Whether a particular therapist is a couples therapist, family counselor, or a psychotherapist specializing in a unique niche, they’ve likely entered their career with one goal in mind: to help people improve their lives.
Although money wasn’t the driving motivation behind their pursuit, paying bills is a reality nobody can avoid. So there’s a lingering question. How much does a therapist make?
There is no typical therapist salary, as they depend on education, training, and particular clinical specialties, but in general therapists salaries fall within the range of $40,000 and $90,000. Although there are therapists who make both less and more.
Below, I’ve listed salaries for various specializations along with four crucial tips to help any therapist increase their salary.
Salaries for Various Therapy Jobs
Behavioral Disorder Counselor: $47,660 per year // 22.91 per hour
Clinical Psychologist: $79,820 // 38.37 per hour
Genetic Counselors: $85,700 per year // $41.20 per hour
Industrial-Organizational Psychologists: $96,270 // $46.28 per hour
Marriage & Family Therapists: $51,340 per year // $24.69 per hour
Mental Health Counselors: $47,660 per year // 22.91 per hour
Psychologists: $82,180 per year // $39.51 per hour
Recreational Therapist: $47,710 per year // 22.94 per hour
Rehabilitation Counselors: $37,530 per year // $18.05 per hour
School and Career Counselors: $58,120 per year // $27.94 per hour
Social Worker: $51,760 // $24.88 per hour
Substance Abuse Counselor: $47,660 per year // 22.91 per hour
*All salaries below are taken from the Bureau of Labor Statistics; they display median pay and reflect the year 2020 unless otherwise stated.
But How Much do Private Practice Therapists Make?
Salaries for Private Practice therapists vary wildly. Some articles report an average salary of $150,000 per year, while others claim that a licensed professional counselor working in Cambridge, MA, grosses $39,778 annually. The truth is somewhere in the middle.
Based on user-submitted data Indeed.com reports that Licensed Professional Counselors earn, on average, $61,232 annually.
But averages only say so much.
If we return to the BLS page for mental health counselors we can see that salaries differ quite depending on state, sector, and years of experience.
Top Paying States for Mental Health Counselors (Mean Wage)
t’s interesting to note that mental health counselors are currently paid the most in states outside of major metropolitan belts. This is likely due to fierce competition in populous communities. The laws of economics hold even for therapists.
States with the Highest Employment for Therapists: (Mean Wage)
The BLS predicts that demand for mental health counselors will continue to increase in the coming years.
That applies particularly to rural communities that have so far been underserved by the profession.
Wages by Sector for Mental Health Counselors (Mean Wage)
Years of Experience
Job Growth for Therapists
Marriage and Family therapists are expected to grow by 23% between 2016 to 2026.
Meanwhile, Psychologists are growing 14% year-over-year, while School and Career counselors are growing by 13%.
Average job growth from one year to the next (that includes all occupations) is only 5 to 9%.
But Many Variables Affect A Therapist's Income
Something to keep in mind is that while statistics provide insights into the general picture of therapists’ income, there are many variables at play for any particular individual.
Working Part-time vs. Full-time.
Many private practitioners work flexible hours at hourly rates.
Full-time work will typically yield a higher income: promising a workweek between 32 to 40 hours on average. Whereas part-time work falls under 32 hours which on paper has a lower average income; although technique and efficiencies can make up for less hours.
Working at various places.
When therapists are new to private practice, they often supplement their income by working for agencies or schools, while maintaining a part-time position in their private practices.
Some of the “high end/boutique” therapists I work with charge $250/hr. I have one therapist client who charges $450/hr for phone conferences. Plenty of others charge $100-120/hr while seeing between 23-28 clients/week.
Marketing strategy and website.
Having a strong marketing strategy often results in more clients and higher wages.
Supplemental online courses and webinars.
These allow therapists to continually supplement their income.
A Final Note on Therapist Salaries
Remember, there is no set-in-stone salary. Some therapists make $30,000 a year while others fill their bank account thanks to a six-figure salary. The variations can be extreme. And are dictated by whether or not a therapist works for the government, a hospital or other healthcare facility, or has their own private practice.
How much you make isn’t dependent on data, but on you.
There is a Wide Range of Earning Potential for Therapists
To increase your income you need to begin learning how to successfully market yourself.
By developing a solid marketing strategy—or by hiring a reputable, effective marketing company such as Counseling Wise—your income and practice can grow exponentially.