How Much Do Therapists Make

By Joanna Smykowski

Updated May 14, 2019

Choosing the job that you want for the rest of your life can be a daunting decision. What passions drive you? What are you willing to go through in so far as school and training? How many years do you want to spend before starting your career? Where do you think you will be most fulfilled in this world? What kind of salary do you want to make?

These are questions that everyone asks themselves as they figure out what they want to do with their lives. In most cases, you take what fuels you and use it to mold what you want to do professionally in the world.

There are some that have always felt the need to help others. That manifests in many ways. Maybe you are a mentor for young children. Maybe you teach. Maybe you're a doctor or a surgeon, or you work for a nonprofit organization or a good cause. You can volunteer to help others, or you can turn it into the job that pays the bills.

Has mental health always been a field that has interested you? Have you always thought you had a knack for listening to another person's problems? Have you ever sat there and thought to yourself you could help those going through a tough time-whether they have a long-term mental health issue to battles such as depression or addiction, or they are going through a short-term problem, such as death? Do you possess that type of compassion? In other words, have you been thinking about becoming a therapist?

If so, the next step is figuring out what you have to do to get there. What steps do you have to take to become a therapist?

Becoming A Therapist: Who Are they?

The first important fact we must note is that there are all different kinds of therapy. You can have art therapy, physical therapy, occupational therapy, and mental health therapy, to name a few. A therapist is a broad term that encompasses many categories. In this article, we will discuss therapists within the realm of mental health only.

Therapists are individuals who help others in the world of mental health. It is an umbrella term for professionals who become educated, trained, and licensed to provide a variety of treatments and rehabilitation for their patients. They can range from social workers, psychologists, psychiatrists, life coaches, and counselors. They do this in therapy. Therapy is the process of meeting with a therapist to resolve problematic behaviors, beliefs, feelings, relationship issues, or sensations within the body connected to mental health issues.


Therapists: How Do They Get There?

Therapists become certified by going through a process that involves schooling, clinicals, exams, and more. Depending on what kind of therapist they are, they may be in school for a longer or shorter amount of time. All therapists continue their education after their undergraduate degree, going on to receive a Master's degree, a Ph.D., or a doctorate in medicine.

Each label within the mental health field means something different. Psychologists can be commonly confused with psychiatrists, who are doctors of medicine and can prescribe medication everywhere to help battle any mental health issues. Psychologists, on the other hand, while they may have their Ph.D., do not go to med school. Some psychologists are known for working in tandem with a psychiatrist, especially if it is determined that medication is needed to treat someone. Other therapists work differently in that their goal is to help patients make decisions and clarify their feelings to solve problems.

Once schooling is over, therapists have to do some clinical, s residency if they are doctors, and then must take exams and pass boards to receive their license to practice. The requirements vary by state, but many times they also need to complete supervised practice as well before going out on their own.

Therapists: Where Do They Work?

Therapists can work in many different places. They can open up their practice, or they can work within an organization. If you don't see a therapist in their practice, you most commonly see them in places like hospitals, prisons, or rehabilitation centers. They can also work within a school or another healthcare organization. Some therapists may join together and open a practice to specialize in different areas of mental health issues; there are many different options for how to practice once you are licensed.


Therapists: What Do They Do?

Therapists help their patients in a variety of ways. They provide guidance, they provide support, and they are there to help patients clarify their feelings to make decisions. In its most basic form, this is what signing up for therapy entails. Treatments vary in the specifics; however, every patient is viewed on a unique case-by-case basis and as an individual. The mental health issue that you are working through dictates different treatment for everyone, and if you are a psychiatrist, you may use these techniques as well as medication to help your patient.

There are many different techniques that therapists use to analyze, diagnose, and work with their patient to help whatever mental health issue they are dealing with.

Therapists, The Job Market, And Salaries

Let us say that you have become a therapist. You have chosen this as your profession and completed the requirements on the path to doing so. Congratulations! Whether you work as a psychologist, psychiatrist, a counselor, or anything else within the field, it is important to be aware of the job market. It is also important to know how much money you will be making. So how much money do therapists make? Let us look at some numbers and statistics provided by the United States Department of Labor, and their Bureau of Labor Statistics[1] for a sample of the occupations that therapist falls under. These numbers include the abundance of the profession in the United States as well as an average salary that can be earned. It will also include a job outlook or job growth rate. The average job outlook in the United States stands at 7%.

Psychiatrists- In the United States, there are an estimated 25,250 psychiatrists. The average annual wage for psychiatrists is $216,090 with an average hourly wage of $103.89 per hour. While $216,090 is the mean wage, salaries can go as low as around $71,500.

Psychologists- There is an estimated 166,600 number of jobs for psychologists in the United States. It has a job outlook or job growth rate of 14%. The median annual salary is $79,010 per year or $37.99 per hour for psychologists.

Social Workers- Social workers help people solve and cope with problems in their every day lives. There are an estimated $682,100 jobs in the United States, and there is a 16% job outlook. The median annual salary is $49,470 per year and $23.79 per hour.


Substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors - These are counselors who advise people that suffer from alcoholism eating disorders, drug addiction, mental health issues, or other mental or behavioral problems, especially within the realm of addition. There are an estimated 260,200 jobs in the United States, and this job outlook comes in at 23%. They have an estimated median pay of $44, 650 per year and $21.46 per hour.

School counselors - Counselors within schools, help students not only reach their goals academically but also socially. There are an estimated 291,700 jobs in the United States for school counselors, and there is a job growth rate of 13%. The average median pay is $56, 310 per year for their annual salary and $27.07 per hour.

While there may be other professions that fall under the therapist blanket, these are the most common ones which are why we focused on them and pulled the facts from the Bureau.


Saying you are a therapist can mean so many different things. In the mental health realm alone, two therapists can have the same broad term for what they do, but working in two very different worlds. This all depends on exactly what they do as a therapist.

Because of this, it is hard to give a singular answer to the question of how much therapists make. It comes in, as you can see, under a range of numbers. On the high end, you can be making as much as over $200,00 per year. On the lower end, you can be making closer to $45,00 per year.

If you are deciding to become a therapist, knowing how much you can make is an important tool to have to figure out what you want to go into.

If you do become a therapist, an option to consider is pairing up with a site like recognizes the value of mental health and the times we are in right now. They allow a patient to receive help online, and pair with mental health professionals to make that happen.

[1]United States Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor

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