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APA Salaries in Psychology

Discussion in 'Psychology [Psy.D. / Ph.D.]' started by Peacemaker36, Aug 31, 2017.

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  1. Peacemaker36

    Peacemaker36 2+ Year Member

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    Has APA's latest salary report been referenced on SDN yet?
    http://www.apa.org/workforce/publications/2015-salaries/report.pdf

    It looks like the median salary for self-employed, non-incorporated psychologists is $120,000.
    The mean salary for that population is $139,591.

    Am I misunderstanding what APA means by "self-employed, non-incorporated psychologists"? They are talking about solo practitioners, yes?

    Obviously, there are many people who go into this field thinking they will be happy and successful as solo practitioners; for a variety of reasons, many end up changing their plans. But it's nice to know (if I'm interpreting this correctly) that private practice is still relatively lucrative for the majority of people who go that route.
     
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  3. WisNeuro

    WisNeuro Board Certified Neuropsychologist 7+ Year Member

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    Yeah, those are PP folks.

    Encouraging yes, but I'd take it with a grain of salt, huge SD's there. Definitely doable, but you need some good business sense. Also, I'm curious as to other variables that the previous surveys captured, like debt levels. And, what about people from diploma mills not working as psychologists because they couldn't get licensed. There are a lot of people with "doctorates" working as counselors/therapists (depending on jurisdiction) who may not be counted who would definitely skew these numbers down. In short, a good snapshot, but lacks some nuance for those of us who like to see the deeper data.

    *edit, scratch that, looks like they defined doctorate as those with a highest professional degree of PhD/PsyD as a psychologist, did not use licensed data.
     
  4. erg923

    erg923 Psychologist-Health Insurance Operations 10+ Year Member

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    Keep in mind total compensation package.

    120K in PP is not the same as 120k salary at institution/corporation that also pays most of your monthly health insurance premiums, matches your retirement contributions, stock options, pension, paid trainings and CEUs, provides paid time off, disability insurance, etc.
     
    Last edited: Aug 31, 2017
  5. WisNeuro

    WisNeuro Board Certified Neuropsychologist 7+ Year Member

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    Good point. I had a couple offers for PP settings that outmatched my current salary, but my compensation package at my current place blew that figure out of the water.
     
  6. WisNeuro

    WisNeuro Board Certified Neuropsychologist 7+ Year Member

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    Also, I'm just glancing at tables and descriptions, but they may have included I/O psychologists in these categories. A self-employed I/O psychologist doing consultant work is going to skew this data up. It'd be nice to see some of this data broken out more. It's not as useful to us when you throw any type of psych degree (General, Educational, Social, I/O, clinical) into the same pool.
     
  7. PSYDR

    PSYDR Psychologist 10+ Year Member

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    I don't trust that $120k number. I've run into too many morons that do gross and not net on that stuff. Or don't save for retirement. On a recent lucrative gig, an older female psychologist, who didn't know she was earning half of what I was, told me how to do business. Still working waaay past 65, but showing me her new jewelry from her earnings.
     
  8. WisNeuro

    WisNeuro Board Certified Neuropsychologist 7+ Year Member

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    Most people do a poor job of looking at compensation vs salary. This is where it helps to monetize everything when you are comparing (e.g., competing job offers). How many paid days off, how much is the 401k/403b match? how much time do you get off for CME? How much money do you get for CME? How good is the insurance plan and how much of the premium do they pay, how much do you pay? This stuff is huge. I had a job offer that paid about 8k more in salary than my current position, but after monetizing the benefits, my current position came out about 6k ahead, and with more freedom. Run the numbers folks, don't look at that survey and think that number will fall into your lap if you don't do anything for it.
     
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  9. WisNeuro

    WisNeuro Board Certified Neuropsychologist 7+ Year Member

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    That's like someone with a psych doctorate and six figure debt plus trying to lecture about sound investments and return on investment.
     
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  10. PSYDR

    PSYDR Psychologist 10+ Year Member

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    I think a lot of that stuff is not being exposed to different levels of wealth. UBS had a survey where respondents indicated wealthy started at $5mil in cash. Dividend for $5mil would be 200k/yr. But that's different than people who earn $1 mil/ year. And if you have a billion dollars, the dividends pay $40mil/ year. Try bragging to any of those groups and you'll be laughed out of the room.

    If the saying "you become the average of all of your friends" is true, I want to be the min value in that pool.
     
  11. smalltownpsych

    smalltownpsych 2+ Year Member

    Another factor to keep in mind is that psychologists who are running their own business would want to keep their reported income low by expensing everything that they can in order to minimize tax burden. This can also be done even when employed to a certain extent. I should never go on a vacation that isn't to a conference or to manage my rental property.
     
  12. WisNeuro

    WisNeuro Board Certified Neuropsychologist 7+ Year Member

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    This is how trips home to see family get at least partially deducted for me.
     
  13. smalltownpsych

    smalltownpsych 2+ Year Member

    Same here. My wife and I are so glad we held onto that property throughout my moving around for internship and such.
     
  14. erg923

    erg923 Psychologist-Health Insurance Operations 10+ Year Member

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    The US's tax code is ridiculous
     
  15. WisNeuro

    WisNeuro Board Certified Neuropsychologist 7+ Year Member

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    The tax code does indeed suck. Unless you make a decent amount of money and know how to make the loopholes and deductions work for you. Then it's glorious.
     
  16. smalltownpsych

    smalltownpsych 2+ Year Member

    I find that the closer I get to making the kind of money that congressmen make, the better off I am as far as being able to find ways to mitigate my taxes. Coincidence? On the other hand, I am paying more in income tax alone than I made as salary on my internship. I was thinking just the other day about what would be more beneficial to the economy - me spending and/or investing that money or giving it to the Fed.
     
  17. WisNeuro

    WisNeuro Board Certified Neuropsychologist 7+ Year Member

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    Statistically speaking, for the US economy, giving it to the Fed. People in higher income brackets tend to save a higher share of their money while those in lower brackets spend most discretionary income on consumer goods. Not saying it's the best thing to do, but probably better that way for GDP and economic growth.
     
  18. DynamicDidactic

    DynamicDidactic Ass of Prof 7+ Year Member

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    agreed.

    As aggregate numbers these are useful for those interested in the field. Basically, you can have a livable wage with a doctorate in psychology but you wont be raking it in. I hope people understand the limitations of these numbers, as already mentioned in the thread, and the importance of keeping debt low.

    Also, this highlights the flexibility of a doctoral degree. Apparently, I am right at the median for teaching positions but I only teach 8 months out the year and I have strong job security (especially if I get tenure) and flexibility in what/when/how I do my job. But obviously not breaking the bank over here.
     
  19. smalltownpsych

    smalltownpsych 2+ Year Member

    Back to the topic at hand since we digress, doesn't this indicate that salaries for us have actually increased a bit, finally? It was pretty flat for quite a number of years.
     
  20. G Costanza

    G Costanza Psychologist - UCC 5+ Year Member

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    Given the lack of sound leadership and even scandal within APA, my gut reaction was that of suspicion towards those numbers. While they may be accurate, APA has quite an incentive to interpret the data with the highest possible average.

    I know people who make 120k but know a lot more who do not. And I'll take my own anecdotal experiences over data from the APA for the time being.
     
  21. smalltownpsych

    smalltownpsych 2+ Year Member

    I hear what you are saying and don't trust the APA myself, but it could set the expectation a bit higher which might help in negotiations. I know that I have used some of the various available data when I have been job hunting or negotiating.
     
  22. Ollie123

    Ollie123 10+ Year Member

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    Definitely agree with others to look at total compensation package. Most folks I know at AMCs seem to be starting ~90k, with growth from there. Can't speak for other institutions, but I'd estimate my benefits package to bring that up to around those numbers (and I'm just starting - so should in theory be well below the median for all psychologists). Some benefits are tough to pin a dollar value on, but my health insurance is $30/month and I get > 10% retirement contribution. That's a ~20k difference right there. I can send two kids to college pretty much anywhere in the country without having to pay more than in-state tuition (university picks up the tab for anything above state tuition rate). Tons more, but those are probably the financial biggies. These things add up fast.

    That said - I do think its very possible to do well in the field. Many people do not and I think there are a number of reasons why. As a group, I think we tend to value lifestyle over money more than some other fields (medicine - though that seems to be changing). The folks I know doing well tend to work longer hours, harder and with more stress than those I know who are content earning less. I don't think there is anything wrong with either path, but its important to know what you are getting and plan accordingly. Many people seem to want/expect both (i.e. visions of a cushy PP seeing a few wealthy folks for analysis, with loads of free time to read philosophy and go to the theater while still clearing 150k/year). That is sharply divorced from what most people will experience.
     
  23. Therapist4Chnge

    Therapist4Chnge Neuropsych Ninja Faculty Moderator Emeritus 10+ Year Member

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    Numbers can definitely be deceiving. I agree about the AMC example given above, there were quite a few built-in benefits that add up.

    That said, if someone is decent at their job* and can figure out the business end, $150k/yr working 40-50hr/wk is doable...it may not be all in salary, but that's why you find the best accountant you can afford. Most clinicians prefer to work for others, which will always cost them more.

    *most any speciality area that isn't straight therapy and taking commercial insurance. That combo is a one-way ticket to burning out.

    I don't take insurance now and the difference has been a huge quality of life improvement. It isn't possible for everyone, but it can be done.
     
  24. medium rare

    medium rare Psychologist & Psych NP 7+ Year Member

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    Not taking insurance is definitely the way to go.
     
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  25. BuckeyeLove

    BuckeyeLove Forensic Psychologist 2+ Year Member

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    so much this. The most business savy psychologists that I've worked with I have found are insane in terms of the hours they put in. 12 hours a day or more, 6 days a week (and they aren't shy about disclosing this when talking to ECP's whom they view as complaining about lack of compensation). Of course, they aren't working these hours as much now...it seems to be the pattern that all business folks want to find ways to work less and make more money as they get older, and they fall right in that category. They make insane cash now as a result, but I'm not exactly sure about that QoL. It's funny too, and this may be me projecting, but I've also found (my perception) that they tend to scoff at psychologists that don't drop everything to work at all hours.
     
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  26. PSYDR

    PSYDR Psychologist 10+ Year Member

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    Those are insane hours?! Because this sounds like a completely reasonable thing to do.

    Youth is finite. One will not have the same energy at 30 as they did at 20. How one invests this time of their life determines some other things.
     
  27. WisNeuro

    WisNeuro Board Certified Neuropsychologist 7+ Year Member

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    I think a more important point, for comparison's sake, is that compensation needs to be compared apples to apples. If someone is making 150-175k working 60-70 hours, should they be compared in the same way to someone making 110k working 40 hrs a week? I think many students and new professionals look at some of these figures and think that they can make mid 100s working 40 hours a week off the bat. Not all that realistic for the vast majority.
     
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  28. PSYDR

    PSYDR Psychologist 10+ Year Member

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    I completely agree. I'll extend in saying that I think most do not understand how many billable hours they are working vs how many hours they are in the office.
     
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  29. smalltownpsych

    smalltownpsych 2+ Year Member

    Completely agree with this, but wanted to add that if I was working 70 hours a week, I would want to break the 200k mark. I can make 100k in half that time. Unfortunately, as PSYDR was saying, not sure I have the energy to do that these days. At least not when working for someone else. We'll see what happens in a couple of years when I start my own business. I plan on working extremely hard for a number of years so that I can coast a bit down the road.
    Also, in a related tangent. Why are psychologists (based on some of my observations it seems that mid-level counselors are even worse) so afraid of working hard?
     
  30. BuckeyeLove

    BuckeyeLove Forensic Psychologist 2+ Year Member

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    I'm not sure if this is something that is there from the beginning or develops over time, but I can say that I have seen a few psychologists in state and fed govt jobs that essentially get to the point where they get paid 100kish per year and try their hardest not to have to do any actual work (and because theyre in these systems, this pattern appears to have been learned and worked for them). I've also seen this pattern with attorneys that are life long staff lawyers for county pleas courts.
     
  31. WisNeuro

    WisNeuro Board Certified Neuropsychologist 7+ Year Member

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    This is where having no debt from undergrad or grad comes in. I'd rather have a nice, easy work week, and let my investments do well and just retire early without 60 hour weeks.
     
  32. smalltownpsych

    smalltownpsych 2+ Year Member

    You definitely got me there. When you spot the other team over 100k, got to work twice as hard to try and catch up.
    :smack:
    It does seem that we have more of our share of not wanting or even seeing the need to work hard and connecting that to money and business as I see in medicine or dentistry. I wonder if there is any research on this.
     
  33. Ollie123

    Ollie123 10+ Year Member

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    Interesting. My perspective is not necessarily that psychologists don't see the "need" to work hard, as much as it is: A) A desire to strike a different work-life balance than medicine <stereotypically> offered; and B) A general disinterest in the financial side of practice (leads to people having no idea how much they are billing or even how that should/could be determined).

    B concerns me more than A, as long as A is a conscious decision. There is admittedly a lot of grey area. I certainly do know psychologists who are "lazy," but they are relatively few and far between. Part of it is likely setting since I was "born and raised" professionally in AMCs with folks who typically had one or more R01s in addition to administrative/teaching/clinical duties and that is where I am now. Most I know simply choose to work less because they are content with lower salaries. Not the choice I've made, but I think its a perfectly valid choice for someone to make.

    Not understanding the business side I think is much more problematic. Not everyone needs to know the nuances. My billing is handled by the department, I'm perfectly fine with that. But I also take every opportunity to learn more and I DO understand what I'm bringing in, what my productivity expectations are (and why) and how I can try and tailor my practice to make sure I meet those.

    Not to sidetrack the discussion, but that whole game is also about to change. MACRA/MIPS/etc. I'd guess > 50% of practicing psychologists have no idea what that means, but its going to completely change the healthcare game and (I believe) represents a huge opportunity for psychology/behavioral health to carve a niche for ourselves, justify a larger role within the broader medical system and will necessitate substantial restructuring for how many things are being done. It could also spell catastrophe for folks taking insurance who aren't keeping up on these changes (hint, hint if that applies to anyone here).
     
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  34. Are psychologists going the cash pay route for those numbers and just have good business sense or are they doing unethical things? I think yall are paid poor mean salary honestly, especially when you break down the superfluous training period of psychiatry and the end business model.

    Have AMCs increased salary over the years then?


    How long in practice did it take to not take insurance? What was your patient population?


    How do they compete with psychiatry? Is it the timelength those patients value?


    Younger crowds do that for debt as well as building clientele.

    II
    Curious.....does your professional association know that this isn't possible or sustainable given education costs? I've seen costs in education and it is staggering. Is your association oblivious to economic stability and practice continuity?

    What changes are MACRA and MIPS proposed to change your practice patterns in terms of time spent and incentive for payment? My field is allied as well....just curious as to other fields. How does it affect the physician counterparts to your field as well?
     
    Last edited: Sep 2, 2017
  35. WisNeuro

    WisNeuro Board Certified Neuropsychologist 7+ Year Member

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    This is inaccurate. A substantial portion of clinical PhD graduates get through their programs with 0 graduate debt. There are plenty of us who can get through school with no debt and no financial help from family with good financial sense. Of course in some areas, especially higher COL areas, some debt may be necessary, but nowhere near the debt load that some people take out due to poor planning and/or restraint. If anyone is oblivious, it's those who take out 6 figures of loan debt.
     
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  36. Ollie123

    Ollie123 10+ Year Member

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    Wasn't sure if you meant "Have AMCs increased salary in the past" or "Do you expect to continue receiving raises."

    Either way, the answer is yes. Salaries have actually not gone up that dramatically at the assistant professor level, but aren't bad relative to other options. If you win the grants game, compensation for senior folks is usually excellent (high 100s, many into the 200s and beyond). As for the future...obviously anything can happen. For now, I'm expecting annual cost of living raises around 2-3% (got 2.5 this year). However, it gets complicated since we are often paid from multiple sources.

    As to your second question, I'm honestly not sure what you are getting at. My point is just that a shift away from a "billable hours" framework and more towards public health/value added likely works in our favor. Our hourly is on the lower end, but we have the potential to bolster outcomes in many areas of side our own since psych patients are often heavy utilizers across the board. This will garner interest from admins and other departments. We bring stronger backgrounds in stats/methodology than pretty much any other clinical field, which positions as leaders for measuring/understanding "value". From a more practical standpoint, this will dramatically changes expectations, billing procedures and requirements moving forward. Solo practice is going to be more challenging for those taking insurance due to reporting requirements.
     
  37. Thank you for the responses and clarifications
     
  38. LAPsyGuy

    LAPsyGuy 7+ Year Member

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    What a depressing assertion to use one's youth to set up an easier middle age by working constantly. A real forest-for-the-trees issue. There are more values than being financially comfortable, and they all need to be balanced.
     
  39. PSYDR

    PSYDR Psychologist 10+ Year Member

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    Pretty sure grad school is all about trading youth for a profession.
     
  40. MCParent

    MCParent Bronze Donor Classifieds Approved 5+ Year Member

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    Speak for yourself :p I'm in better shape and have more energy at 35 than I did at 20, by a factor of like 5.

    In fairness, those would be unreasonable hours if you compared them to an office job or something. But the comparison should be to other small business entrepreneurs, where it is if anything on the lower end of time investment.
    I had a great life in grad school! It's a wonder what you can accomplish and still have time for fun if you reduce to nothing the time that most people waste on nonsense (stupid television, frivolous social media checking, etc).
     
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  41. PSYDR

    PSYDR Psychologist 10+ Year Member

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    1) I was joking about the hours. I know they are unreasonable. I would wager that there is some degree of truth that investing resources (e.g., time, money, relationships) at the start of your career, in most fields, makes life easier later in life.

    2) Youth is finite. Objectively, it is more likely that one would make more entering the workforce after undergrad, have better benefits, etc than if they went to grad school. Same applies for many post graduate undertakings. The trade off is usually increased earning potential and/or entrance into a field one presumes to find satisfying after training has been completed. If one became a teacher at 22, they would make more from 22-30 while being able to still engage in those frivolous endeavors.
     
  42. LAPsyGuy

    LAPsyGuy 7+ Year Member

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    That's one way to look at and experience it. A depressing way, certainly.
     

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