While most psychologists hold a doctorate, employment is available in some fields of psychology with a master's degree. For example, some who hold a master's in psychology find work as a school psychologist and work with children or as an industrial-organizational psychologist. Others help organize workspaces and work policies to benefit employees emotionally and psychologically.
Starting Salaries in Human Service Positions
According to a salary survey conducted by the American Psychological Association, half of all master-level psychologists who worked in direct human service positions and had five years of experience or less made between $31,792 and $43,000 per year in 2009. The average annual pay for master-level human service psychologists in their first five years was $36,978. After 15 years, average salaries for master-level psychologists in the field approached $60,000 or more each year.
Starting Salaries in Applied Psychology Positions
Master-level psychologists working in the field of applied psychology tend to earn considerably more than those working in the human services field. According to the APA, master-level psychologists working in applied psychology and with five years of experience or less reported an average salary of $72,593 per year in 2009. This figure climbed to $92,727 for those with between 10 and 14 years of experience, while those with 15 or more years of experience reported a high average salary of $134,000 per year.
Master-Level Starting Salaries vs. Doctoral-Level Starting Salaries
In general, psychologists with a doctorate tend to earn more than those with a master's degree. For example, while applied master-level psychologists with less than five years' experience earned $72,593 per year on average, those with doctorates working in business and industry averaged $75,833 per year, and doctoral-level psychologists working for consulting firms averaged $90,109 per year as of 2009.
The Job Outlook
Those who have a master's degree in psychology are able to find work in school psychology and industrial-organizational psychology. While the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that the American economy will add jobs at a rate of 14 percent between 2010 and 2020,it expects jobs for school psychologists to grow at a faster rate of 22 percent, while jobs for industrial-organizational psychologists should grow at a much faster rate of 35 percent. Master-level psychologists who want better job opportunities can return to school for a doctorate, enabling them to work in clinical psychology, counseling psychology, research psychology or as a college professor.