Therapy is an essential service that helps people cope with mental health issues, stress, and relationship problems. It is a constantly evolving industry, and many people are curious about the salary of a therapist. So, how much does a therapist make per year? The answer is not a straightforward one as the salary of a therapist depends on various factors such as location, specialization, experience, and education level. In this article, we will dive deep into the details and reveal the truth about the salary of a therapist.
Factors that influence the salary of a therapist
Before we reveal the numbers, let’s take a look at the factors that affect the salary of a therapist. Understanding these factors will give you a clearer picture of what to expect in terms of salary.
Where you live can significantly impact your salary as a therapist. The cost of living varies from state to state and even within the same city. For example, therapists in San Francisco, California, will earn more than therapists in rural areas of Idaho. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, states with the highest concentration of jobs and location quotients in this occupation are Oregon, Colorado, Vermont, Maine, and Montana.
Another factor that influences the salary of a therapist is their specialization. Therapists who specialize in high-demand areas such as marriage and family therapy, substance abuse, and mental health counseling often earn more. Other specialties include clinical psychology, school psychology, and rehabilitation counseling.
Like any other industry, experience plays a significant role in determining the salary of a therapist. A therapist who is just starting their career will earn less than someone who has been practicing for years. According to the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT), the median salary for a marriage and family therapist with less than five years of experience is $44,532, while those with 20 or more years of experience make a median salary of $73,194.
Finally, education level also affects the salary of a therapist. Holding a master’s or a doctorate degree may lead to higher salaries. The American Psychological Association reports that doctoral-level psychologists earn a median salary of $85,000 a year, while master’s-level therapists earn approximately $60,000 a year.
The median salary of a therapist in the United States
Now that we have discussed the factors that affect the salary of a therapist let’s reveal the numbers. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for mental health counselors and marriage and family therapists was $46,240 in May 2020. This figure is slightly higher than the median wage for all occupations in the United States, which was $41,950 in May 2020. It is also important to note that the highest 10 percent of therapists earned more than $79,540, while the lowest 10 percent earned less than $32,070.
Salary by industry
Another interesting aspect of the salary of a therapist is how it varies from industry to industry. Here is a breakdown of the median annual wage for mental health counselors and marriage and family therapists across different industries:
|Median Annual Wage
|Outpatient Care Centers
|Other Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services
|State Government, excluding schools and hospitals
|Individual and Family Services
|Elementary and Secondary Schools
How to increase your salary as a therapist
Now that you know how much a therapist can make, you may be wondering how to increase your salary in this field. Here are some tips:
Gain experience and expertise in high-demand specialties
As we mentioned earlier, specializing in high-demand areas could lead to increased salaries. Therefore, gaining experience and expertise in areas such as substance abuse, marriage and family therapy, and mental health counseling could result in higher-paying jobs.
Obtain advanced degrees and certifications
Getting a master’s or doctoral degree could lead to higher salaries in the therapy field. Additionally, certifications from recognized professional organizations such as the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) or the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT) could increase your earning potential.
Consider working for the government or non-profit organizations
Government agencies and non-profit organizations often pay therapists better salaries than private practices. Additionally, these positions may come with benefits such as loan repayment programs or flexible work hours.
Here are some common questions and answers related to the salary of a therapist:
- What is the average salary for a licensed therapist?
- The average salary for a licensed therapist is around $50,000 to $60,000 per year according to ZipRecruiter.
- How much do therapists with a PhD make?
- According to the American Psychological Association, doctoral-level psychologists earn a median salary of $85,000 a year.
- What is the highest paying industry for therapists?
- The highest paying industry for mental health counselors and marriage and family therapists is outpatient care centers, with a median annual wage of $53,000.
- What is the job outlook for therapists?
- The job outlook for mental health counselors and marriage and family therapists is projected to grow 25 percent from 2019 to 2029, which is much faster than the average for all occupations. This growth is due to the increased demand for mental health services.
In conclusion, the salary of a therapist varies based on several factors such as specialization, location, experience, and education level. However, the median wage for mental health counselors and marriage and family therapists was $46,240 in May 2020. If you are looking to increase your salary in this field, gaining expertise in high-demand areas, obtaining advanced degrees and certifications, and considering government or non-profit positions could be helpful. Although the salary of a therapist may not be as high as other professions, it is a rewarding career that plays a critical role in people’s lives.
- Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2021). Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2020. Mental Health Counselors and Marriage and Family Therapists. https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes211014.htm
- American Psychological Association. (2021). Psychology Job Data. https://www.apa.org/workforce/data-analysis/jobs-reports
- American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy. (2021). MFT Salaries 2020: The Complete Job Outlook Guide. https://www.aamft.org/Consumer_Updates/MFT_Salaries_2020.aspx