The highest-paid psychology jobs (with salary info)

Updated 16 February 2023

Working in psychology is an extremely rewarding career path to take, as it allows you to research human behaviours and help others who may be struggling. Financially, it can also be a very profitable field to work in. Individual salaries depend on the specific role and the levels of education required, and there's a wide range of jobs available for those interested. In this article, we discuss jobs in psychology, provide a list of the highest-paid psychology jobs and list some of the benefits of working in this field.

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What are jobs in psychology?

A job in psychology relates to the study of human behaviour and the care of people's mental health. Psychology professionals observe and interpret an individual's behaviour and experiences to make conclusions about how the mind works and, in many cases, advise on further healthcare plans to help improve the person's quality of life. The level of advice and treatment offered depends on the role and the professional's level of expertise and education.

The highest-paid psychology jobs

If you're interested in a career in psychology, it's worth learning what the highest-paid psychology jobs are. Because working in psychology often involves working under pressure and requires a significant amount of expert knowledge, it has the potential to leave you with a high annual income. Use the following list to consider the roles that most interest you, with their average salaries listed for guidance:

1. Counsellor

National average salary: £30,709 per year

Primary duties: Counsellors provide a closed environment for clients to talk through their life issues and concerns without the feeling of being judged. They act as a natural third party to assess and offer advice as appropriate. This role requires a large amount of compassion and active listening abilities. As a counsellor may encounter client issues, such as:

  • lack of confidence and self-esteem

  • broken down relationships

  • grief and the pain of loss

  • career guidance

Counsellors can either work privately or as part of the healthcare service. Private or self-employed counsellors sometimes have the option to be more flexible with their work patterns, as they can build appointments with clients around their desired schedule. Counsellors typically require a high level of education and training with a relevant body.

Related: The detailed guide on how to become a counsellor

2. Therapist

National average salary: £36,273 per year

Primary duties: Therapists work with clients facing more in-depth and specific issues. They attempt to find working solutions to improve a client's quality of life, using any number of techniques that they deem appropriate. There are many types of therapists that specialise in particular issues, such as divorce therapists, addiction therapists, cognitive therapists and child therapists. Depending on their area of speciality, a therapist degree may not be a requirement, but certification may be. This can include a certification from institutions such as the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy, the National Counselling Society or the UK Council for Psychotherapy.

3. Clinical psychologist

National average salary: £48,703 per year

Primary duties: Clinical psychologists work with people who have severe mental disabilities. They assess and provide treatment for these individuals, allowing them and their families to receive a level of counselling and support. Clinical psychologists also conduct studies to procure more research into mental health disorders, devise treatments for people with serious mental disorders such as schizophrenia and develop in-depth treatment plans for patients.

As with many psychology roles, clinical psychologists may specialise in a particular area as part of their research or practice, such as working with children or drug addicts. Because of the combined theory and practice central to this role, clinical psychologists typically require several higher education qualifications.

4. Psychiatrist

National average salary: £87,770 per year

Primary duties: A psychiatrist is a highly qualified medical doctor who specialises in diagnosing and treating medical disorders. They undertake extensive medical training that allows them to assess both the mental and physical effects of psychological illnesses. In particular, psychiatrists focus on treating severe cases of mental illnesses, assessing or diagnosing illnesses and creating treatment plans specific to an individual.

Psychiatrists can also prescribe medications if necessary. It's possible to work as a psychiatrist in both an employed and self-employed capacity, depending on your level of experience. The high salary of this role reflects the skills and levels of higher education required to do it effectively.

Related: Your guide to psychology jobs and common careers

5. Life coach

National average salary: £26,718 per year

Primary duties: A life coach or life skills trainer meets regularly with clients to assist them in achieving their life goals. They typically assist in identifying areas of failure and areas of success and set daily habits and routines to help them achieve specific goals and desires. A life coach may experience clients who require assistance in the following areas:

  • career development

  • help with forming meaningful relationships

  • increasing self-confidence and self-esteem

  • healing from past traumas

  • encouraging inner growth and development

Some life coaches work in a flexible self-employed role, while others may work as a contractor. Becoming a life coach doesn't usually require any formal qualifications, but getting relevant certifications, which are available online and at relevant institutions, can help when pursuing this role.

6. Mediator

National average salary: £34,021 per year

Primary duties: The role of a mediator is to act as the neutral party when resolving disputes between two people or groups of people. They help by offering fresh perspectives in client meetings to attempt a resolution between the parties. Mediators frequently deal with situations such as:

  • couple separation

  • child custody

  • working disagreements

  • financial disputes

  • organisational strikes

Mediators attempt to bring parties together to assess a fair outcome of a dispute. They work in a self-employed capacity or with a court to mediate cases before they go to trial. As a result, some of its required skills and qualifications are similar to various legal professions.

7. Family therapist

National average salary: £46,084 per year

Primary duties: A family therapist is a specialised therapist who focuses on assisting individuals and households with issues within the family unit. This may relate to a large family group or a subset of the family. They address issues such as:

  • martial problems

  • fractured relationships between specific family members

  • problems with children and younger family members

  • the impact of substance abuse on a family

  • the impact of mental illness within a family unit

A family therapist holds meetings with those concerned to improve their daily lives. They act as a neutral third party to assess and observe the situation. From this, they create action plans to improve relationships and living arrangements. A family therapist may work for a healthcare service or in a private self-employed capacity. The sensitivity of this role means that prospective family therapists usually require some level of formal training.

Benefits of working in psychology

There are various benefits to having a career in psychology, such as being able to command a competitive salary and helping others live their lives comfortably. Specialist areas such as working with children may also appeal to your unique skill set. Below are some of the main benefits of working in psychology in more detail:

Assisting others

Providing expert advice and treatment to those experiencing mental illness can help their lives for the better. Though this may feel like a huge responsibility, it's also incredibly rewarding. This work ranges from helping people boost their self-confidence and self-esteem to helping them cope with severe mental illnesses such as clinical depression and schizophrenia.

Getting a higher pay

Due to the skill and knowledge required to work in psychology, you have the opportunity to command a very high rate of pay. The salary for each role varies depending on the qualifications required. A psychiatrist, for example, usually has a higher salary than a life coach because a psychiatrist is a qualified medical doctor. As a self-employed psychology professional, you have the option to dictate your own rate of pay, depending on how many hours you work.

Related: How to become a psychologist in the UK

Varying work options

Working in psychology presents you with working options you can tailor to suit your own needs. If you enjoy the stability of a PAYE income, you can find a variety of applicable roles. You also have the option to start your own business and be self-employed. In this case, you're responsible for sourcing and maintaining your clients, but the advantage is that it allows you to build your own schedule and potentially make more money depending on your level of experience and target areas.

Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at time of writing. Salaries‌ ‌may‌ ‌‌vary‌‌ ‌depending‌ ‌on‌ ‌the‌ ‌hiring‌ ‌organisation‌ ‌and‌ ‌a‌ ‌candidate's‌ ‌experience,‌ ‌academic‌ background‌ ‌and‌ ‌location.‌

Please note that none of the companies, institutions or organisations mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.


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