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Highest Paying Psychology Careers

Which Psychology Jobs Pay the Best?

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There is a tremendous diversity among psychology professions, and salaries and yearly earnings are just as varied. In a struggling economy, many students have turned their interest toward some of the highest paying careers in psychology. While there are a number of careers that have a higher than average yearly salary, it is important to remember that actual income depends upon a variety of factors including geographic location, sector of employment, educational background, and years of experience.

Learn more about some of the highest paying psychology careers, the typical salaries for such professions and the educational requirements for entering these fields.

1. Psychiatrist

Psychiatrist
Image by Paul Barker

Average Salary: $167,610 per year

Educational Requirements: Approximately eight years of post-undergraduate study. After earning a bachelor's degree, aspiring psychiatrists must graduate from medical school and then complete a four-year residency.

Psychiatry is the one of the highest paying fields tied to psychology. However, salaries can vary considerably within this field depending upon your specialty area, where you are employed, and the type of work you perform. For example, the Occupational Outlook Handbook notes that in 2009, psychiatrists employed in the offices of physicians made an average of $159,300 while those who worked in outpatient care centers averaged $188,210 per year.

2. Industrial-Organizational Psychologist

Industrial Organizational Psychologist
Photo by Constantin Krammerer

Average Salary: $97,820

Educational Requirements: While there are opportunities available at the master's degree level, earning a doctorate degree in industrial-organizational psychology offers greater opportunities and higher salaries.

Industrial-organizational psychologists use their knowledge of psychology to tackle workplace issues. Increasing worker productivity, selecting the best employees for particular jobs, and developing market research surveys are just a few of the things that an industrial-organizational psychologist might do. According to the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology, the top five percent of their members earn in excess of $250,000 a year. The typical starting salary for a master's degree graduate is around $40,000, while the starting salary for a doctoral graduate is approximately $55,000.

3. Neuropsychologist

Neuropsychologist
Image from Wikimedia Commons

Average Salary: $90,460 per year

Educational Requirements: Doctorate degree in neuropsychology or clinical neuropsychology.

Neuropsychologists specialize in the study of the brain and cognitive science. People who work in this field often perform cognitive tests, run brain scans, assess people suffering from brain injury, and study how drugs impact the nervous system. They may work at colleges and universities, hospitals, research centers, mental health clinics, and pharmaceutical labs.

4. Engineering Psychologist

Engineering Psychologist
Image by Vangelis Thomaidis

Average Salary: $79,818 per year

Educational Requirements: Entry-level positions require a master's degree, but those with a doctorate will find greater employment opportunities and better salaries.

Engineering psychologists work to improve the design of systems, operations, and equipment in order to increase efficiency, improve productivity, and minimize injury. As with other specialty areas of psychology, the area of employment plays a major role in determining salary. Engineering psychologists who work in the private sector earn considerably more than those employed in university settings.

5. Clinical Psychologist

Clinical Psychologist
Photo by Marcin Balcerzak/iStockPhoto

Average Salary: $72,540 per year

Educational Requirements: In most states, clinical psychologists must have a doctorate degree in psychology, complete a one to two year supervised residency, and pass state licensing exams in order to practice.

Clinical psychologists are trained in the assessment, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of mental illness. This is also the largest area of employment within psychology. Clinical psychologists work in a variety of settings including hospitals, mental health clinics, and private practice. Experience has a major impact on salaries. For example, in 2009 clinicians with five years of experience earned an average of $54,000 while those with 10 to 14 years of experience averaged nearly $100,000 a year.

6. Counseling Psychologist

Counseling Psychologist
Photo by Brad Killer/iStockPhoto

Average Salary: $72,540 per year

Educational Requirements: A Ph.D, Psy.D. or Ed.D. degree is required to become a counseling psychologist.

Counseling psychologists perform many of the same tasks as clinical psychologists such as offering psychotherapy and mental health treatment, but they typically work with clients suffering from less severe forms of mental illness. While mental health is one of the largest areas within counseling psychology, some people in this field opt to conduct research, teach university courses, or provide vocational counseling.

7. Forensic Psychologist

Forensic Psychologist
Image by Julie Elliott

Average Salary: $59,440

Educational Requirements: While there are some jobs available with a master's degree, you will typically need a doctorate degree in clinical, counseling, or forensic psychology.

Forensic psychologists deal with psychological issues related to the law. Some of the duties that a professional in this field might perform include developing psychological profiles of criminals, dealing with child custody issues, investigating child abuse, providing expert testimony, preparing witnesses to testify in court, and offering training to law enforcement.

8. School Psychologist

School Psychologist
Photo by Heriberto Herrera

Average Salary: $58,360

Educational Requirements: Most states require the completion of a 60-credit school psychology specialist program, which leads to a master's or Ed.S. degree. Approximately 32 percent of school psychologists hold a Ph.D., Psy.D. or Ed.D. degree.

School psychologists work within the educational system to diagnose and treat behavior and learning problems in children. They often work in collaboration with other professionals including teachers and doctors as well as parents to help kids overcome social, emotional, behavioral, and academic problems. According to the Occupational Outlook Handbook published by the U.S. Department of Labor, jobs in this field are expected to grow by approximately 11 percent over the next decade.

9. Sports Psychologist

Sports Psychologist
Photo by Marc Garrido i Puig

Average Salary: $55,000 per year

Educational Requirements: Most jobs require a master's or doctorate degree in sports psychology or in related areas such as clinical or counseling psychology.

Sports psychologists are interested in the psychological components of sports and athletics. Professionals in this field often focus on topics such as motivation and athletic performance, utilizing their knowledge of psychology to help athletes perform better or to help people recover from sports injuries. While salaries typically range between $45,000 and $80,000, those working with professional athletes often earn over six figures.

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