How much does a therapist make yearly

Deborah C. Escalante

Curious about how much therapists make? As with any type of job, therapists’ salaries differ based on their geography, education level, experience, and practice setting. Within mental healthcare, there is a wide range of salaries – nationally, therapists make anywhere from $30,000 to $100,000. Psychologists and psychiatrists can make even more than that!

To understand this range, it’s important to look at where in the country the therapist practices, what their credentials are, and who their client population is, as all of these pieces impact how much he or she takes home in salary! Read on for a breakdown of salaries for therapists, psychiatrists, and psychologists, and what trends may impact their income.

Typical therapist salaries range widely – from $30,000 to $100,000

For a therapist (who is not a psychiatrist or a psychologist), salaries depend in part on education and training, as well as clinical specialization. Individual therapists may make anywhere from $30,000 per year to over $100,000.

Additionally, a therapist’s salary depends in large part on the setting in which they practice. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports, for example, that the national annual median for therapists is:

  • $30,350 for therapists who work in community rehabilitation centers
  • $47,000 for mental health counselors in hospitals
  • $72,580 for family therapists who work for the government

Typical psychologist salary is about $77,000 annually

The 2017 median salary for psychologists in the United States was $77,003 per year, or about $37 per hour. Again, this figure varies depending on geography and on the setting in which the psychologist works.

Psychologists who work for the government generally earn the most money on average, followed by those who work in hospitals and then in schools. For instance, Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the national annual median for therapists is:

  • $74,470 for psychologists who work in school settings (elementary and secondary)
  • $94,910 for psychologists who work in government positions

Psychiatrists average over $200,000 annually – making them the highest-paid professionals in the mental health field

Generally speaking, psychiatrists are the highest-paid mental health professionals, because they have medical credentials and more extensive education requirements. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that psychiatrists generally earn an average of over $200,000 annually, or over $100 per hour.

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As with other therapists’ salaries, psychiatrists’ earning can vary according to geography and the nature of their clinical practice. For example, psychiatrists who work in the offices of physicians or other medical professionals often earn the most, while those who work in hospitals tend to earn less.

Factors determining therapist salaries

Where in the country you are practicing therapy

It’s common knowledge that certain areas of the country have a higher cost-of-living than others (I’m looking at you, New York and California!). Therefore, therapist salaries will be higher in these areas than in their less-expensive counterparts. To put this range in perspective, a social worker in Iowa makes $51,000 on average, while a social worker in California makes $73,000. That’s quite a big difference! However, keep in mind that the California social worker will have higher cost of living – greater rent rates, more expensive groceries each week, etc. so it likely balances out.

How long you went to school and what training you have

There are many different ways that a person can become a therapist and the route that you take impacts your salary potential. You might notice credentials next to therapists’ names – LCSW, LPC, MFT. These credentials show which educational program the therapist went through, such as:

  • Masters in Social Work for LCSWs
  • Masters in Counseling for LPC
  • Masters in Marriage and Family Therapy for MFT
  • Doctorate in Psychology for PsyD or PhD
  • Medical training and residency in Psychiatry for MDs

Each type of therapy credential has their own salary range, and generally those who went to school for longer periods have higher salaries. For example, according to the Bureau for Labor Statistics, MFTs make on average $49,610 per year while psychologists make an average of $80,370 per year. Psychiatrists make the most money, earning more than $200,000 per year.

Education doesn’t stop after the therapist graduates, though – most therapists will specialize or become certified in a specific type of therapy to boost their earning potential. With continued education and additional training, a therapist can increase his or her salary by offering more expensive services. An example of this is becoming certified in Eye Movement Reprocessing and Desensitization (EMDR) therapy or completing the Gottman Method trainings to become a couples therapist – sessions using these techniques will cost more because not all therapists can offer the services.

What type of practice setting you’re in and who you’re seeing

A third determining factor for a therapist’s salary is in which type of practice setting they see clients. You might have heard of private practice, which is when the therapist owns the business through which he or she determines client-load and fees. There are also therapy practices that employ therapists and offer standardized salaries.

Other settings include healthcare systems, community rehabilitation centers, schools, or government agencies. Each type of setting offers different compensation – according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports, here are the the national annual median for therapists in different settings:

  • $30,350 for therapists who work in community rehabilitation centers
  • $47,000 for mental health counselors in hospitals
  • $72,580 for family therapists who work for the government
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You can see the differences in salary, with government work generally offering higher salaries. Schools and education systems also offer high salaries for therapists (and you might even get summer and winter breaks like the kiddos!). And, of course, those who are further along in their career with many years of experience are more likely to receive higher salaries than those just starting.

Overall, being a therapist can provide stable career with a substantial income. Factors such as educational-level and type, years experience, and setting play into how much a therapist makes each year. Those who run their own private practices get to set their fees and determine how many clients they see, which means they have more control over much they make each year.

If you’re looking to move away from salaried positions and boost your private practice, Zencare can help! Learn more about how we can help you grow your online presence, attract ideal clients, and build your dream practice.

Grow Your Practice With Zencare!

We’re looking for clinically excellent and compassionate therapists and psychiatrists to refer clients to. We’d love to learn about your practice!

Mental Health Counseling Salary: What You’ll Earn

Mental health counseling salaries are good, but you’ll get even more with the personal rewards you earn.

mental health counselor looking at paperwork in her office

Mental health counselors help clients with issues such as depression, OCD and PTSD overcome their challenges and develop into healthier human beings.

And although they may not become rich, mental health counselors can make a good living.

Keep reading to find out just what your earning potential is, and compare it to the salary of other counselors and therapists.

Median Annual Salary

Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors

National data

Median Salary: $48,520

Projected job growth: 22.1%

10th Percentile: $30,870

25th Percentile: $38,520

75th Percentile: $61,660

90th Percentile: $77,980

Projected job growth: 22.1%

State data

State Median Salary Bottom 10% Top 10% Alabama $38,830 $29,430 $61,140 Alaska $61,040 $37,440 $97,740 Arizona $48,930 $36,940 $76,630 Arkansas $38,660 $27,520 $77,510 California $49,630 $36,750 $98,560 Colorado $49,630 $36,330 $80,580 Connecticut $48,900 $36,330 $81,610 Delaware $46,910 $30,730 $63,340 District of Columbia $60,600 $31,370 $96,870 Florida $46,680 $30,130 $76,880 Georgia $44,080 $30,320 $63,310 Hawaii $51,060 $38,000 $80,580 Idaho $49,360 $30,690 $79,420 Illinois $47,640 $35,100 $80,030 Indiana $46,230 $30,640 $76,090 Iowa $47,730 $30,090 $77,460 Kansas $48,330 $30,810 $63,460 Kentucky $44,250 $28,820 $62,870 Louisiana $37,510 $25,290 $59,460 Maine $48,960 $30,840 $100,040 Maryland $55,480 $36,650 $78,310 Massachusetts $48,960 $37,070 $78,540 Michigan $48,820 $31,800 $76,650 Minnesota $48,980 $37,960 $65,510 Mississippi $37,580 $23,700 $62,670 Missouri $38,920 $26,140 $60,310 Montana $46,790 $24,510 $63,800 Nebraska $49,370 $30,640 $78,700 Nevada $59,940 $30,640 $95,790 New Hampshire $46,640 $30,720 $68,520 New Jersey $60,000 $44,470 $92,620 New Mexico $56,750 $36,230 $96,710 New York $49,650 $31,310 $78,940 North Carolina $48,640 $29,960 $76,670 North Dakota $60,920 $36,750 $76,720 Ohio $47,510 $30,600 $76,950 Oklahoma $47,500 $29,200 $76,720 Oregon $59,060 $37,140 $94,800 Pennsylvania $46,790 $30,690 $75,060 Rhode Island $60,300 $31,990 $97,740 South Carolina $38,110 $28,580 $73,730 South Dakota $39,070 $30,970 $61,330 Tennessee $37,700 $27,780 $61,380 Texas $46,470 $29,360 $76,670 Utah $60,460 $30,690 $101,100 Vermont $47,320 $38,360 $63,340 Virginia $48,820 $36,750 $76,670 Washington $49,360 $37,070 $78,090 West Virginia $38,100 $29,530 $60,340 Wisconsin $48,100 $32,770 $76,650 Wyoming $60,130 $38,830 $96,440

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Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) 2021 median salary; projected job growth through 2031. Actual salaries vary depending on location, level of education, years of experience, work environment, and other factors. Salaries may differ even more for those who are self-employed or work part time.

What’s my earning potential?

Salaries for mental health counselors in the top 10% earned more than $77,980 according to the BLS. As with most psychology careers, experience and location play an enormous factor in salary. Those working in private practice generally earn a higher income than their counterparts—as well as enjoy the benefits of a flexible schedule—although it can take up to five lean years to build up a strong client base.

How do mental health counselor salaries compare to other counseling careers?

Career Median Annual Salary Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors $48,520 Marriage and Family Therapists $49,880 Rehabilitation Counselors $38,560 Community Health Workers $46,590 Social Workers, All Other $61,190

Is there demand for this career?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, career employment for mental health counselors is expected to grow much faster than average as more people turn to professionals to help them cope with mental problems. In fact the BLS predicts a 22 percent job growth rate through 2031, much faster than the national average for all career fields combined. National long-term projections of employment growth may not reflect local and/or short-term economic or job conditions, and do not guarantee actual job growth. Also, insurance companies provide for the reimbursement of counselors and therapists as a less costly alternative to psychiatric and psychological treatment.

How much competition will I face for a job?

Job prospects should be good for those choosing to enter the field as approximately 25 percent of North Americans suffer from diagnosable mental health issues each year. With the increasing awareness of the related social, political and economic impacts of these problems, there is a greater need for professional mental health counselors.

What kind of companies hire mental health counselors?

People in mental health counseling will work in a variety of settings, including mental health centers, substance abuse treatment centers, hospitals, in private practice, and in employee assistance programs. According to the BLS, mental health counselors are most frequently employed by the following types of industries or offices:

  • Individual and Family Services
  • Outpatient Care Centers
  • Residential Intellectual and Developmental Disability, Mental Health, and Substance Abuse Facilities
  • Local Government
  • Offices of Other Health Practitioners

How do I advance in my mental health counseling career?

Being a mental health counselor is not only rewarding, it’s also a gateway career to other professions. For those who have earned a master’s degree in counseling, you can earn a master’s in social work (MSW) or another counseling area. This, as well as getting your mandatory license, will open your career options and allow you to move into other areas of counseling, such as rehabilitation counseling, substance abuse counseling, marriage and family counseling and educational counseling.

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