If you've ever wondered why people conform to certain groups, show aggression or prejudice, or become leaders, you're thinking as a social psychologist. Social psychologists observe the behaviors and personalities of humans in groups and track their findings through research studies. Many work in colleges and universities, hospitals, consulting firms and market research agencies. To become a social psychologist, you will need to obtain a doctoral degree in psychology, training and a license. In return, expect to earn a high five-figure annual income.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics, or BLS, lists salary data for social psychologists under the category of "psychologists, all others." It reports that these professionals earned average annual salaries of $85,830 as of May 2011. If you were among the top 10 percent in earnings, your income would exceed $116,870 per year. In this field, your income can vary widely according to your experience, geographical location and employer.
Like many fields, salaries for social psychologists can vary by industry. They earned the highest salary of $98,910 per year working in the scientific research and development services industry, according to the BLS. You would also earn a comparatively high salary in an outpatient career center or with the federal executive branch of government -- $94,800 or $87,980 per year, respectively. General and surgical hospitals paid their social psychologists salaries closer to the career national average at $83,230 annually. Those in the educational support services industry made slightly less -- $80,430 per year.
By State or District
In 2011, social psychologists earned the highest average salary of $101,730 per year in Maryland, according to the BLS, and the second highest in Virginia -- at $98,830 annually. Those in Arizona earned $92,840 per year, while District of Columbia professionals made $91,920 a year. Your salary would be closer to the career national average as a social psychologist in Florida or Texas, at $85,480 or $84,840 per year, respectively. But expect to make significantly less if you desire to live in New Mexico -- $69,100 per year.
Jobs for all psychologists, including social psychologists, are expected to increase 22 percent from 2010 to 2020, according to the BLS, which is faster than the 14 percent growth rate for all occupations. In the field of social psychology, expect to see greater demand for jobs in social services. Changing dynamics in society has led to more diversity, same-sex marriages and violence toward those with opposing views. Society needs to learn how to cope with the changes, which might be a future project for you.