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Top Five Highest Paying Jobs in the Field of Psychology

Since there is a tremendous amount of diversity among psychology professions, it is only natural that there is a wide range of potential salary earnings as well. It is well-known that psychology degrees lead to some of the most rewarding careers for individuals who want to have a significant positive impact on the world around them. On the other hand, a lesser-known fact is that some occupations within the psychology field are quite lucrative as well. Some leading psychologists and psychiatrists in the field even earn around the quarter million mark annually! The following is an in-depth explanation about the highest paying jobs found in psychology.

1. Psychiatrist

Psychiatrists are medical doctors that receive specialized training for the treatment of mental and emotional disorders. Although psychiatrists are often confused with psychologists, psychiatrists differ in that they possess a medical degree and the ability to prescribe medications for the treatment of mental illness. Similar to a medical physician, psychiatrists often perform diagnostic testing and physical examinations. Through psychotherapy techniques, psychiatrists are also able to help patients discuss their problems and provide solutions to make meaningful improvements in their lives.

Without a doubt, psychiatry is the highest-paying field that one can enter in psychology. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics from May 2012, the mean annual salary for psychiatrists is $177,520, which is equivalent to a mean hourly wage of $85.35. Psychiatrists that are employed in residential care facilities earn significantly more than the average, at $212,490 annually. Those employed by outpatient care centers also make even higher salaries, averaging $198,290.

However, psychiatry students should never be blinded by these astoundingly high salaries because attaining these positions requires intense dedication. Once a student receives an undergraduate degree in psychology or a related science, they must enter an accredited medical school to pursue an M.D. or D.O. degree. Furthermore, medical students need to complete a four-year residency, as well as a minimum of three to four years of practice in the field. Prospective psychiatrists must then pass an examination to gain board certification from the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology. The road to becoming a psychiatrist is a long and difficult one, so students must have a deep passion for psychology and a desire to help individuals with mental illnesses.

2. Industrial Organizational Psychologist

Industrial organizational psychologists work in business positions to help apply their expertise to improving performance in the workplace. These psychologists are concerned with studying workplace behaviors in order to boost productivity and efficiency. Industrial organizational psychologists are also involved in employee training, business administration, marketing strategies, and human resources. If students enjoy research and are fascinated with statistics or business, there are a number of universities that offer a bachelor’s degree in industrial organizational psychology for entry-level human resources positions. However, job and salary opportunities increase when individuals further their education by gaining a master’s or doctorate degree.

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The May 2012 records from the Bureau of Labor Statistics states that the mean annual salary for industrial organizational psychologists is $98,800, or a mean hourly wage of $47.50. Although the bottom ten percent may only earn an average $48,780, there is great potential because the top ten percent in the field makes an average annual salary of $168,020. Industrial organizational psychologists can find the highest paying employment positions in scientific consulting services, where they earn an annual mean salary of $125,980. Those in scientific research and development services also bring home a six-figure average salary of $107,850.

3. Neuropsychologist

Neuropsychologists are mental health professionals that specialize in studying the brain and cognition. Neuropsychologists are vital for cognitive diagnostic testing, brain injury assessments, and medical brain scans. They are also involved in research about how different drugs affect the nervous system, as well as learning more about the mental processes of cognition and learning. Neuropsychologists are typically employed in universities, research centers, pharmaceutical laboratories, mental health clinics, and hospitals. Individuals that are intrigued by the mind and brain can begin this profession by obtaining a doctoral degree in either neuropsychology or clinical neuropsychology.

Although there is no data presented by the Bureau of Labor Statistics specifically for neuropsychologists, PayScale indicates that the average annual salary is $86,645. While the bottom ten percent in the field earns just $57,908, the top earning neuropsychologists bring home $143,476 annually. As is expected, salaries increase dramatically with experience and six-figure salaries become within reach after an estimated six to ten years practice as a neuropsychologist.

4. Engineering Psychologist

In a rapidly growing occupation, engineering psychologists focus on improving technology, machinery, and workplace environments in order to enhance human behavior. Similar to the field of ergonomics, engineering psychology centers on understanding the abilities and limitations of humans, and then adjusting systems accordingly. Engineering psychologists lead extremely rewarding careers, since they are often able to save lives by minimizing risks for fatal errors or injuries and produce safer products. Although engineering psychologists can begin working in entry-level positions with a master’s degree, a doctorate expands employment opportunity and provides for a higher salary.

According to the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society, starting salaries for engineering psychologists range between $48,000 and $75,367. Salaries in this profession vary greatly depending on the area of employment and years of experience. For instance, those employed at universities make $75,150, but those in government agencies earn $107,314. The highest earnings are by doctoral-level engineering psychologists that are employed in the private sector, where they make $179,160 each year.

5. Clinical Psychologist

Clinical psychologists specialize in the evaluation, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of mental and emotional disorders. Clinical psychologists work one-on-one or in group settings with patients to provide therapeutic techniques as treatment solutions. One of the most popular areas of employment in psychology, clinical psychologists can find employment within hospitals, inpatient or outpatient care centers, private practices, schools, and mental health clinics. In the majority of states, clinical psychologists are required to possess a doctoral degree in clinical psychology, complete a supervised residency, and pass a licensing examination.

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According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, clinical psychologists earn a mean annual salary of $72,220, which translates to a mean hourly wage of $34.72. While the bottom ten percent may only make $38,450, the top ten percent in the career make upwards of $109,340. Clinical psychologists employed by the state government make more than average at $76,390, but those in outpatient care centers earn less at $67,650. Clinical psychologists with their own private practice earn significantly more at an annual average of $80,760.

It is important to remember that these are average salaries, but they will vary depending on the location of employment, years of experience, industry sector, and education qualifications. However, the aforementioned are usually the highest-paying careers that are the best bets within the psychology field. In the current stressful state of the economy, students that are interested in furthering a rewarding career and still earning a sizeable income should consider these top-paying professions in psychology.

Further Reading: Top 30 Affordable Online Psychology Degree Programs