Where Psychologists Work

Employment Statistics, Schedules, Pay Rates, and Outlook

Psychologist can work in many areas
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How many psychologists are there? Where do they typically work? What kind of pay can a psychologist expect? We found answers to these questions in the Occupational Outlook Handbook from the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Employment Statistics

Psychologists held approximately 181,700 jobs in 2018. Approximately 29% were self-employed in 2018, usually as private practitioners.

Work Environment

Common employment settings for psychologists include:

  • Mental health clinics
  • Hospitals and physician offices
  • Private clinics
  • Prisons and correctional facilities
  • Government agencies
  • Schools, colleges, and universities
  • Veterans hospitals

Educational Settings

As of 2018, an estimated 24% of psychologists work in elementary and secondary school settings. Some psychologists may work in teaching positions, but others may serve as counselors or other educational positions. Educational institutions often employ psychologists in positions other than teaching, like counseling, testing, research, curriculum design, and administration. School psychologists, for example, work in elementary and secondary schools to help kids with social, behavioral, emotional, and academic challenges that they face.

In addition to the previously mentioned jobs, many psychologists hold faculty positions at colleges and universities.

While educational requirements vary depending on the specific job role, most psychologists who work in educational settings have a minimum of a master's degree. Some positions may require a specialist degree in an area such as school psychology, counseling, or educational psychology.

Government Settings

Approximately 10% of psychologists work for government agencies. The government often employs psychologists to work in public hospitals, clinics, correctional facilities, and other settings. While many positions in this employment area require a master's or doctorate degree, some positions may be available with a bachelor's degree.

Healthcare Settings

Around 18% are employed by ambulatory healthcare services, and another 6% work in state, local, and private hospitals. Those who work in health care often work for mental health practitioners, physicians, outpatient mental health and substance abuse centers, and private hospitals. Some entry-level positions are available with a bachelor's degree, but most advanced positions will require at least a master's level or doctorate degree.

After several years of experience, some psychologists, usually those with doctoral degrees, can enter private practice or set up private research or consulting firms.

Other Settings

Psychologists are also employed in a number of other areas not specifically mentioned in the Occupational Outlook Handbook. Many psychologists work in research positions in various subfields of psychology. Some additional areas of employment include positions in industrial-organizational psychology and human-factors psychology. Other psychologists work in business as managers, consultants, and marketing researchers. Some religious organizations also employ psychologists.

Work Schedules Can Vary

A psychologist's work schedule depends largely upon the specialty area in which they work and who employs them. Those who work in school, business, government, or healthcare settings often work full-time each week during normal business hours.

Those who are self-employed or work for outpatient clinics may find that their work hours are less regular. They can often set their own schedules, but they may also find themselves having to work evenings or weekends in order to accommodate clients or deal with client emergencies.

Salary Information

The median salary for all psychologists in 2018 was $79,010, which translates to $37.99 per hour. Median salaries for specific jobs include:

  • Clinical, counseling, and school psychologists - $76,990
  • Industrial-organizational psychologist - $97,260
  • All other psychologists - $100,770
  • Psychologists working in government - $96,410
  • Psychologists working in hospitals - $86,530
  • Psychologists working in ambulatory healthcare services - $79,180
  • Psychologists working in elementary and secondary schools - $75,890

Job Outlook

Employment for psychologists overall is predicted to grow 14% from 2018 to 2028, which is significantly faster than the outlook for most other careers. For school, clinical, and counseling psychologists, the estimated growth is 15%. The growing need for mental health services as well as an aging population may help drive the demand for psychologists to increase in the coming years.

A Word From Verywell

Psychology is a diverse field and psychologists work in many different settings. If you are interested in the field of psychology, it is important to consider where you plan to work once you enter the job field. Employment setting may influence how much you earn, your work schedule, and the type of work you will be doing.

1 Source
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  1. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor. Psychologists. Occupational Outlook Handbook.

By Kendra Cherry
Kendra Cherry, MS, is the author of the "Everything Psychology Book (2nd Edition)" and has written thousands of articles on diverse psychology topics. Kendra holds a Master of Science degree in education from Boise State University with a primary research interest in educational psychology and a Bachelor of Science in psychology from Idaho State University with additional coursework in substance use and case management.