How to Make Money with a Psychology Degree (26 Top Jobs)

by Rebekah Pierce

Updated

Are you wondering how to make money with a psychology degree?

Finding enjoyable, well-paying jobs with a psychology degree isn’t always easy.

To simplify the process for you, we found the 26 highest paying gigs available to psych majors.

26. Career Counselor

When you decide to become a career counselor, you can work in a school, at an employment agency, or any other setting in which individuals need guidance on career changes.

You’ll draw upon your background in psychology to help candidates make informed decisions about their next career steps based on their strengths, interests, and personality types.

Career counselors are popular careers for a number of majors including jobs for biochemistry degrees.

Average Pay: $40,421 (Indeed)

25. Crisis Intervention Specialist

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In this job, you will work within educational, governmental, or healthcare settings to provide emergency counseling services to prevent physical and mental harm.

If you are a skilled communicator, this is an excellent way to utilize that high earning skill.

You might work with victims of abuse or sexual violence – or even provide tailored interventions to prevent suicide and self-harm.

Average Pay: $43,835 (Glassdoor)

24. Mental Health Counselor

Depending on the state you live in and where you plan to work, you may not have to have a master’s degree or doctorate in order to become a mental health counselor (though it’s often recommended).

In any event, a psychology degree will provide you with the basic training you need to be successful in a job like this.

You’ll commonly provide “talk therapy” that will help you assess, diagnose, and treat mental illnesses.

In other cases, you’ll simply need support patients when it comes to coping with difficult life events (like a divorce).

Due to the focus on the human psyche, many mental health counselors report this is one of the greatest jobs for people with anxiety.

Average Pay: $46,050 (Bureau of Labor Statistics)

23. Marriage and Family Therapist

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A marriage and family therapist is similar to a mental health counselor in that advanced training isn’t always required – though it is certainly encouraged.

As with a mental health counselor job, you will still need to complete some supervised clinical experiences, too.

You’ll work specifically with individuals, couples, families, and even larger groups to help provide counseling and support for issues related to familial relationships.

Average Pay: $51,340 (Bureau of Labor Statistics)

22. Geropsychologist

If you enjoy working with one of the elderly, you should consider the subfield of psychology known as geropsychology. In fact, it’s one of the more popular side jobs for nurses today.

In this field, you’ll work with older adults and their families to address issues such as depression, anxiety, marital and family conflict, and more.

Average Pay: $51,826 (Zip Recruiter)

21. Recreational Therapist

One of the fastest-growing jobs in psychology you can pursue is as a recreational therapist.

Although art therapy is a type of recreational therapy (and a separate subfield we’ll address in more detail below), it’s not the only one.

You could work with other modalities including music, poetry, drama, games, sports, and even dance to help improve or preserve a client’s emotional, social, and physical well-being.

Average Pay: $51,260 (Bureau of Labor Statistics)

20. Art Therapist

As an art therapist, your job will be helping people overcome mental health challenges and past trauma (or even to navigate learning disabilities or other special needs) with the power of art alone.

Art therapy can be hard to break into, so it’s important to ensure you are avoiding the common reasons why people don’t get hired.

Of course, your psychology degree will come in handy here, since it will allow you to better understand your client’s specific challenges and the best artistic medium to help them overcome those challenges.

Average Pay: $55,900 (Bureau of Labor Statistics)

19. Substance Abuse Counselor

Another specialized field you can pursue with a psychology degree is substance abuse counseling.

You’ll provide therapy services and treatment strategies for people who are dealing with chemical dependency problems like drug addiction or alcoholism.

Average Pay: $55,540 (Salary.com)

18. Community Psychologist

In this kind of job, you’ll study the ways in which individuals relate to the places and communities in which they live.

You’ll rely on your psychology degree to understand how those places impact and elicit behavioral and emotional responses in people.

Average Pay: $59,136 (Zip Recruiter)

17. Special Education Teacher

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As a special education teacher, you’ll adapt the general education curriculum to suit the needs of students with mild to moderate disabilities.

Having A psychology degree is helpful when it comes to understanding the nature of specific disabilities and how you can best modify the curriculum to address students who might have those problems.

Average Pay: $61,420 (Bureau of Labor Statistics)

16. Child Psychologist

A child psychologist is someone who works with children and teenagers to address behavioral and emotional disorders.

Although you will work closely with school professionals in this kind of job, child psychologists aren’t necessarily employed by a school and can work in settings like hospitals and clinics to treat their patients.

Average Pay: $68,073 (Payscale)

15. Sports Psychologist

Although the job of a sports psychologist isn’t the highest-paying on this list, it’s perhaps one of the most exciting.

As a sports psychologist, you’ll focus specifically on how an athlete’s mind and mental state play a role in his athletic training and performance.

It’s a great career for the psychology graduate who wants to make the most of his formal training in psychology – but also wants to incorporate his passions for sport.

Average Pay: $70,000 (APA)

14. Correctional Psychology

Very few people give any thought to what happens to someone once they are incarcerated – but an integral component of any prison system is its correctional psychology program.

By working with caseworkers, attorneys, and other correctional facility staff you’ll help modify or eliminate antisocial behaviors of inmates that may have ended them in prison in the first place.

You’ll need a degree in psychology for this type of job so that you can positively identify clinical disorders and come up with the best possible treatment plan to address them.

Average Pay: $78,25 (Zip Recruiter)

13. School Psychologist

To become a school psychologist, you’ll need to complete a degree in psychology – but in most states not just any degree.

You will need to specialize in school psychology, with many candidates also choosing to go on to earn an EdD, or Ph.D. degree.

The extra education is worth it! As a school psychologist, you’ll work directly in the school system to diagnose, assess and treat learning and behavioral problems in students.

A key part of the role includes working closely with other professionals too, including parents, teachers, administrators, and special education providers.

Average Pay: $79,820 (Bureau of Labor Statistics)

12. Clinical Therapist

When people think of psychology degrees, they often think first of the work that a clinical ps psychologist does.

After all, in most states, to become a clinical psychologist, you have to have a doctorate degree in psychology.

As a clinical psychologist, you’ll work to assess, diagnose, treat, and prevent mental illness, drawing upon the foundational skills that you gained in these areas from your bachelor’s degree.

You can specialize even further, if you choose, working in a variety of settings such as hospitals, private practices, and mental health clinics.

Average Pay: $79,820 (Bureau of Labor Statistics)

11. Military Psychologist

As a military psychologist, you will work with other healthcare personnel to provide psychiatric and psychological treatment to active-duty and veteran military members and their families.

Common places to work include a military base, combat area, or other military-related environments.

Typically, military psychologists are current or former members of the military themselves. The salary depends on the rank, branch, and service record of the person in question, but is generally quite high compared to other psychology job salaries.

Average Pay: $80,460 (Zip Recruiter)

10. Counseling Psychologist

A specialty area within psychology, counseling psychology places an emphasis on improving a person’s social and individual functioning throughout their lives.

You’ll need at least a master’s degree in psychology, since you’ll need to address a variety of influences in a person’s day-to-day behavior, including those that are psychological, cultural, and educational in nature.

Average Pay: $86,938 (Zip Recruiter)

9. Professor or Instructor

college-campus

As a psychology instructor or professor, you’ll spend your time training others who are interested in becoming psychology majors themselves – or who might just need to satisfy their prerequisites for the social sciences!

You will find the most job openings at community colleges but those at large universities tend to pay the highest salaries.

Average Pay: $88,977 (APA)

8. Industrial-Organizational Psychologist

As an industrial-organizational psychologist, you’ll use your basic knowledge of psychology to tackle issues specific to the workplace.

Some of the most common tasks you will tackle include finding ways to increase worker productivity and motivation, developing market research, and helping companies figure out how to attract (and retain) the right talent.

Average Pay: $96,270 (Bureau of Labor Statistics)

7. Experimental Psychologist

Some people confuse the work of a research psychologist with that of an experimental psychologist, but they are not one and the same.

As an undergraduate or graduate student, you may have taken courses in experimental psychology, learning how you can best use these scientific methods to study thoughts and behaviors.

You might work for a college research center, private business, or government in this role.

Average Pay: $96,216 (APA)

6. Research Therapist

Did you enjoy your lab work as a psychology student? If research is what captivates you, you should consider a career as a research psychologist.

You’ll be able to work in the field, classroom, or laboratory setting, with most research psychologists employed by private research organizations, government agencies like the National Institute of Health.

Average Pay: $96,324 (Glassdoor)

5. Engineering Psychologist

Engineering psychology isn’t a field of psychology that comes to mind first when you think of jobs you can get with a psychology degree – but it’s one of the best-paying.

If you have a knack for mathematics and engineering (and not just understanding how the mind works), then a job in engineering psychology might be the right choice for you.

In this kind of job, you’ll work to improve the way systems, equipment, and operations are designed to minimize risk, improve productivity, and increase overall efficiency.

Average Pay: $98,887 (Zip Recruiter)

4. Forensic Psychologist

If there were a field of psychology that could be dubbed the “trendiest,” it would have to be forensic psychology!

As a forensic psychologist, your work will consist of applying core psychological principles to the legal system and criminal investigations.

You will be an important part of both criminal and civil cases – something you’re likely already aware of if you have watched shows like NCIS or Bones.

Average Pay: $100,130 (Forensic.com)

3. Neuropsychologist

Neuropsychologists enjoy above average salaries compared to other psychologists. In fact, it’s one of the highest-paid jobs with a psychology degree.

Most require the completion of a doctorate program along with significant clinical practice and research.

Neuropsychologists will also need to complete supervised experience in the field, but the good news is that a bachelor’s in psychology may have already provided you with some of these hours.

Average Pay: $130,000 (Payscale)

2. Outpatient Care Center Psychologist

If you work in an outpatient care center, you’ll make a much higher salary as a psychologist than one in any other setting.

This type of psychologist handles tasks like screening patients, completing diagnostic evaluations, and creating medication management strategies.

You must have the same licensure and credentials as a clinical psychologist, so you’ll rely heavily on the experience and education you gained in your psychology degree as a result.

Average Pay: $150,150 (Bureau of Labor Statistics)

1. Psychiatrist

A psychiatrist is the best paying job you can get with a psychology degree.

Of course, you’ll need at least 12 years of education and training including a medical degree and residency.

However, you’ll be able to call upon your training in psychology to complete rewarding work like conducting psychotherapy, prescribing medications, and engaging in counseling to help people address specific psychiatric needs.

Average Pay: $208,000 (US News)

Conclusion

When it comes to understanding how to make money with a psychology degree, you should start with the jobs listed above.

While there are plenty of other jobs you can get with a psychology degree, these are some of the best to boost your salary – and the most rewarding, too!

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About the Author

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Rebekah is a writer who covers all things education, business, agriculture, and finance. She owns a small farm business in upstate New York. Her educational credentials include a bachelor's degree in English from St. Lawrence University and a master's in special education from SUNY Plattsburgh.