Guide to Psychology Careers: Outlook and Salary

The need for psychological services is growing across a variety of workplace settings – from hospitals to schools and mental health centers to research firms – as awareness grows about the correlation between mental health and behavioral issues, as well as the benefits of prevention and treatment.

Professionals with the appropriate training and education, such as a graduate degree and a state license, may find robust employment opportunities in numerous psychology-related careers, among them:

Mental Health Counselor

Mental health counselors help people deal with emotional and behavioral issues that can affect family, career and other facets of daily life. These professionals employ a variety of techniques to help clients develop coping mechanisms and strategies for moving forward. They work in hospitals, mental health centers and private practices.

Jobs for mental health counselors are projected to grow by 20% between 2014 and 2024, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Among the factors contributing to this growth is the public’s increasing comfort level in seeking treatment for mental problems and emotional issues. Additionally, insurance is increasingly likely to cover mental health treatment.

Nationally, 139,820 mental health counselors were employed in 2016, the BLS reported. The median annual salary in May 2016 was $42,840.

Mental health counselors typically must have a master’s degree in counseling or family or marriage therapy. They also need a license to practice, which usually involves completing clinical experience and passing a state-recognized exam. Continuing education classes are also required.

School and Career Counselors

School counselors assist students at all levels to boost their social and study skills, and deal with social or behavioral issues. By the high school level and beyond, they will also guide students in their choices of college and career.

Career counselors use various assessment tools, including aptitude tests, to help clients evaluate where they will have the most success and guide them through employment-related decisions.

Overall, employment of school and career counselors should grow by 8% between 2014 and 2024. The median annual wage of the more than 260,000 counselors employed nationwide in May 2016 was $54,560, according to the BLS.

Generally, a master’s degree is required for employment as a school or career counselor. In addition, school counselors are required to have a state license or certification, and some employers may prefer career counselor candidates to be licensed.

Survey Researcher

By creating and administering surveys, these professionals assist companies and organizations in gathering scientific and marketing research data, and gauging public opinion. Survey researchers formulate questions that allow them to understand the opinions, attitudes and beliefs of target populations.

There were 11,930 survey researchers employed in the United States in May 2016, according to the BLS, which projects a job growth rate of 12% from 2014 to 2024. The increased use of research by organizations of all types – such as businesses for marketing purposes and government entities for public opinion on legislation – will help fuel demand for these professionals.

In May 2016, the median annual salary of survey researchers was $54,470, the BLS reported.

Most survey researchers have at least a bachelor’s degree in a discipline such as psychology, business or political science. A master’s or doctorate degree may be required for positions in advanced research or technical fields.


There are a variety of occupational specialties for psychologists, such as clinical, forensic and sports, each of them involving the study and interpretation of mental processes and human (and animal) behaviors. The facets of the job might include conducting scientific studies to identify, diagnose and treat mental, behavioral or emotional disorders. Psychologists also collaborate with other professionals, such as physicians and social service managers, in developing treatment plans.

Jobs for psychologists are expected to increase by 19% from 2014 to 2024, the BLS reported. Several factors will fuel the growth, including rising numbers of military veterans, an aging population and greater willingness by individuals to seek professional help for mental and emotional issues.

The BLS reported that the median annual wage for psychologists was about $75,230 in May 2016.

An advanced degree is needed in order to become a psychologist. For example, counseling, clinical and research psychologists require a PhD or PsyD, while school psychologists typically must have a master’s degree. A license or certification is a requirement in most states.

Regardless of the chosen career path, several factors determine salary potential and employment prospects, including an individual’s level of educational attainment and job history, and market conditions within a specific geographic location.

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