Clinical psychologists work in a variety of settings, including private clinics, community and mental health facilities and hospitals. The type of patient clinical psychologists work with depends largely on their work setting, but psychologists usually must complete a doctoral degree in psychology before obtaining a license to work in a clinical setting. As with many other disciplines, clinical psychologists tend to make more money as they gain experience.
According to the American Psychological Association's last survey of salaries in the field, conducted in 2009, clinical psychologists in all practice settings who had less than five years of experience earned an average of $70,036 per year. This increased to $83,007 between six and nine years and to $95,522 for clinical psychologists who had between 10 and 14 years of experience. Clinical psychologists with between 20 and 24 years of experience averaged $100,394, and the average salary for those who had 30 or more years of experience was $113,586.
As of 2009, the APA reported that the median salary paid to clinical psychologists with five years of experience or less was $69,950 per year. Half of all entry-level clinical psychologists surveyed reported annual salaries ranging from $56,762 to $84,000. The lowest-paid 10 percent of entry-level psychologists made $41,395 or less per year, while the highest-paid 10 percent earned $94,700 or more. The lowest salary reported to the APA by entry-level clinical psychologists surveyed that year was $34,000, and the highest was $125,000.
Expected entry-level pay for clinical psychologists varies by practice setting and type of employer. As of 2009, the APA found that clinical psychologists working in solo private practices earned an average of $54,000 per year during their first five years of work. By comparison, clinical psychologists working in group practices earned a significantly higher average pay of $77,722 during their first five years. Those employed by community mental health centers averaged $65,485 during their first five years in the field, while those working for federal government agencies averaged a relatively high entry-level salary of $89,495.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics expects a 14-percent increase in jobs across all occupations in the American economy through 2020. Of course, some positions will fare better than others -- and psychologists should do well. The BLS predicts that jobs for clinical, counseling and school psychologists will grow at a rate of about 22 percent, adding 33,700 new positions by 2020. Because a doctorate is a practice requirement for clinical psychologists in most states, and doctoral programs in psychology are selective, graduates who hold a doctorate can expect favorable job prospects.