Mar 22, 2018
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Psychology Student
I am currently entering the internship phase of my LPC program, though I am excited about graduating and starting my career, I am a feeling a little discouraged. I currently work in the field as a therapeutic day treatment counselor, and I enjoy it. However, I am looking forward to being able to do more. I enjoy individual counseling. However, I read any posts/articles online stating that counseling degrees are a waste of time and you won't make any money in the field. The figures that are reported as "average" are horribly low. And I am certain that these averages are off due to the fact that I am working in the field at the Bachelor's degree level and I am making more than the reported incomes for those who are licensed professional counselors (I do believe that location probably plays a large part in salary as well). So my question is, are there any LPCs out there that are happy in their careers and are making a salary that is rewarding (upwards of 60K)? Mental illness is such a large part of today's world and has so much to do with our overall health. I am wondering why this field gets so little respect. I am considering continuing my education further, either PsyD, PhD or MD (psychiatry). I am interested in mental health, however, I would like to be comfortable financially as well. Is there anyone out there willing to share their experience as a licensed counselor/ salary range, years of experience, etc. I guess what I am trying to figure out if this degree is worth the blood, sweat and tears, and student loan debt.
 

WisNeuro

Board Certified Neuropsychologist
10+ Year Member
Feb 15, 2009
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I believe the masters people here are in the 45-55k range, and their productivity demands are fairly high. But, they are always trying to hire one it seems here.
 
Mar 24, 2014
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Rural Area Medical Facilty
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Psychologist
I don’t know any LPCs that make more than 60k. I doubt if it will change much either because the market is getting flooded in many places. In our rural community which services about 40k we have zero psychiatrists, three psychologists, one postdoc, two PMHNPs, three social workers, and at least 20 LPCs with variable training and experience. With the laws of supply and demand, the psychologists make the most money in this town and a psychiatrist would make even more and the LPCs make the least.
 
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Dec 21, 2017
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Psychology Student
I don’t know any LPCs that make more than 60k. I doubt if it will change much either because the market is getting flooded in many places. In our rural community which services about 40k we have zero psychiatrists, three psychologists, one postdoc, two PMHNPs, three social workers, and at least 20 LPCs with variable training and experience. With the laws of supply and demand, the psychologists make the most money in this town and a psychiatrist would make even more and the LPCs make the least.
I think this varies greatly by geographical area. In my town LCPCs make 60K after about 2 years of practice. We are located near a fairly large metropolitan area. There are very few psychologists in our area, especially who see patients under the age of 18. That demographic is almost exclusively seen by LCPCs and LCSW, mainly the former. It may be because we are located near two programs with good LCPC programs.

Considering the schooling is a lot less time for an LCPC than a psychologist, the monetary gains may end up being comparable since LCPCs get to start practicing earlier. The one thing we have a glut of is those specializing in Autism spectrum disorders. If your child has any other issue it is difficult to find a psychologist. We’ve had better much finding a psychiatrist than an adolescent psychologist. Of course this is just our experience, but I think it’s hard to generalize since market saturation and geographic area play a large part in potential earnings.
 
Mar 24, 2014
4,399
3,859
Rural Area Medical Facilty
Status
Psychologist
I think this varies greatly by geographical area. In my town LCPCs make 60K after about 2 years of practice. We are located near a fairly large metropolitan area. There are very few psychologists in our area, especially who see patients under the age of 18. That demographic is almost exclusively seen by LCPCs and LCSW, mainly the former. It may be because we are located near two programs with good LCPC programs.

Considering the schooling is a lot less time for an LCPC than a psychologist, the monetary gains may end up being comparable since LCPCs get to start practicing earlier. The one thing we have a glut of is those specializing in Autism spectrum disorders. If your child has any other issue it is difficult to find a psychologist. We’ve had better much finding a psychiatrist than an adolescent psychologist. Of course this is just our experience, but I think it’s hard to generalize since market saturation and geographic area play a large part in potential earnings.
I specialize in adolescents, but I would need to make more than double what the LPCs are making to make a move there and then it depends on where it's located. I'm contemplating a move to northern Idaho at this point. Closer to more urban areas than where I am now, but still lots of natural beauty and outdoor recreation.
 
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wtfook

2+ Year Member
Dec 29, 2015
182
109
Status
Psychology Student
I am currently entering the internship phase of my LPC program, though I am excited about graduating and starting my career, I am a feeling a little discouraged. I currently work in the field as a therapeutic day treatment counselor, and I enjoy it. However, I am looking forward to being able to do more. I enjoy individual counseling. However, I read any posts/articles online stating that counseling degrees are a waste of time and you won't make any money in the field. The figures that are reported as "average" are horribly low. And I am certain that these averages are off due to the fact that I am working in the field at the Bachelor's degree level and I am making more than the reported incomes for those who are licensed professional counselors (I do believe that location probably plays a large part in salary as well). So my question is, are there any LPCs out there that are happy in their careers and are making a salary that is rewarding (upwards of 60K)? Mental illness is such a large part of today's world and has so much to do with our overall health. I am wondering why this field gets so little respect. I am considering continuing my education further, either PsyD, PhD or MD (psychiatry). I am interested in mental health, however, I would like to be comfortable financially as well. Is there anyone out there willing to share their experience as a licensed counselor/ salary range, years of experience, etc. I guess what I am trying to figure out if this degree is worth the blood, sweat and tears, and student loan debt.
It's definitely tough I would say to make upwards of 60k in the first few years. I think you'll get more compensation if you go into Drug and Alcohol work. My friends are working in Philly and it seems like they're able to find a place to live and live a life, although on a budget. One of my friends does outpatient D&A counseling at a methadone clinic and it's REALLY TOUGH and burnout is high so as a result they incentivize with a higher than average salary (45k) and in house supervision (A HUGE PLUS MAKE SURE YOU CAN GET THIS). It's tough but your salary does go up drastically after the LPC, although not sure it'll approach 60k, not for a while anyway. Those with LPC licensure who get paid that amount or more usually have administrative roles. They are clinical directors or manage a department (like outpatient or DBT).

In urban areas especially, there's a trend toward fee-for-service. This is very grueling and most aren't full time. As a result many people have several jobs and caseloads that are upwards of 30 clients because they only get paid if the client shows up for session. It's hard to find full time work pre-licensure. Many require that you are licensed before applying (except D&A positions). Although, if you can speak Spanish well enough to counsel in it, you could have an advantage. Again, I am speaking for Philly. Not sure how it is in other cities or more rural areas.
 
Mar 22, 2018
4
0
Status
Psychology Student
I don't mean to come off as just being focused on numbers but after years of education, students loans, and more years of supervision it seems that the pay would be better. What about those who do outpatient counseling, don't they bill insurance companies? It seems that the price per session is pretty high. The company I work for, the LPCs are supervisors and also do outpatient counseling within the same company. I would think something like this would boost one's income?
 

wtfook

2+ Year Member
Dec 29, 2015
182
109
Status
Psychology Student
I don't mean to come off as just being focused on numbers but after years of education, students loans, and more years of supervision it seems that the pay would be better. What about those who do outpatient counseling, don't they bill insurance companies? It seems that the price per session is pretty high. The company I work for, the LPCs are supervisors and also do outpatient counseling within the same company. I would think something like this would boost one's income?
Do you mean better than 45k? or 60k? I mean honestly you could answer this question by just looking on job hunting sites for counseling positions that require LPC licensure and seeing what the starting salary is that they're offering. I'm not clear on the numbers myself but I bet you could probably swing close to 60k post licensure, but it would be in primarily supervisory and administrative position. And you'd get raises after that as is customary. You are correct that the more responsibilities you have, the more you could get paid. I think upper limits for LPC get up to 75k in some stats I've seen. If you're already working somewhere, you should probably just ask one of those people rather than people on this forum who are primarily PhD and PsyD psychologists. There is actually a forum that is specific for master's level practitioners called Mental Health and Social Welfare. They'd give you a better answer too I bet.

The outpatient clinic I worked at, the LPC and LCSW full time staff who probably made the decent money you are hoping for were administrators. Like I said in my earlier comment. They supervised the entire clinical staff in outpatient, oversaw the child IOP division, were clinical supervisors, or some other combination of those things. They saw individual clients very minimally, like maybe a caseload of 3 compared to 30.

You're not really going to get a high salary off of just outpatient counseling work. In outpatient sites, you get maybe $30 per hour/per session. It may be more if it's in a wealthier area. You can also make more by running groups usually. You make the most per session by doing private practice, NOT outpatient. The outpatient agency takes most of your cut from the insurance pay off to keep the lights on.
 
Mar 22, 2018
4
0
Status
Psychology Student
Do you mean better than 45k? or 60k? I mean honestly you could answer this question by just looking on job hunting sites for counseling positions that require LPC licensure and seeing what the starting salary is that they're offering. I'm not clear on the numbers myself but I bet you could probably swing close to 60k post licensure, but it would be in primarily supervisory and administrative position. And you'd get raises after that as is customary. You are correct that the more responsibilities you have, the more you could get paid. I think upper limits for LPC get up to 75k in some stats I've seen. If you're already working somewhere, you should probably just ask one of those people rather than people on this forum who are primarily PhD and PsyD psychologists. There is actually a forum that is specific for master's level practitioners called Mental Health and Social Welfare. They'd give you a better answer too I bet.

The outpatient clinic I worked at, the LPC and LCSW full time staff who probably made the decent money you are hoping for were administrators. Like I said in my earlier comment. They supervised the entire clinical staff in outpatient, oversaw the child IOP division, were clinical supervisors, or some other combination of those things. They saw individual clients very minimally, like maybe a caseload of 3 compared to 30.

You're not really going to get a high salary off of just outpatient counseling work. In outpatient sites, you get maybe $30 per hour/per session. It may be more if it's in a wealthier area. You can also make more by running groups usually. You make the most per session by doing private practice, NOT outpatient. The outpatient agency takes most of your cut from the insurance pay off to keep the lights on.
Thanks for the insight!!! This was very helpful!
 

MAClinician

Masters level clinician
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Mar 19, 2016
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Thanks for the insight!!! This was very helpful!
What made you choose your LPC program to begin with? It seems a little strange to be asking about salary when you are close to finishing your degree. What advice or support has your academic advisor given you? Do you meet with him/her to discuss professional goals?

Salary is depending on many factors: location, experience, license, and market conditions/insurance, to name a few. Licensed counselors in private practice will get more reimbursement from insurance ($40-80, on average, depending on insurer and service billed) but this also depends somewhat on location. Also you might be taking home more, but you might have more expenses. Agencies often provide health insurance and other benefits that in PP you will need to cover. You have to pay rent and other costs. LPCs in agencies that are in supervision roles or administrative roles make more than clinicians seeing clients. Although it is true that psychologist can get paid higher billing rate it is often not by much more. They are likely to make more than an LPC in an administrative role.

It might be helpful to talk with your advisor about your professional goals and best steps to achieve those goals based on where you are located.
 

foreverbull

2+ Year Member
Sep 8, 2015
975
1,110
I would echo the sentiments of others here. Salary is very dependent on area and saturation, as well as your specific job title. In some cities, the market is so saturated that master's graduates may end up having to do their licensing hours for free (i.e. Chicago), in others, the prospects aren't so grim.

Private practice is where you would get the highest fee per session if folks can pay out of pocket, but what most folks don't realize is how much it costs to start and maintain a practice (I'm currently in private practice) and there are zero benefits AND you have to pull out 34-40% to pay in taxes right away to the govmt. So if you're interested, talk to a private practitioner to get a realistic sense of what's it's like and the yearly costs. Several people have high expectations for private practice but no connections. It takes years to build up a client load unless you have a special niche that is in high demand.
 
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