Therapist Salary: How Much Do Therapists, Psychiatrists, and Psychologists Make?

Curious about how much therapists make? As with any type of job, therapists’ salaries differ based on their geography, education level, experience, and practice setting. Within mental healthcare, there is a wide range of salaries – nationally, therapists make anywhere from $30,000 to $100,000. Psychologists and psychiatrists can make even more than that!

To understand this range, it's important to look at where in the country the therapist practices, what their credentials are, and who their client population is, as all of these pieces impact how much he or she takes home in salary! Read on for a breakdown of salaries for therapists, psychiatrists, and psychologists, and what trends may impact their income.

Typical therapist salaries range widely – from $30,000 to $100,000

For a therapist (who is not a psychiatrist or a psychologist), salaries depend in part on education and training, as well as clinical specialization. Individual therapists may make anywhere from $30,000 per year to over $100,000.

Additionally, a therapist’s salary depends in large part on the setting in which they practice. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports, for example, that the national annual median for therapists is:

Typical psychologist salary is about $77,000 annually

The 2017 median salary for psychologists in the United States was $77,003 per year, or about $37 per hour. Again, this figure varies depending on geography and on the setting in which the psychologist works.

Psychologists who work for the government generally earn the most money on average, followed by those who work in hospitals and then in schools. For instance, Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the national annual median for therapists is:

Psychiatrists average over $200,000 annually – making them the highest-paid professionals in the mental health field

Generally speaking, psychiatrists are the highest-paid mental health professionals, because they have medical credentials and more extensive education requirements. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that psychiatrists generally earn an average of over $200,000 annually, or over $100 per hour.

As with other therapists’ salaries, psychiatrists’ earning can vary according to geography and the nature of their clinical practice. For example, psychiatrists who work in the offices of physicians or other medical professionals often earn the most, while those who work in hospitals tend to earn less.

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Factors determining therapist salaries

Where in the country you are practicing therapy

It’s common knowledge that certain areas of the country have a higher cost-of-living than others (I’m looking at you, New York and California!). Therefore, therapist salaries will be higher in these areas than in their less-expensive counterparts. To put this range in perspective, a social worker in Iowa makes $51,000 on average, while a social worker in California makes $73,000. That’s quite a big difference! However, keep in mind that the California social worker will have higher cost of living - greater rent rates, more expensive groceries each week, etc. so it likely balances out.

How long you went to school and what training you have

There are many different ways that a person can become a therapist and the route that you take impacts your salary potential. You might notice credentials next to therapists’ names - LCSW, LPC, MFT. These credentials show which educational program the therapist went through, such as:

Each type of therapy credential has their own salary range, and generally those who went to school for longer periods have higher salaries. For example, according to the Bureau for Labor Statistics, MFTs make on average $49,610 per year while psychologists make an average of $80,370 per year. Psychiatrists make the most money, earning more than $200,000 per year.

Education doesn’t stop after the therapist graduates, though – most therapists will specialize or become certified in a specific type of therapy to boost their earning potential. With continued education and additional training, a therapist can increase his or her salary by offering more expensive services. An example of this is becoming certified in Eye Movement Reprocessing and Desensitization (EMDR) therapy or completing the Gottman Method trainings to become a couples therapist – sessions using these techniques will cost more because not all therapists can offer the services.

What type of practice setting you’re in and who you're seeing

A third determining factor for a therapist’s salary is in which type of practice setting they see clients. You might have heard of private practice, which is when the therapist owns the business through which he or she determines client-load and fees. There are also therapy practices that employ therapists and offer standardized salaries.

Other settings include healthcare systems, community rehabilitation centers, schools, or government agencies. Each type of setting offers different compensation - according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports, here are the the national annual median for therapists in different settings:

You can see the differences in salary, with government work generally offering higher salaries. Schools and education systems also offer high salaries for therapists (and you might even get summer and winter breaks like the kiddos!). And, of course, those who are further along in their career with many years of experience are more likely to receive higher salaries than those just starting.

Overall, being a therapist can provide stable career with a substantial income. Factors such as educational-level and type, years experience, and setting play into how much a therapist makes each year. Those who run their own private practices get to set their fees and determine how many clients they see, which means they have more control over much they make each year.

If you're looking to move away from salaried positions and boost your private practice, Zencare can help! Learn more about how we can help you grow your online presence, attract ideal clients, and build your dream practice.

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