The Highest Paid Psychology Careers
We have researched the top psychology careers and compiled a list of the highest paying jobs in psychology. Note: different people in different locations earn different wages. The below is a guide with a range or average mean salary number, gathered from the United States Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics.
1. Psychiatrist $200,220
- What they do: A psychiatrist, at the most basic level, analyzes patients to determine the psychological, social, and physiological causes for mental health conditions. Psychiatrists are trained and licensed to diagnose and treat patients through means of psychotherapy, medication, and referral. People that are suffering from mental health conditions such as stress, depression, or anxiety may see psychiatrists as a means for seeking relief. Psychiatrists may also treat patients that have been diagnosed with serious mental health disorders such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or obsessive-compulsive disorder.
- Degree Requirements: The minimum degree requirement to become a psychiatrist is a medical degree. This is often obtained after the completion of a bachelor’s degree for some, while others decide to go ahead with a master’s prior to applying to medical school. This position also includes a residency requirement and licensure prior to being able to work with patients in a clinical or private setting.
- Salary information: The current mean annual wage for psychiatrists is at $200,220 per year (BLS; 2016). As the interest in self-help and mental health awareness rises throughout the country, it is possible that there will be a rise in popularity for this occupation.
- Top organization to know: The American Psychiatric Association
- Top employment areas: Psychiatrists are most often found working in private practice. These professionals may also be found in hospitals or medical centers that focus on mental health, with some working in specialty clinics and even for the government.
2. Engineering Psychologist $98,600
- What they do: Engineering psychologists play an important part in providing safe and efficient work environments, recreational facilities, and even public structures for people all over the country. Through the study of human behavior, engineering psychologists can make assumptions and recommendations during the creation of public spaces and workstations that can ensure better safety and reliability. These professionals often work alongside engineering specialists and others in occupational safety positions. Through the analysis of human behavior, ergonomics, and habitual studies, engineering psychologists can provide invaluable insight during the planning of manufacturing environments, public recreational facilities, and even residential buildings.
- Degree Requirements: People that seek a career in this industry first obtain a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology or Engineering. After completion of one of these degree programs, a master’s or doctoral program that focuses on industrial psychology or engineering is often required for most positions. This field does not require that professionals take part in a licensing exam, but may require some supervised work experience.
- Salary information: Psychologists that work in industry and provide insight during engineering planning and development have the potential to earn $98,600 per year on average in settings that are scientific in nature, management-oriented, or directed around consulting (BLS; 2016). As with most disciplines focused around psychology, this field could see a 19% growth through 2026 (BLS; 2016).
- Top organization to know: The National Society of Professional Engineers & The Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology
- Top employment areas: Engineering psychologists may work alongside engineering specialists in fields that study human behavior and ergonomics as a method for designing helpful tools and machinery for the workplace. Education is another field that calls upon engineering psychologists, since this up-and-coming field is catching the attention of new college students.
3. Neuropsychologist $93,650
- What they do: As a neuropsychologist, professionals can conduct research and assessments on the human brain and its relationship to behavior. This research may then be translated into literature or used in the development of new treatments and therapies for psychologists working in the clinical domain. Neuropsychologists are often trained in the use of CT, PET, MRI, and fMRI scanning, which assists them with making determinations about brain activity and behavior.
- Degree Requirements: Becoming a neuropsychologist begins with a bachelor’s level degree in psychology or other closely related discipline. Since this career field is primary research-driven in nature, most graduates move forward either directly to a Ph.D. program in Neuropsychology, or first through a master’s level program.
- Salary information: Neuropsychologists can be found working for hospitals, specialty centers, and within research. The annual wage for specialists within this discipline is $93,650 on average per year (BLS; 2016). The growth expected for this discipline aligns with other specialties in psychology, being 19% over the next decade (BLS; 2016).
- Top organization to know: National Academy of Neuropsychology
- Top employment areas: Research is the most common field to find neuropsychologists. These professionals may also work in hospitals or medical centers that call upon the knowledge of neuropsychologists when treating patients with puzzling mental health conditions or injuries.
4. Clinical Psychologist $83,480
- What they do: Clinical psychologists are practitioners that use a hands-on approach to treating patients that suffer from mental health disorders. On a daily basis, a clinical psychologist may see new and existing patients, providing analysis of current symptoms, diagnoses of illness or disorder, and treatment planning. There is a broad spectrum of mental health disorders that may be treated by clinical psychologists, including depression, anxiety, and eating disorders.
- Degree Requirements: The minimum educational requirement to become a clinical psychologist is a master’s degree. After this degree is obtained, graduates can take part in supervised work experience and the completion of a board exam, which leads to licensure. Some may find it more beneficial to obtain a doctorate degree, but it is not required for general positions as a clinical psychologist.
- Salary information: While clinical psychologists can be found in many different settings, the most common place to find these professionals is in hospitals or private offices. The wages for psychologists in these domains can range from $83,480 per year on average for hospitals to $89,530 for private health centers or offices (BLS; 2016). This field should see a growth of about 19% over the next 10 years (BLS; 2016).
- Top organization to know: The American Academy of Clinical Psychology
- Top employment areas: Clinical psychologists may work in hospitals or specialty clinics that treat people with various mental illnesses. Some professionals can also be found in private practice and in consulting fields.
5. Industrial/Organizational Psychologist $82,760
- What they do: I/O psychologists are called upon by businesses and organizations that wish to improve employee morale, assess employee working conditions, and plan for effective business practices in the future. These professionals may interview and assess current employees, design and implement training for new and upcoming workers, and analyze consumers for better marketing design. Using psychological theories and principles, these professionals stride to link businesses with their employees and customers on a more personal level.
- Degree Requirements: There is no licensure requirement for industrial organizational psychologists. Job opportunities may be sparse at the bachelor’s level, so most graduates complete a minimum of a Master’s degree in I/O Psychology before entering the field. Those that seek greater opportunity may go forward into a doctoral program, which can provide more career options in the field.
- Salary information: In industry and business, psychologists can earn $82,760 on average per year (BLS; 2016). As more businesses find the use of psychological practices helpful, the growth of this field over the next decade could be upwards of 19% (BLS; 2016).
- Top organization to know: The Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology
- Top employment areas: Businesses employ I/O psychologists at the most frequent rate. Since the specialty of this field includes industry and organizations, these are the primary fields for professionals. Research fields may also employ the expertise of these specialists in the design and experimentation on work-related theories.
6. School Psychologist $75,670
- What they do: Working primarily in a school setting, school psychologists can work with children of all ages. Through meetings and interviews, these professionals can assist children that are dealing with difficult personal situations, planning for higher education, or just needing advisory services throughout their school experience. These professionals organize awareness presentations for children in schools, including topics such as bullying, abuse, and drug/alcohol abuse.
- Degree Requirements: In order to work as a school psychologist, students must earn a minimum of a Master’s degree in School Psychology. After this degree program has been completed, graduates can work under the supervision of a licensed psychologist for 1-2 years then obtain licensure. Doctoral graduates are not uncommon, and tend to lean towards this level of education as a means for finding more lucrative careers.
- Salary information: While the salary range can vary depending on location and experience, most school psychologist have the opportunity to earn $75,670 on average per year in elementary and secondary schools (BLS; 2016). As the need for more supportive services in a school setting become more apparent, the field of school psychology could see a growth of 19% or more through 2026 (BLS; 2016).
- Top organization to know: The National Association of School Psychologists
- Top employment areas: The school psychologist most often works in elementary and secondary schools, with some found at colleges and universities. In the field of research, school psychologists may also be in demand when developing age-appropriate programs and interventions for school students.
7. Forensic Psychologist $75,230
- What they do: The forensic psychologist analyzes crime scenes, suspects, and victims in an effort to form hypotheses about crimes or criminals. This can include determining personality traits of potential perpetrators, emotional or behavioral triggers, and motive. During investigative processes, forensic psychologists may compare data from a crime scene with similar crimes to determine similarities that can assist with locating or defining a suspect. This career field may also involve the analysis of past crimes, which can provide useful data for future investigation processes.
- Degree Requirements: In order to be a forensic psychology professional, students must first acquire a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from an accredited institution. While not a specific requirement, most students either obtain a Master’s in Forensic Psychology or a Ph.D. in Forensic Psychology before pursuing careers with law enforcement agencies or within research.
- Salary information: Forensic psychology is a relatively new field that is growing quickly in popularity. The field could see a 19% growth over the next 10 years, making this an interesting field to begin a career (BLS; 2016). The annual mean wage for psychologists within this field is $75,230 on average per year (BLS; 2016).
- Top organization to know: American Board of Forensic Psychology
- Top employment areas: Forensic psychologists can be helpful tools during legal processes involving the commission of crimes. These professionals may be employed by law enforcement agencies, courts, or even attorney’s offices.
8. Experimental Psychologist $75,230
- What they do: Since the field of psychology is still developing, there is ample research needed to further the world’s understanding of the human brain and its processes. Experimental psychologists play a large role in this research by conducting experiments on the brain, cognition, and behavior in an attempt to improve the information within their field. Some psychologists in this field work for research facilities that test human response and cognition, while others work for colleges and universities. Professionals that work for educational institutions may spend their days teaching students about the various methods of experimentation and research in psychology.
- Degree Requirements: Experimental psychologists are driven by research. Most positions in research ask for graduates that have earned at minimum a Ph.D. in Experimental Psychology, while some are accepting of graduates at the master’s level. Depending on the field that students desire to pursue, the minimum requirement could vary.
- Salary information: As with other specialties within psychology, experimental psychology professionals have salaries that can differ depending on the industry, amount of experience, and demand. The average wage for experimental psychologists falls within the annual average income of psychologists, which is $75,230 on average per year (BLS; 2016). The anticipated growth for psychologists within this field is 19% over the next 10 years (BLS; 2016).
- Top organization to know: The Society of Experimental Psychologists
- Top employment areas: Experimental psychologists are most called on in fields that include extensive research in psychology. Some experimental psychologists may also have careers working for the government or even with pharmaceutical companies.
9. Cognitive Psychologist $72,450
- What they do: Cognitive psychologists study the mental processes that are associated with how people perceive and learn, as well as how information in stored within the human brain. A cognitive psychologist may use brain scanning technology to identify different areas of the brain that become active during learning, as well as the cognitive capabilities of individuals that have experienced brain injuries. These experts may work in research, medicine, or educational fields. Cognitive psychologists may have the opportunity to conduct research using human subjects or through case studies from previous evaluations.
- Degree Requirements: The first step to becoming a cognitive psychologist is pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology. After this is completed, students may choose to pursue a master’s or doctoral level degree that focuses on cognitive psychology as a primary discipline. Since this position includes extensive research and development, the Ph.D. is the recommended degree level for upcoming professionals.
- Salary information: Cognitive psychologists are often found in research and development for education. For professionals that find a career in this area, the average salary is $72,450 per year (BLS; 2016). With population growth and more precision placed on education and learning efficiency, this field could see a 19% growth over the next 10 years (BLS; 2016).
- Top organization to know: The International Association for Cognitive Education and Psychology
- Top employment areas: Some of the top employment areas for cognitive psychologists is education and education research. These professionals could also work in fields that engage in brain research, development, and rehabilitation.
10. Social Psychologist $66,220
- What they do: Social psychologists study the correlation between social interaction, environment, and human emotion. Some professionals in this field work in research positions that provide data on the psychological differences between people from different cultures, races, and socioeconomic classes. Social psychologists may conduct field studies in different areas of the country, take surveys and interviews from citizens, or observe interactions between subjects. The findings from social psychology studies can be used to determine how people from these different groups interact, conform, and react to real-world situations. Social psychology professionals may also work in educational settings such as colleges and universities.
- Degree Requirements: As primarily a research field, social psychology requires that students complete an accredited bachelor’s program then move forward into master’s or doctoral level educational programs. The minimum standard is typically a Master’s degree in Social Psychology, but some students choose to pursue a doctoral degree to stand apart from others in their field.
- Salary information: Social psychologists working in positions that are centered around individual and family services can earn $66,220 per year on average (BLS; 2016). As the years progress, this field could see a remarkable 19% increase, making this is a field to consider for continuous opportunity (BLS; 2016).
- Top organization to know: The Society for Personality and Social Psychology
- Top employment areas: One of the top fields for social psychologists is that of research. These specialists may work for local, state, and national government, private organizations that provide services to the public, or in education.
11. Sports Psychologist $62,880
- What they do: In sports, psychologists are often employed to assist athletes with finding methods for concentration, focus, and determination. There are various methods that are used by sports psychologists in this domain, such as relaxation techniques, meditation, and self-motivation. Through the use of these different therapies and techniques, sports psychologists can assist people with overcoming stresses present in their personal or professional lives and helping them to become more successful and applied athletes.
- Degree Requirements: Most sports psychologists have completed a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and moved forward to a master’s program that specializes in sports psychology. A combination of degree programs in fitness, health, and psychology are sometimes acquired by some graduates, with some even moving up to doctoral level training.
- Salary information: In colleges and universities, sports psychologists have the potential to earn $62,880 per year on average (BLS; 2016). Over time, this career field may gain more interest in influence in college sports, which can contribute to a predicted growth of 19% over the next decade (BLS; 2016).
- Top organization to know: The Association for Applied Sport Psychology
- Top employment areas: Sports psychologists may have the opportunity to work alongside college-level and professional athletes. While some professionals can find a career working for sports teams, others may find more opportunities working for rehabilitation centers, hospitals, or even with research facilities.
12. Board Certified Behavior Analyst $56,260
- What they do: The goal of the board certified behavior analyst is to identify a target behavior, develop an intervention plan, and implement the plan to change behavior. Using methods that were developed for behavioral interventions, the behavior analyst will determine the function of a behavior through a formal assessment, administer an intervention either in a natural or controlled setting, and work towards modifying behavior to a more acceptable point. While most behavior analysts work with young children, especially those with autism, the field of behavior analysis may be making its way up to other fields such a business and education in the future.
- Degree Requirements: The minimum requirement to become a BCBA is the acquisition of a master’s level degree from an accredited university. Some students choose to move further and obtain a Ph.D. in this discipline, though not required for licensure. This requirement is followed by 1500 supervised work hours and the completion of the Behavior Analyst Certification Board exam.
- Salary information: Behavior analyst can be found in different settings. For professionals that work in educational settings, which is quite common for analysts in this field, the yearly salary can be $56,260 per year on average (BLS; 2016). Behavior specialists that work for research and development have the potential to earn more, at $67,240 per year on average (BLS; 2016). Behavior specialties may see a rise in interest over the next decade, with growth thought to reach 19% (BLS; 2016).
- Top organization to know: Behavior Analyst Certification Board
- Top employment areas: Since the specialty of BCBAs is behavior, these professionals can work in settings such as schools, residential treatment centers, hospitals, and psychiatric facilities. The use of behavioral interventions may soon be more frequented in areas such as business, economics, and occupational safety.