How Much Does a Therapist Make?

action figures representing therapists spread and standing atop 7 varying sized stacks of coins that appear to be quarters and represent the varying amounts of money therapist make annually

Whether you’re a couples therapist, family counselor, or a psychotherapist specializing in a unique niche you likely entered your career with one primary goal in mind: to help people improve their lives.

Although money wasn’t the driving motivation behind your pursuit, paying bills is a reality nobody can avoid. So there’s a lingering question.

How much does a therapist make? And beyond that, how can therapists supplement their salary to make more money?

This post details the salary range of various therapists (including private practice therapists)—and provides four crucial tips to help you start making more money down below.

Therapist Yearly Salaries

Now that we’ve set out our expectations let’s dive in and highlight the range of salaries applicable to therapists and mental health professionals.

(If you don’t see your role represented please leave a comment below and we’ll be sure to add it!)

*All salaries below are taken from the Bureau of Labor Statistics; they display median pay and reflect the year 2017 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 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)

It’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.

  • Alaska: $65,520
  • Utah: $61,080
  • Wyoming: $58,020
  • Oregon: $55,670
  • New Jersey: $53,410

States with the Highest Employment for Therapist: (Mean Wage)

As expected the highest rates of employment is in states that have high populations, with California being the most populous state in the union. The other states below

  • California: $47,070
  • Pennsylvania: $43,480
  • Virginia: $48,310
  • New York: $42,070
  • Massachusetts: $45,030

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)

The sector for which you perform your duties is fairly large determinate of your average salary, although it does not have the final say or stop you from earning more—or less for that matter.

  • Government: $50,600
  • Hospitals; state, local, and private: 47,000
  • Individual and family services: 42,190
  • Outpatient mental health and substance abuse centers: 42,140
  • Residential mental health and substance abuse facilities: 37,210

Years of Experience

As with any occupation the more experience you bring to the table the higher your salary. For private practice therapists, this often means honing your business instincts along with developing yourself as a therapist.

  • 0-5 years: $49,000
  • 5-10 years: $58,000
  • 10-20 years: $67,000
  • 20+ years: $73,000

Job Growth for Therapists

It’s interesting to note that the BLS predicts extraordinary job growth for many types of 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%.

Image of figures representing therapists and mental health counselors walking across a bridge between two stacks of coins representing their movement from a lower salary to a higher salary.

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.

Hourly fees.

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

Before jumping to conclusions, it’s important to consider the elements that factor into the above figures. With any statistical data, these numbers are meaningless unless you understand what elements generate the sum.

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

A bar chart indicating the earnings potential for private practice therapists

The question, “How much does a therapist make?” is, therefore, more complicated than it appears on the surface. The meaningful question should be: “How much money can I make moving forward?”

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.

4 Easy Ways You Can Grow Your Practice and Make More Money

Marketing can have a major impact on the development of your practice. So why wait? If you are serious about growing your private practice and making more money, having and maintaining an online presence with a solid marketing strategy are the next steps.

Below are four easy ways you can begin growing your practice.

1. You Must Have a Website

An accessible website is the foundation of all your marketing needs. Even if a client initially finds you through word of mouth or other advertising sources, the majority of people today will look at your website when considering so seek out your services. Setting clear initial expectations is hugely important in guaranteeing that your clients receive the kind of care they want and need.

2. Website Content

Once your website is up and running, adding new content to your site on a regular basis is crucial. When you add new content to your site, the goal is to be relevant and specific. Specificity is so important because it increases traffic to your site, brings more potential clients to your practice and expands your online presence and relevance. When you are adding new content, consider the interests and questions your potential clients may have, and add content that is informative, comforting and valuable to your clients. Relevant information about your specialties and practice need to be easily accessible, and maintaining a regular blog with new content is also a big piece of engaging your ideal clients. You can also establish blogging relationships with others in your field and accept guest blog posts. For more information see 3 Reasons Why Your Private Practice Needs a Blog and Tips for Blogging for Your Private Practice).

3. Make Your Site SEO Friendly

In today’s environment, it’s important to have a solid Search Engine Optimization (SEO) strategy. It lays the road map for your website and helps increase your rank on Google. Google tends to have consistent updates that affect SEO, so it’s crucial that you continually care for your site’s optimal needs. Start with the basics. Remember that any website is better than no website. Make sure that you regularly add new content, because any amount of new, relevant content is better than no new content. If you need help with your SEO, we invite you to check out our blog, SEO For Therapists.

4. Supplement Your Income by Going National

Many therapists supplement their incomes by taking their practices online. Because issues with depression, anxiety and family trouble are evergreen issues that will never expire, providing webinars and workshops online can bring in a lot of additional attention to your practice and can serve as great ways to supplement your income. Simply record yourself lecturing on a topic that you specialize in, market it as a workshop or webinar and sell it nationally on your site. You can use your website to reach a wider audience by selling products and workshops nationally.

Interacting with clients over the phone or video chat services allows you and your clients to work from anywhere. This can be hugely beneficial to clients who have physical ailments or disabilities or crippling mental health issues work through their issues from the comfort of home.

Stop asking yourself “How much does a therapist make?” and ask “How much can a therapist make?

Building a solid marketing strategy can tremendously help your practice maintain a steady stream of new clients. Reach out to us today to find out how to set and meet your financial goals, develop your SEO strategy and build your online presence. If you would like to know more about our approach, check out our 7 Essentials of Effective Therapy Sites to learn more about how we can help you take your practice to the next level. Therapists know how to communicate well with others, so think of your reaching out for help with your marketing strategy as natural. I can help you develop your marketing strategy in a way that is authentic to you and your practice.

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