What are the Highest Paying Jobs for Graduates of Masters in Psychology Programs?

In an economy that struggles at every level, many college graduates have set their sights on lucrative psychology careers. However, their annual salaries are as diverse as their professions. What are the best-paying jobs for people with a masters degree in psychology?

Fortunately, opportunities abound at the master’s degree level. Earning a doctorate degree offers more opportunities at higher salaries, but a master’s degree is required for most entry level positions. Here are five high-paying psychology jobs that do not require a doctorate degree to enter the profession.

Engineering Psychologists

Engineering psychologists practice a specialty of industrial psychology. They work to improve equipment, operations and systems to increase efficiency and productivity. Their efforts help to minimize injuries.

As with all specialties, location plays a major factor in engineering psychology salaries. Private sector jobs pay more than those in university settings. Scientific and technical consulting services pay the highest salaries, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The annual mean wage in 2013 is $125,980.

Industrial Psychologists

Industrial psychology encompasses a wide range of industry-specific positions. Industrial psychologists use their knowledge and training to address various workplace issues. They are responsible for hiring the best employees, increasing workplace productivity and conducting market research.

According to the United States BLS, American companies currently employ 1,030 industrial psychologists. The industries that hire them pay an annual mean wage of $98,800. The median salary is $87,330.

Forensic Psychologists

Forensic psychologists apply their knowledge of human thought and behavior in various legal contexts. They may develop a psychological profile for a criminal suspect, determine the mental competency of a defendant or assess the credibility of a witness.

According to the “Occupational Outlook Handbook,” which compiles BLS data, the median pay for psychologists with a master’s degree, including forensic psychologists, was $68,640 in 2010. The field of psychology as a whole is expected to grow faster than average during the current decade.

School Psychologists

Most school districts require entry level psychologists to hold a master’s degree as a school psychology specialist or education specialist. They work with teachers, doctors and other professionals to diagnose and treat learning disabilities and behavior problems.

The “Occupational Outlook Handbook” cites the median annual wage for school psychologists as $66,810. School psychology and counseling jobs are expected to grow by more than ten percent over the next decade.

Sports Psychologists

Sports psychologists specialize in the psychological aspects of athletics. Focusing on motivation and performance, they help athletes recover from injuries and perform better in sports.

According to the American Psychological Association (APA), sports psychology is a “boutique service” that caters to “niche clients” in university athletic departments and professional sports. The salary for entry level positions start at about $60,000, but those who work with professional athletes can easily earn over six figures.

The salaries quoted in these short profiles are average, entry-level salaries for people with a master’s degree in psychology. The actual income depends on a number of factors including employment sector, location, education and experience. A doctorate degree opens the door to further, higher-level psychology careers as well as jobs in psychiatry and neuropsychology.