Therapists: Salary Overview
Therapists help patients cope with a variety of difficult situations by using a behavioral approach to therapy.
“Therapist” is a broad term that may include a number of different disciplines, such as a psychologist, licensed social worker, counselor or marriage, and family therapist.
Therapists may help people deal with addiction, family, parenting, and mental problems but also stress management, aging, and self-esteem.
A therapist’s job description and the things that they are allowed to do vary depending on their education and specialty.
A therapist’s salary also varies depending on their specialty and training.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual pay for mental health counselors was $42,840 per year, as of May 2019 which means that half the workers in this occupation earned less than this while half made more than this amount.
The median annual wage for social workers was $50,470 in May 2019 while psychologists made, on average, $80,370.
Salaries also vary depending on the therapist’s level of experience and the industry of employment.
As a mental health counselor, you can make anywhere between less than $26,000 a year and more than $70,000.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the lowest 10 percent of social workers made less than $31,790 while the top 10 percent made more than $82,540 a year.
Salaries for psychologists vary between less than $45,380 a year and more than $132,070 per year.
Psychologists usually earn more than other therapists but in order to achieve this title they need at least a Master’s Degree in Psychology and, in most states, they have to earn a state board license.
Most prospective psychologists also need to complete a predoctoral or postdoctoral internship before qualifying for state licensure.
Therapist Salary by Industry
Salaries for therapists vary not only based on their job title but also depending on the industry of employment.
The median annual wage for psychologists who worked for the government was $96,870 as of May 2019.
Hospitals paid psychologists, on average, with $88,480 a year while psychologists who worked in the field of ambulatory healthcare services made around $82,250 per year.
The median annual wage for psychologists employed by elementary and secondary schools was $76,960.
The biggest employer for mental health counselors was the industry of individual and family services, a field that paid them, on average, with $44,580 per year.
Outpatient care centers paid mental health counselors, on average, with $44,580 per year.
The average annual wage was $39,060 per year for mental health counselors who work for residential intellectual and developmental disability, mental health, and substance abuse facilities and $50,640 for those employed by offices of other health practitioners.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the biggest employer for social workers was the industry of individual and family services field, a sector that paid them a median annual wage of $43,030.
The average annual wage was $55,500 for social workers who worked for local governments and $51,290 for those employed in the field of ambulatory healthcare services.
Because people will continue to need help in dealing with trauma, mental and physical changes, family problems, and many other issues, therapists will continue to be needed in the future.
According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for psychologists is projected to grow 14 percent from 2018 to 2028, much faster than the average for all occupations.
Their services will be especially needed in clinical, counseling, and school settings.
However, competition is expected to be strong in some regions and your job prospects as a psychologist vary depending on your specialty and level of education.
Holding a doctoral or an education specialist degree and completing some postdoctoral work will give you access to the best job opportunities.
* Based on information from the May 2021 salary report from the BLS. The figures represent accumulated data for all states of employment for Therapists. BLS data represents averages and medians for workers at all levels of education and experience. This data doesn't represent starting salaries.
* Employment conditions in your area may vary.