The American Psychological Association (APA) considers psychology to be a science concerned with behavior in both humans and animals. The field has been around since the late 1800s, making it a relatively new science. Despite its newness, psychology is a broad discipline with an even greater intersection of careers. And some of these careers are among the highest paying psychology jobs for educated professionals.
High Paying Psychology Jobs for 2020
We researched the highest paying psychology careers. To find salary information, we looked at reputable sources, such as the American Psychological Association (APA), Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), and PayScale. Here you will find some of the highest paying psychology jobs on the market today. This list is designed to assist you with making informed decisions about your psychology education and career path. Our results are listed below.
#1 – Psychiatrists
Median Annual Salary:$208,000
Education Required: Doctoral or professional degree
A psychiatrist is a medical doctor who has earned MD credentials and received further specialty education in psychiatry. According to reputable sources like the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the highest paying psychology careers are in psychiatry. Education is critical for psychiatrists. To become a psychiatrist, one must complete a bachelor’s degree, majoring in a science or premed, before enrolling in medical school. Once medical school is complete, a four-year residency is required. The role of a psychiatrist is to diagnose and treat mental illnesses and disorders, much like a doctor treats a specific problem in the body. Similar to general practitioners and specialists, psychiatrist salaries can fluctuate depending on areas of specialization, experience, and geographic location. This career ranks #1 among the highest paying psychology jobs available today.
#2 – Industrial-Organizational Psychologists
Median Annual Salary: $102,000
Education Required: Doctoral or professional degree, minimum of master’s degree in organizational or industrial psychology
Industrial and organizational psychologists are among the highest paying psychology careers on our list. These highly specialized psychologists work in organizations, companies, or corporations that depend on psychology to make informed decisions that impact market research, buying, selling, and hiring employees. Salaries vary by organization size and geographic location, but the median annual salary, according to PayScale and BLS, exceeds $100,000. The highest ten percent of industrial-organizational psychologists earn above $200,000 annually. But don’t expect to earn six figures right out of college. Experience is key. With five and ten years of experience in the field, you will start to see higher numbers on your paycheck.
#3 – Neuropsychologists
Median Annual Salary: $90,460
Education Required: Doctoral or professional degree, typically in neuropsychology
Neuropsychologists are among the highest paying psychology careers on our list. The highest ten percent of earners receive over six figures in annual salary, while the median annual pay hovers around $90,000. Of course, experience and education impact earnings. To secure one of the highest paying psychology jobs in the industry, you will need a doctoral degree in clinical neuropsychology or neuropsychology. Neuropsychologists often work in hospitals, medical centers, mental health facilities, research centers, and colleges or universities. They study cognition, emotion, and behavior by examining brain function. In some roles, neuropsychologists treat individuals impacted by brain injuries. Popular areas of research include the effects of drugs and other substances on the brain and nervous system, and sports-related brain injuries.
#4 – Experimental Psychologist
Median Annual Salary: $80,389
Education Required: Doctoral degree in experimental psychology
The American Psychological Association (APA) states that experimental psychologists are among high paying psychology jobs. An experimental psychologist seeks answers to questions such as: What influences people’s behavior? Why do people behave the way they do? How can behavior shape a person’s experience? Due to the level of research required for the job, experimental psychologists hold doctoral degrees. We listed experimental psychology among the best psychology jobs for those seeking high earnings, due to the average annual salary of over $80,000 per year. APA conducted a salary survey for experimental psychologists over ten years ago and reported a range in earnings from $76,090 to $116,343. BLS reports a median annual salary of approximately $80,000. Experimental psychologist ranks in the top five of our highest paying jobs in psychology.
#5 – Engineering Psychologists
Median Annual Salary: $79,818
Education Required: Doctoral degree in engineering psychology
Engineering psychologists are among the highest paying psychology careers on our list. Often referred to as human factors engineers, the role if an engineering psychologist is to focus on improving technology, work environments, and equipment to improve human behavior and output. Large organizations, the United States government, and organizations employ engineering psychologists. Annual earnings vary by organization, but the median annual salary is close to $80,000, making engineering psychology one of the best psychology jobs available today. Doctoral-level psychologists working in engineering roles earn higher wages. Academia pays well, if you’re interested in research and instruction. However, the highest-paying organizations are private consultants. APA reports doctoral-degreed engineering psychologists earned close to $180,000 annually.
#6 – Clinical Psychologists
Median Annual Salary: $78,021
Education Required: Master’s in psychology, doctoral degree (PsyD) in psychology
Clinical psychology is another of the highest paying psychology careers on our list with, clinical psychologists earning close to $80,000 per year. The path to becoming a clinical psychologist begins by earning a bachelor’s in psychology followed by a master’s degree. Earning top dollar requires education, so enrolling in a doctoral degree program is needed. If you want to practice clinical psychology, a one-year internship is also required as part of the doctoral degree program. Salaries for clinical psychologists vary. The highest paying psychology jobs depend on work setting, geographic location, and the number of years the individual has practiced clinical psychology.
#7 – Forensic Psychologists
Median Annual Salary: $77,734
Education Required: Master’s in psychology degree, doctoral degree in forensic psychology optional
Forensic psychologists, one of the high paying psychology jobs on our list, earn an average pay of over $77,000. Earnings vary dramatically by experience. In fact, the APA reports that experienced forensic psychologists can earn between $200,000 and $400,000 per year, making forensic psychology a lucrative field. Another factor impacting earnings is the sector of employment. Forensic psychologists have special skills used for working with law enforcement and the judicial system. These highly sought-after skills are used to solve crimes. Government agencies and the private sector hire forensic psychologists to assist in solving crimes and understanding criminal profiles. The pay varies with who you are working for; private practice forensic psychologists with an established reputation earn more than those working for government agencies such as the FBI. However, some high-level forensic psychologists working for the FBI or CIA earn competitive six-figure salaries.
#8 – Counseling Psychologists
Median Annual Salary: $72,540
Education Required: Doctoral degree in psychology
For high paying psychology jobs working directly with clients, one must acquire adequate training and education. One such career that works closely with clients is in the field of counseling psychology. Counseling psychologists, like clinical psychologists, conduct psychotherapy and mental health treatment. However, the disorders and illnesses treated are different. Usually, counseling psychologists work with patients suffering from less severe mental health issues than individuals seeing clinical psychologists. Again, since the role requires work with patients, advanced degrees and education are required. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), counseling psychologists earned an average annual salary of $72,540.
#9 – Military Psychologists
Median Annual Salary: $65,000
Education Required: Doctoral degree, such as a Ph.D. or Psy.D.
Military psychology is a unique branch of psychology that focuses on the mental health and well-being of military personnel and their immediate family members. Earning a spot on our list of highest paying psychology jobs, military psychologists earn a median annual salary of $65,000. However, this number is much higher for individuals with at least ten years working as a military psychologist. In fact, BLS reports special sectors of psychology pay their top earners over $90,000 per year. While education and experience impact earnings, so does military ranking. For example, a colonel in the army with 15 years of experience working as a military psychologist could earn as much as the top ten percent of earners. In addition to competitive salaries, military psychologists receive a number of lucrative benefits as a United States military employee. These benefits include health insurance, free housing, and generous sign-on bonuses. Military psychologist ranks in the top 10 of the highest paying psychology jobs available today.
#10 – Sports Psychologists
Median Annual Salary: $60,000
Education Required: Master’s in sport psychology degree
Sports psychologists earn a top 10 spot on our list of high paying psychology jobs. What makes sports psychologists one of the best psychology jobs is that a doctoral degree is not required. Also, earnings potential varies by experience and earning more after a few years of entry-level work is likely. While the average earnings for a sports psychologist is $60,000 per year, seasoned sports psychologists earn nearly twice that figure. Sports psychologists working with professional athletes or professional sport organizations earn well over six figures each year. It is the salary potential that makes sport psychology one of the highest paying psychology careers.
Remember, the highest paying psychology jobs can be lucrative, but proper education, training, and experience are required. We hope this list of best psychology careers will help you make an informed decision to determine your education level and career path.
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