agif

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Here's the deal: I have tried to get my PhD in Clinical Psychology 3 times. It's still what I really want to do, but I feel guilty trying again. I am 26, just got my first "real" job a year ago and am about to get married. My fiance is 31 and already makes quite a bit more than me. We jut bought our first home in September. We delayed buying a house/moving in together for a while in case I was going to have to move for my PhD and I also didn't have any money while doing my Master's. I know that if I go back to school again, I won't make much for quite a while and even if I am able to do my degree here in our hometown, I know that we may have to move later on for a fellowship/job/etc. Is it selfish of me to want to keep trying to do this? Should I just suck it up ad try to find something else to do with my life?
 

Meteora

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I'd first do some self-reflection on what your specific career goals are (i.e. what you will do day-to-day) and make sure that a clinical PhD is the best option for those goals. If it is, then I'd think about how important/significant it is for you to be able to do that kind of work, and what the potential discrepancy in QOL would be if you stayed where you are. 6 years is a lot of time, but in the context of the rest of your life, it's a more reasonable investment if it's toward work that will give you meaning.

After all that, you should have an honest open-discussion with your partner. Any decision will likely affect them as much as it affects you and you don't want any hidden feelings to emerge later. What's my opinion? I don't know because I'm not you. I don't think it's necessarily selfish depending on how you discuss and go about it with your partner. I will say that you're 26, which is still well within age norms you'd see in graduate classes anyway.
 
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agif

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I'd first do some self-reflection on what your specific career goals are (i.e. what you will do day-to-day) and make sure that a clinical PhD is the best option for those goals. If it is, then I'd think about how important/significant it is for you to be able to do that kind of work, and what the potential discrepancy in QOL would be if you stayed where you are. 6 years is a lot of time, but in the context of the rest of your life, it's a more reasonable investment if it's toward work that will give you meaning.

After all that, you should have an honest open-discussion with your partner. Any decision will likely affect them as much as it affects you and you don't want any hidden feelings to emerge later. What's my opinion? I don't know because I'm not you. I don't think it's necessarily selfish depending on how you discuss and go about it with your partner. I will say that you're 26, which is still well within age norms you'd see in graduate classes anyway.
Thank you! We've discussed it a number of times and he says I can do it but he's just concerned about it being worth-while in the end, i.e. i could get a well-paying job after all that, which is a concern of mine too.
 

WisNeuro

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Thank you! We've discussed it a number of times and he says I can do it but he's just concerned about it being worth-while in the end, i.e. i could get a well-paying job after all that, which is a concern of mine too.
Really depends on what you consider well-paying.
 

MamaPhD

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To the solid advice that @Meteora offered, I would add that it’s crucial that you identify the weaknesses or limitations of your past applications and have a plan to remedy them. It would be a waste of time and money to just give it another try and hope the odds fall in your favor without some meaningful improvement in your application.

That’s less directive and more open ended than the advice I would probably give a friend, which is to step away from this for a few years and then reevaluate.
 
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I'm 31 and married and we are moving together to a far-flung location so that I can pursue my dream.

I say - if this is what you want, you are 100% sure of it, and your partner is okay with it - it's never too late.

Besides, it's just money.
 

Psycycle

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Honestly, at least $75k
With respect, that is not a well-paying gig for a psychologist. You could earn that much as a social worker or other master's level clinician without all the stuff the PhD comes with. Psychologists should not be accepting jobs for $75k unless there are mitigating reasons.



I'm 31 and married and we are moving together to a far-flung location so that I can pursue my dream.

I say - if this is what you want, you are 100% sure of it, and your partner is okay with it - it's never too late.

Besides, it's just money.
I disagree. I think there are times when it is too late. 31 is not one of those times.
Also, money shouldn't be dismissed in importance. It isn't dramatic to say that at times it is the difference between life & death.
 
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Justanothergrad

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1. 75k is easily within grasp, including as a starting salary. You should be making more than this pretty quickly with even have a business sense if you opt to fit those choices into your life, quite frankly.
2. Career is part of life. It isn't selfish to do something that is of interest to you. You may have to / should probably negotiate what that means with the person in your life.. but wanting something doesnt make it selfish. It doesn't make it a good idea either (or a bad idea for that matter).
3. I agree with exploring what you want in the career - is it a 'phd' or is it a specific type of work/training/etc. One is a better reason than the other.
 
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agif

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To the solid advice that @Meteora offered, I would add that it’s crucial that you identify the weaknesses or limitations of your past applications and have a plan to remedy them. It would be a waste of time and money to just give it another try and hope the odds fall in your favor without some meaningful improvement in your application.

That’s less directive and more open ended than the advice I would probably give a friend, which is to step away from this for a few years and then reevaluate.
Yes of course, I completely agree. I am not naive enough to recognize that there has obviously been something wrong with my previous applications and I am actively trying to make myself the most attractive candidate possible.
 
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agif

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With respect, that is not a well-paying gig for a psychologist. You could earn that much as a social worker or other master's level clinician without all the stuff the PhD comes with. Psychologists should not be accepting jobs for $75k unless there are mitigating reasons.




I disagree. I think there are times when it is too late. 31 is not one of those times.
Also, money shouldn't be dismissed in importance. It isn't dramatic to say that at times it is the difference between life & death.
I'm aware. This would really be what I would want as a minimum but not an end point.
 
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agif

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1. 75k is easily within grasp, including as a starting salary. You should be making more than this pretty quickly with even have a business sense if you opt to fit those choices into your life, quite frankly.
2. Career is part of life. It isn't selfish to do something that is of interest to you. You may have to / should probably negotiate what that means with the person in your life.. but wanting something doesnt make it selfish. It doesn't make it a good idea either (or a bad idea for that matter).
3. I agree with exploring what you want in the career - is it a 'phd' or is it a specific type of work/training/etc. One is a better reason than the other.
#3 is a good point and I would like to answer: it is not just that I want my "phd," every time I consider other careers and/or actively pursue them (as I am now), the training and work I could do as a clinical psychologist is what I am still most passionate about and it's my dream to do that work.
 
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#3 is a good point and I would like to answer: it is not just that I want my "phd," every time I consider other careers and/or actively pursue them (as I am now), the training and work I could do as a clinical psychologist is what I am still most passionate about and it's my dream to do that work.
The work of a clinical psychologist can vary significantly. What, specifically, do you see yourself doing on a daily basis in your dream/ideal career?
 

PSYDR

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Brutal honesty:

1) Everyone is selfish. The degree and situations in which those apply vary significantly. You should take both your selfishness, and your spouses into account. Most relationships will not put up with someone so selfish that they do not spend anything on them or the relationships. Most relationships will also not put up with someone so selfless that they don't take care of themselves (which is arguably a different type of selfishness).

2) There’s no such thing as life work balance. There’s life work choices.

3) Every partner has a limit. That tends to be very different individually.

4) There is some degree of application of theory of scarcity within relationships. You have 24 hours. How you invest those hours will affect your relationship. And your professional life. Those hours affect everything, because what you ends up being who you are. That BLS stat from Farrell's book about how working more, leads to significantly higher incomes comes to mind. Maybe your spouse is willing to trade having quality time together for increased income. Maybe they won't. Maybe they are willing to trade 5-7 years of relative poverty for the belief that your work is super important. Maybe you're stupidly good looking, funny, kind, good at something they are not, etc, and they are willing to put up with a lot because of those factors. Maybe your spouse needs a lot of face time, and will leave you if you enter some high hours endeavor. Maybe they're jealous, and would have difficulty with being around younger people. Maybe they have high sexual demands, which won't tolerate you being not around some nights. It all depends.


5) In all of this, you have to know who you are, what you offer, what you take away, etc. There's a balance.

6) If the average person says you won't last in those conditions, they're probably right.

7) You get to decide what's important, and what you're willing to risk.
 
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agif

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The work of a clinical psychologist can vary significantly. What, specifically, do you see yourself doing on a daily basis in your dream/ideal career?
I see myself working in a hospital or healthcare setting, conducting therapy primarily for those with depression and anxiety, as well as conducting research towards the ultimate goal of ending the stigma of mental illness (big picture lofty goal)
 
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agif

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Brutal honesty:

1) Everyone is selfish. The degree and situations in which those apply vary significantly. You should take both your selfishness, and your spouses into account. Most relationships will not put up with someone so selfish that they do not spend anything on them or the relationships. Most relationships will also not put up with someone so selfless that they don't take care of themselves (which is arguably a different type of selfishness).

2) There’s no such thing as life work balance. There’s life work choices.

3) Every partner has a limit. That tends to be very different individually.

4) There is some degree of application of theory of scarcity within relationships. You have 24 hours. How you invest those hours will affect your relationship. And your professional life. Those hours affect everything, because what you ends up being who you are. That BLS stat from Farrell's book about how working more, leads to significantly higher incomes comes to mind. Maybe your spouse is willing to trade having quality time together for increased income. Maybe they won't. Maybe they are willing to trade 5-7 years of relative poverty for the belief that your work is super important. Maybe you're stupidly good looking, funny, kind, good at something they are not, etc, and they are willing to put up with a lot because of those factors. Maybe your spouse needs a lot of face time, and will leave you if you enter some high hours endeavor. Maybe they're jealous, and would have difficulty with being around younger people. Maybe they have high sexual demands, which won't tolerate you being not around some nights. It all depends.


5) In all of this, you have to know who you are, what you offer, what you take away, etc. There's a balance.

6) If the average person says you won't last in those conditions, they're probably right.

7) You get to decide what's important, and what you're willing to risk.
Thank you for this in depth response!
 

Meteora

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With respect, that is not a well-paying gig for a psychologist. You could earn that much as a social worker or other master's level clinician without all the stuff the PhD comes with. Psychologists should not be accepting jobs for $75k unless there are mitigating reasons.
This is slightly tangential, but at what point in one's career post-doctorate can salaries in the >65k range (which is around the median I saw in national averages a couple of years ago) be expected? It was my understanding that at internship, you're essentially paid in cabbages. But once you graduate and pass the EPP, is it realistic to expect a 75k salary for a primarily clinical position? Or is it a widely different experience if you pursue a primarily clinical career vs a more research/academic one? Always been curious, thanks!
 

WisNeuro

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This is slightly tangential, but at what point in one's career post-doctorate can salaries in the >65k range (which is around the median I saw in national averages a couple of years ago) be expected? It was my understanding that at internship, you're essentially paid in cabbages. But once you graduate and pass the EPP, is it realistic to expect a 75k salary for a primarily clinical position? Or is it a widely different experience if you pursue a primarily clinical career vs a more research/academic one? Always been curious, thanks!
My first job out of postdoc was right around 90k. VA position, primarily clinical with some supervision of interns/postdocs. I am now 5-10 years out of postdoc and make a good deal more than that (Non-VA).
 

Sanman

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As others have said, work is a part of life and you need to consider this as a life choice. You say your spouse makes quite a bit more than you do, but does he make more than most licensed psychologists do (I would put that number at >$150k)? If so, is his career mobile? One thing to consider is that this field has the possibility of multiple moves during training (Grad school, internship, post-doc, first real job). Sacrificing your best opportunities for location can impact your future salary. You and your SO need to consider whether this is worth it. If he can move with you (say he has a tech job) and is supportive great. If not, you need to weigh the importance of career choices vs life choices. Some people put career ahead of other aspects of their life and some prefer to put their life ahead of their careers. Both are fine, but you need to be more careerist to succeed in this field IMO. I know several people that busted their hump through grad school only to end up with lower paying jobs (~65k) because their spouse had a good job (200k+ finance and tech guys) and they were not willing to move for a better position. They would have fared just as well with an LCSW and less headaches or in another job.
 
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Psycycle

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My first job out of postdoc was right around 90k. VA position, primarily clinical with some supervision of interns/postdocs. I am now 5-10 years out of postdoc and make a good deal more than that (Non-VA).
Same.
 
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...I know that we may have to move later on for a fellowship/job/etc...
I’d replace the “may” with “will”, at least for purposes of decision making. You have to plan on needing to move at least once (and often more) during the course of traditional Ph.D. training between matriculation and licensure. The chances of getting into minimally decent grad school, internship, post-doc, and decent career level position is so unlikely it should be considered impossible. I was able to do 2 out of 4 of those (grad school and, 7 years after graduation, the career part) and my partner and I consider us EXTREMELY fortunate. Limiting yourself geographically often means limiting the quality of your training as well as your salary. If your only option is to go to “Joe’s Local FSPS and Long Haul Driver Institute” with it’s captive local internship and “post doc” at a non-training focused CMHC type of setting, you should be VERY conservative with your salary predictions. If you need to take on anything more than lowish 5-figure debt tondo so, think long and hard- I’d say that’s being pretty selfish. If you have to take on 6-figure debt to do, enroll in that Long Haul Driver program. It will likely lead to you earning more and quicker!


Should I just suck it up ad try to find something else to do with my life?
I’d encourage you to not frame this outcome as a failure. You’re 26- I’d say your in the process of finding SOMETHING to do with your life, vs. something ELSE. There’s lots of really awesome things to do, most of which aren’t “being a psychologist.” I like what I do now, and I like the benefits of doing it, but it took awhile to get get here. I started grad school at 26 having been with my partner a few years before starting. It’s paid off, but it’s a big commitment from both of you, and I think it’s overall easier on the partner who gets to call themselves “Dr.” when it’s all over (except for doing all the school stuff- that kinda sucks, especially when your doing stats homework and your spouse is having a few beers and watching the game!)

Good luck with your decision, don’t get desperate about the dream and lower your standards, and talk to your spouse honestly about every decision point.
 
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Meteora

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My first job out of postdoc was right around 90k. VA position, primarily clinical with some supervision of interns/postdocs. I am now 5-10 years out of postdoc and make a good deal more than that (Non-VA).
That is absolutely insane. My father supported our family with like 35k. To me, 70k would be a significant amount of money and socioeconomic advancement. But in clinical, I've often heard this trope of "don't go into clinical psychology if you want to make $$" and wonder where that stems from.
 

Sanman

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That is absolutely insane. My father supported our family with like 35k. To me, 70k would be a significant amount of money and socioeconomic advancement. But in clinical, I've often heard this trope of "don't go into clinical psychology if you want to make $$" and wonder where that stems from.
Did your father have student loans? Was he required to pay for malpractice insurance, continuing ed classes, and licensing fees to keep his job? Did his company provide a pension or did he self fund his retirement after being behind everyone 10 years? Did he have to dress in an upper middle class manner to retain clientele?

No one is saying that you will starve as a psychologist. However, outside of academia, we are one of few doctoral professions that starts under six figures.
 
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WisNeuro

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Did your father have student loans? Was he required to pay for malpractice insurance, continuing ed classes, and licensing fees to keep his job? Did his company provide a pension or did he self fund his retirement after being behind everyone 10 years? Did he have to dress in an upper middle class manner to retain clientele?

No one is saying that you will starve as a psychologist. However, outside of academia, we are one of few doctoral professions that starts under six figures.
No student loans here, and my system pays all of my licensing, board, and more than I need CE fees :) But yeah, about the money thing, yes, there are easier, and faster ways to make money, but if it's something you enjoy, and you know your worth, you can do well in this field. To the earlier comment about getting by on less. I could easily get by on less, but I didn't go school forever to make less than six figures. It's partially an investment in having the choice to retire early, and partially a fulfilling career. One shouldn't feel the need to sacrifice either if they do it the right way.
 

PSYDR

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That is absolutely insane. My father supported our family with like 35k. To me, 70k would be a significant amount of money and socioeconomic advancement. But in clinical, I've often heard this trope of "don't go into clinical psychology if you want to make $$" and wonder where that stems from.
I’ve been on both sides of this. In grad school, $80k sounded like a lot. My first job paid $80k. Net paychecks were like $2700.00 every two weeks. After rent, car payment, retirement contributions (which you need because you’re waaay behind others that entered the workforce at 22) , etc, things were comfortable but it wasn’t like I would ever have gotten ahead in that framework.

Of course I had two other full time jobs.

My point is that what seems like a lot of money at 25, isn’t the same at 30,35,etc.
 

Sanman

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I’ve been on both sides of this. In grad school, $80k sounded like a lot. My first job paid $80k. Net paychecks were like $2700.00 every two weeks. After rent, car payment, retirement contributions (which you need because you’re waaay behind others that entered the workforce at 22) , etc, things were comfortable but it wasn’t like I would ever have gotten ahead in that framework.

Of course I had two other full time jobs.

My point is that what seems like a lot of money at 25, isn’t the same at 30,35,etc.

When did you sleep?
 
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Here's the deal: I have tried to get my PhD in Clinical Psychology 3 times. It's still what I really want to do, but I feel guilty trying again. I am 26, just got my first "real" job a year ago and am about to get married. My fiance is 31 and already makes quite a bit more than me. We jut bought our first home in September. We delayed buying a house/moving in together for a while in case I was going to have to move for my PhD and I also didn't have any money while doing my Master's. I know that if I go back to school again, I won't make much for quite a while and even if I am able to do my degree here in our hometown, I know that we may have to move later on for a fellowship/job/etc. Is it selfish of me to want to keep trying to do this? Should I just suck it up ad try to find something else to do with my life?
I was 25 when I started undergrad and 30 when I started my graduate program. Half of my cohort was older than me with spouses/partners. It is not selfish to ensure that you are financially stable on your own. Marriages aren't guaranteed no matter how great your relationship currently is. I've known wonderful couples in seemingly perfect relationships get divorced. And couples who are miserable who stay together because they can't afford to divorce. Nobody should have to stay in a marriage for financial reasons, so ensuring you have your own career is important.

Additionally, I think you have to seriously assess how flexible your partner is to potentially (probably) moving in the future. When applying for graduate school, I had a partner who restricted me geographically to only 3 locations and then completely melted down when I got into a program in one of those 3 locations. He made moving and the first year of my program an absolutely miserable experience. I eventually ended the relationship, and am now with a guy who was willing to move anywhere for internship. He was such a blessing and he made the internship process so much more pleasant for me. Have honest conversations with your fiancé - you may very well have to move somewhere that is less desirable for you. Is he okay with that?

If this is all too much, look into MSW programs. I know a few MSWs who make more than $75k, so it is definitely possible. And there are also some programs which are more research based. An MSW/MPH program certainly would be, and would take you only 3 years to complete.

Lastly, you are only 26 years old and it is completely normal to still be establishing your career right now. It is not selfish. It's smart. Don't sell yourself short. Good luck!
 
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agif

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I’d replace the “may” with “will”, at least for purposes of decision making. You have to plan on needing to move at least once (and often more) during the course of traditional Ph.D. training between matriculation and licensure. The chances of getting into minimally decent grad school, internship, post-doc, and decent career level position is so unlikely it should be considered impossible. I was able to do 2 out of 4 of those (grad school and, 7 years after graduation, the career part) and my partner and I consider us EXTREMELY fortunate. Limiting yourself geographically often means limiting the quality of your training as well as your salary. If your only option is to go to “Joe’s Local FSPS and Long Haul Driver Institute” with it’s captive local internship and “post doc” at a non-training focused CMHC type of setting, you should be VERY conservative with your salary predictions. If you need to take on anything more than lowish 5-figure debt tondo so, think long and hard- I’d say that’s being pretty selfish. If you have to take on 6-figure debt to do, enroll in that Long Haul Driver program. It will likely lead to you earning more and quicker!



I’d encourage you to not frame this outcome as a failure. You’re 26- I’d say your in the process of finding SOMETHING to do with your life, vs. something ELSE. There’s lots of really awesome things to do, most of which aren’t “being a psychologist.” I like what I do now, and I like the benefits of doing it, but it took awhile to get get here. I started grad school at 26 having been with my partner a few years before starting. It’s paid off, but it’s a big commitment from both of you, and I think it’s overall easier on the partner who gets to call themselves “Dr.” when it’s all over (except for doing all the school stuff- that kinda sucks, especially when your doing stats homework and your spouse is having a few beers and watching the game!)

Good luck with your decision, don’t get desperate about the dream and lower your standards, and talk to your spouse honestly about every decision point.
Thank you!
 
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agif

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I was 25 when I started undergrad and 30 when I started my graduate program. Half of my cohort was older than me with spouses/partners. It is not selfish to ensure that you are financially stable on your own. Marriages aren't guaranteed no matter how great your relationship currently is. I've known wonderful couples in seemingly perfect relationships get divorced. And couples who are miserable who stay together because they can't afford to divorce. Nobody should have to stay in a marriage for financial reasons, so ensuring you have your own career is important.

Additionally, I think you have to seriously assess how flexible your partner is to potentially (probably) moving in the future. When applying for graduate school, I had a partner who restricted me geographically to only 3 locations and then completely melted down when I got into a program in one of those 3 locations. He made moving and the first year of my program an absolutely miserable experience. I eventually ended the relationship, and am now with a guy who was willing to move anywhere for internship. He was such a blessing and he made the internship process so much more pleasant for me. Have honest conversations with your fiancé - you may very well have to move somewhere that is less desirable for you. Is he okay with that?

If this is all too much, look into MSW programs. I know a few MSWs who make more than $75k, so it is definitely possible. And there are also some programs which are more research based. An MSW/MPH program certainly would be, and would take you only 3 years to complete.

Lastly, you are only 26 years old and it is completely normal to still be establishing your career right now. It is not selfish. It's smart. Don't sell yourself short. Good luck!
Thank you!
 

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I think this has been covered on SDN before, but I will point out again that many grad students have spouses or parents who have a lot of money and assist the student all the way through school. Whether or not that's selfish on the part of the student is in the eye of the beholder, but the reality is that our field is chock full of practicing clinical psychologists whose income is supplemental, or even ornamental.

One thing to consider is that if you plan on having children, having a part-time private practice should allow you to work a little and still take on a lot of the childcare (if that's something you'd want to do). I'm trying not to make too many assumptions here but I feel that this point is often overlooked in discussions about earning potential.
 

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I think this has been covered on SDN before, but I will point out again that many grad students have spouses or parents who have a lot of money and assist the student all the way through school. Whether or not that's selfish on the part of the student is in the eye of the beholder, but the reality is that our field is chock full of practicing clinical psychologists whose income is supplemental, or even ornamental.

One thing to consider is that if you plan on having children, having a part-time private practice should allow you to work a little and still take on a lot of the childcare (if that's something you'd want to do). I'm trying not to make too many assumptions here but I feel that this point is often overlooked in discussions about earning potential.
Not that I think it exists or would even be easy to gather, but I would be really interested to see data on it. What you describe doesn't fit my experience at all and I am actually not sure describes a single psychologist I trained with or interact with regularly.

Most came from middle class backgrounds, though obviously with some variance. I know far more who are the primary earners than who have partners earning more.

That said, this could be a function of setting. I mostly know researchers/academics. Its a tough path. You generally don't do it if you are just looking for a fun way to earn some spending money.
 

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Not that I think it exists or would even be easy to gather, but I would be really interested to see data on it. What you describe doesn't fit my experience at all and I am actually not sure describes a single psychologist I trained with or interact with regularly.

Most came from middle class backgrounds, though obviously with some variance. I know far more who are the primary earners than who have partners earning more.

That said, this could be a function of setting. I mostly know researchers/academics. Its a tough path. You generally don't do it if you are just looking for a fun way to earn some spending money.

I do know a few people like this. All of them were/are from a major city/ metro areas and have spouses in Tech/finance. Most (but not all) went to some of the more expensive University based PsyD/PhD programs located in said metros and all are practicing clinicians in some capacity. That said, I am not sure if it is a chicken or the egg situation here. I'm not sure if all of these people always planned be the supporting income or if the lower starting salaries in psychology combined with the late start meant that their spouses were already making more than they ever could and so they opted to work less and start a family (almost all of these people are 30-something women).
 
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MamaPhD

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the reality is that our field is chock full of practicing clinical psychologists whose income is supplemental, or even ornamental.
There are part-time practitioners within all of the health professions, including medicine, though I don't know that I would call income "supplemental" simply because the spouse earns more or they have a separate income stream. It might just be the most workable option for some people, for any number of reasons. I wish I could practice part-time and have a non-clinical career but that hasn't been in the cards for me thus far. I know a few people who don't "need" to work because of spousal or family money, but the majority of the psychologists I know are practicing full time or close to it.

Not that I think it exists or would even be easy to gather, but I would be really interested to see data on it.
According to APA's data the modal number of hours worked per week, by health service psychologists specifically, is 40-49. The distribution is skewed to the left though: https://www.apa.org/workforce/publications/15-health-service-providers/figure2e.pdf
 

Boston2k

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I'm late to the game, but I heavily sympathize. I was in in a similar situation about 10 years ago, at your same age. I did get in on the third try. I sometimes think about what I would have done if I had not.

I can't promise any answers, but here are some observations provided some hindsight.

You mentioned two goals, "conducting therapy primarily for those with depression and anxiety, as well as conducting research towards the ultimate goal of ending the stigma of mental illness (big picture lofty goal)."

You might want to consider if there are alternative ways to address each of these goals. You probably can't do both, as they are somewhat in conflict. If you want to do a lot of therapy, it will get in the way of research at the level you are aspiring to (you can do research here and there, maybe even publish dozens/hundreds of publications, but that big picture goal is even more ambitious that that). If you do a lot of research, you'll only see a few patients max at a time.

If you want to achieve the clinical goal, there's a lot of options, and Master's level psychological practice is in the process of becoming an additional option. If you want to achieve the stigma goal, there's a lot of alternative ways to accomplish that - become a lawyer who advocates for patients, get a degree in statistics/data science and apply it to the goal, raise funds for people who do a good job towards this goal, etc.

You might be worried that PhDs will look down on you if you obtain a different degree. Unfortunately, I have learned the hard way that a PhD in clinical psychology provides no insulation from this. There are plenty of MDs who will look down on you in the hospital, computer scientists and statisticians who will look down on you on the technical aspects of research, and frankly many health and scientific researchers see psychiatry/psychology as a pretty lowly occupation. This will happen even if you are more productive and adept than these people. The PhD in clinical psychology will insulate you from being looked down upon by some clinical psychologists, but that's about it. We hang out with each other and have an internal hierarchy, but most of the world couldn't care less.

I've now finished, and things are good. That being said, grad school was a very stressful time and hard on our marriage, despite being in a PhD program that was very supportive and had a good community of people. Moving for internship (and possibly once again right after) will add another strain, especially if you decide to start a family by then. If I were in your situation, I'm not sure I'd do this again given the other options. I might have, but I don't say it with a fully enthusiastic "yes," and that's including the fact that I have made it out in a very favorable position that I feel fortunate to be in.

If I didn't get in, I might have looked back with regret at "what could have been," but the actual circumstances might have been better if I had chosen another option. If I hadn't gotten in and done something else, I might have gotten frustrated when seeing other people who were less qualified get the degree and possibly look down on me. But at the end of the day the degree is not a protection from this phenomenon, and by selecting another option I might have achieved higher impact and a higher income along with more flexibility. One difference in our situations is that I did not have a partner who had an established career, which provided a financial strain as well.

There's a lot of careers that allow one to do good, reflect virtue, and have a great life. Clinical psychology is one option among many of these. It's also a field that frequently has a large degree of unfairness and often does not provide appropriate reward for the work invested, compared to other fields. A continued discussion with your spouse on these matters will surely help, with both of you simultaneously working to accommodate the other. I hope that you find an option that works well for you.
 
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I'm the same age and in the same boat except my partner is closer to my age, does not make significantly more than me, we rent and are in no position to get a home any time soon with our incomes (but want to in the future)

I'm debating now if it's worthapplying again to phds or if I should go the SW route.
 
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foreverbull

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With respect, that is not a well-paying gig for a psychologist. You could earn that much as a social worker or other master's level clinician without all the stuff the PhD comes with. Psychologists should not be accepting jobs for $75k unless there are mitigating reasons.
One mitigating reason: over-saturation. I’ve seen positions offering in the 50s-60s depending on the type of job, especially for early career psychs. A colleague started in the mid $60s in a clinical role, and that isn’t seen as bad in my neck of the woods where there is over-saturation of both doctoral practitioners and master’s level practitioners. College counseling also pays lower than $75k starting out, even in California (I knew someone in the LA area making $55k). It will depend on type of position, funding, etc.

A few friends are in academia in the Midwest make under $60k because cost of living is lower there and it’s standard to pay that low in that particular area for faculty salary.

So it really depends on a lot of factors. It would be great if we all started out at $75k or higher, but some employers won’t pay that much starting out for an early career psychologist.
 

Pragma

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One mitigating reason: over-saturation. I’ve seen positions offering in the 50s-60s depending on the type of job, especially for early career psychs. A colleague started in the mid $60s in a clinical role, and that isn’t seen as bad in my neck of the woods where there is over-saturation of both doctoral practitioners and master’s level practitioners. College counseling also pays lower than $75k starting out, even in California (I knew someone in the LA area making $55k). It will depend on type of position, funding, etc.

A few friends are in academia in the Midwest make under $60k because cost of living is lower there and it’s standard to pay that low in that particular area for faculty salary.

So it really depends on a lot of factors. It would be great if we all started out at $75k or higher, but some employers won’t pay that much starting out for an early career psychologist.
Wow under 60k? Hope that’s at least 9 month salary.

I see people take 60+ for 9 month faculty jobs, but I haven’t seen lower, and they usually have additional income on the side.
 
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Therapist4Chnge

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So it really depends on a lot of factors. It would be great if we all started out at $75k or higher, but some employers won’t pay that much starting out for an early career psychologist.
That’s Crazy! Given the years required, relocation, etc. We need to demand more and not settle for mid-level pay. Oversaturation and poor advocacy over the past 20 years has really screwed us. We let insurance companies devalue us.

My fellowship salary was $41k with full benefits, and that was literally a decade ago. I can’t imagine taking a job for $60k-$70k/yr after all of that training. Just adjusting for inflation makes it a pathetically low amount.
 
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WisNeuro

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That’s Crazy! Given the years required, relocation, etc. We need to demand more and not settle for mid-level pay. Oversaturation and poor advocacy over the past 20 years has really screwed us. We let insurance companies devalue us.

My fellowship salary was $41k with full benefits, and that was literally a decade ago. I can’t imagine taking a job for $60k-$70k/yr after all of that training. Just adjusting for inflation makes it a pathetically low amount.
Yeah, my fellowship salary was 52k with decent benefits. I can't imagine accepting a full-time job for a couple thousand more a year after that, what a joke.
 

Sanman

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I know people that made less their first year licensed than I did on post-doc. They were both community mental health people. I think it was around $45k. That said the most recent salary survey data show the middle 50% of psychologists made between $60k and $120k. About a waiter made less and a quarter made more, so $75k is reasonable.
 

PSYDR

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I'll again point out:

Excluding academia, psychologists in healthcare make money by billable hours X hourly fee. That's it. Cost of living, market saturation, etc have almost nothing to do with the offered salaries.

The mentioned reasons are just strong arm techniques.
 
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foreverbull

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That’s Crazy! Given the years required, relocation, etc. We need to demand more and not settle for mid-level pay. Oversaturation and poor advocacy over the past 20 years has really screwed us. We let insurance companies devalue us.

My fellowship salary was $41k with full benefits, and that was literally a decade ago. I can’t imagine taking a job for $60k-$70k/yr after all of that training. Just adjusting for inflation makes it a pathetically low amount.

I agree that it's ridiculous. A colleague and I both made in the $30K-$36K range for postdoc (less than 5 years ago and in an extremely high cost of living area), and my colleague's position was considered very competitive (there were many vying for that spot). I really needed hours to move on, and sacrificed a lot that year, as well as fully relying on my partner at the time to cover some costs. The postdocs that paid the best were VAs and forensic positions; the generalist positions I've seen can expect to be somewhere in the $30K-$45K range for postdocs, with $45K being at the high end.

A brief search on Indeed suggests that several current positions for licensed psychologists in my area are paid by billable hour and don't come with benefits (a lot of independent contractor positions for agencies or group practice), exceptions being Kaiser positions, administration/director, college counseling (which vastly underpays psychologists), or working for skilled care facilities.

Wondering if this is a trend to just contract hire psychologists or just specific to my area?
 

AcronymAllergy

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I'll again point out:

Excluding academia, psychologists in healthcare make money by billable hours X hourly fee. That's it. Cost of living, market saturation, etc have almost nothing to do with the offered salaries.

The mentioned reasons are just strong arm techniques.
This. If you can at least estimate the amount of money the clinic/hospital/practice will make off of you, you're in a much more informed position to negotiate.

That being said, if a business knows they can offer less because someone will eventually take it, they probably will. This is where our traditionally limited knowledge of our billables (I've been guilty as charged) works against us. But if you're able to negotiate up, you're not only helping yourself, you're potentially helping raise the expected salaries of psychologists around you going forward.
 
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AcronymAllergy

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I agree that it's ridiculous. A colleague and I both made in the $30K-$36K range for postdoc (less than 5 years ago and in an extremely high cost of living area), and my colleague's position was considered very competitive (there were many vying for that spot). I really needed hours to move on, and sacrificed a lot that year, as well as fully relying on my partner at the time to cover some costs. The postdocs that paid the best were VAs and forensic positions; the generalist positions I've seen can expect to be somewhere in the $30K-$45K range for postdocs, with $45K being at the high end.

A brief search on Indeed suggests that several current positions for licensed psychologists in my area are paid by billable hour and don't come with benefits (a lot of independent contractor positions for agencies or group practice), exceptions being Kaiser positions, administration/director, college counseling (which vastly underpays psychologists), or working for skilled care facilities.

Wondering if this is a trend to just contract hire psychologists or just specific to my area?
I don't know if I've seen any contracted positions in my (relatively small) city. Maybe 1 or 2 in the few years I've lived here. Everything has been salaried. N=1.
 

StellaB

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I agree that it's ridiculous. A colleague and I both made in the $30K-$36K range for postdoc (less than 5 years ago and in an extremely high cost of living area), and my colleague's position was considered very competitive (there were many vying for that spot). I really needed hours to move on, and sacrificed a lot that year, as well as fully relying on my partner at the time to cover some costs. The postdocs that paid the best were VAs and forensic positions; the generalist positions I've seen can expect to be somewhere in the $30K-$45K range for postdocs, with $45K being at the high end.

A brief search on Indeed suggests that several current positions for licensed psychologists in my area are paid by billable hour and don't come with benefits (a lot of independent contractor positions for agencies or group practice), exceptions being Kaiser positions, administration/director, college counseling (which vastly underpays psychologists), or working for skilled care facilities.

Wondering if this is a trend to just contract hire psychologists or just specific to my area?
I feel like I have seen a lot of this lately too - it looks to me like there are a lot of relatively new companies that are basically trying to monopolize major referral networks and then hire psychologists to work back to back hours with low pay and no/poor benefits. I have noticed this particularly in California, which makes sense - a business model that burns through a lot of employees relatively quickly is going to need a large and ever-refreshing supply of psychologists with subpar training and few employment options, which is not difficult to find here.
 

Sanman

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I feel like I have seen a lot of this lately too - it looks to me like there are a lot of relatively new companies that are basically trying to monopolize major referral networks and then hire psychologists to work back to back hours with low pay and no/poor benefits. I have noticed this particularly in California, which makes sense - a business model that burns through a lot of employees relatively quickly is going to need a large and ever-refreshing supply of psychologists with subpar training and few employment options, which is not difficult to find here.

That is one of the two major business models out there and the one that advertises more.