Does a HR Manager Make More Money Than a Clinical Psychologist?

by Dana Severson

In general, human resources managers tend to out-earn clinical psychologists -- a surprising statistic, as these psychologists spend years in school earning their doctoral degrees. HR managers need only a bachelor’s degree in human resources or business administration to enter the field.


In 2012, HR managers averaged $109,590 a year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. By comparison, clinical psychologists grossed nearly $40,000 less, bringing home an average of $72,220 a year. The gap in pay widens as earnings grow. Of the top 10 percent, salaries for HR managers exceeded $173,140, whereas the salaries for the 10 percent of clinical psychologists were more than $109,340 -- an annual difference of $63,800.


As with any career, certain employers pay more to secure qualified candidates, and both psychologists and HR managers are no exception. Clinical psychologists earned the highest wages when working for business and managerial schools, averaging $100,310 a year. For HR managers, the highest wages paid were in the motion picture industry, at an average of $157,790 a year. Even at the same employer, HR managers tend to earn more. At general medical hospitals, clinical psychologists earned $77,300, while HR managers grossed $107,540 a year.


Of the states, clinical psychologists earned the highest wages in Rhode Island, where the average was $92,580 a year. This was nearly $30,000 less than HR managers in the state, who brought home an average of $120,850 in 2012. By contrast, the lowest wages paid to HR managers were in Oklahoma, where the average was $68,440 a year. This was roughly $17,000 more a year than clinical psychologists, who averaged $51,730 in this state.


The only area where clinical psychologists outpace human resource managers is job outlook. The BLS anticipates employment opportunities for clinical psychologists will grow by 22 percent through 2020. This works out to nearly 34,000 new jobs over a decade. Employment opportunities for HR managers aren’t as strong, with a job growth rate of just 13 percent. Regardless of industry or location, the 13 percent growth adds 9,300 new positions to the job market.

About the Author

Based in Minneapolis, Minn., Dana Severson has been writing marketing materials for small-to-mid-sized businesses since 2005. Prior to this, Severson worked as a manager of business development for a marketing company, developing targeted marketing campaigns for Big G, Betty Crocker and Pillsbury, among others.

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