According to the American Psychological Association, more than half of all psychologists work as independent practitioners as the salary of a clinical psychologist owning their own practice can reach six figures with experience. They provide a wide range of services, diagnosing and treating people of all ages with mental disorders, behavior problems and other individual or group issues. In general, clinical psychologists enter the field with a doctoral degree in psychology, as well as some postdoctoral training, such as internships or residencies.
In 2016, clinical psychologists in general brought home an average of $78,690 a year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. A 2013 survey by the American Psychological Association provides a figure, finding that licensed clinical psychologists earned roughly $90,000 when in private practice.
Earnings by Experience
As with almost any career, earnings vary by experience. According to the APA survey, clinical psychologists in private practice averaged $73,738 a year with ten or less years of experience. With eleven to twenty years of experience, clinical psychologists in private practice earned $91,049, while those with 21 to 30 years of experience averaged $107,167 a year. Some of the highest salaries were for psychologists with 30 or more years of experience, with an average of $117,900 annually.
Though information is limited on how location affects salaries of psychologists in private practice, the BLS does break down earnings for this occupation as a whole. Some of the highest wages were found in New Jersey, where the average was $94,650, as of 2016. Those working in South Dakota also fared better than most, earning an average of $93,760 a year. In Oregon, clinical psychologists earned $87,170, while those in Pennsylvania averaged $72,640. The same can’t be said for clinical psychologists in Oklahoma, where the average was $56,860 annually.
The relatively high salaries are at least partly due to licensing requirements, as psychologists must be licensed to work in private practice. While prerequisites vary by state, licensure requires applicants to hold a doctorate in psychology, complete an internship and have one to two years of experience in the field. They must also sit for and pass the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology.
The BLS expects employment opportunities for clinical psychologists to be good, with an average job growth of 19 percent from 2014 to 2024. This was much faster than the national average for all U.S. occupations, a projected growth of 7 percent. Expect the best prospects for those specializing in a field or subfield of psychology, such as child, family, marriage or health. In fact, working in a niche in psychology can improve earnings for those in private practice, according to the APA.