“How much does the job pay?” is often the first question one asks when considering a certain career path, and especially if earning—and financing—more education is required to maximize earning potential, and the field of psychology is not exempt from this inquiry. Though an undergraduate psychology degree might allow you to work in some districts, the vast majority of public and private schools around the country require their school psychologists to have much more education. The good news is that you can usually expect a higher salary when you do this. The average salary figure for school psychologists is $78,200, according to the U.S. Department of Bureau & Labor Statistics’ 2019 data, though several factors will influence your salary.
Earn More in Bigger Cities
Bigger cities tend to feature better pay for all professionals. This is because the cost of living is much higher in large cities, and companies have to compensate for this if they are going to attract quality candidates. There is another factor in play, though. Big city school districts tend to have more money because they’re funded by property taxes. This gives these districts tremendous resources to hire people with good credentials.
States with the highest employment levels are California, New York, Texas, Florida and Illinois.
School psychologists making the 25th percentile of wages can expect to earn $59,590 with a median wage of $78,200. Those at the 75th percentile can earn $102,470 and those at the 90h can make as much as $132,670 per year, according to 2019 data.
Here are the top-paying metropolitan areas for school psychologists, as of 2019, according to the BLS:
- Santa Rosa, CA, with an annual mean wage of $136,390
- Jefferson City, MO, with an annual mean wage of $118,920
- Oxnard/Thousand Oaks/Ventura, CA, with an annual mean wage of $117,960.
- San Diego/Carlsbad, CA, with an annual mean wage of $117,280.
- Los Angeles/Long Beach/Anaheim, CA, with an annual mean wage of $117,280.
- Madera, CA, with an annual mean wage of $116,190.
- Trenton, NJ, with an annual mean wage of $116,190.
- Vallejo/Fairfield, CA, with an annual mean wage of $114,580.
- Urban Honolulu, HI, with an annual mean wage of $113,930.
- San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles-Arroyo Grande, CA, with an annual mean wage of $113,730.
Contract Length Matters
If you plan on working in a high school, then contract length will affect your earning capacity. Some people will get hired with 180-day contracts. If you have good credentials and you are comfortable doing so, then you should negotiate for a longer contract. This will give you a chance to earn the most money with your graduate degree.
University Employees Make the Most
Though most school psychologist jobs are found in high schools, a few people with master’s degrees in school psychology will have a chance to work in universities. While many high schools and districts are cutting their budgets, colleges are often more financially secure. Know, however, that you will be up against a lot of competition for these positions. Prepare more to compete with many qualified applicants when you are angling for a university job.
School psychology master’s degrees are much like many other degree types. The longer you stay in the industry, the more money you can expect to make. While the figures provided above represent the average in the industry, people starting out will make less. If you are willing to stay around for 10 or more years, you can expect to earn six figures. There is a high ceiling for people who are professional and willing to work at their craft.