To start a career in psychology, you have to be ready to spend many years studying. With a few exceptions, all psychology careers will require a doctorate degree, which takes an average of 8.2 years of continuous studying. After that, you will also have to complete numerous hours of internship and supervised work. As a result, careers in psychology are not for everybody. However, there are also many lucrative career options to consider if you do complete all the necessary education, licensure, registrations and certifications. By and large, however, psychologists put themselves through their training because they have a genuine desire to make the world a better place. The fact that they can also earn a substantial amount in this career is of secondary nature.
Paying for Your Education
Because becoming a psychologist requires such a long educational pathway, it also requires substantial funds. However, there are numerous ways of financing this education, so long as you know how to find it. Around half of psychologists complete their full education without any debt, which shows just how many options are out there.
Some of the most common places to look for funding include:
- The school you choose. They often have scholarships available for those who want to study psychology.
- The federal government. A number of scholarships, grants and awards exist. Institutions such as the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, and the Department of Defense all have options available. Furthermore, there are tax credits and tax deductions available.
- State psychological organizations also offer scholarships.
- The American Psychological Association (APA) offers ‘Awards, Honors and Research Funding’. They also have the Minority Fellowship Program.
- APAGS, which is the APA’s student arm. They offer a number of different awards, grants and scholarships.
- American Psychological Foundation, which offers prize amounts from $300 all the way up to $25,000.
- Various APA Divisions, which offer money towards specific areas of psychological study.
- Niche Organizations, with the Society for Neuroscience and the Association for Psychological Science being two of the best ones.
- Psi Chi, which is the international psychology honor society.
- Private foundations, including the International Dissertation Research Fellowship Program, the Beinecke Scholarship Program, the Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation Dissertation Fellowships, and the Russel Sage Foundation.
Psychology Career Information
The field of psychology is incredibly broad, with many areas of sub-specializations. This is why it is difficult to provide a true picture of career developments in this field. However, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has stated that the average salary for a psychologist is $70,700 per year. In 2014, there were 173,900 jobs. The job outlook between 2014 and 2024 is 19%, which is much faster than average. The employment change between 2014 and 2024, therefore, will be an increase of 32,500 jobs.
Let’s take a look at the 25 best psychology careers worth over 100,000 in salary. Do remember that many of these careers have average salaries that are more around the average psychology mark ($70,700). However, years of experience, geographical location, the organization you work for, and training will all help to make sure you are in the top 10% earners, which will push your salary above $100,000 per year.
1. TV Personality
The world’s most famous psychologist is perhaps Dr. Phil. He earns an estimated $80 million per year. Unfortunately, his riches and successes are very hard to obtain. You probably have less chance of emulating him compared to winning the lottery!
2. Adult Psychiatrist
As with child psychiatrist, you will need to complete a longer residency in order to be classed as a specialist in this field. You will use a number of therapeutic tools at your disposal in order to improve the mental health of your patients. Average earnings are in the range of $204,000.
3. Psychiatry Child Adolescent Physician
Your role in this position will be to improve the mental health of children and adolescents. Again, it means completing medical school and an eight year residency. You can expect to earn around $204,000 per year in this position.
4. Psychiatry Geriatrics Physician
While salaries vary depending on where you work, some psychiatry geriatric physicians have reported earnings upwards of $204,000 per year. These physicians have completed medical school, a four year residency, a doctorate degree and a number of specialization courses, however. This also enables them to diagnose dementia and Alzheimer’s, for instance.
5. Outpatient Psychiatrist
After completing medical school and a four year residency, you can expect to earn around $203,000 per year for this position. You will work with people who suffer from a mental illness but do not have to be admitted to hospital. Commonly, you will work with psychoanalysis and psychotherapy tools in order to improve the lives of your patients.
6. Psychiatry Physician
These physicians, who have completed both medical school and psychiatry/psychology degrees, usually earn around $198,000 depending on where they work. Your focus will be specifically on mental health disorders, diagnosing and treating patients according to their needs. In most cases, you will focus on a specific population group.
7. Psychiatric Forensic Physician
In this position, which requires many years of study, including medical school and residencies, you will mainly work within the prison and legal system. You will monitor and diagnose patients who have mental illnesses. In part, your role will be to provide expert testimony as to someone’s mental ability to stand trial, but you will also focus on the psychology behind issues such as psychopathy. Earnings are around $193,000 per year.
As a gerontologist, you will focus specifically on the field of aging. As with psychiatry, you will usually be required to hold a medical degree in order to start this profession, including a four year residency and a specialization in both gerontology and psychology or psychiatry. Your role will be to analyze the behavior of elderly people in order to help them enrich their overall quality of life. You can expect to earn in excess of $191,000.
9. Engineering Psychologist
Engineering psychology is even newer than industrial organizational psychology, and the growth in this field is even quicker. These psychologists focus on finding ways to enhance human behavior through technology. These careers are some of the most rewarding of all, as they enable people to work in a way that is safe at all times, but also productive and enjoyable. A doctorate degree is generally required in this field. Just as with the industrial organizational psychology, there are huge variations in salary depending on where you work, and how long you have worked. In the private sector, you stand to earn the most with an average top end salary of $179,160. In a government agency, salary will drop to around $107,314.
10. Inpatient Clinical Psychiatrist
This is a specialized field of psychiatry, whereby you will work with patients who have been admitted to hospitals or other such facilities due to their mental health problems. Your role will be to analyze and diagnose thoughts and behaviors and to come with a treatment plan. This includes ordering tests, prescribing medication and determining the best type of therapy. Earnings usually start at around $178,000, but this particular field requires a lot of training first.
11. Child Psychiatrist
The position of child psychiatrist is the most in-demand specialization within the field of psychology. As a result, earning potentials are also very high, with the average being around $160,000 per year. As a child psychiatrist, just as with a regular psychiatrist, you do have to complete medical school and a residency as well. However, the residency here lasts eight years, rather than four.
Becoming a psychiatrist takes even longer than becoming a psychologist. This is also why it is one of the highest paying options in this field. The average salary ranges from between $159,300 to $188,210 per year, which means the top 10% earn even more than that. To become a psychiatrist, however, you will need to complete around eight years of post-undergraduate study. You must also graduate from medical school and do a full four year residency. This does earn you the ability to prescribe psychiatric medication, however, so long as you are properly licensed and registered.
13. Private Practice Clinical Therapist
The average salary for a private practice clinical therapist is $150,000 per year. Interestingly, this field of work requires slightly less education, with some completing a specialization in therapeutic practice in between six and eight years. However, the higher your education, the more you can earn. A very important factor in how much you can earn is reputation. This is because you will work independently, so the patients you manage to attract will dictate how much you can charge as well. There is a rise in demand for private practice psychologists, and this is steadier than in the overall field of psychology. This is, again, because you work for yourself so your success will depend more on the ability to attract new clients than on the demand itself.
As a neuropsychologist, you will study cognition and the brain. More often than not, you will develop assessments after brain injuries, perform brain scans and create other types of cognitive diagnostic tests. Research on drugs, learning and the process of cognition will also be something you will likely be involved in. In most cases, neuropsychologists work for hospitals, mental health clinics and universities. A doctorate degree in clinical neuropsychology or regular neuropsychology is required. The top 10% of neuropsychologists report earnings of $143,476 per year, although these have between six and ten years of working experience.
15. Sports Psychologist
The average earnings for a sports psychologist is not one of the highest in the field of psychology. However, there is a chance that you can get to work for a national team, particularly in sports that gather a lot of national interest. In this case, you can expect to earn around $143,000 per year. Your role will be to determine the impact of stress levels and competitive environments, helping to avoid burnout and managing a life of potential fame.
16. Industrial Organizational Psychologist
This is a relative new field of psychology and interest in it is very high. Understanding workplace behavior, introducing employee engagement processes, driving innovation and more are all parts of industrial organizational psychologists’ role. While an entry level position can be obtained with a bachelor’s degree, the highest earners hold a doctorate degree. Because it is a relatively new field with such high demand, people can negotiate very interesting salaries. There are great differentiations, however, between places of work. For instance, the highest earners can expect $125,980 by working for scientific consulting services. This salary drops to $107,850 for those who work in scientific research and development.
17. Geriatric Care Specialist
As a geriatric care specialist, you will deal with the psychology of elderly people. Your role will be to make sure they can make appropriate decisions in terms of their overall health care, but you may also advise them on where to live and how to adapt to new surroundings. This field is very complex and incredibly important for the community as a whole, focusing on both emotional and physical well-being. The earning potential is around $122,000.
18. Military Psychologist
As a military psychologist, you will work mainly with those who are active in the army, their families and veterans. Their average annual salary currently stands at $120,538 and there is an expected rise in demand of around 14% between now and 2024. In order to become a military psychologist, you must complete a full doctorate degree and you must also be a member of the armed forces. This means that your educational pathway will last between 8 and 10 years, but further military training may also be required either before, or after. Once qualified, a lot of the work you will do will focus on Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, and also on providing psychological assessments to determine whether or not someone is right for certain positions or missions.
19. Forensic Psychologist
Forensic psychologists do not, on average, earn more than $100,000 per year, unless you are in the top 10%. Becoming a forensic psychologist is a lot of hard work, and involves a journey that is not for everybody. You will be involved in helping to solve crimes, often of a quite gruesome nature. You will also have to work with suspects, victims and perpetrators, for instance. In many cases, you will also be required to testify in court. The top 10% of forensic psychologists earn $117,470 per year. The majority, however, earn $85,000 and are employed by the federal government.
20. Clinical Psychologist
Clinical psychologists work with people who have emotional and mental disorders. They provide one to one and group therapy in a variety of settings, including clinics, schools, private practices, outpatient and inpatient centers, psychiatric hospitals and more. A doctorate degree, residency and licensing examination is required for this field. Salaries do vary greatly but the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has reported that the top 10% of earners can expect a salary of $109,340 or more.
21. Small Business Owner
The benefit of being a small business owner is that you can work in any direction you like. While most psychologist small business owners own their own practices, others find a field of specialization that interests them for another reason, including research or training. Additionally, innovation management is a very interesting field. They earn an average of $104,000 per year.
22. Advertising Agent
As an advertising agent, there is no direct requirement to hold a doctorate degree. However, the higher your degree, the more you will be able to negotiate on your salary. The average salary for this job is $102,000. Your role will mainly be to come up with presentations and advertisements that speak to the customer’s psyche, thereby driving sales.
23. Consulting Services Director
Consulting services directors are responsible for the management of personnel and business development within a consultancy firm. Their role is to make sure that the team’s management has direction and a clear vision to deliver quality services. They can expect to earn around $102,000 per year.
24. Social Behavioral Scientists
In this role, you will look at how people behave in the community or in other social settings, and you will try to understand why. You will do this by analyzing data and your findings will be used to improve the world as a whole. Earning around $101,000 per year makes this a very lucrative career.
25. Corporate Manager
Corporate managers often no longer work in the field of psychology, although they do focus on organizational development. Because of this, they can start to work with just a bachelor’s degree in psychology, which takes just four years. However, the higher their education, the more they earn and the majority will complete a master’s degree as well. Earning potential is around $100,000 per year. Big business is perhaps an unusual specialization for someone who has studied the mind but, in actual fact, business and management is a very important part of psychology and one that can be very interesting.