What Psychologists Do About this section
Industrial-organizational psychologists apply psychological research and methods to workplace issues.
Psychologists study cognitive, emotional, and social processes and behavior by observing, interpreting, and recording how people relate to one another and to their environments. They use their findings to help improve processes and behaviors.
Psychologists typically do the following:
- Conduct scientific studies of behavior and brain function
- Observe, interview, and survey individuals
- Identify psychological, emotional, behavioral, or organizational issues and diagnose disorders
- Research and identify behavioral or emotional patterns
- Test for patterns that will help them better understand and predict behavior
- Discuss the treatment of problems with clients
- Write articles, research papers, and reports to share findings and educate others
- Supervise interns, clinicians, and counseling professionals
Psychologists seek to understand and explain thoughts, emotions, feelings, and behavior. They use techniques such as observation, assessment, and experimentation to develop theories about the beliefs and feelings that influence individuals.
Psychologists often gather information and evaluate behavior through controlled laboratory experiments, psychoanalysis, or psychotherapy. They also may administer personality, performance, aptitude, or intelligence tests. They look for patterns of behavior or relationships between events, and they use this information when testing theories in their research or when treating patients.
The following are examples of types of psychologists:
Clinical psychologists assess, diagnose, and treat mental, emotional, and behavioral disorders. Clinical psychologists help people deal with problems ranging from short-term personal issues to severe, chronic conditions.
Clinical psychologists are trained to use a variety of approaches to help individuals. Although strategies generally differ by specialty, clinical psychologists often interview patients, give diagnostic tests, and provide individual, family, or group psychotherapy. They also design behavior modification programs and help patients implement their particular program. Some clinical psychologists focus on specific populations, such as children or the elderly, or on certain specialties, such as neuropsychology.
Clinical psychologists often consult with other health professionals regarding the best treatment for patients, especially treatment that includes medication. Currently, only Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, and New Mexico allow clinical psychologists to prescribe medication to patients.
Counseling psychologists help patients deal with and understand problems, including issues at home, at the workplace, or in their community. Through counseling, these psychologists work with patients to identify their strengths or resources they can use to manage problems. For information on other counseling occupations, see the profiles on marriage and family therapists, substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors, and social workers.
Developmental psychologists study the psychological progress and development that take place throughout life. Many developmental psychologists focus on children and adolescents, but they also may study aging and problems facing older adults.
Forensic psychologists use psychological principles in the legal and criminal justice system to help judges, attorneys, and other legal specialists understand the psychological aspects of a particular case. They often testify in court as expert witnesses. They typically specialize in family, civil, or criminal casework.
Industrial–organizational psychologists apply psychology to the workplace by using psychological principles and research methods to solve problems and improve the quality of worklife. They study issues such as workplace productivity, management or employee working styles, and employee morale. They also help top executives, training and development managers, and training and development specialists with policy planning, employee screening or training, and organizational development.
Rehabilitation psychologists work with physically or developmentally disabled individuals. They help improve quality of life or help individuals adjust after a major illness or accident. They may work with physical therapists and teachers to improve health and learning outcomes.
School psychologists apply psychological principles and techniques to education disorders and developmental disorders. They may address student learning and behavioral problems; design and implement performance plans, and evaluate performances; and counsel students and families. They also may consult with other school-based professionals to suggest improvements to teaching, learning, and administrative strategies.
Some psychologists become postsecondary teachers or high school teachers.
The 9 Highest Paying Psychology Careers
Average Salary: $102,530
Educational Requirements: In most cases, a master's degree in psychology is the minimum training required, although having a doctorate degree may be to your advantage. While there are opportunities available at the master's degree level, earning a doctorate degree in industrial-organizational psychology offers greater opportunities and higher salaries.
Industrial-organizational psychologists use their knowledge of psychology to tackle workplace issues. Increasing worker productivity, selecting the best employees for particular jobs, and developing market research surveys are just a few of the things that an industrial-organizational psychologist might do.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that I/O psychologists employed in the scientific research and development industry earned an average annual wage of $149,780. Those employed at colleges, universities, and professional schools earned an average of $70,360.
The typical starting salary for a master's degree graduate is around $40,000. Meanwhile, the starting salary for a doctoral graduate is approximately $55,000.
According to the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology, the top 5% of their members earn in excess of $250,000 a year.
Most recommended certification
The jobs requiring this certification have increase by 21.23% since 2018. Psychologists with this certification earn +18.95% more than the average base salary, which is $94,468 per year.
887 Psychologists job openings on indeed require this certification in 2012, it increases by 887 in comparison to previous year.
|Year||Number of job openings on Indeed requiring this certification||Change from previous year|
|2012||887||increase by 887|
|2013||3033||increase by 241.94%|
|2014||4502||increase by 48.43%|
|2015||2228||decrease by 50.51%|
|2016||3628||increase by 62.84%|
|2017||2932||decrease by 19.18%|
|2018||3137||increase by 6.99%|
|2019||3803||increase by 21.23%|
Clinical Psychology Salary: What You’ll Earn
Once you complete your clinical psychology degree program your salary options are as wide open as the field itself.
Salaries for the work you do in psychology can vary widely based on a number of factors.
That said, keep reading to learn how much you’re likely to make in any number of psychology careers: organizational-industrial, clinical, counseling, or school psychology, and more.
Also, learn about job growth predictions, competition for jobs, and where you might work.
Median Annual Salary
According to the most current Occupational Outlook Handbook from the 2020 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Occupational Outlook Handbook, the median annual salary for clinical psychologists is $82,180. Actual salaries may vary greatly based on specialization within the field, location, years of experience and a variety of other factors.
What’s my earning potential?
Salaries for clinical psychologists can be lucrative, with the BLS reporting that the top 10% earned more than $137,500. As with every career, experience plays an enormous factor in salary. A clinical psychology salary jumps significantly around the fifth year, and salaries tend to increase steadily with each consecutive year.
How does a clinical psychologists’ salary compare to other psychology careers?
|Psychology Career||Median Annual Salary*|
|Clinical, Counseling and School Psychologists||$79,820|
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics 2020 Occupational Outlook Handbook, Psychologists.
*The salary information listed is based on a national average, unless noted. Actual salaries may vary greatly based on specialization within the field, location, years of experience and a variety of other factors. National long-term projections of employment growth may not reflect local and/or short-term economic or job conditions, and do not guarantee actual job growth.
Is there demand for this career?
Demand for clinical and counseling psychologists will increase as people continue to turn to psychologists to help solve or manage their problems. More psychologists will be needed to help people deal with issues such as depression and other mental disorders, marriage and family problems, job stress and addiction. Psychologists also will be needed to provide services to an aging population, helping people deal with the mental and physical changes that occur as they grow older.
What is the job growth for the field?
Employment of clinical psychologists is expected to grow 3% which is right on average for all occupations. Greater demand for psychological services in schools, hospitals, mental health centers, and social services agencies should drive employment growth. National long-term projections of employment growth may not reflect local and/or short-term economic or job conditions, and do not guarantee actual job growth.
How much competition will I face for a job?
Depending upon the area of clinical psychology that you intend to pursue, jobs are competitive despite a healthy job growth prediction. The best way to stay ahead of the competition is by earning your doctorate degree in an applied specialty, or in school psychology, which will continue to grow because of the increasing number of children in school. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics suggests that earning your master’s degree alone may place you in high competition markets, and that master’s degree-holders may need to resort to finding jobs in a related field outside of psychology.
What kinds of companies hire clinical psychologists?
Owning your own practice remains a popular career choice, but clinical psychology offers many more options. While the vast majority of clinical psychologists work in independent practice or the university and college system, many also work in hospitals, clinics and schools.
Here’s where the BLS says psychologists are working today:
- Independent practice—31%
- Schools and universities—24%
- Healthcare services—18%
- Government facilities—9%
How do I advance in my clinical psychology career?
Although the path you’ll take depends upon whether you’re interested in clinical practice, research or academics, the answer is the same: get more education. Studying current theory and practices in a specific field will give you the skills to work in a broad range of settings. Graduates with a master’s degree can find entry directly into the field of psychology as an industrial-organizational psychologist or as an assistant in clinical or research setting. But if you want to maintain a practice and hang out your shingle as a psychologist, you’ll need your doctorate and licensing.
Becoming licensed allows you to practice as a psychologist in all 50 states, as well as in the District of Columbia. From there, some doctorate-holders advance into research or a specialized clinical psychology area, such as neuropsychology. Some psychologists choose to pursue a medical education and become a psychiatrist, which allows them to write prescriptions for patients.
Clinical psychology is about much more than the money, but it’s great to know that this career offers good salary opportunities in addition to meaningful social contributions.
To learn more about the education required for clinical psychologists, research your degree options.
Salary psychologist average
Average Psychologist Salary
Avg. Base Salary (USD)
The average salary for a Psychologist is $79,745
What is the Pay by Experience Level for Psychologists?
An entry-level Psychologist with less than 1 year experience can expect to earn an average total compensation (includes tips, bonus, and overtime pay) of $68,163 based on 69 salaries. An early career Psychologist with 1-4 years of experience earns an average total compensation of $73,119 based on 533 salaries. A mid-career …Read more
What Do Psychologists Do?
Psychologists employ their education and knowledge of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V) to provide diagnostic interviews, psychological testing, and individual and group psychotherapy. They may work as part of a multidisciplinary team, and consult with other professionals regarding patient care. These other professionals vary depending upon the type of psychologist. For instance, a school psychologist may work with teachers, social workers, counselors, and …Read more
- Conduct psychological exams, providing recommendations about courses of treatment and diagnosis.
- Participate in and recruit for applied research in psychology.
- Respond to crises with appropriate interventions and change treatment plans to respond to changing circumstances.
- Administer and interpret psychological tests and measurements, and document results internally and for patients.
- Guide patients through treatment regimens like behavior modification, psychotherapy, and group therapy.
Job Satisfaction for Psychologist
Based on 152 responses, the job of Psychologist has received a job satisfaction rating of 4.13 out of 5. On average, Psychologists are highly satisfied with their job.
Prefer to self-define
This data is based on 466 survey responses. Learn more about the gender pay gap.
Common Health Benefits
Highest Paying Psychology Careers
Average Yearly Salary:$216,090
Education Required:Psychiatrists must first earn a bachelor's degree, then complete medical school, then undergo a four-year residency. This amounts to about 8 years of post-undergraduate study.
Psychiatrists are medical doctors who specialize in diagnosing and treating mental illnesses and disorders. The field of psychiatry is one of the highest paying fields associated with psychology, largely due to the amount of schooling and training required. Even so, salaries in this field can vary widely depending on geographic location, area of specialization, and the type of services rendered. A psychiatrist who works in a physician's office, for example, will generally earn less than a psychiatrist who works in an outpatient care center ($222,460 annually vs. $233,920 annually).
2. Industrial-Organizational Psychologist
Average Yearly Salary:$102,530
Education Required:Most professionals in this field hold a doctorate in industrial-organizational psychology, and job opportunities (and salaries) are more abundant for those who have completed this level of schooling. However, there are some jobs available to those who hold a master's degree.
Industrial-organizational psychologist work with companies and corporations, using psychological principles to make intelligent hiring decisions, increase productivity levels, and conduct market research. Once again, the salaries for this profession vary greatly depending on experience. The upper echelon of these professionals earns more than $250,000 each year, but a typical starting salary for a doctoral graduate is around $57,500 a year.
Average Yearly Salary:$93,440
Education Required:Doctorate degree in neuropsychology or clinical neuropsychology.
Neuropsychologists study behavior, cognition, and emotion by studying the physical structures and functions of the brain. This may include performing brain scans, conducting cognitive tests, studying the effects of various drugs and substances on the nervous system, and treating individuals struggling with brain injuries. Neuropsychologists work in a number of settings, such as hospitals, mental health clinics, colleges and universities, research centers, and pharmaceutical labs.
4. Engineering Psychologist
Average Yearly Salary:$90,340
Education Required:There are some entry-level jobs available to psychologists with master's degrees, but those with doctorate degrees will have a much easier time finding jobs and will earn higher salaries.
As the name suggests, engineering psychologists fuse the principles of psychology and engineering. Also known as human factors engineers, they study human behavior and capabilities, specifically as they relate to system design and operation, as well as technology and machinery. These professionals work in a number of settings, increasing efficiency and productivity while minimizing injuries and risk. Salaries vary largely depending on their area of employment. Working in the private sector, for example, usually yields much higher earnings than working in a university setting.
5. Psychology Teacher
Average Yearly Salary:$85,050
Education Required: Postsecondary psychology teachers must have earned a master's degree or doctoral degree. High school psychology teachers need at least a bachelor's degree and must also obtain state certification.
Psychology teachers prepare and teach coursework in psychology, counseling, and related career paths. They prepare the next generation of psychologists for many of the other careers listed on this page. They may also conduct psychological research and write research papers on behalf of the university they work for. University psychology teachers earn $85,320 per year on average, while junior college psychology teachers earn $84,280. However, psychology professors at top universities and research institutions earn starting salaries of about $110,000. Psychology teachers at high schools are less common and earn about $60,000 per year.
6. Clinical Psychologist
Average Yearly Salary:$81,330
Education Required:Clinical psychologists typically need a doctorate degree in psychology (Ph.D. or Psy.D.). They must then complete a supervised residency which lasts one or two years, and pass their state's licensing exams.
The field of clinical psychology employs the most workers of any field within psychology. These professionals assess, diagnose, treat, and prevent mental illnesses and disorders. They work in a wide range of settings, such as mental health clinics, hospitals, and private practices. As with other psychological professions, salaries vary widely. The most important factor affecting salary is years of experience. Clinicians with 5 years of experience, for example, earn about $60,000 a year, whereas clinicians with 14 year of experience earn about $115,000 a year.
7. Counseling Psychologist
Average Yearly Salary:$81,330
Education Required:Counseling psychologists must hold a Ph.D., Psy.D., or Ed.D. degree.
The fields of counseling psychology and clinical psychology are closely related; in fact, the two involve roughly the same type of work, such as mental health treatment and psychotherapy. The difference is that clinical psychologists typically work with individuals suffering from more severe kinds of mental disorders, and counseling psychologists work with individuals suffering from less severe disorders. Many counseling psychologists, instead of working with clients, choose to teach at universities, conduct scientific research, or offer vocational counseling.
8. School Psychologist
Average Yearly Salary:$77,430
Education Required:School psychologists generally must complete a specialist program in school psychology. These programs consist of 60 hours of graduate-level coursework, and culminate in either a master's degree or an Ed.S. degree. Roughly one-third of professionals working in this field hold a doctorate degree.
School psychologists work closely with other professionals in the education system--teachers, counselors, administrators, and parents--to help children thrive not only emotionally and psychologically, but also academically. The work of a school psychologist involves assessing and diagnosing learning problems, offering counseling to children, designing behavioral interventions, and fostering supportive learning environments. It's estimated that job prospects for school psychologists will grow by 11% over the next ten years.
9. Forensic Psychologist
Average Yearly Salary:$61,220
Education Required:Most forensic psychologists hold a doctorate degree, although some jobs are available with a master's degree.
Forensic psychologists work within the law enforcement and judicial systems, using their knowledge of psychology to solve crimes and understand criminals. Their work may involve constructing psychological profiles of criminals, investigating cases of domestic and child abuse, testifying in court, sorting out child custody disputes, and training law enforcement officers.
10. Sports Psychologist
Average Yearly Salary:$60,000
Education Required:Sports psychologists typically need to hold a master's or doctorate degree in sports psychology, or a graduate-level degree in a related area such as counseling or clinical psychology.
Sports psychologists apply their knowledge of psychology to the realms of sports and athletics. They work to understand and optimize athletes' motivation and ability, with the goal of helping athletes improve performance, train more effectively, and recover quickly from injuries. Salaries vary depending on the areas in which they work. The average salaries range from $50,000 and $85,000, but sports psychologists who work with athletes in professional leagues may earn well over $100,000 a year.
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Clinical psychologists assess and treat clients with a range of mental or physical health issues, conditions and disorders
As a clinical psychologist, your aim is to reduce the distress and improve the psychological wellbeing of your clients who may have a variety of mental or physical health conditions, including:
- mental illness
- adjustment to physical illness
- neurological disorders
- addictive behaviours
- challenging behaviours
- eating disorders
- personal and family relationship problems
- learning disabilities.
You'll work in partnership with your clients in order to diagnose, assess and manage their conditions. Assessment can be done through a range of techniques including interviews, observation and psychometric testing. Once assessed, you'll provide a treatment plan that may include counselling or therapy.
You'll work with individuals, including children, adolescents and adults, as well as families, couples and groups in a range of settings. You'll also liaise with other professionals such as psychiatrists, social workers and counselling psychologists in order to deal with your clients' complex issues.
As a clinical psychologist, you'll need to:
- assess your clients' needs, abilities or behaviour using a variety of methods, including psychometric tests, interviews and direct observation of their behaviour
- devise, monitor and adapt appropriate treatment programmes, including therapy, counselling or advice, in collaboration with colleagues
- work as part of a multidisciplinary team alongside doctors, nurses, social workers, education professionals, health visitors, psychiatrists and occupational therapists
- offer therapy and treatments for issues relating to a range of mental health conditions
- develop and evaluate service provision for clients
- provide consultation to other professions, encouraging a psychological approach in their work
- counsel and support carers
- carry out applied research, adding to the evidence base of practice in a variety of healthcare settings.
More experienced clinical psychologists may be called on to write legal reports and act as expert witnesses. In these cases, you'll keep detailed paperwork about clients in order to monitor the progress of their treatments.
- Trainee clinical psychologists start at £30,401 (Band 6) of the NHS Agenda for Change (AfC) pay rates. After qualification, salaries within the NHS start at £37,570 (Band 7).
- More experienced psychologists can earn between £44,606 and £60,983 (Bands 8a and 8b).
- Consultant-level clinical psychologist roles typically range from £61,777 to £86,687 (Bands 8c and 8d).
- Heads of psychology services can earn in the region of £89,537 to £103,860 (Band 9).
The NHS pays a London high-cost area supplement at 20% of basic salary for inner London, 15% for outer London and 5% for fringe areas.
Salaries in private hospitals and private practice vary.
Income figures are intended as a guide only.
Working hours are typically Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm, although you may do some extra hours in the evenings or at weekends. Occasionally, you may work as part of an on-call system covering emergency situations.
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What to expect
- Jobs are available in most cities and large towns, with fewer opportunities in rural areas.
- Self-employment or freelance work is possible in private or clinical practice, and for industrial or commercial consultancy.
- The work can be challenging as it involves contact with many different types of people who are often distressed in some way. Occasionally, you might encounter situations of potential personal risk.
- Supervision by colleagues is important throughout your career.
- You'll often need to travel during the working day to visit clients. However, you're unlikely to spend time away from home overnight or work abroad.
You must be registered with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) to work as a clinical psychologist. This involves completing three years of postgraduate training leading to a Doctorate in clinical psychology, or equivalent, approved by the HCPC.
You'll need Graduate Basis for Chartered Membership (GBC) to get a place on a Doctorate course, which is achieved by completing a psychology degree or conversion course accredited by The British Psychological Society (BPS). Find out more at BPS - Become a psychologist.
You'll usually need a first class honours degree or a 2:1 (some courses will require an upper 2:1) to get a place on a Doctorate course. Some providers may accept a 2:2 (or a lower 2:1) if you have a relevant Masters or PhD. You'll also need significant relevant clinical/research work experience. Check with individual course providers for details of their entry requirements.
Applications for most doctorate courses are made through the Clearing House for Postgraduate Courses in Clinical Psychology. However, the University of Hull and Queens University Belfast operate their own admissions process. Applications usually open during September and close in late November. The majority of courses are full time over three years.
Currently, most places on clinical psychology doctorate courses are funded by the NHS and you'll usually be employed by the NHS as a trainee clinical psychologist. This situation may change, however, so check when applying for a place whether funding is available. Training follows a structure programme of learning which combines academic and practical training, including clinical placements and research.
On successful completion of your Doctorate, you're eligible to apply for registration with the HCPC and chartered status with the BPS.
You'll need to have:
- empathy and a person-centred approach to clients
- the ability to recognise your own limitations and respond to difficult situations
- the ability to apply your knowledge of academic psychology and research to clinical problems
- the capacity to be critical and analytical and to work in a self-motivated, independent way
- excellent communication and interpersonal skills in order to deal with people in distress
- the ability to collaborate with colleagues from other disciplines
- the determination to succeed
- a strong understanding of the profession and the role of a clinical psychologist, and an awareness of current NHS issues.
A driving licence is usually required for local travel.
You'll need a significant amount of relevant work experience, often a minimum of 12 months, to get a place on a Doctorate course. Most course providers have specific requirements on the amount and type of experience they want or give advice on how to go about gaining the necessary experience.
Some course providers are particularly keen on experience gained as an assistant psychologist in an NHS clinical psychology department under the supervision of a clinical psychologist. Competition for these posts is particularly fierce.
Experience in clinically-oriented research that contributes to your understanding of clinical psychology practice is also useful. It's helpful to have a good balance of experience in both academic and clinical areas.
Paid or voluntary work in other areas such as nursing, social work, care work, mental health work or services for individuals with disabilities is also useful. Relevant jobs include graduate primary care worker, nursing assistant, healthcare assistant or support worker and psychological wellbeing practitioner,
Any experience you get should be with groups and services that are directly relevant to clinical psychology and must provide you with the opportunity to interact with people with health or psychological difficulties.
Most clinical psychologists are employed by the NHS. Opportunities are available in a range of health and social care settings, including:
- psychiatric units
- local clinics and health centres
- community mental health teams
- child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS)
- social services
- schools and universities
- Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) services.
There are also opportunities to work on a self-employed basis and in private practice.
Look for job vacancies at:
Some specialist recruitment agencies handle vacancies.
Once qualified, you must keep your skills up to date and follow ongoing developments in research. Continuing professional development (CPD) is an essential part of continued registration with the HCPC and chartered membership of the BPS and should include a mixture of directed and self-directed activities.
Activities can include attending conferences, workshops and events, taking post-qualification training courses, writing for journals, and carrying out and presenting research and papers at conferences. You can also undertake personal psychological counselling and reflect on your own practice.
Training and development opportunities are available through the BPS Professional Development Centre. You can also take further research at PhD level.
If you have an area of specialty, such as forensic clinical psychology, you must work a minimum of ten days per year in this area.
There is a structured career path within the NHS and you should be able to progress through the pay bands as you gain experience and move into new roles.
You may choose to specialise in a particular area of clinical psychology, such as:
- clinical health psychology
- forensic clinical psychology
- oncology and palliative care
- psychosis and complex mental health.
With experience you may move into a supervisory or clinical management role. Experienced clinical psychologists working at Bands 8c, 8d and 9 of the NHS Agenda for Change pay scales may be eligible to apply for consultant-level positions. From here, a small number of heads of specialty posts are available (in areas such as adult mental health) with progression to overall head of a psychology service.
With experience, you may choose to move into clinical academic research and teaching. There are also opportunities to train as a high intensity therapist, providing cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) to patients with complex issues related to anxiety and depression.
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