Salaries for Psychologists According to Degree Level, Sub-Field and Practice Setting

The study and practice of psychology is part science, part philosophy. It’s challenging and stimulating, but for many practicing psychologists, the rewards extend beyond professional fulfillment and personal gratification. Salaries for these doctorate-prepared mental health professionals can be incredibly attractive, well exceeding the $100,000 mark in many cases.

The National Science Foundation’s (NSF) 2015 National Survey of College Graduates (NSCG), surveyed 135,000 doctorate level psychologists and found that the annual average salary among this group was $85,000. More than half (57 percent) of those surveyed earned salaries within the range of $60,000 to $120,000. About 23 percent of respondents earned more than $120,000.

Perhaps not surprisingly, the NSF survey found that the highest earners worked in industry using their training in industrial/organizational psychology to bring in an average annual salary of $125,000. Geographically speaking, the highest earners were in the Middle Atlantic region, where they earned an average of $108,000.

But there’s more. Let’s break down out what doctorate-prepared psychologists are earning by position, by experience, and by setting.

Salaries for Recent College Graduates

While salary statistics are helpful when determining your future earning potential as a, it’s also beneficial to know what you’ll likely be earning straight out of college. A 2016 salary survey through the academic journal, Training and Education in Professional Psychology (TEEP), revealed that the average, annual salary for new psychologists is $60,000.

But starting salaries for new psychologists also vary quite a bit depending on the subfield they’re practicing in. For example, if you slide into a clinical neuropsychology position right out of college, you can expect to earn about $72,500. If your subfield is industrial/organizational or clinical psychology, it’s about $65,000, and in social psychology, about $63,000.

While the overall annual salary for new psychologists is $60,000, if you earned a PhD, you’ll likely earn slightly more than your PsyD colleagues. The TEEP survey found that the annual, average salary for new PhD holders was $63,000.

On the top end of the pay scale, the TEEP survey found that new graduates earned $140,000. Some of the top-earners were in counseling psychology ($130,00), clinical psychology ($130,000), clinical neuropsychology ($125,000), and industrial/organizational psychology ($120,000). While the average, annual salary for new school psychologists was just $60,000, the top-earners in this psychology subset brought home an average salary of $110,000.

Employment among new psychologists is also favorable. The TEEP study found that 72 percent of recent graduates were employed within three months of graduation. Further, according to the National Science Foundation, just 1 percent of all psychology research doctorates report being unemployed.

These statistics are in line with the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which projects that job growth for psychologists is expected to increase by 19 percent by 2024—that’s significantly higher than the national average of 7 percent for all occupations. Just a few of the drivers in psychologist job growth include an increased demand in schools, hospitals, and mental health centers due to increasing autism diagnoses and an aging Baby Boomer population.

Psychologist Salaries, by Position

Your ability to earn a higher income as a psychologist often depends on the setting in which you work. The NSF salary survey found that psychologists in clinical practice earned an annual, average salary of $85,000. However, clinical psychologists in their own practice earned an annual salary of $120,000—the highest among all earners in the survey.

Psychologists in teaching positions earned an average, annual salary of $62,000; however, those working in private institutions earned a higher annual salary ($70,000) than their public institution colleagues ($60,000).

Psychologists in research positions earned much more than the annual average, bringing home an average salary of $95,000. However, salaries for researchers in university-affiliated institutions earned a higher annual salary of $98,500. Head to the private sector and perform research and you’ll likely earn about $130,000.

The average salary for psychologists in management positions was $110,000, with the top-earning managers overseeing more than 20 people and earning an average salary of $141,000.

Psychologist Salaries, by Psychology Subset

The area of psychology you work in will also play a large role in your future earnings.

The NSF survey found that the top earners were those working in industrial/organizational psychology, as they earned an average, annual salary of $125,000, followed by:

  • Experimental Psychology: $92,000
  • Counseling Psychology: $85,000
  • Social Psychology: $85,000
  • General Psychology: $80,000
  • Clinical Psychology: $80,000
  • Other fields: $78,000
  • Educational Psychology: $75,000

Salaries for Psychologists in Education

A March 2017 study by the American Psychological Association (APA) Center for Workforce Studies broke down salaries for psychology educators for 2015-16 and compared them with salaries from a year prior. Across the board, psychology educators earned higher salaries in 2015-16 than 2014-15.

For example,

  • New assistant professor: $61,965 (2015-16), $59,991 (2014-15)
  • Assistant professor: $61,542, $60,267
  • Associate Professor: $71,872, $70,420
  • Professor: $94,218, $92,678

The APA also broke down these salaries further, highlighting those working in research universities and those who held doctoral degrees:

Research Universities

  • New assistant professor: $69,774 (2015-16), $68,469 (2014-15)
  • Assistant professor: $71,241, $69,050
  • Associate Professor: $81,849, $79,731
  • Professor: $118,452, $115,516

Private Institutions

  • New assistant professor: $61,044 (2015-16)
  • Assistant professor: $61,219
  • Associate Professor: $71,493
  • Professor: $92,174

Public Institutions

  • New assistant professor: $62,470 (2015-16)
  • Assistant professor: $61,832
  • Associate Professor: $72,262
  • Professor: $96,201

While psychology professors earned less than their colleagues in clinical practice, top earners in this field were paid significantly more. For example, while the average, annual salary for professors was $94,218 in 2015-16, top earners brought home $471,031 during the same period. Similarly, while professors in private institutions earned an average, annual salary of $92,174, top earners had salaries as high as $291,689.

A Sample of Current Psychologist Salaries from 2017 Job Posts

Though formal statistics can provide a broad view of salaries for psychologists by title, setting, psychology subset, and more, current job posts often provide a unique snapshot into what employers are willing to pay for the best and brightest talent.

We viewed recent job posts (September 2017) from a variety of sources, including the APA’s Career Job Center, the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology, and Indeed, and found the following salary information:

Research Psychologists

  • Academic/Research Psychologist, Galveston, TX: $100,000
  • Research Psychologist, Washington DC (U.S. Federal government): $112,021-$145,629
  • Research Psychologist, Washington DC (Federal government): $79,720-$123,234
  • Research Psychologist, Galveston, TX: $100,000-$110,000

Psychology Professors

  • Assistant Professor, Atlanta, GA: $70,000-$100,000
  • Assistant Professor, Wichita, KS: $64,000-$65,000

Industrial Organizational Psychologists

  • Industrial Organizational Psychologist, Springfield, VA (Federal government): $94,796-$145,629
  • Senior Organizational Psychologist, Washington DC: $120,000-$140,000

Clinical Psychologists

  • Clinical Psychologist, Washington DC (U.S. Federal government): $94,796-$123,234
  • Staff Psychologist, Wake County, NC (state government): $48,195-$81,392
  • Clinical Psychologist, Will County, IL (state government): $72,396-$111,216
  • Clinical Psychologist, Evanston, IL: $70,000-$90,000
  • Clinical Psychologist, Decatur, GA: $104,000-$135,200
  • Clinical Psychologist, Columbia, MD: $110,000-$130,000
  • Clinical Psychologist, Santa Barbara, CA: $104,000
  • Clinical Psychologist, Fresno, CA: $111,240-$124,188
  • Clinical Psychologist, Sheppard AFB, TX: $124,000
  • Clinical Psychologist, Daytona Beach, FL: $110,000


  • Neuropsychologist, Paramus, NJ: $85,000-$125,000
  • Neuropsychologist, Providence, RI: $86,000-$150,000
  • Neuropsychologist, Orange, CA: $92,400-$100,116

School Psychologists

  • School Psychologist, Cross, SC: $55,000-$65,000
  • School Psychologist, Allentown, PA: $55,000-$65,000
  • School Psychologist, Colorado Springs, CO: $124,800-$135,200
  • School Psychologist, Albuquerque, NM: $80,000
  • School Psychologist, Chesterfield, VA: $47,476

Forensic Psychologists

  • Forensic/Clinical Psychologist, Raleigh, NC: $139,360-$156,000
  • Forensic Psychologist, Osawatomie, KS: $84,478-$107,857
  • Forensic Psychologist, Craig, OK (state government): $55,000-$69,575