JockNerd

10+ Year Member
5+ Year Member
Mar 28, 2007
1,810
9
0
Status
Psychology Student
...and the APA sprang immediately into action, forming the committee to develop the action plan to devise the strategic initiative that would submit a series of recommendations on what color paper Melba Vasquez will use to write a vague reply that gets published in the Monitor three years from now.
 

Therapist4Chnge

Neuropsych Ninja Faculty
Moderator Emeritus
10+ Year Member
Oct 7, 2006
21,456
2,420
281
The Beach
Status
Psychologist
...and the APA sprang immediately into action, forming the committee to develop the action plan to devise the strategic initiative that would submit a series of recommendations on what color paper Melba Vasquez will use to write a vague reply that gets published in the Monitor three years from now.
[/thread]

:laugh:

It can be a challenge when the most visible organization for the profession does the least with the most resources.
 

AcronymAllergy

Neuropsychologist
Moderator
Gold Donor
7+ Year Member
Jan 7, 2010
7,196
1,496
281
Status
Psychologist
...and the APA sprang immediately into action, forming the committee to develop the action plan to devise the strategic initiative that would submit a series of recommendations on what color paper Melba Vasquez will use to write a vague reply that gets published in the Monitor three years from now.
Perhaps the single greatest post in the history of SDN.
 

AcronymAllergy

Neuropsychologist
Moderator
Gold Donor
7+ Year Member
Jan 7, 2010
7,196
1,496
281
Status
Psychologist
Oh, and examining the link itself, it looks like associate profs and "applied psychologists" took the biggest hit. The former, I'd imagine, is a recent trend related to all the cuts now being levied at higher education; the latter is likely a result of a declining economy as well, and the subsequent tightening of company purse strings for all "nonessential" consulting.
 

Therapist4Chnge

Neuropsych Ninja Faculty
Moderator Emeritus
10+ Year Member
Oct 7, 2006
21,456
2,420
281
The Beach
Status
Psychologist
Keep in mind that while this data comes from the largest psychological association in the US, it's membership is still in the minority of all psychologists, so there are some sampling limitations.
 

Rivi

10+ Year Member
Jan 29, 2009
410
150
281
Status
Psychologist
What is stopping the salary decline from getting worse?
 

August2008

10+ Year Member
Apr 3, 2007
79
0
0
Status
What strikes me is that even after years of hard work to enter the full professor stage, you're still not making 100k.. not even close. I find this quite ridiculous.
 

JockNerd

10+ Year Member
5+ Year Member
Mar 28, 2007
1,810
9
0
Status
Psychology Student
To me, this problem is inexorably linked to the glut of psychologists, and the genesis of that problem in over-recruitment of psychology graduate students. If private practice weren't saturated, psychologists could demand greater fees for service and drive up salaries for practitioners. If private practice were more lucrative, researchers would have to be paid more to sway them away from practice to academic positions.

The other major problem (really a duality of problems as I see it) is that (a) people in the field still do ridiculous things (see the APS position on this), and APA is defending silly practice instead of curtailing it, and (b) training is not focused on practicing empirically supported therapies and conducting solid outcome research.

To be clear, I'm not trying to soapbox this but move the thread from complaining about this problem to trying to identify some origins and solutions.
 
Dec 19, 2009
88
0
41
Status
Psychology Student
i blame professional schools that mass produce under-qualified psychologists... ya know, the kind that have over 50% acceptance rates without the need for any original data collection or individual research... ridiculous...

oh yeah, and the economy of course :(
 

docma

10+ Year Member
Oct 27, 2007
791
259
281
Status
In fairness and with some perspective, the idea that it is "ridiculous" not to be making $100,000 is also a part of the difficulty. The arrogance and entitlement of some in the profession has contributed to psychologists being less welcome than some other clinical professions in many settings.

We have at the same time let the training pipeline run wide open by using student debt, so the market is flooded with students with unrealistic expectations and ferocious loan costs.

I am sad when I realize how far along in training students are before they realize some of the hard facts of earnings. On the other hand, I know students who have figured out how to be very happy in jobs that paid less than they expected and like doing things they never imagined they'd be doing when they started on this path.
 

Ollie123

10+ Year Member
Feb 19, 2007
4,726
1,196
281
Status
Psychology Student
JN, can you just start double posting everything you write so I don't have to reply? It would be a huge timesaver for me...

The link isn't working for me so I don't know if they changed it this time around, but I would like to add my usual comment that these surveys generally fail to adequately define "salary". In other words, is it what their primary employer pays, or is it their actual income? I suspect the former.

Keep in mind most academic salaries are 9 month salaries, which means you can tack on another 33%ish for anyone with decent funding. This may or may not capture income from other sources such as side practices, industry consulting, research consulting, speaking, etc. I've never seen anything in the actual APA about the methods.

Understand that I'm not defending our pay. Its low, and I think JN hit the nail on the head for reasons why. APA seems bent on trying to apply band-aids to the severed limb rather than fixing it at its source. I just think these numbers might not be accurate, since their methodology is usually unclear. One more example why I'm not a big APA fan;)
 

Markp

Clinical Psychologist
10+ Year Member
7+ Year Member
Nov 19, 2007
2,262
20
151
Status
Psychologist
In fairness and with some perspective, the idea that it is "ridiculous" not to be making $100,000 is also a part of the difficulty. The arrogance and entitlement of some in the profession has contributed to psychologists being less welcome than some other clinical professions in many settings.
Docma,

Sorry, I disagree, if you have a professional degree and you cannot make six figures there is something wrong. A doctorate is supposed to be valuable and special, perhaps the bar is not high enough leading to saturation and devaluing of these degrees.

I do believe that those who have developed skills and abilities that society values should reap the rewards of that effort. Not everyone is capable of making $100k, but that does not make it ridiculous for those who have invested in themselves and have the intellectual ability to expect to be rewarded for those efforts. This is no different than athletes that earn millions each year for their abilities and the efforts they have made to hone those abilities.

You don't see other medical practitioners apologizing for their six figure salaries... you don't see lawyers doing it... when was the last time you saw your congress critter apologizing for their six figure salary?

According to Salary.com the average salary for a pastor in 20851 was $92k per year!!! Do you hear them apologizing??? Stop it! It's ok to be successful, this vow of poverty BS that psychologists have been expected to endorse has been nothing but detrimental to the field. We are highly skilled, trained professionals and we are entitled to earn a living commensurate with the investment we've made in being professionals.

Mark
 

JockNerd

10+ Year Member
5+ Year Member
Mar 28, 2007
1,810
9
0
Status
Psychology Student
Docma,

Sorry, I disagree, if you have a professional degree and you cannot make six figures there is something wrong. A doctorate is supposed to be valuable and special, perhaps the bar is not high enough leading to saturation and devaluing of these degrees.

I do believe that those who have developed skills and abilities that society values should reap the rewards of that effort. Not everyone is capable of making $100k, but that does not make it ridiculous for those who have invested in themselves and have the intellectual ability to expect to be rewarded for those efforts. This is no different than athletes that earn millions each year for their abilities and the efforts they have made to hone those abilities.

You don't see other medical practitioners apologizing for their six figure salaries... you don't see lawyers doing it... when was the last time you saw your congress critter apologizing for their six figure salary?

According to Salary.com the average salary for a pastor in 20851 was $92k per year!!! Do you hear them apologizing??? Stop it! It's ok to be successful, this vow of poverty BS that psychologists have been expected to endorse has been nothing but detrimental to the field. We are highly skilled, trained professionals and we are entitled to earn a living commensurate with the investment we've made in being professionals.

Mark
I agree; we three of us are really just the same person posting multiple times though.

I think docma was less extreme, though, than the (sorry, no other word seems appropriate) fools who actually act as though low pay is somehow enlightened. It's silly. Without bragging, in other fields my intelligence would easily command a 6 figure salary; I'm sure others feel the same even if they have less candor. If I choose to apply myself to, corporate law, I could be worth several times what I'd make as a psychologist. But, this is really the only thing I want to do. It would be nice if my pay reflected my ability and wasn't dragged down by controllable market forces that are really symptomatic of a dumbing down of the field.

On the other hand, Ollie, I'm active in APA and professional issues for precisely the reason that it's so terribly managed. Upon reflection I've realized this is more related to my personality tendency to do difficult things just because they're difficult, rather than some professional solidarity.

Oh, well.
 

Therapist4Chnge

Neuropsych Ninja Faculty
Moderator Emeritus
10+ Year Member
Oct 7, 2006
21,456
2,420
281
The Beach
Status
Psychologist
Without bragging, in other fields my intelligence would easily command a 6 figure salary; I'm sure others feel the same even if they have less candor.
I turned down a job before coming to grad school that paid $165k/yr + stock options + great benefits. When I was in my 2nd and 3rd years (read: STRESSED), I was really questioning my choice, but thankfully I realized why I left. Psychologists can still make great money, but you won't do it competing against thousands of other psychologists and tens of thousands of mid-levels. I'm also pretty sure waiting on the APA to do anything won't help you get there either. I'm currently shopping around for a new organization that has more of my best interests in mind.
 

Ollie123

10+ Year Member
Feb 19, 2007
4,726
1,196
281
Status
Psychology Student
On the other hand, Ollie, I'm active in APA and professional issues for precisely the reason that it's so terribly managed. Upon reflection I've realized this is more related to my personality tendency to do difficult things just because they're difficult, rather than some professional solidarity.
Part of me understands this, but another part of me feels this would be like you joining the republican party solely because you disagree with their views on gay marriage and want to try to change them;)

I've cast my vote with APS and the new PCSAS system. It ain't perfect and it isn't going to be for a long time but I think they are at least facing in the right direction. I hold respect for a very small number of divisions and subdivisions of APA, "meh" a bunch more, and that's about it.
 

futureapppsy2

Assistant professor
Moderator
Gold Donor
10+ Year Member
Dec 25, 2008
5,201
1,103
381
This is completely off-topic, but I want to know what pastors are making 92k a year! ;) Driven up by mega-church outliers, perhaps? And, actually, apparently a lot of seminar students don't get funding and end up with six-digit debt loads--I was surprised to hear that.
 

FadedC

7+ Year Member
May 17, 2009
574
16
151
Status
Psychology Student
I guess the real question is what does the APA realistically have enough power to do about the situation? My understanding is that all they can do is make recomendations and that states have no problem ignoring those reomendations if they feel they are not in their best interests.

And of course this also raises the question of what can a different organization with even less power do to change things.
 

Markp

Clinical Psychologist
10+ Year Member
7+ Year Member
Nov 19, 2007
2,262
20
151
Status
Psychologist
This is completely off-topic, but I want to know what pastors are making 92k a year! ;) Driven up by mega-church outliers, perhaps? And, actually, apparently a lot of seminar students don't get funding and end up with six-digit debt loads--I was surprised to hear that.
DC metro area... comparing apples to apples, they make a little more than psychologists in the area. Don't think for a minute that "God" doesn't pay... "God" pays very well... :)

Mark
 

docma

10+ Year Member
Oct 27, 2007
791
259
281
Status
Dissing other professions is actually off topic I think. Clergy have a way different "distribution" of salaries than psychologists, probably, but the point is how do we get the mean/median to where we want it for the profession as a whole. I actually think inner city kindergarten teachers should earn 6+ figures and many folks in Congress a good deal less...but that it not really relevant here either.

I think the focus on the number alone is meaningless. My focus would be on what is needed so that people leaving training can find work that is satisfying and have a quality of life that they want. Not everyone wants what Donald Trump has; everyone does want the basic Maslow hierarchy. So the focus needs to be the range of opportunity and students readiness to step into multiple work situations. Right now too many students have too narrow an idea of what psychologists can do and too many are being trained only to do what is no longer an exclusive/effective market niche (long term private practice model).
 

Markp

Clinical Psychologist
10+ Year Member
7+ Year Member
Nov 19, 2007
2,262
20
151
Status
Psychologist
Dissing other professions is actually off topic I think. Clergy have a way different "distribution" of salaries than psychologists, probably, but the point is how do we get the mean/median to where we want it for the profession as a whole. I actually think inner city kindergarten teachers should earn 6+ figures and many folks in Congress a good deal less...but that it not really relevant here either.
I am certainly not "Dissing" other professions, I am stating that they don't seem to carry the guilt that psychologists apparently have when it comes to making a salary that is commensurate with the amount of training that is required to become a psychologist.

To address your concern regarding salary distribution (at least in the 20851 zip code) this seems to be insignificant, as the 25th percentile for pastors was $76k for pastors and $79k for psychologists, where the 75th percentile was $105k for pastors and $101k for psychologists. I fail to see your point, because even though there are possibly statistically significant differences in the range, there appear to be no practical differences between a salary of $76 and $79k, or $101k and $105k. (Data from Salary.com)

The idea that kindergarten teachers should (in the inner city) make six figure incomes makes sense as soon as they get the same level of education and investment in training as other professionals or bring something unique to the table that others would not. There is the issue of supply and demand, if all teachers refused to teach in these areas without greater compensation then we would see salaries for these jobs rise dramatically. However the skills and training required to be an effective kindergarten teacher are less demanding than the prerequisites for a career as a psychologist. In some respects psychology suffers from the same plight that many teachers suffer from, the field has an oversupply of people who are willing to work for wages that are less than appropriate for the level of training.

I think the focus on the number alone is meaningless. My focus would be on what is needed so that people leaving training can find work that is satisfying and have a quality of life that they want. Not everyone wants what Donald Trump has; everyone does want the basic Maslow hierarchy. So the focus needs to be the range of opportunity and students readiness to step into multiple work situations. Right now too many students have too narrow an idea of what psychologists can do and too many are being trained only to do what is no longer an exclusive/effective market niche (long term private practice model).
You do bring up a great point, there is more to happiness and fulfillment than a salary alone is responsible for. I also agree that psychologists have done a poor job of protecting the market niches that psychology had occupied in the past. There has been a continued encroachment in a number of areas and with no corresponding increases in other areas, effectively squeezing psychologists out of some markets and devaluing our skills in others.

This point however does not make the number meaningless, as money is a tool we use to achieve happiness and fulfillment. Money has allow many to purchase their way up Maslow's hierarchy all the way up to esteem (or the very least has increased the likelihood of achieving these goals.) Money is important, that "meaningless" number affects our ability to address our physiological needs, provide for our safety, create environments that foster love and belonging, and even build esteem through what some consider objective measure of achievement. Self actualization, I would argue, cannot be purchased at any price.

I imagine that if you did not have money and were not allowed to use money that you would find it VERY difficult to climb Maslow's hierarchy in our society.

Mark
 

docma

10+ Year Member
Oct 27, 2007
791
259
281
Status
I agree that money and access to money is relevant for all. It is the access on money "alone" I meant to emphasize and you agree that we agree on that.

I sometimes see students turn away from jobs at early career stages that they scorn because it is a "master's level job" or "only $40 an hour and I should get way more than that with a doctorate" when I actually see it as a gateway to satisfying work and future opportunities that will indeed recognize the professional training etc. that you cite for its value and worth.

My point is mainly that psychologists need to look with a wide gaze for work that matters to them and be creative about how to find the compensation they desire. I think these are just facts about where the profession is.
 

Therapist4Chnge

Neuropsych Ninja Faculty
Moderator Emeritus
10+ Year Member
Oct 7, 2006
21,456
2,420
281
The Beach
Status
Psychologist
Here are (in my mind) the major contributing factors to steady declining in psychologists' salaries. This also can address FadedC's question about what the APA (and other smaller organizations) can do to make a difference:

1a. Be more politically active in combating mid-level encroachment. Social Workers, Counselors, and other mid-level practitioners have far better lobbying groups and have made deep cuts into our scope of practice. The APA and psychology in general has done a very poor job in enforcing our areas of expertise, and we have literally given away large parts that were once the primary domain of psychologists.

1b. Be more active lobbying against insurance companies who look to cut psychological reimbursement and provide horrid compensation for services rendered. Anyone examining reimbursement rates over the last 10 years can see the significant decline in rates.

2. Better regulate the acred. process, push for licensure from only APA acrd. programs, and require caps on admissions and attrition rates. Too many people coming in and going out, many of whom are being pushed towards non-acred sites which take advantage of them for cheap labor.

3. Educate the public and government representatives. The vast majority of the public does not understand the difference between a psychiatrist and a psychologist, and often has no idea of the training differences between a Masters-level and Doctoral-level clinician.

4. Have one or more organizations actually step up and actually represent the best interest of psychologists. Obviously this one is quite hard to do, and will vary greatly, but it is somewhat like our political system, in that most people are selecting between the lesser of three evils (APA v. APS v. NAPPP).

5. Limit the "vanity" boards out there, and instead push to make ABPP and equivilant boarding the standard and not the exception for licensed psychologists.

6a. Encourage early career psychologists to not accept positions where they are being marginalized by employers. Any position that advertises for MA/MS/Ph.D/Psy.D. practitioners and doesn't significantly differentiate pay is essentially degrading our training and trying to offer us far less than we should earn. A person doesn't need to be an economist to see the micro and macro impact of wage supression upon our field.

6b. Stop quasi-part-time people from dictating full-time wages. Many psychologists work jobs that fall in-between part and full-time employment, and that is often used to support lower wages. Clinicians often work for poor per diem work, and often don't bother to negotiate higher wages. People have asked why someone taking a lower paying jobs impacts them, and this is the reason. Taking a job for $50-$55k/yr after putting in 6-8+ years of doctoral training is absurd. I personally would rather abandon the profession than accept that kind of money for my skillset. It frustrates me to no end to see doctoral-level people think this is okay, or to rationalize that their "quality of life" is better so they don't care. A BA/BS can make that in their FIRST YEAR out of school, at the age of 21.

7. Go back to science. Having some doctoral-level psychologists talk about "icky" research and actively distance themselves from research marginalizes the profession as a whole. Science informs practice, and getting away from that weakens our position as the experts in mental health.
 

FadedC

7+ Year Member
May 17, 2009
574
16
151
Status
Psychology Student
I didn't think the APA actually had any power to do things like regulate the license proccess. That's something that the government decides at a state level. The APA has their model license act which gives a template for what they feel the requirements should be, but to the best of my knowledge there isn't a single state which completely follows it.
 
Jan 14, 2010
149
0
0
USA
Status
Psychology Student
I do believe that those who have developed skills and abilities that society values should reap the rewards of that effort.
To what degree do you think society actually values the skills and abilities of properly trained clinical psychologists? Personally, I don't think very much for a variety of reasons (including stigma surrounding mental health professions and lack of public education about how skills differ and matter).

Furthermore, just as some here may feel that teachers or clergy are getting paid more than they should (when compared to how much psychologists make after so much training), others in different fields may say that our skills aren't that specialized either and that we don't need such lengthy schooling to do our jobs in the first place. Of course, I'm sure most of us would disagree with that, just as some teacher or clergy members might not believe that their skills aren't as worthy as ours.

Not everyone is capable of making $100k, but that does not make it ridiculous for those who have invested in themselves and have the intellectual ability to expect to be rewarded for those efforts.
I understand what you're saying - but also imagine a lot of people outside of the field would argue that if you have those abilities you should invest in another field that a) would make use of your stellar intellectual ability and b) reward you properly for it based on societal demand/need.

I would love for our field to make more money (I love money) and, as my career develops, will work to champion that. However, while I may feel, like many of you, that I am 'deserving' of a higher salary, I know it does not mean that the rest of society does (as in my view, skill only pays off if what you're skilled in is worth something to those buying it). And I also know that I will be making enough to live quite comfortably on (unless of course, salary declines drastically in the next 15 years or so) so I'm not completely dismayed by the numbers.
 
Last edited:

Markp

Clinical Psychologist
10+ Year Member
7+ Year Member
Nov 19, 2007
2,262
20
151
Status
Psychologist
To what degree do you think society actually values the skills and abilities of properly trained clinical psychologists? Personally, I don't think very much for a variety of reasons (including stigma surrounding mental health professions and lack of public education about how skills differ and matter).
Well that depends on where you are working, now doesn't it?

In many cases society does not value the contributions of psychologists. Where I am working, psychologists have value and I plan to stay there. Still stigma plays a significant role in preventing psychologists from enjoying higher utilization from a clinical standpoint, but from an applied aspect psychologists also hold tremendous value to large organizations.


Furthermore, just as some here may feel that teachers or clergy are getting paid more than they should (when compared to how much psychologists make after so much training), others in different fields may say that our skills aren't that specialized either and that we don't need such lengthy schooling to do our jobs in the first place.
I'm not worried if other fields are getting paid "more than they should", not even sure that I would operationalize it that way. Psychologists are investing lots of time, effort, and money in getting trained and then cannot understand why their training has little value.

Of course, I'm sure most of us would disagree with that, just as some teacher or clergy members might not believe that their skills aren't as worthy as ours.
Skills are worth what the market will bear, so the question is not why others are valued more, but why psychology seems to lack sufficient value to justify the time, effort, and money involved in the training of psychologists.


I understand what you're saying - but also imagine a lot of people outside of the field would argue that if you have those abilities you should invest in another field that a) would make use of your stellar intellectual ability and b) reward you properly for it based on societal demand/need.
And those people actually have a point worth considering.

Mark
 
Feb 22, 2010
64
0
0
Status
Psychology Student
I mentioned this to an adviser who is very active in APA and GPS (state level professional org) and she pointed out that APA doesn't have the lobbying budget to accomplish a lot of these big ticket items. She said many state and federal representatives won't even deal with lobbying organizations until they've contributed over a certain amount, and people just don't contribute that much to APA.
 

August2008

10+ Year Member
Apr 3, 2007
79
0
0
Status
I have a hard time understanding the logic behind this. After many years (10+) of school, hard work and rigorous training, I will be making less than some guy who came to paint my house or an electrician or a plumber. I am in no means putting these professions down, but it seems to me that it pays off economically much better these days to be a tradesperson than a psychologist. Don't get me wrong I would not prefer to be a tradesperson, but it sure does not seem like a fair system. While the common phrase among psychologists seems to be "I'm doing this because I love it, not for the money," I wonder what doctors or lawyers would be saying if this was the case in their profession.
 

docma

10+ Year Member
Oct 27, 2007
791
259
281
Status
An economy is not usually a "fair" system. This thread is actually about all the elements in the complex equation that contributes to the way an economy is "lawful" in the sense that it responds to certain predictable forces that give it some perceptible order--just not necessarily the order we want from our individual perspective. An electricians service's in our high-tech homes is invaluable and the electrician has resource that are in high demand. The price is about his having control over resources (expertise) that are relatively scarce. Psychologists have not done a good job of demonstrating what their most valuable resources are to those who can afford to pay for them. And, unfortunately, the vast number of people who really do need and want services psychologists are often specially trained to provide, are very often not in the position to pay the wage many psychologists want. The disparity in health care services in this country is a whole other thread of course...
 

Ollie123

10+ Year Member
Feb 19, 2007
4,726
1,196
281
Status
Psychology Student
I mentioned this to an adviser who is very active in APA and GPS (state level professional org) and she pointed out that APA doesn't have the lobbying budget to accomplish a lot of these big ticket items. She said many state and federal representatives won't even deal with lobbying organizations until they've contributed over a certain amount, and people just don't contribute that much to APA.
There's really two sides to this though. I would never contribute money to APA's lobbying budget because I know they would spend it stupidly and/or on things I don't believe in (e.g. RxP, at least in the manner APA is approaching it). I think it stems from it being a somewhat divided organization, and I know at least the scientist side of APA is generally pissed off with the direction of the organization so I think its pretty unlikely you'll see any of them making contributions to an organization that is generally not acting in their best interests.
 

JockNerd

10+ Year Member
5+ Year Member
Mar 28, 2007
1,810
9
0
Status
Psychology Student
I mentioned this to an adviser who is very active in APA and GPS (state level professional org) and she pointed out that APA doesn't have the lobbying budget to accomplish a lot of these big ticket items. She said many state and federal representatives won't even deal with lobbying organizations until they've contributed over a certain amount, and people just don't contribute that much to APA.
They should have plenty of power. The problem is that the musical chairs of APA governance are too busy giving each other awards to look after problems in the profession.
 
Nov 27, 2009
132
0
0
Status
Oh snap. I just saw this thread. I want to drop down on my knees right now and just throw up. I'm going to be sick to my stomach. What is going on in this field? This is an embarrassment. I'm embarrassed. I just paid my APA dues and I'm going to be sick. I need cold compresses on my forehead. I have to go
 

Jon Snow

Senior Member
10+ Year Member
Aug 5, 2005
3,289
479
281
Status
Some good posts in this thread. . .

I wonder what doctors or lawyers would be saying if this was the case in their profession.
In my experience, they say the same things others in this thread have said. Many see themselves as underpaid for their skillset. Why? Because, like many of us, they have smart and successful friends. So, the neurologist that pulls in 200,000+ a year sees his buddy pulling in 1,000,000+ a year and thinks, "I could do that." Of course, being around these people irritates me even more as I'm not close to either of those incomes. . . and have to contend with nurses and other semi-professionals/mid-levels outstripping the average psychologist income (making my bargaining position difficult).

I've come to the conclusion that psychology (the field, not the content) is a bit of a joke. We have a significant number of marginal talents with counter-productive political/life views that act as deadweight in furthering the development of the field. This, combined with the fact that everyone (out there in the general public) has an opinion on psychology and believes in their own intentional/psychological explanations of behavior, and we've got a serious problem with gaining traction for the field as a whole.

I make okay money, not great. I'm not satisfied with it. At the same level of accomplishment, as a physician (in a similar specialty), I'd probably be making 3-4 times my current income, and have tons more clout in my department (which does matter because it affects what I'm able to do, strings I have access to). This is why, for those that are interested in neuro-oriented research, I recommend you just go to medical school. It will save you a lot of trouble. Hell, you can extend that to non-neuro too, just go work in a psychiatry department.

For those that want to be psychotherapists, I don't know to say. . . clinical psychology is dead?
 

docma

10+ Year Member
Oct 27, 2007
791
259
281
Status
I'm not sure an historical perspective is in any way helpful--but do keep in mind that for most of the last century psychology was a scientific/academic profession, not a professional services profession. It was the effort to become more "like" physicians and lawyers and the related economic gains, that led to the business of professional schools. However, the field is far behind business and law in its evolution on that track--and there is still a large division of values (eg APS and APA controversy reflects this). All of these factors are part of the equation and it is hard to see them when you first enter into the training process. (I think history and systems of psychology should be a first year course personally) The professional school movement is helping us prepare many more psychologists to meet the needs to the population--but it is also a business and there are huge economic forces at work, especially in the current economy. Overall, psychology still has a long way to go in professional "maturation" and so there are a lot of adolescent-like dynamics in the works and we all are caught up in them now.
 
Apr 1, 2010
77
15
51
Los Angeles
Status
Psychology Student
Some good posts in this thread. . .



In my experience, they say the same things others in this thread have said. Many see themselves as underpaid for their skillset. Why? Because, like many of us, they have smart and successful friends. So, the neurologist that pulls in 200,000+ a year sees his buddy pulling in 1,000,000+ a year and thinks, "I could do that." Of course, being around these people irritates me even more as I'm not close to either of those incomes. . . and have to contend with nurses and other semi-professionals/mid-levels outstripping the average psychologist income (making my bargaining position difficult).

I've come to the conclusion that psychology (the field, not the content) is a bit of a joke. We have a significant number of marginal talents with counter-productive political/life views that act as deadweight in furthering the development of the field. This, combined with the fact that everyone (out there in the general public) has an opinion on psychology and believes in their own intentional/psychological explanations of behavior, and we've got a serious problem with gaining traction for the field as a whole.

I make okay money, not great. I'm not satisfied with it. At the same level of accomplishment, as a physician (in a similar specialty), I'd probably be making 3-4 times my current income, and have tons more clout in my department (which does matter because it affects what I'm able to do, strings I have access to). This is why, for those that are interested in neuro-oriented research, I recommend you just go to medical school. It will save you a lot of trouble. Hell, you can extend that to non-neuro too, just go work in a psychiatry department.

For those that want to be psychotherapists, I don't know to say. . . clinical psychology is dead?
Man!!! I was thinking about this 2 weeks ago prior to making my decision into which grad school to attend. But I would have to do a post-bacc for my med reqs and then med school and then residency and then a specialty!!! i mean how many years are we talking about here? at least more than 10. Is anyone seriously considering this route or do you know anyone who has that couldn't be happier?

I would still withdraw from grad school if it would be worth it in the end (job stability, salary, credibility, respect, etc.)
 

Therapist4Chnge

Neuropsych Ninja Faculty
Moderator Emeritus
10+ Year Member
Oct 7, 2006
21,456
2,420
281
The Beach
Status
Psychologist
Sadly I agree with much of what JS wrote. I am frustrated that I'll have to look outside of the profession if I want to make good money ($200k+/yr w. decent hours), while that is easily attainable if I went with my backup plan of med school. I would definitely caution people looking into clinical psychology right now...not only should you look elsewhere for money, but prestige is a steep mountain to climb in psychology.

For those who want to squeak by, maybe making a good salary isn't high on the list, but I'm aiming for top medical centers, and the pay at them is sadly inadequate for the amount of training we put in. I have friends who went to marginal law schools who pull down $150k+ without much effort. I'll have put in 8 years by the time I complete my fellowship, and I'll have to work my butt off to get 2/3 of that.
 
Apr 1, 2010
77
15
51
Los Angeles
Status
Psychology Student
Sadly I agree with much of what JS wrote. I am frustrated that I'll have to look outside of the profession if I want to make good money ($200k+/yr w. decent hours), while that is easily attainable if I went with my backup plan of med school. I would definitely caution people looking into clinical psychology right now...not only should you look elsewhere for money, but prestige is a steep mountain to climb in psychology.

For those who want to squeak by, maybe making a good salary isn't high on the list, but I'm aiming for top medical centers, and the pay at them is sadly inadequate for the amount of training we put in. I have friends who went to marginal law schools who pull down $150k+ without much effort. I'll have put in 8 years by the time I complete my fellowship, and I'll have to work my butt off to get 2/3 of that.
if you were to do it over would u have gone the medical route?
 

FadedC

7+ Year Member
May 17, 2009
574
16
151
Status
Psychology Student
For those who want to squeak by, maybe making a good salary isn't high on the list, but I'm aiming for top medical centers, and the pay at them is sadly inadequate for the amount of training we put in. I have friends who went to marginal law schools who pull down $150k+ without much effort. I'll have put in 8 years by the time I complete my fellowship, and I'll have to work my butt off to get 2/3 of that.
I know it's not uncommon to make 100k+ first year out of law school, but I wouldn't say these people put in minimal effort. Working 80+ hour weeks is the norm for someone taking a job like that and the burnout rate is through the roof.
 

justme08

10+ Year Member
Aug 24, 2008
151
0
0
Status
Pre-Health (Field Undecided)
The pay in many sectors does stink from a pure ROI standpoint; however, when looking at utility...JK:)

Psychology is interesting and it's considered a "helping profession," like teaching, social work, most police officers, etc...as long as there are people willing to go into it and realize the ROI things won't likely change $$ wise.

About lawyers, I've worked with many. I've worked in the one of the oldest firms in the area I live in, and just a few years back they were starting brand-new, baby associates at 40k. I don't live in a large city, but the county population is over 400,000, so not really podunk either. The medium salary for an attorney in this area is not six figures.

Of course, on the other hand while hunting for research opportunities, I came across a post-doc at an APA approved site, offering a lovely 23k. So, even though the attorneys here aren't making six figures right of school they are still making almost twice as much as a psychology graduate.

Regarding medical MiJac, it's a different lifestyle I think you just have to ask yourself if that's the lifestyle you want. Plus, there are lots of changes afloat. You could probably do pre-reqs in a year, med school is four years, residency one or two. But, unless you are really interested in other areas of medicine than psychiatric, it seems like med school would be a long haul.

Edited to add: Also, med school debt is very high compared to a funded PhD.
 

edieb

Senior Member
10+ Year Member
Aug 27, 2004
1,349
72
271
Status
What is scary about this is that salaries have been trending downward for awhile so we don't know where the bottom is.

Unfortunately, even employers who pay relatively high salaries to psychologists, really don't pay enough. For example, I am working at a Veterans' Affairs hospital making $58K. When I started graduate school, that sounded like LOTS of money. However, seven years later, I realize just how little that is, especially after student loans are deducted. I couldn't fathom having to raise a kid on this income

I am quickly trying to get licensed in a state that does not require a post-doc so I can start the psychopharm classes in September. That way, I figure I can open a private practice and make more money.

I really wanted to do all therapy and assessment, but the way the market is going, it just doesn't make financial sense to do this. Neuropsych isn't much better, especially if you add in the financial loss from the extra fellowship. I figure I can do med checks in the morning, make all of my money there and conduct psychotherapy in the afternoons and not feel rushed to see tons of patients in order to make ends meet.
 

Therapist4Chnge

Neuropsych Ninja Faculty
Moderator Emeritus
10+ Year Member
Oct 7, 2006
21,456
2,420
281
The Beach
Status
Psychologist
if you were to do it over would u have gone the medical route?
I had the option to attend a Top 3 MBA/MIS program before I left my career, which I probably should have done. I can always go back, but I want to give this a serious go before I jump ship and sell my soul again.

As for medicine, it is far from a panacea. Encroaching mid-level providers, decreasing reimbursements, and increased competition from abroad make it a stressful path....in addition to the expected rigors of medical school and residency.

I want to be able to wake up in the morning, enjoy what I do, be constantly challenged intellectually, and live comfortably. I have everything but the $, which will be a work in progress. The economics of it all are quite subjective, so don't let my personal expectations deter you, as my expectations are not typical of someone in the field. I still think like a corp consultant, so $75k in my head is a quarterly bonus...not an annual salary.

I know it's not uncommon to make 100k+ first year out of law school, but I wouldn't say these people put in minimal effort. Working 80+ hour weeks is the norm for someone taking a job like that and the burnout rate is through the roof.
I mistakenly implied they are just out of law school, when in reality they are 5-10 years out. At first it can definitely be a grind, particularly if someone is on a partnership track. Most of my friends have settled into some good gigs where they put in their 9-10 hours a day, live in $600k-$800k houses, and travel without much monotary concern.

In the end it comes down to lifestyle. I made an agreement with myself that I'd trade short-term gain for long-term happiness. If I didn't leave my career I'd probably be running a mid-sized consulting group and working on a second home, though I wouldn't have the satisfaction I get at my job every day. I genuinely enjoy what I do, and I can always go back to Corp. America, but I couldn't always go back to this.
 

Therapist4Chnge

Neuropsych Ninja Faculty
Moderator Emeritus
10+ Year Member
Oct 7, 2006
21,456
2,420
281
The Beach
Status
Psychologist
I really wanted to do all therapy and assessment, but the way the market is going, it just doesn't make financial sense to do this. Neuropsych isn't much better, especially if you add in the financial loss from the extra fellowship. I figure I can do med checks in the morning, make all of my money there and conduct psychotherapy in the afternoons and not feel rushed to see tons of patients in order to make ends meet.
It is frustrating to not feel like we can make a living doing our "bread and butter" work. Since most of our work is highly dependant on personal billable hours, we are forced to increase either our hours or our rates. Going the salaried route trades at least 40-50% more salary for stability, which I guess works for some people.

edieb and I disagree about the $-opportunity for neuropsych, but he has a good point that the gap is shrinking. I still think doing assessment work on the side is a great way to supplement income, though the rates can vary greatly. You won't make much if you work do contract work for $25/hr, but if you can cherry pick, you can add $20-$30k to your bottom line with a handful of hours added to each week.

At the end of the day we are fighting harder and harder for a smaller and smaller pie. We aren't doing ourselves any favors, and unless we have some changes, it will get worse. It isn't all doom and gloom, but the cushy private practice clinicians and "part-time" tenure track careers are doing the way of the dinosaur.
 

justme08

10+ Year Member
Aug 24, 2008
151
0
0
Status
Pre-Health (Field Undecided)
Man, reading this thread makes me really, really pray I get accepted into a certain program working for Uncle Sam.
 

Drrrrrr. Celty

Osteo Dullahan
7+ Year Member
Nov 10, 2009
16,060
5,261
181
Status
Medical Student
Every healthcare business is losing money. It's a steady decline, really, don't be surprised if by 2014 clinical psychologists will be making 60k a year on average.
However psychology is a field where you gain value over time. Low intro pay and when your in your 60's you'll be on average making over 100k a year.
 

Rivi

10+ Year Member
Jan 29, 2009
410
150
281
Status
Psychologist
Yea that is one thing I wonder about. How much of the salary decline is the impact of the health care field getting railed in general?
 

Markp

Clinical Psychologist
10+ Year Member
7+ Year Member
Nov 19, 2007
2,262
20
151
Status
Psychologist
Man, reading this thread makes me really, really pray I get accepted into a certain program working for Uncle Sam.
Yes, being at USUHS means you don't have to starve. It also means not having to wait to turn 60 to make $100k per year either. It's rough out there, personally, I didn't realize how bad it was until I was already on my way to USUHS... Even at the fully funded programs I was accepted to, I would have been hurting pretty bad by year 5.... I feel for people doing it the traditional way! It's brutal.
 

positivepsych

Member
10+ Year Member
7+ Year Member
Nov 25, 2005
331
1
0
Status
Psychologist
As I have stated repeatedly, our benchmark should not be physicians, but other doctoral-level health care providers (dentists, pharmacists, optometrists, and podiatrists), who only require a 4-year doctoral degree to be licensed and treat patients:

Salary.com Wizard for 92101 (major metro area):
10th, 25th, 75th, and 95th percentiles

Clinical Psychologist:
$63,684 $73,251 $93,448 $102,269

Dentist:
$115,987 $129,142 $168,064 $190,345

Pharmacist:
$100,606 $105,784 $117,422 $122,839

Podiatrist:
$84,297 $122,925 $248,293 $312,312

Optometrist:
$89,381 $96,980 $128,176 $148,979

Psychiatrist (just as a comparison):
$156,931 $179,395 $222,709 $239,680

There is a huge discrepancy here. Though psychologists take 6+ years to get licensed at minimum in most states (4 grad school + 1 year internship + 1 year post-doc), they start out at around $50-60K. Other comparable professions generally start at $100+K. It's sad that our 90th percentile income (after many years of experience) is the starting salary for comparable professions.

We are paid like master's level providers, because MFTs and MSWs are willing to do the same job for cheaper, period. This is not to mention that competition will be getting worse with the glut of PsyDs in the next few decades. There's no way to undo all this, so there's no way that salaries, as a field, are going to get better.
 
Feb 8, 2010
78
0
0
Portland, ME
Status
Pre-Psychology
So of course it is important that we all make enough money after we graduate. Of course. But it seems to me that if anyone is out for the big payday, then they should obviously look somewhere else. Define what is important for yourself, and if money is the biggest thing, then you should reevaluate your chosen path. However, if you love psychology and research and are willing to forgo some material luxuries compared to other people, then stick with it. That's my plan.

Life is too short, and money too fleeting, to make for yourself a career you don't love.
 

edieb

Senior Member
10+ Year Member
Aug 27, 2004
1,349
72
271
Status
So of course it is important that we all make enough money after we graduate. Of course. But it seems to me that if anyone is out for the big payday, then they should obviously look somewhere else. Define what is important for yourself, and if money is the biggest thing, then you should reevaluate your chosen path. However, if you love psychology and research and are willing to forgo some material luxuries compared to other people, then stick with it. That's my plan.

Life is too short, and money too fleeting, to make for yourself a career you don't love.
A - If you want to do therapy, get a master's degree
B - If you want to do mental health research, get an M.D. with a residency in psychiatry


You are acting like people who wish to make $100K are greedy and materialistic. Fact is, after student loan payments, lost income because of time in school and the necessities of life (house, decent car, insurance, college for the kids), $100K will not buy you a luxurious lifestyle but just allow you to get by comfortably