How Much Do Clinical Psychologists Make?

Clinical psychologists evaluate, diagnose, and treat mental health disorders. According to the American Psychological Association (APA 2020), clinical psychology is “the psychological specialty that provides continuing and comprehensive mental and behavioral healthcare for individuals and families; consultation to agencies and communities; training, education and supervision; and research-based practice.” With such a wide job description, it is no surprise that earnings for this career can vary widely.

When people think of the role of a psychologist, they are generally thinking of a clinical psychologist. This specialty is one that is very broad and psychologists in this field are required to have comprehensive knowledge of many aspects of psychology, including how to perform assessments using a variety of tools, diagnosis definitions, and best practices treatment options for a variety of patients. Clientele can include children, teens, adults, and the elderly. Treatment sessions can be individual, group, or sometimes even include families.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS May 2019), clinical psychologists earn $87,450 per year on average. There are 113,270 clinical, counseling, and school psychologists in the US. Here is a breakdown of their earnings (BLS 2019):

  • 10th percentile: $45,240
  • 25th percentile: $59,590
  • 50th percentile (median): $78,200
  • 75th percentile: $102,470
  • 90th percentile: $132,670

Unfortunately, there are discrepancies in pay that are outside of a professional’s control. According to the APA, female psychologists—who outnumber men in this profession—earn approximately $80,000 per year, while men earn $91,000. Psychologists of color or with an ethnic background earned only $71,000 per year on average, while their white counterparts earned $88,000.

Despite this, clinical psychologists seem to be happy with their jobs. Self-reported data from 211 clinical psychologists on PayScale (2020) shows a score of 4.1 out of 5 indicating high job satisfaction.

The APA conducted a recent survey of all psychologists and found that 93 percent were ““somewhat satisfied” or “very satisfied” with their jobs” (APA 2019). Those who had been in the career longer and those who had the most education reported the highest levels of job satisfaction.

Psychologists aren’t the only ones who think they have an awesome job. The U.S. News & World Report (2020) has ranked psychologists as the number one best science job citing great work-life balance, high salary, and excellent job growth as the top reasons. This flexible job with great upward mobility is also the 14th best STEM job and the 29th best career overall.

Below are lists of top paying cities, states, work environments, and specializations for clinical, counseling, and school psychologists.

Top-Paying Cities for Clinical Psychologists

The top-paying metropolitan areas for clinical psychologists are listed below, including the number of employed clinical psychologists, and the average wage (mean), according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2019):

Metropolitan areaEmploymentAnnual mean wage
Santa Rosa, CA150$136,390
Jefferson City, MO60$118,920
Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura, CA260$117,960
San Diego-Carlsbad, CA1,710$117,280
Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA4,920$117,140
Madera, CA90$116,190
Trenton, NJ360$114,740
Vallejo-Fairfield, CA280$114,580
Urban Honolulu, HI310$113,930
San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles-Arroyo Grande, CA210$113,730

Top-Paying States for Clinical Psychologists

Pay for clinical psychologists varies by state. Here are the states with the highest salaries for clinical psychologists, the number of clinical psychologists employed and the average mean wage according to the BLS (2020). Pay ranges from $94,550 to $108,350.

StateEmploymentAverage mean wage
California 16,960$111,750
District of Columbia720$106,900
New York11,030$96,170

Top-Paying Clinical Specializations for Clinical Psychologists

A clinical psychologist can choose any number of specialties. Within each specialty, wages can vary. Five of the highest-paying specializations are listed below along with estimated annual salary, based on self-reported data from PayScale (2020):

SpecializationAverage Salary
Clinical Supervision$83,176
Health and Wellness$82,347
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy$80,699

Most Popular Work Environments for Clinical Psychologists

Clinical psychologists work in a variety of settings (BLS 2018):

IndustryPercentage of employed Clinical Psychologists
Self-employed workers 29 percent
Elementary and secondary schools; state, local, and private24 percent
Ambulatory healthcare services18 percent
Government10 percent
Hospitals; state, local, and private6 percent

Career Outlook for Psychologists

So how fast is this career really growing? According to the BLS (2019), there is expected to be a 14 percent increase in psychologist jobs (clinical, counseling, and school) between 2018 and 2028. That translates into 26,100 vacancies nationally that will need to be filled. Job growth for clinical psychologists will outpace most other jobs, as the national average is only 5 percent per year.

Demand for clinical psychologists is high because of increased awareness and emphasis being placed on mental health. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), nearly 19 percent of the population has some form of mental illness, which is more than 46 million people. Of those people, more than 40 percent have accessed mental health services, many of which are provided by clinical psychologists.

Becoming a clinical psychologist takes between ten to 12 years of education. Professionals in this field not only need to complete a master’s in psychology but they must also complete either a doctor of psychology (PsyD) degree or a doctor of philosophy in psychology (PhD).

According to the APA, those with a PhD earn $85,000 per year on average compared to only $75,000 on average with a PsyD. Since licensing is mandatory in all 50 states, aspiring professionals will need to meet their state’s requirements regarding testing and education.

Clinical psychology can be a rewarding career for those interested in helping others overcome their mental health disorders. High job satisfaction, high demand, and good pay make this a strong career choice.

Kimmy Gustafson

Kimmy Gustafson


Kimmy is a freelance writer with extensive experience writing about healthcare careers and education. She has worked in public health, at health-focused nonprofits, and as a Spanish interpreter for doctor’s offices and hospitals. She has a passion for learning and that drives her to stay up to date on the latest trends in healthcare. When not writing or researching, she can be found pursuing her passions of nutrition and an active outdoors lifestyle.

Related Articles

  • 27 October 2022

    Healthcare Career Scholarship Guide (2022-2023)

    High-quality education comes at a price. Fortunately for students in health-related careers, there are ample opportunities available for mitigating these financial burdens.

  • 29 March 2022

    Alcohol Awareness Month Advocacy Guide

    SAMHSA, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, says that alcohol is the most frequently used and misused substance in the United States. Alcohol misuse is especially prevalent among people who are college-aged and younger populations.

  • 12 May 2021

    Men’s Health Month: An Expert Interview & Advocacy Guide

    Men’s health is in need of urgent attention. On average, men live sicker and die younger than women. The more granular the data, the bleaker the picture: nine out of the ten top causes of death occur in men significantly more often than they occur in women; the rate of suicide in men is nearly four times higher than that of women; men are significantly more likely to engage in risky and unhealthy behaviors; and men are half as likely to visit a doctor for annual visits and preventive services.

  • 16 April 2021

    Speech-Language Pathologists: The Fight for Universal Licensure & Better Hearing & Speech Month (BHSM)

    The salaries among New York-based SPLs are attractive, ranking the fifth highest in the country, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. For students in speech pathology looking to begin their careers in New York, this is welcome news, but for the medical community and citizens of the state, the sharp projected increase in demand for SLPs presents a forthcoming challenge to fill new positions that needs to be addressed.

  • 9 November 2020

    Health Careers on the Rise: An Expert Discusses Roles in Combating Opioid Addiction

    While an optimistic attitude about the future is fundamental for the addiction recovery process, there are some hard realities when it comes to opiate rehabilitation, specifically when discussing heroin use.

  • 27 May 2020

    Issues in Mental Health Counseling: Why Rural Communities are Turning to Telehealth

    Telehealth has become a vital lifeline for rural residents, particularly seniors, people with chronic conditions, and those with limited financial or physical means to travel long distances to see providers.

  • 19 May 2020

    Applied Behavioral Analysts in New York: The Fight for ABA Access for NYC Schoolchildren

    Until 2012, the NYC Department of Education covered all services for children with disabilities, including individualized instruction, after-school services, and applied behavior analysis (ABA) therapy.