Facts and Figures
What does it pay to be a psychologist?
Industrial/organizational psychologists once again top the salary charts and psychologists in administrative positions continue to earn more than those who provide direct patient services, according to new data from APA's Research Office.
The office collected salary data from U.S. doctoral-level psychologists who were employed full-time and were under age 65. The data were based on net salary in 1999 from primary, psychology-related positions and settings only; salaries from other secondary settings or supplemental activities were excluded.
According to the results, the highest salaries were earned by psychologists who held applied psychology (industrial/organizational) and administration of applied psychology positions, with each group earning median salaries of $90,000 and $92,000 respectively. These groups had a median of 13 and 18 years of experience respectively. These two positions also reaped the highest salaries in 1995 and 1997. These salaries are among the highest because many applied psychologists can be found in for-profit and other corporate America settings such as consulting firms (42 percent), business/industrial settings (31 percent), or in self-employed businesses (14 percent).
Other administrative positions, such as research administration and educational administration, also garnered relatively high salaries. Psychologists in research administration positions earned a salary of $83,500 with a median of 16 years of experience. Similarly, those in educational administration positions obtained a salary of $82,500 with a median of 22 years of exper ience. This is not surprising, given that administrators are typically senior-level staff.
A noteworthy disparity existed with those psychologists who managed programs in human service activities such as mental health. Psychologists in administration of human service positions earned $65,000 (with a median of 17 years of experience), considerably less than their counterparts in other administrative positions. Almost 80 percent of psychologists in human service administration positions reported working in hospitals, community clinics and other human service settings that are typically nonprofit. Unlike their counterparts, only 2 percent were found in consulting or business/industrial settings.
Licensed psychologists who provided direct human services, such as counseling or guidance, assessment and psychotherapy, had various salaries depending on their subfields. School psychologists reported a median salary of $71,000, clinical psychologists earned $65,000 and counseling psychologists earned $60,000. The respective median years of experience were 20, 16 and 15 years. The slight edge in favor of licensed school psychologists was also apparent with 1995 and 1997 median salaries, and is likely due to the slightly higher median number of years of experience as well as "standard" compensation levels in settings typical of each of these health service areas. By comparison, the National Association of Social Workers reported that doctoral-level social workers earned about $40,000 in 1995.
Finally, psychologists in research positions earned $60,000, with a median of 10 years of experience. The highest single proportion of these psychologists (33 percent) worked in academic settings. Faculty, another group of psychologists found in academic settings, earned an 11- to-12-month salary of $64,000 (based on a median of 15 years of experience). Because faculty are typically paid on a 9- to-10-month basis, their actual "take-home" median salary equivalent was $52,000. This salary varied depending on academic rank.
The above salaries represent global estimates of salaries among psychologists in various positions and have been found to differ widely when geographic region, employment setting and years of experience are taken into consideration. For a more comprehensive breakdown of salaries, particularly salaries of faculty, medical school psychologists, new doctorates in psychology and master's-level degree-holders in psychology, see the APA Research Office.
--STEVEN WILLIAMS, PHD
APA RESEARCH OFFICE