11 High-Paying Jobs in Psychology

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated September 9, 2021 | Published January 3, 2020

Updated September 9, 2021

Published January 3, 2020

If you have an interest in psychology, you’ll likely find a lucrative career that offers a diverse range of positions. Not every job will require a doctorate, either—a mental health technician needs just an associate degree to practice in their field. Meanwhile, pursuing a role as a psychiatrist, psychologist or psychiatric nurse will require a bachelor’s or doctorate, but is likely to net you a six-figure salary.

In this article, we explain why you might want to work in the psychology profession and list 11 of the highest-paying jobs in the field.

Why work in the psychology field?

The mental health field can be rewarding since your job directly helps your clients’ emotional well-being and general life satisfaction. Depending on your job setting, you will likely have the autonomy to choose between different therapeutic styles and techniques to best help your patients. Because the field offers such diverse positions, you have the opportunity to choose between different occupational settings, including schools, private practice and group practices with other professionals.

High-paying jobs in the psychology field

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.

11. Psychiatrist

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.

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