Psychotherapists use their training and knowledge gained during the pursuit of their degree to apply the concepts of the Diagnostics and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V) in order to diagnose patients. They achieve this through therapy, testing, interviews, and more. The field of psychology is incredibly broad, and the psychotherapist is only one of many sub-specialties found within it. Additionally, psychotherapists have very close working relationships with other (mental) health professionals, such as physicians, social workers, and teachers.
Projected Salaries for Psychotherapists
There are a great deal of factors that influence how much a psychotherapist will earn. One of those factors is the number of hours they work, which can vary greatly. Additionally, there can be variations in terms of what is classed as “work”, as many psychotherapists have to travel extensively, which may or may not be included in the number of hours worked.
All psychotherapists are educated to doctorate degree level, holding either the Ph.D. or, more commonly, the Psy.D. Without such a degree, they will not be able to practice as psychologists. As is to be expected with such an advanced degree, the average annual salary is quite high. In fact, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that psychologists earn between $41,110 and $118,310 on average. Additionally, the BLS reports that they expect a 19% growth in demand for the skills of psychologists from 2014 to 2024, which far exceeds national averages. Wherever there is a huge demand, there is generally a shortage, and wherever there is a shortage, those who meet the necessary skills can expect a very interesting remuneration package.
That being said, it is important to understand that becoming a psychotherapist requires a significant investment. First of all, those who want to practice as psychotherapists must ensure that their degree program is accredited by the American Psychological Association (APA) in order for it to be recognized. Psychotherapists also have to be licensed in the state they wish to practice, and they must maintain this license through continuous education credits. Some positions also require psychotherapists to have at least 15 years of experience, which shows just how difficult it is to get in this type of job.
Factors Affecting Salary
There are numerous factors that will affect how much a psychotherapist will earn. The aforementioned program they choose and years of experience they hold are important factors. Where they work is also of importance. Generally speaking, psychotherapists can work in:
• Governmental positions, which often pay the highest
• Private, local, or state hospitals
• Private, local, or state elementary and secondary schools
• Mental health professionals’ offices
• Individual and family services, where pay is the lowest
Substantial salaries can also be earned by those who start a private practice. Essentially, they can set their own rates. Most start with very affordable prices, working their way up through different clients, until they gain adequate respect. Once they do that, they can charge as much as they want for a counseling session. While this may sound very interesting, it is, at the same time, very important to remember that owning a private practice is a lot of hard work. Usually, psychotherapists will have to do a lot of things themselves (diary setting, budgeting, salaries, and so on) themselves, while at the same time often having to work weekends, evenings and other unsociable hours. The pay may be good, therefore, but the sacrifices are very high as well.
Another very important factor that determines the salary outlook for psychotherapists is where they work geographically. Taking the average salary of $74,614, according to Salary.com:
• Those in Seattle earn 37% more.
• Those in Philadelphia earn 10% more.
• Those in New York earn 9% more.
• Those in Boston earn 5% more.
• Those in Dallas earn 5% more.
• Those in Miami earn 1% more.
• Those in Los Angeles earn 4% less.
• Those in San Diego earn 6% less.
• Those in Minneapolis earn 15% less.
Another important factor that determines how much psychotherapists will earn, is which specific role they end up taking on. They are also known as general psychologists, clinical psychologists, and counseling psychologists to name but a few. However, they can also further specialize their skills and work in very specific fields. As such:
• Sports psychologists, who are responsible for boosting the motivation and performance of athletes, earn an average of $55,000 per year. Those who work for larger teams, and particularly national teams, tend to earn far more. In fact, some can reach a six figure income.
• School psychologists, who work with children and young people to help them achieve the greatest educational attainment, earn an average of $58,360 per year. Generally speaking, the larger the educational institution, the more a school psychologist will earn. Private schools also usually pay more.
• Forensic psychologists, who work on the psychology that drives criminal behavior, earn an average of $59,440 per year. However, those who work on high profile cases, such as that of serial killers, can earn a lot more.
• Counseling psychologists, which most psychotherapists choose to be, earn an average of $72,540 per year. In this role, they work directly with clients to help them overcome life’s difficulties.
• Clinical psychologists, who are also in a very popular field for those interested in psychotherapy, earn an average of $72,540 per year. In this role, they work directly with mental illnesses, diagnosing, treating, and preventing them. A two year residency is required in most states before someone can become licensed as a clinical psychologist.
• Industrial organizational psychologists, who are involved in the psychology of working relationships, earn an average of $97,820 per year. This is one of the fastest growing fields of psychology, and one in which there is the most demand.
As you can see, the salary outlook for psychotherapists will vary depending on a wealth of factors. However, the outlook is always positive, not in the least in terms of demand for psychotherapy skills. It is important to consider carefully exactly what you want to do with your degree so that you can choose the right elective courses, as well as the right doctorate degree (Psy.D. or Ph.D.). That being said, it is almost impossible to make the wrong choice, as there are so many opportunities within this field.
- Occupational Outlook Handbook – Psychologists. (2015, Dec. 17) Retrieved from https://www.bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/psychologists.htm
- Psychologist Salary (United States). (2017, Jan. 18) Retrieved from http://www.payscale.com/research/US/Job=Psychologist/Salary
- Psychologist Salaries. (n.d.) Retrieved from http://www1.salary.com/Psychologist-Salary.html
- Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://dsm.psychiatryonline.org/doi/book/10.1176/appi.books.9780890425596
- Accreditation. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/education/grad/program-accreditation.aspx
- The 9 Highest Paying Psychology Careers. (2016, Oct. 5). Retrieved from https://www.verywell.com/the-9-highest-paying-psychology-careers-2794940