How Much Money do Psychologists Make?

In a survey of how much money psychologists make from the American Psychological Association of Graduate Students (APAGS) 2014 Debt Study ,the median salary from 2010-2014 was $65,000 for PhDs and $60,000 for PsyDs (excluding post-docs).

When I was looking for a job six years ago, I asked other psychologists how much I could expect for a starting salary, but never got a straight answer. Some early-career positions were being offered for $50,000 and others for $80,000. Turns out, there’s not a simple answer to this question.

Salary will depend on a combination of factors, including what type of work you will be doing (e.g., teaching, research, clinical, assessment, or a combination), in what setting (private practice, university, research facility, private hospital, government), when you will be working (9 months versus 12 months), how you will be funded (e.g., grants, salary, insurance reimbursements), and cost of living in your area.

According to the US Department of Labor and Statistics median pay for psychologists in 2017 was $77,030 per year ($75,090 for clinical/counseling/school psychologists). They reported differences based on occupation settings.

To illustrate what you might expect at different stages in your training and career, let’s use the VA as an example. They follow a General Schedule (GS).

Here is what interns, post-docs, and staff psychologists may make at a VA.

Gross (Pre-Tax) Income
Internship* $24,014
Post-doc* $42,310
2018 General Schedule 12-1**    (Licensed <1 year) $73,375
2018 General Schedule 13-1**          (Must be licensed 1yr to be GS13) $87,252
2018 General Schedule 13-2**   (Licensed 1 year AND worked at step 1 for a year) $90,161

(Note: If you are hired after you’ve been licensed for one year, you may be able to start at the GS-13 level. If you are hired before you’ve been licensed for a year you’ll likely be hired at GS-12 step 1, but after one year of eligible service AND a year of being licensed, you may be eligible for GS-13. If this is the case you may be able to keep your step advancement (that is, move up from GS-12-1 to GS-13-2)).

There are 10 steps within each grade, and different waiting periods in between (1 year at steps 1-3, 2 years at steps 4-6, and 3 years at steps 7-9). As of 2018, GS-13-10 maxes out at $113,428.**

There are locality adjustments for higher cost of living areas. For locality pay tables visit OPM Salaries & Wages.

*Internship and Post-doc salaries obtained from on-line brochures for a VA facility in the “Rest of the US” locality adjusted pay area.

**Based on “Rest of the US” locality adjusted pay area.


How much do psychologists in your industry earn?

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