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The Average Wage Earnings for a Masters of Psychology Degree

by Brenda Scottsdale

You don't have to hold a doctorate to earn a decent living as a psychologist. Professions such as school psychologist, industrial-organizational psychologist and marriage and family therapist, for example, typically require a minimum of a master's degree. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports master's level psychologists in clinical fields earned an average of $72,220 annually in 2012, while industrial-organizational psychologists were compensated an a higher average annual salary of $98,800. Whether a psychologist works in a clinical or business setting, the type of employer makes a big difference in terms of how much a master's level psychologist gets paid. (see Reference 1 for clinical pay reference and Reference 3 for i/o reference. See Reference 2 under the "How to Become One Tab," pages 2 and 3, under the education heading for reference of psychology careers that only require a master's degree. See AP Style Guide page 162 that says that master's degree, doctoral degree should not be capitalized unless they are specific such as Master of Arts)

Clinical Psychologists

As of May 2012, the BLS reported that the 103,590 clinical, counseling, and school psychologists in their sample earned an average hourly income of $34.72, which is $72,220 annually. In the 10th percentile of their sample, which were the lowest wage earners, master's level psychologists earned an average hourly wage of $18.49 or $38,450 annually. Those in the 90th percentile, or the highest wage earners, reported an average income of $52.57 per hour or $109,340 annually. The median income for this group was $32.53 per hour or $67,650 annually. (see Reference 1 top two tables, and page 203 of the 2012 AP style guide for reference to "use figures for percentiles")

Psychologists in Business

Psychological master's-level professionals who are employed in the workplace tend to earn more money, on average, than those working in clinical realms. The BLS surveyed 1,030 members of this group in May 2012. Their average income was $47.50 per hour or $98,800 annually. The lowest earners in the sample reported an average hourly wage of $23.45 or $48,780 annually, while the highest earners reported an hourly wage of $80.78 per hour or $168,020 annually. The median income for this group was $40.18 per hour or $83,580 annually. (see reference 3)

Clinical Employers

The highest earning clinical psychologists in the BLS sample worked in the offices of other health practitioners, such as chiropractors, physical therapists, medical doctors or in a group practice with other mental health professionals, while the lowest earning clinical psychologists worked in individual and family services, such as community mental health centers. At an average hourly salary of $31.12 per hour or $64,730 annually, psychologists working in individual and family services made approximately $16,030 per year less than those working in the offices of other health practitioners, who earned an average of $38.83 per hour or $80,760 annually. (see Reference 1, table 3)

Business Employers

Within the group of psychologists the BLS surveyed who worked in the business realm, those working for management, scientific and technical consulting services, such as legal services, accounting firms, scientific research companies or computer systems design firms, earn the highest wages, while psychologists working for state governments were the lowest wage earners. The difference between the two groups was just over $58,000 per year, with those working for management, scientific and technical consulting services earning an average salary of $60.57 per hour or $125,980 annually, compared to those working for state governments, who earned and average of $60.57 per hour or $67,440 annually. (see Reference 3, table 3)

About the Author

Brenda Scottsdale is a licensed psychologist, a six sigma master black belt and a certified aerobics instructor. She has been writing professionally for more than 15 years in scientific journals, including the "Journal of Criminal Justice and Behavior" and various websites.

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