, here are some of the most lucrative degrees you can choose and why they have such great salaries.
Finding a good-paying job in psychology is difficult. The average psychologist earns about $73,000 per year, which is below the median income for the United States. The best paying jobs in psychology are usually reserved for those with a doctoral degree. However, there are many other psychology positions that offer high salaries as well. Here are some of the highest paying jobs in psychology and how to find them.
Why work in the psychology field?
Psychology is a fascinating and diverse field. Not only can you specialize in many different types of psychology, but the work you do can be very fulfilling. There are many reasons why to work in psychology, and these are some of the most compelling.
The satisfaction that comes from helping people recover from mental illness or trauma is unmatched. Knowing that you’ve helped someone get their life back on track, whether it’s through counseling or through art therapy, has an indescribable impact on your life. You will also be working with people who may not have much else going for them, so they will love you unconditionally. The work can be very fulfilling and because there are so many different fields within psychology, it has something for everyone.
11 High paying jobs in the psychology field
Psychology is a broad field that encompasses many areas of interest. It’s best to specialize in one or two areas, and then find jobs that suit your interests. There are many high paying jobs in psychology which can let you put your education to good use. Here are some top jobs in the psychology field that offer excellent pay as well as growth potential.
Here is a list of 11 high-paying jobs working in mental health. For the most up-to-date salary information from Indeed or the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, click on the salary link for each job title below:
1. Mental health case manager
National average salary: $46,534 per year
Primary duties: Mental health case managers counsel patients to assess the social services they need to function healthily in society. These professionals coordinate community care services like housing, transportation and employment besides mental health treatment. As clients continue treatment and working toward goals, case managers monitor their progress.
Case managers typically work in offices with other case managers and administrative staff. Most professionals in this role have a bachelor’s degree, but some pursue graduate degrees in social work or another branch of psychology.
2. Guidance counselor
National average salary: $48,992 per year
Primary duties: These professionals work in elementary, middle, secondary and post-secondary schools to help students to have successful and healthy academic lives. In all grade levels, guidance counselors help students persevere through challenges at home and in their social lives. They may have individual counseling sessions with students or together with their families. A guidance counselor in high school may help students choose the most appropriate classes for their interests, select colleges or plan a career.
Depending on the state, guidance counselors usually need a master’s degree to obtain employment.
3. Recreational therapist
National average salary: $60,689 per year
Primary duties: Recreational therapists are tasked with treating and maintaining patients’ physical and emotional health. They use a variety of techniques, including music, art, dance, sports and more to stimulate their clients’ activity levels.
These professionals may find employment in private practice, hospitals or government agencies. A bachelor’s degree is a minimum requirement for this position, but many recreational therapists hold certifications or graduate degrees.
4. School psychologist
National average salary: $66,642 per year
Primary duties: Similar to guidance counselors, school psychologists work with students of all grade levels, including college. Guidance counselors may work with students individually, with families or with groups of students. These professionals are tasked with helping students achieve academic success, sometimes while managing physical or intellectual disabilities or challenges at home.
School psychologists also coordinate with other faculty to devise the most appropriate curriculum for students’ academic skills and interests. They may also refer students to other staff to address discipline issues.
School psychologists in public schools must have a master’s degree. To find employment at the college level, a doctorate may be required.
5. Mental health technician
National average salary: $35.12 per hour
Primary duties: Mental health technicians assist in most aspects of a patient’s therapeutic journey. Technicians take part in intake to clinics or other facilities, assessing clients’ social and psychological challenges, creating appropriate treatment plans, transporting patients to appointments and coordinating social services like housing and transportation.
These professionals can work in a variety of settings, including private treatment centers or hospitals. A high school diploma is required for this position, but an associate degree can improve job prospects.
6. Registered mental health nurse
National average salary: $1,610 per week
Primary duties: Professionals in this role help diagnose and treat mental health issues in a clinical setting. They may work with clients individually, with their families or in groups, and often coordinate with community groups and services to provide patients with comprehensive care. Mental health nurses typically assess a patient’s mental health, diagnose illness and prescribe courses of treatment.
To become a registered nurse, you will need to earn a four-year degree and complete state licensure. Some registered nurses complete a Master’s Degree in Nursing with a specialty in mental health care. Advanced education can improve your job prospects and give you the training to complete higher levels of care.
7. Psychology professor
National average salary: $88,490 per year (from Bureau of Labor Statistics)
Primary duties: Psychology professors apply their expertise in psychology to classroom instruction at the college level. In this academic role, you will create a curriculum to give students a thorough knowledge of the field. You will also administer and grade tests and other assignments. Depending on the organization you work for, you may also complete experimental research and publish academic papers.
Some educators can get adjunct professorships at lower pay with a Master of Arts in Psychology. To pursue employment as a tenure-track psychology professor, you will need a doctorate.
8. Clinical psychologist
National average salary: $95,837 per year
Primary duties: In this role, psychologists address all aspects of patients’ mental health issues. They use direct observation and methods of testing to create courses of treatment. In individual treatment sessions, clinical psychologists listen to patients’ histories to target specific instances of trauma or other difficulties.
The psychologist will then help their client create goals and monitor their progress toward them. Many of these professionals specialize in certain age groups like children or the elderly, or specific issues like depression, anxiety, eating disorders or addictions.
Clinical psychologists typically need a Ph.D. in Psychology or a Doctor of Psychology (PsyD). Some programs might also require a one-year internship where you will get hands-on experience treating patients under the supervision of established psychologists.
9. Industrial-organizational psychologist
National average salary: $109,030 per year (from Bureau of Labor Statistics)
Primary duties: Industrial-organizational psychologists apply principles of psychology in workplace settings. These professionals assess an employee’s work habits and personal interactions and managers’ supervisory styles to plan more effective and healthy ways of conducting business.
Industrial-organizational psychologists need to have strong observational skills and the ability to listen to management’s concerns to make the most appropriate recommendations for each company. Psychologists with this position might suggest new ways of structuring teams, ways to redirect workflow, where and how to improve work-life balance and how to resolve conflicts at work.
To become an industrial-organizational psychologist, you will likely need a Ph.D. in Psychology or a Doctor of Psychology (PsyD) degree, but some individuals find employment in this field with a master’s degree.
10. Psychiatric nurse
National average salary: $110,495 per year
Primary duties: Psychiatric nurses create and implement treatment plans for a variety of issues, such as depression, trauma, mood disorders and substance abuse. They may recommend psychotherapy, medication or both. Professionals in this role may find employment in hospitals, prisons, treatment facilities or schools for people with disabilities.
To become a psychiatric nurse, you’ll need at least an Associate Degree in Nursing, but a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) could make you a more qualified job applicant. Nurses must also complete a licensing exam and earn certification from the American Nurses Credentialing Center.
National average salary: $224,103 per year
Primary duties: Psychiatrists are medical doctors who diagnose and treat mental health issues, including mood, behavioral and personality disorders. These professionals are usually experts in diagnostic processes like medical and psychological testing and can target treatment to their patients’ unique needs. Besides therapy and medication, many psychiatrists use non-medicinal practices like biofeedback, transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) or electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) to treat mental illnesses. Psychiatrists may work with outpatient clients in an office setting or inpatient facilities like hospitals.
To become a psychiatrist, you will need to get a Doctor of Medicine (MD) or Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO) degree, and complete several years of post-graduate training. As with other medical specialties, you will need to complete an internship and residency under the supervision of established psychiatric doctors. After this training, you will need to earn licensure from the state in which you intend to practice.