Research psychologist salaries

Research psychologist salaries DEFAULT

The 25 Most Lucrative Careers in Psychology

By Jack Kelle

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Psychology is one the most popular bachelor’s degrees in the nation. It ranks among the top 3 majors at the undergraduate level and offers students increasingly diverse career paths as various industries develop over time. As more students pursue their degree in psychology, there is a growing need to illuminate the best career paths in the field. Many people who get into psychology want to know what the highest paying psychology jobs are. So we’ve narrowed it down to the 25 most lucrative and viable options. The salary of each career is weighted by the stability of its industry, so an extremely lucrative career will be ranked lower if it operates in a shrinking or unstable market and vice versa. Similarly, we have ranked the salaries according to the amount of schooling or experience required to enter into the specific career.

1: Psychiatrist $177,520



  • Mean salary: $177,250
  • Years of education: 12
  • Focus: Medicine/Therapeutic Practice
  • Stability & Growth: Slightly Above Average/Industry Experiences Steady Yearly Growth

Psychiatrists are medical doctors who evaluate, diagnose, and help prevent disorders of the mind and either prescribe medicine or employ psychotherapy or a combination of the two as treatment. The mean annual salary for a psychiatrist is $177,250, which equates to about 85 dollars an hour. Psychiatrists who specialize are able to garner even higher salaries. For example, those employed at residential care centers earn a mean annual salary of $212,490. Psychiatry is an extremely demanding endeavor, however, as it requires about 12 years of schooling, which includes a bachelor’s degree, medical school, and a 4 year residency program, and in turn may generate a large amount of debt or student loans. Despite the immense time and effort required, psychiatry as an industry experiences steady growth from year to year, offers stable six-figure salaries, and has extremely high salary potential for those who are willing to specialize. For these reasons, psychiatry takes the number one spot on our list.

2: Private Practice Clinical Therapists ≈ $150,000

Private Practice Clinical Therapist

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  • Mean salary: ≈ $150,000
  • Years of education: 6-8+
  • Focus: Therapeutic Practice
  • Stability & Growth: Above Average/Industry Experiences Steady Yearly Growth

Private practice clinical therapists often run their businesses out of home offices, and independently practice therapeutic techniques to treat their clients. To enter into such private practice, one has to first has to earn a bachelor’s and then pursue a master’s degree (2 years) in clinical therapy. It is common for therapists to then pursue a doctorate in clinical therapy (2 years) because the success of private practice hinges on the accolades and rapport of the practitioner. This independence is both a weakness and strength of this career path. It allows the individual to self-market, establish self-made hours, and set the fee for services offered, which creates high-end salaries reported to range most commonly from 150,000 to 200,000 annually.

3: Industrial-Organizational Psychologist $98,800

Industrial Organizational Psychologist

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  • Mean salary: $98,000
  • Years of education: 6-8
  • Focus: Consultation
  • Stability & Growth: Greatly Above Average/Industry Experiences High Yearly Growth

Industrial-Organizational Psychologists are human efficiency experts who specialize in working with companies and corporations to keep employees efficient, healthy, and working hard. The majority of industrial-organizational psychologists enter their careers with a master’s in I/O psychology, but salaries increase substantially with doctoral education. The industry for this career is one of the most stable and expanding on this list. Companies around the world are dedicating time and money to making their employees more efficient and happier, and are hiring I/O psychologists right out of school to make this happen. And, as the number of job opportunities in this field increases, so do the mean annual salaries. These trends justify this career’s spot in our top 3.

4: Neuropsychologist $86,645


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  • Mean salary: $86,645
  • Years of education: 8
  • Focus: Assessment/Consultation
  • Stability & Growth: Average/Industry Experiences Average Yearly Growth

Neuropsychologists study cognitive science and the brain. Neuropsychology is a much more lucrative career at the doctorate level (4 years post undergrad), where neuropsychologists perform cognitive tests, run brain scans, study how drugs impact the nervous system, and consult victims of brain injuries. Although there is no data presented by the Bureau of Labor Statistics for neuropsychologists, PayScale reports that the average annual salary is $86,645, and while the bottom ten percent in the field earns just $57,908, the top earning neuropsychologists bring home $143,476 annually.

5: Clinical Psychologist $72,220


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  • Mean salary: $72,220
  • Years of education: 8+
  • Focus: Therapeutic Treatment
  • Stability & Growth: Average/Industry Experiences Average Yearly Growth

Clinical Psychology is the single largest employment area in Psychology, but there is still plenty of opportunity for prospective students and professionals. The high-paying jobs in this industry require doctorate study in clinical psychology, which are highly competitive, and most programs require a 1 year internship. Despite the rigorous schooling involved, the sheer size and opportunity associated with clinical psychology makes it a high-ranking career option.

6: Engineering Psychologist $80,000


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  • Mean salary: $80,000
  • Years of education: 6-8
  • Focus: Consultation/Design
  • Stability & Growth: Above Average/Industry Experiences Average Yearly Growth

Engineering psychologists use their understanding of the human mind to improve and develop products and technology. This is a relatively new industry, and its growth exceeds the number of engineering psychologists, so it is a great option for those looking to meld psychology and technology. The typical requirement for this career is a master’s in engineering psychology, but doctoral level engineering psychologists report dramatically higher salaries. According to the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society, starting salaries for engineering psychologists range between $48,000 and $75,367, while doctoral level professionals employed in the private sector earn $179,160.

7: Correctional Facility Psychologist $85,000


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  • Mean salary: $85,000
  • Years of education: 6-8
  • Focus: Assessment/Therapeutic Treatment
  • Stability & growth: Above Average/Industry Experiences Average Yearly Growth

Correctional facility psychologists conduct assessments and therapeutic sessions with inmates in a correctional facility environment. This stressful and potentially dangerous setting of this work means employers offer higher salary in compensation, and competition is usually less of a factor than it is in other professions. Typically, correctional facility psychologists have a master’s level degree in clinical psychology, although doctoral education increases the salaries available. For those who thrive in a more stressful or uncomfortable environments, this is a great option.

8: Military Psychologist $80,000

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  • Mean salary: $80,000
  • Years of education: 6-8
  • Focus: Assessment/Therapeutic Treatment
  • Stability & growth: Greatly Above Average/Industry Experiences High Yearly Growth

Men and women who have served in the armed forces often experience trauma or other discomfort that requires therapeutic treatment. Military psychologists are government employed psychologists who specialize in dealing with soldiers and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). As the research on the link between PTSD and armed forces increases, the demand for treatment and prevention methods increases significantly. This career opportunity is a great option for those looking to work with veterans, or to study PTSD.

9: Corporate Manager 100,000+


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  • Mean salary: $100,000+
  • Years of education: 4-8
  • Focus: Management/Consultation
  • Stability & growth: Average/Industry Experiences Yearly Growth

When considering career options with a psychology degree, big business probably doesn’t come to mind. In actuality, however, a background in psychology is excellent preparation for corporate work. Corporate managers with psychology degrees are often able to direct their employees more accurately and more efficiently. While there is little data on the specifics of these salaries, corporate managers report six figure salaries and up. This is a great career path for those with a predisposition for business and managing.

10: Administrative Hospital Psychologist $95,000


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  • Mean salary: $95,000
  • Years of education: 6-8
  • Focus: Management
  • Stability & growth: Average/Industry Experiences High Yearly Growth

As integrated healthcare models become more accepted in the mainstream, psychologists are being brought into primary care facilities. Administrative hospital psychologists oversee and manage the psychologists stationed in a hospital. This position is relatively new, and thus the data on it is sparse; however, existing data suggests that middle-ground salaries sit around $95,000, while positions of greater responsibility offer much greater salaries.

11: Forensic Psychologist $69,280

Forensic Psychologist

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  • Mean salary: $69,280
  • Years of education: 6-8
  • Focus: Assessment/Consultation
  • Stability & growth: Above Average/Industry Experiences High Yearly Growth

Forensic Psychology may currently be one of the hottest and fast growing careers in psychology due to its glamorous portrayal in modern novels, popular TV shows, and movies, however, the reality of the job may not be as appealing. While the high-stress and uncomfortable situations associated with this profession boosting available salaries, the subject matter of the job may be a turn-off for some. Forensic psychologists lend their skills to insurance claim cases, child custody disputes, child abuse accusations, and other legal disputes in need of a psychological perspective. While the mean average salary is nothing to gawk at, experience and education can lead forensic psychologists to six-figure salaries and specialization, which allows one to focus on his or her favored area of the profession.

12: Teaching Psychologist $79,360

Teaching Psychologist

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  • Mean salary: $79,360
  • Years of education: 6-8
  • Focus: Teaching/Theory
  • Stability & growth: Average/Industry Experiences Average Yearly Growth

A large number of psychologists use their skills and education to teach new generations of psychologists. The most lucrative option for teaching psychologists is to seek professorship at a university, where the mean salary is about $80,000. University teaching positions require extensive experience and at least a master’s degree although most universities will require doctoral degrees. To earn the highest salaries, teaching psychologists should seek tenure opportunities at upscale universities where salaries nearly double.

13: Genetics Counselor $63,700

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  • Mean salary: $63,700
  • Years of education: 6-8
  • Focus: Genetics/Counseling
  • Stability & growth: Above Average/Industry Experiences High Yearly Growth

Often referred to as a “job of the future,” genetics counseling is a newly emerging, and potential lucrative career path. Genetics counselors offer support, guidance, and assistance to individuals with a genetic disorder, or to families who are at risk of passing on a genetic disorder. Genetics counselors usually have backgrounds in both genetics and counseling, with a at least one master’s degree. Genetics Counselors with PhDs can attain salaries around $150,000.

14: Market Research Analyst $60,570

Market Research Analyst

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  • Mean salary: $60,570
  • Years of education: 4-8
  • Focus: Market Analysis/Consultation
  • Stability & growth: Above Average/Industry Experiences High Yearly Growth

Psychologists are taught to recognize the underlying trends and motivations in human behavior which are crucial components to the sales and marketing industries. Market research analysts study market conditions and analyze consumer trends to help determine what products people want, who will buy them, and at what price. The median salary for market research analysts is about $60,000, with huge variation according to experience and education. Huge growth is expected in this field with 32% growth projected by 2022.

15: Experimental Psychologist $69,280

Experimental Psychologist


  • Mean salary: $69,280
  • Years of education: 6-8
  • Focus: Experimentation/Theory
  • Stability & growth: Above Average/Industry Experiences High Yearly Growth

Experimental psychologists study cognitive, emotional, and social processes and human behavior. Experimental psychologists work independently or as part of a team of researchers to reach their goals. The mean annual salary of experimental psychologists is about $69,000, however, those with doctoral degrees can earn salaries of $116,343 or more. This industry is highly stable and growing, as psychological research becomes more important to various other industries.

16: Special Education Teacher $53,220

Special Education Teacher

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  • Mean salary: $53,220
  • Years of education: 4-8
  • Focus: Teaching
  • Stability & growth: Above Average/Industry Experiences High Yearly Growth

Special education teachers work with individuals who have learning disabilities or mental handicaps. Special education teachers are required to hold at least a bachelor’s degree and attend special teacher training. Compared to the schooling and experience required by other psychology professions, special education requires the least and offers the most. As special education enrollment increases substantially year by year, job growth is expected to be substantial.

17: School Psychologist $59,440

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  • Mean salary: $59,440
  • Years of education: 6-8
  • Focus: Therapeutic Practice
  • Stability & growth: Above Average/Industry Experiences High Yearly Growth

School psychologists work in schools to help students of all ages deal with life stressors and any relevant mental conditions. School Psychology is a rapidly growing field due to federal education legislation. While the mean average salary of school psychologists is decent, much higher salaries can be earned after experience and higher education. Typically, the quality and rapport of the school in which the psychologist is stationed determines the salary.

18: Social and Community Service Manager $57,950

Social and Community Service Manager

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  • Mean salary: $57,950
  • Years of education: 6-8
  • Focus: Management/Budgeting
  • Stability & growth: Above Average/Industry Experiences High Yearly Growth

Social and Community Service Managers work with members of the community to identify and address public needs. These professionals usually oversee community projects and manage budgets and fundraising. The typical requirement for such work is at least a bachelor’s degree in social work, however, psychologists are also highly sought after for such positions. Experience and education determine the types of projects a social and community service manager will oversee, which also determines the salary earned.

19: Sports Psychologist ≈$50,000

Sports Psychologist

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  • Mean salary: ≈$50,000
  • Years of education: 6-8
  • Focus: Consultation/Therapeutic Practice
  • Stability & growth: Above Average/Industry Experiences High Yearly Growth

Sports psychologists specialize in the psychological components of sports and athletics such as motivation, performance, and injury management. Sports psychologists work in a wide range of environments, from schools to hospitals to professional sports teams, and their salaries reflect this diversity. Although the data is currently sparse, the salary range most commonly reported is from about $45,000 to $85,000, with experience and education level being the determining factor.

20: Geropsychologist ≈$50,000


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  • Mean salary: ≈$50,000
  • Years of education: 6-8
  • Focus: Assessment/Consultation/Therapeutic Practice
  • Stability & growth: Above Average/Industry Experiences High Yearly Growth

Geropsychologists specialize in working with geriatric populations which is a rapidly growing group in the United States. In 2004, Americans 65 and older made up 12 percent of the population and by 2050 they’re expected to make up 21 percent. Although there is little data to establish the average salaries of this profession, we do see a decent range of reported earnings. Geropsychologists working in a government research organization bring in $56,714 while those working in a veterans affairs hospital earn around $70,000.

21: Marriage and Family Therapist $45,720

Marriage and Family Therapist

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  • Mean salary: $45,720
  • Years of education: 6-8
  • Focus: Therapeutic Practice
  • Stability & growth: Average/ Industry experiences extremely high yearly growth

Marriage and family therapists work with individuals, couples, and families to help build better relationships and address underlying issues. Stigmas that previously surrounded this kind of therapy are dissipating, and the industry shows remarkable growth projected at 41% through 2020. At a minimum, a master’s degree in counseling or a related field is required to become a licensed marriage and family therapist. Despite outliers with six-figure salaries, this is one field where experience and education do not explicitly yield greater returns.

22: Career/Vocational Counselor $46,000


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  • Mean salary: $46,000
  • Years of education: 4-8
  • Focus: Consultation
  • Stability & growth: Average/ Industry experiences high yearly growth

Due to rapidly changing and evolving job markets, students and professionals often seek the aid of career and vocational counselors to help them establish career paths best suited to individual strengths and weaknesses. Career and vocational counselors employ personality tests and other assessments to determine the type of careers in which an individual is most likely to excel. While the mean average salary is not extremely impressive, this career path requires less schooling than other paths, requiring at minimum a bachelor’s degree with additional training, and offers a steadily growing job opportunities.

23: Recreational Therapist $45,520

Recreational Therapist

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  • Mean salary: $45,520
  • Years of education: 4-8
  • Focus: Therapeutic Practice/Project Managing
  • Stability & growth: Average/ Industry experiences high yearly growth

Recreational Therapists plan, direct, and/or coordinate medically-approved recreational activities for individuals in hospitals, schools, or other institutions. Typically these programs are directed at helping individuals with mental or physical illnesses or disabilities. Experience and higher education earns greater salaries, with the top 10% of these therapists making about $70,000. Since this is a relatively new field it offers growing opportunity and flexible salaries.

24: Mental Health Counselor: $39,710

Mental Health Counselor

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  • Mean salary: $39,710
  • Years of education: 6-8
  • Focus: Assessment/Therapy
  • Stability & growth: Average/ Industry experiences extremely high yearly growth

Mental health counselors help people with problems concerning their personal lives and their emotional and mental well-being such as marital, family, and education problems, and substance abuse issues. Most states require at least a master’s degree in counseling in order to become a licensed counselor. While the industry is growing, with expected 37% growth through 2020, the average mean salaries remain fairly low. In order to garner high salaries, mental health counselors must be experienced and educated, and as such lucrative paths within this career are highly competitive.

25: Substance Abuse Counselor $38,520

Substance Abuse Counselor

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  • Mean salary: $38,520
  • Years of education: 4-8
  • Focus: Therapeutic Practice
  • Stability & growth: Average/ Industry experiences high yearly growth

Substance abuse counselors help individuals overcome physical, mental, and emotional reliance on drugs. They work extensively with addicted individuals to help them overcome their vices. As addiction and substance abuse becomes more covered by insurance companies, the industry and earnings grow, with growth projected at 31 percent through 2022. Typically, most employers require at least a master’s degree to work as a substance abuse counselor, but often extensive experience trumps this requirement. Professionals on this career path seeking higher salaries should seek doctoral education and apply for positions at high-end treatment centers, where salaries can jump into the six digits.

Overall Trends in High Salaries

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If you’re looking to bring in sky high salaries, then there are some basic principles you can apply to your career choices. Listed below is a breakdown of the most important underlying trends and factors at play in the most lucrative and viable career paths. Although these points are drawn from this analysis of the best careers in psychology, they certainly apply to career choices in general and outside of this focus.

    1. The most obvious and most determinant factor in achieving sky high salaries is education.

While it may be possible to earn an amazing salary without a master’s or doctoral degree, having such degrees only raises your chances of obtaining it, and opens the door to many opportunities and specializations that would otherwise be unreachable. Also, education may make up for a lack of experience. If you’re attempting to enter into a new career, having an impressive academic background might outweigh inexperience.

    1. Salaries not determined by education are probably determined by experience.

Experience is a golden ticket on any career path. If you’ve got your eyes set on the highest salaries in your profession, then get as much experience as possible. Developing a formidable background in your specific field of work will set you apart from the pack, and make you a prime candidate for those more competitive and high-paying positions. And, conversely to the first point, if you’re lacking higher education, then having a large amount of experience might be your saving grace.

    1. Enter into a growing industry.

Do your homework. Make sure that the career that you’re pursuing will still be around in 10 years. It doesn’t make sense to be a typewriter salesman when computers are now the mainstream. And, if you’re pursuing those gargantuan salaries, then make sure that your industry will also be thriving. The Bureau of Labor Statistics Website (Homepage) offers great information concerning the estimated growth of industries for years to come.

    1. Become specialized.

Most industries and careers contain small niches of specialization. Few make the time and effort to become experts in such specialties, but those who do are rewarded significantly. And, it usually shrinks the number of competitors you’ll be up against.

  1. Be dynamic.

So many of the obstacles blocking the way to higher salaries and other opportunities are arbitrary. Stay in the habit of improving your skillsets and making yourself more competitive in your field to earn the job you want and the salary you deserve.

Ready to start your journey to becoming a psychologist? Find an online undergraduate psychology degree program




What Psychologists Do About this section


Industrial-organizational psychologists apply psychological research and methods to workplace issues.

Psychologists study cognitive, emotional, and social processes and behavior by observing, interpreting, and recording how people relate to one another and to their environments. They use their findings to help improve processes and behaviors.


Psychologists typically do the following:

  • Conduct scientific studies of behavior and brain function
  • Observe, interview, and survey individuals
  • Identify psychological, emotional, behavioral, or organizational issues and diagnose disorders
  • Research and identify behavioral or emotional patterns
  • Test for patterns that will help them better understand and predict behavior
  • Discuss the treatment of problems with clients
  • Write articles, research papers, and reports to share findings and educate others
  • Supervise interns, clinicians, and counseling professionals

Psychologists seek to understand and explain thoughts, emotions, feelings, and behavior. They use techniques such as observation, assessment, and experimentation to develop theories about the beliefs and feelings that influence individuals.

Psychologists often gather information and evaluate behavior through controlled laboratory experiments, psychoanalysis, or psychotherapy. They also may administer personality, performance, aptitude, or intelligence tests. They look for patterns of behavior or relationships between events, and they use this information when testing theories in their research or when treating patients.

The following are examples of types of psychologists:

Clinical psychologists assess, diagnose, and treat mental, emotional, and behavioral disorders. Clinical psychologists help people deal with problems ranging from short-term personal issues to severe, chronic conditions.

Clinical psychologists are trained to use a variety of approaches to help individuals. Although strategies generally differ by specialty, clinical psychologists often interview patients, give diagnostic tests, and provide individual, family, or group psychotherapy. They also design behavior modification programs and help patients implement their particular program. Some clinical psychologists focus on specific populations, such as children or the elderly, or on certain specialties, such as neuropsychology.

Clinical psychologists often consult with other health professionals regarding the best treatment for patients, especially treatment that includes medication. Currently, only Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, and New Mexico allow clinical psychologists to prescribe medication to patients.

Counseling psychologists help patients deal with and understand problems, including issues at home, at the workplace, or in their community. Through counseling, these psychologists work with patients to identify their strengths or resources they can use to manage problems. For information on other counseling occupations, see the profiles on marriage and family therapistssubstance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors, and social workers.

Developmental psychologists study the psychological progress and development that take place throughout life. Many developmental psychologists focus on children and adolescents, but they also may study aging and problems facing older adults.

Forensic psychologists use psychological principles in the legal and criminal justice system to help judges, attorneys, and other legal specialists understand the psychological aspects of a particular case. They often testify in court as expert witnesses. They typically specialize in family, civil, or criminal casework.

Industrial–organizational psychologists apply psychology to the workplace by using psychological principles and research methods to solve problems and improve the quality of worklife. They study issues such as workplace productivity, management or employee working styles, and employee morale. They also help top executives, training and development managers, and training and development specialists with policy planning, employee screening or training, and organizational development.

Rehabilitation psychologists work with physically or developmentally disabled individuals. They help improve quality of life or help individuals adjust after a major illness or accident. They may work with physical therapists and teachers to improve health and learning outcomes.

School psychologists apply psychological principles and techniques to education disorders and developmental disorders. They may address student learning and behavioral problems; design and implement performance plans, and evaluate performances; and counsel students and families. They also may consult with other school-based professionals to suggest improvements to teaching, learning, and administrative strategies.

Some psychologists become postsecondary teachers or high school teachers.

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The 9 Highest Paying Psychology Careers

Industrial-Organizational Psychologist

Average Salary: $102,530

Educational Requirements: In most cases, a master's degree in psychology is the minimum training required, although having a doctorate degree may be to your advantage. 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.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that I/O psychologists employed in the scientific research and development industry earned an average annual wage of $149,780. Those employed at colleges, universities, and professional schools earned an average of $70,360.

The typical starting salary for a master's degree graduate is around $40,000. Meanwhile, the starting salary for a doctoral graduate is approximately $55,000.

According to the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology, the top 5% of their members earn in excess of $250,000 a year.


Highest Paying Psychology Careers

The field of psychology is very diverse. There are many potential paths your career can take, and a wide range of salaries you might earn. Of course, it's useful to know which careers pay the best, especially in difficult economic conditions. To that end, here's a guide explaining which psychology careers have the highest annual salaries as of 2019, and what education and training are required for those careers. Keep in mind, though, that salaries can vary greatly depending on a number of factors, such as years of experience, educational achievement, geographic location, and more.

1. Psychiatrist

Average Yearly Salary:$216,090

Education Required:Psychiatrists must first earn a bachelor's degree, then complete medical school, then undergo a four-year residency. This amounts to about 8 years of post-undergraduate study.

Psychiatrists are medical doctors who specialize in diagnosing and treating mental illnesses and disorders. The field of psychiatry is one of the highest paying fields associated with psychology, largely due to the amount of schooling and training required. Even so, salaries in this field can vary widely depending on geographic location, area of specialization, and the type of services rendered. A psychiatrist who works in a physician's office, for example, will generally earn less than a psychiatrist who works in an outpatient care center ($222,460 annually vs. $233,920 annually).

2. Industrial-Organizational Psychologist

Average Yearly Salary:$102,530

Education Required:Most professionals in this field hold a doctorate in industrial-organizational psychology, and job opportunities (and salaries) are more abundant for those who have completed this level of schooling. However, there are some jobs available to those who hold a master's degree.

Industrial-organizational psychologist work with companies and corporations, using psychological principles to make intelligent hiring decisions, increase productivity levels, and conduct market research. Once again, the salaries for this profession vary greatly depending on experience. The upper echelon of these professionals earns more than $250,000 each year, but a typical starting salary for a doctoral graduate is around $57,500 a year.

3. Neuropsychologist

Average Yearly Salary:$93,440

Education Required:Doctorate degree in neuropsychology or clinical neuropsychology.

Neuropsychologists study behavior, cognition, and emotion by studying the physical structures and functions of the brain. This may include performing brain scans, conducting cognitive tests, studying the effects of various drugs and substances on the nervous system, and treating individuals struggling with brain injuries. Neuropsychologists work in a number of settings, such as hospitals, mental health clinics, colleges and universities, research centers, and pharmaceutical labs.

4. Engineering Psychologist

Average Yearly Salary:$90,340

Education Required:There are some entry-level jobs available to psychologists with master's degrees, but those with doctorate degrees will have a much easier time finding jobs and will earn higher salaries.

As the name suggests, engineering psychologists fuse the principles of psychology and engineering. Also known as human factors engineers, they study human behavior and capabilities, specifically as they relate to system design and operation, as well as technology and machinery. These professionals work in a number of settings, increasing efficiency and productivity while minimizing injuries and risk. Salaries vary largely depending on their area of employment. Working in the private sector, for example, usually yields much higher earnings than working in a university setting.

5. Psychology Teacher

Average Yearly Salary:$85,050

Education Required: Postsecondary psychology teachers must have earned a master's degree or doctoral degree. High school psychology teachers need at least a bachelor's degree and must also obtain state certification.

Psychology teachers prepare and teach coursework in psychology, counseling, and related career paths. They prepare the next generation of psychologists for many of the other careers listed on this page. They may also conduct psychological research and write research papers on behalf of the university they work for. University psychology teachers earn $85,320 per year on average, while junior college psychology teachers earn $84,280. However, psychology professors at top universities and research institutions earn starting salaries of about $110,000. Psychology teachers at high schools are less common and earn about $60,000 per year.

6. Clinical Psychologist

Average Yearly Salary:$81,330

Education Required:Clinical psychologists typically need a doctorate degree in psychology (Ph.D. or Psy.D.). They must then complete a supervised residency which lasts one or two years, and pass their state's licensing exams.

The field of clinical psychology employs the most workers of any field within psychology. These professionals assess, diagnose, treat, and prevent mental illnesses and disorders. They work in a wide range of settings, such as mental health clinics, hospitals, and private practices. As with other psychological professions, salaries vary widely. The most important factor affecting salary is years of experience. Clinicians with 5 years of experience, for example, earn about $60,000 a year, whereas clinicians with 14 year of experience earn about $115,000 a year.

7. Counseling Psychologist

Average Yearly Salary:$81,330

Education Required:Counseling psychologists must hold a Ph.D., Psy.D., or Ed.D. degree.

The fields of counseling psychology and clinical psychology are closely related; in fact, the two involve roughly the same type of work, such as mental health treatment and psychotherapy. The difference is that clinical psychologists typically work with individuals suffering from more severe kinds of mental disorders, and counseling psychologists work with individuals suffering from less severe disorders. Many counseling psychologists, instead of working with clients, choose to teach at universities, conduct scientific research, or offer vocational counseling.

8. School Psychologist

Average Yearly Salary:$77,430

Education Required:School psychologists generally must complete a specialist program in school psychology. These programs consist of 60 hours of graduate-level coursework, and culminate in either a master's degree or an Ed.S. degree. Roughly one-third of professionals working in this field hold a doctorate degree.

School psychologists work closely with other professionals in the education system--teachers, counselors, administrators, and parents--to help children thrive not only emotionally and psychologically, but also academically. The work of a school psychologist involves assessing and diagnosing learning problems, offering counseling to children, designing behavioral interventions, and fostering supportive learning environments. It's estimated that job prospects for school psychologists will grow by 11% over the next ten years.

9. Forensic Psychologist

Average Yearly Salary:$61,220

Education Required:Most forensic psychologists hold a doctorate degree, although some jobs are available with a master's degree.

Forensic psychologists work within the law enforcement and judicial systems, using their knowledge of psychology to solve crimes and understand criminals. Their work may involve constructing psychological profiles of criminals, investigating cases of domestic and child abuse, testifying in court, sorting out child custody disputes, and training law enforcement officers.

10. Sports Psychologist

Average Yearly Salary:$60,000

Education Required:Sports psychologists typically need to hold a master's or doctorate degree in sports psychology, or a graduate-level degree in a related area such as counseling or clinical psychology.

Sports psychologists apply their knowledge of psychology to the realms of sports and athletics. They work to understand and optimize athletes' motivation and ability, with the goal of helping athletes improve performance, train more effectively, and recover quickly from injuries. Salaries vary depending on the areas in which they work. The average salaries range from $50,000 and $85,000, but sports psychologists who work with athletes in professional leagues may earn well over $100,000 a year.


Psychologist salaries research

Average Psychologist Salary

Avg. Base Salary (USD)

The average salary for a Psychologist is $79,745


What is the Pay by Experience Level for Psychologists?

An entry-level Psychologist with less than 1 year experience can expect to earn an average total compensation (includes tips, bonus, and overtime pay) of $68,163 based on 69 salaries. An early career Psychologist with 1-4 years of experience earns an average total compensation of $73,119 based on 533 salaries. A mid-career …Read more

What Do Psychologists Do?

Psychologists employ their education and knowledge of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V) to provide diagnostic interviews, psychological testing, and individual and group psychotherapy. They may work as part of a multidisciplinary team, and consult with other professionals regarding patient care. These other professionals vary depending upon the type of psychologist. For instance, a school psychologist may work with teachers, social workers, counselors, and …Read more

Psychologist Tasks

  • Conduct psychological exams, providing recommendations about courses of treatment and diagnosis.
  • Participate in and recruit for applied research in psychology.
  • Respond to crises with appropriate interventions and change treatment plans to respond to changing circumstances.
  • Administer and interpret psychological tests and measurements, and document results internally and for patients.
  • Guide patients through treatment regimens like behavior modification, psychotherapy, and group therapy.

Job Satisfaction for Psychologist

Based on 152 responses, the job of Psychologist has received a job satisfaction rating of 4.13 out of 5. On average, Psychologists are highly satisfied with their job.

Gender Breakdown

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This data is based on 466 survey responses. Learn more about the gender pay gap.

Common Health Benefits

Research Psychologist Angela Duckworth, 2013 MacArthur Fellow - MacArthur Foundation

How to Become a Research Psychologist

In contemplating psychology as an occupation, thoughts wander to hands-on professions such as counseling and therapy. However, a sizable segment of the field involves little practical work, and is more concerned with theoretical aspects of psychology. Do you prefer fixed numbers to subjective diagnoses? Scientific observations to patient treatment? If so, perhaps a career in research psychology is for you.

Are You an Analytical Person?

Before jumping on the research psychology bandwagon, ask yourself if you’re truly an analytical person. An indispensable prerequisite for a career in research psychology is having a firm grasp of – and perhaps a natural inclination toward –working with numbers and data. defines the term analytic thinking as “the abstract separation of a whole into its constituent parts in order to study the parts and their relations,” and that’s exactly what research entails.

Hence, questions it would behoove you to ask are: How did I cope with math in school? Did I do well in my college statistics class? If the answer is negative, could you learn to enjoy it? Are you prepared to make the sacrifices necessary to become a resourceful statistician? In going forward with this profession, a resounding “yes” should be your only answer.

What is a Research Psychologist?

Research psychologists are found in every branch of psychology. It is often not a specific job title, but rather represents an area of emphasis for psychologists when undertaking research in their specific field, such as developmental psychology, industrial-organizational psychology, biological psychology, social psychology, and the like.

For example, a social psychologist might undertake research on the manner in which children are socialized in rural, highly religious communities and compare that to the way children in urban, non-religious communities are socialized. Another example might be a health psychologist conducting research on nutrition and wellness for a government agency.

Research psychologists are trained in experimental methods and statistics. They utilize the scientific method to formulate and test hypotheses, develop experiments, collect and analyze data, and use that information to develop conclusions and report on their findings.

Two common types of studies research psychologists undertake are:

  • Experiments – research psychologists conduct experiments both in controlled lab settings and out in the field. An example might be examining the social behaviors of small groups in a rural town.
  • Case studies – psychologists conducting research often utilize this method when studying an individual or small group. Observing how a particular family overcomes the trauma of a natural disaster is an example of a case study.

Despite the significant differences in the ways that research psychologists conduct their studies, the tie that binds research psychologists together across disciplines is that at the heart of their research, they are seeking to understand better how humans and non-human animals feel, think, learn, and act.

What Does a Research Psychologist Do?

A research psychologist carries out many duties as it pertains to studying human behavior. Many research psychologists work for private companies or organizations conducting studies pertinent to the purpose of their employer. For example, a university might employ a research psychologist to explore methods to improve teaching and learning. Alternatively, a research psychologist working for a non-profit human services organization might study ways to improve the bonding experience between adopted children and their adopted parents.

Research psychologists also conduct much research on behalf of governmental agencies. For example, a psychologist may research the efficacy of psychosocial intervention programs implemented by the Bureau of Prisons, looking for positive outcomes for participants in the program. Likewise, a research psychologist working for the National Institute of Mental Health may investigate current rates of certain psychological disorders among the general population.

Other psychologists with training in research work in academic settings. Colleges and universities employ research specialists to conduct research or even assist with the development of on-campus policies and procedures regarding psychological research. For example, a research psychologist might devise rules and regulations pertaining to human or animal-based research in the psychology department.

Many research psychologists also teach. Again, colleges and universities – both public and private – might hire a psychologist with training in research to teach undergraduate courses in various genres of psychology. There would also be opportunity for more specialized teaching assignments, such as those that train graduate or doctoral students to conduct research of their own. Typical course assignments for research psychologists include research psychology, statistics, and ethics.

Yet other research psychologists are employed by private businesses to help them create improved working environments. Research psychologists might be employed to investigate issues like low employee morale or low production rates. They may also seek to improve workplace safety by examining the types of accidents that occur, when and where they occur, and the conditions under which they occur as well.

What are the Requirements to Become a Research Psychologist?

A career in psychology usually requires a graduate degree, and the sub-field of research psychology is certainly no different. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, most research psychologists need not just a Master’s degree, but a full-out Ph.D., to land a job of pleasing stature. Hence, normally expect 5-6 years of industrious study even after graduating college, and sometimes more. Having completed coursework in experimental psychology and statistics will be of great importance, probably more so than for you than any other type of psychologist.

Obtaining psychology license generally require pre-doctoral or postdoctoral supervised experience, an internship, or a residency program, which may span 12 months or more. Sometimes more than one of them is needed.

Where Does a Research Psychologist Work?

Research psychologists typically work in the following environments:

  • Military
  • Colleges and universities
  • Law enforcement agencies
  • Consulting and private research firms
  • Government research groups
  • Government and Private businesses
  • War veterans and disaster post-traumatic counseling

What Skills are Required for a Research Psychologist?

Successful research psychologists have the following skills:

  • Research skills – It goes without saying that research psychologist must be highly trained in research methodologies, including experimental design, observational techniques, and sampling methods.
  • Math and statistics skills – Research psychologists must also have a strong grasp on the statistical methods used to analyze research, including qualitative and quantitative methods of analyzing and interpreting data.
  • Computer literacy – Psychologists in this field are required to be highly computer literate. Computers and computer programs are used for all phases of research, from designing research studies to analyzing data to reporting data for publication.
  • Speaking and writing skills – Research psychologists must be able to clearly and accurately summarize their findings both in verbal and written forms. Good linguistic skills are also necessary for interacting with other members of the research team and with subjects participating in the study.
  • Analytical skills – Analytical skills are necessary because they need to be able to see both the fine details and the bigger picture. Higher-ordered analytical skills assist researchers in identifying patterns, highlighting anomalies, and sifting through mountains of data to come to a logical conclusion.
  • Skepticism – It can be difficult for researchers to avoid seeing what they want to see in their research. As a result, research psychologists need to have the ability to critically evaluate their work and the work of others.

What is the Employment Outlook for Research Psychologists?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the job outlook for psychologists as a whole is 8 percent.

Unfortunately, the BLS does not offer details regarding the employment outlook specifically for research psychology. While the field will most likely not grow as quickly as other psychology disciplines, it’s still reasonable to assume that strong growth will occur. This is due in large part to an increased interest in the underlying mechanisms of behavior, such as genetics and environmental factors.

Because research psychologists specialize in conducting studies on popular topics like drug and alcohol addiction, there should be plenty of job opportunities in the coming years. This is especially true of research psychologists that have an advanced degree, like a doctorate, or have additional training in psychological research methods.

What is the Salary of a Research Psychologist?

Research psychologists earn a median salary of $81,493 ( However, as in many other areas of psychology, salaries fluctuate considerably depending on the number of years of experience in the industry, as well as the sector of employment.

The select few who go into industrial-organizational psychology average as much as $112,690 annually, which is more than any other area of psychology (The Bureau of Labor Statistics – May 2020 data).

What is the Difference Between Research Psychology and Applied Psychology?

Although research psychology and applied psychology both deal in the realm of human behavior, they have very different purposes.

To begin, research psychology is focused on studying human behavior, from how people think to how people experience emotions to how people learn. As mentioned above, research psychologists propose hypotheses, design experiments and studies to prove or disprove those hypotheses, and then analyze and interpret the data they collect to draw final conclusions.

Much of a research psychologist’s work is conducted in a laboratory setting – there is an abundance of reading, writing, data analysis, and experimental design involved in one’s daily activities. Additionally, research psychologists may or may not have interaction with the subjects, and if they do, it is in a strict researcher-participant relationship. For this reason, most research psychology positions do not require workers to be licensed psychology practitioners.

Conversely, applied psychology is all about using psychological methods to help individuals achieve improved mental health and performance. Applied psychology runs the gamut from clinical psychology to sports psychology to educational psychology. No matter the context, psychologists that apply their knowledge and skills do so in direct contact with a client. Because of this, psychologists that work in an applied field must be licensed in the state in which they work.

Whatever interventions the psychologist uses, they would be informed by the work that research psychologists and others behind the scenes have done. For example, a marriage and family therapist who applies cognitive behavioral therapy to help a family overcome psychological issues would do so based on studies on cognitive behavioral techniques conducted by research psychologists. In this regard, even though research and applied fields of psychology have different purposes, they often work hand in hand to help people improve their mental health.

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