Do you feel you’re earning enough working as a professional counselor? Do you know what factors determine how much your counseling psychology salary will be? Of course education matters. With a masters in counseling psychology degree, you already have several options to pursue a fulfilling career. But a doctorate degree – although it takes longer to complete – will take you even further as a professional.
Specialization Ups Your Value
Alongside education is your area of concentration. Counseling psychology offers many avenues that you can focus on, depending on your interests and skills. Usually, counseling psychology graduate programs especially when classified as Counseling Psychology, is a general course that gives students an overview into the field. But through the years, it has been thought that studies can be particularly focused on specific issues that need addressing by counselors.
Thus there is the area of marriage and family, which sometimes include child therapy, substance addiction, rehabilitation, career issues, stress, self image, depression and even anger management. You may choose to handle one or more issues and take up electives to hone your skills in these areas. Based on your specialization, the counseling psychology salary will of course vary, with the most in demand issues having a bigger client base, eventually gaining you more experience and raising your reputation.
What Makes The Most Impact
As much as education and specialization are important factors in determining the counseling psychology salary, they still can’t totally dictate your worth as a professional.
The three factors that you should consider if you seriously want to increase your potential counseling psychology salary range are:
1. LOCATION – A function of economics, you will necessarily make more if you worked in big cities or states where the standard of living is high. So you can’t expect to be earning the same salary if you start out your practice in New York City then later move to South Dakota.
So don’t be surprised if you learn that a colleague practicing in Houston earns so much more than one in St. Louis. The median annual salary in Texas is $46,651 as opposed to the $33,930 that they receive in Missouri. New York pays them even higher with $47,826.
2. EXPERIENCE – Naturally, there will be a discrepancy in the counseling psychology salary of someone joining the practice immediately after completing a masters and one who’s been at it a few years more. Well, it takes about five years to really plant your roots and get your career moving. The difference in salaries can be between $3,000 to $10,000.
It is also here where specialization will come into play. A masters in psychology degree may have prepared you for the practice of general psychology, but with a specialization in Marriage and Family Therapy, you can definitely gain the experience quickly especially if part of a thriving practice.
3. WORKPLACE/ SIZE OF BUSINESS – Your actual job description, your employer and the size of the organization you are in will all spell the difference in the counseling psychology salary. A mental health counselor and a career counselor do different things. And they are paid differently as well, with the former earning between $38,580 to $48,580 while the latter can earn between $38,740 and $65,360.
Substance abuse counselors can work even with just a bachelors degree so they receive far less, $29,410 to $47,290.
With a PhD, you can raise your earnings even up to $82,800 or even more with a lucrative private practice especially for clients demanding strict confidentiality. Remember, only those with doctorates and who are licensed can go into private practice.
Considering these three factors, in what area do you think you need more time for to make the counseling psychology salary you dream of?
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