The field of clinical psychology focuses specifically on the emotional and mental health of human beings. If you hold a masters in clinical psychology (MCP), then you will use communication and analytical skills in order to ensure that people can break through issues they are facing.
In order to be able to use the title of “psychologist”, however, you will need to hold a doctorate degree (Ph.D. or Psy.D.). Not everybody wants to, or is able to do that. Obtaining an MCP in and of itself already requires a significant investment in terms of both time and money, and there will come a time where you will want to see a return on that investment. So, although you limit yourself to an extent by stopping at the MCP degree, how can you use it to gain the maximum salary, even if it is while you prepare yourself to complete a doctorate program?
Why Clinical Psychology Is Such an Interesting Field
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there will be a 19% growth in demand for the skills of psychologists from 2014 to 2024. Additionally, they report average annual earnings of $72,580. There are different reasons for this, not in the least the fact that the stigma on mental health is being broken through, meaning more people are ready to seek out the help of clinical psychologists to help them deal with life’s issues. Additionally, the health needs of the population, which is aging, are changing as well, and there is an increased focus on dealing with mental health problems later on in life.
Getting the Most Out of Your Degree
The first and most important thing to do in order to get the best masters in clinical psychology salary, is to make sure that you study towards the right degree. A lot of that is down to personal preference, varying depending on your own interests and career goals. However, your degree should be fully accredited by the American Psychological Association (APA) if it is to be recognized in the workplace.
Furthermore, if at all possible, you should choose an area of psychology that you are personally most interested in and direct your elective courses towards that. Some popular options include:
• Learning disabilities
Another very important factor is that your MCP degree should contain the right core courses. While this should be included as standard if your degree is accredited, it is still important to check the curriculum to make sure they are present. The most important core courses are:
• Ethical, legal, and professional issues
• Research methods and statistics
• Supervision, prevention, intervention, and treatment
• Diagnosis and assessment
• Lifespan and growth development
• Cultural and social bases of behavior
• Cognitive-affective bases of behavior
• Biological bases of behavior
Choosing the Right Job
Once you have obtained your MCP degree, you need to choose the right job. This starts by determining which industry you want to be involved in. Popular industries for clinical psychologists include:
• Hospital systems
• Private or group healthcare practices
• Counseling centers
Because you need to hold a doctorate degree if you want to practice as a clinical psychologist, you will not be able to start a private practice from which to operate. Rather, you will have to find employment somewhere. Interestingly, the income of clinical psychologists at master’s degree level is often down to commissions. In fact, around 50% of the income of a clinical psychologist come from commissions.
Where You Work
Your geographical location is also very important in terms of your earnings. That being said, states and cities where salaries tend to be highest, are also the areas where the cost of living tends to be high as well. Hence, you need to calculate your disposable income, and how far that will get you before you can determine where the salary truly is the highest.
Research has shown that the top paying states for clinical psychologists are:
• District of Columbia, with average annual earnings of $90,690
• New Jersey, with average annual earnings of $90,520
• Connecticut, with average annual earnings of $89,240
• New York, with average annual earnings of $86,820
• California, with average annual earnings of $86,310
After completing your MCP degree, you should always consider continuing your education. Preferably, you will enroll in a doctorate degree program, after which you can become licensed as a psychologist. You do have to maintain that license by proving continuous education credits. However, even at the master’s degree level, there are a number of key skills that you should be able to demonstrate and undergoing extra training in those areas can benefit you. Those skills are:
• Analytical skills
• Communication skills
• Research skills
• Being trustworthy
In order to attract the greatest salary, you need to set yourself apart as an expert in your field. One way to achieve that is by becoming a member of various professional organizations. This has a number of key benefits:
1. You will be able to improve your resume by demonstrating membership of respected organizations.
2. You will be able to network with other members.
3. You can take advantage of the various benefits membership offers you.
The best professional organizations to consider as an MCP graduate include the:
• Society for a Science of Clinical Psychology
• American Academy of Clinical Psychology
A final thing to remember is that your starting salary will be much lower than what you will eventually earn. As you gain more and more experience, your salary will grow alongside it. You also need to consider the fact that salaries are often not reflective of other benefits, including health insurance, childcare benefits, retirement plans, and more. As such, painting a true picture of how and where you can get the greatest salary with an MCP degree can be very complex.
A Career in Clinical or Counseling Psychology. (n.d.) Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/action/science/clinical/education-training.aspx
Clinical Psychologist Salary. (2017, Jan. 18) Retrieved from http://www.payscale.com/research/US/Job=Clinical_Psychologist/Salary
Jobs and Salary Info for a Masters in Clinical Psychology Degree. (n.d.) Retrieved from http://study.com/articles/Jobs_and_Salary_Info_for_a_Masters_in_Clinical_Psychology_Degree.html
Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2015 – Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychologists. (2016, Mar. 30) Retrieved from https://www.bls.gov/Oes/current/oes193031.htm
Occupational Outlook Handbook – Psychologists. (2015, Dec. 17) Retrieved from https://www.bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/psychologists.htm