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How much do psychologists make right out of graduate school with a masters in counseling ( on average)?

I am a psychology major. #psychology #career-counseling

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Andy’s Answer

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You cannot practice as a Clinical Psychologist with a Master's degree in Psychology, that's a Doctoral degree level only profession at this time.


So the short answer to how much you can earn as an unlicensed graduate with a Master's degree in Counseling is not much, maybe if you're lucky $16 an hour. It depends on your state and your city, but most of the time you must start with taking work either completely outside of the therapy field or doing the work that a mental health associate (someone working with a bachelor's degree) can do because you cannot practice therapy without your provisional license, a site placement, and a supervisor in place to oversee you as you complete your hours towards your license.


You need to have a provisional license for Master's level therapists in your state (which has different names depending on the state) in order to practice in your state at all. Each state varies on what kind of license you will need when you're finished with your Master's degree & how many hours you need in order to obtain the actual license vs the provisional. For example, in the State of Oregon I cannot practice without a supervisor without an LPC: Licensed Practical Counselor. In order to obtain that you'll need 3000 hours post-Master's clinical supervised time & 300 hours of supervision. The provisional license costed ~$590 3 years ago (2014). You will most likely pay for clinical supervision. All the potential supervisors I talked to said that they will charge you how much they'd be making if they were seeing a client instead, which was around $250-300 an hour. Most of the time people/businesses/non-profits will not hire you without a full license. There are very few places that will hire you with a provisional license and pay for your license. You also need to pay typically a couple hundred more to take your exam to practice. At the end of all that (which is about $65,000-75,000 in clinical supervision), you'll maybe make $20-25 an hour if you work for a non-profit or a mental health organization (minus the costs involved in maintaining your license...yes there's continuing education credits and license renewal fees). With private practice you can earn substantially more, but that option doesn't come without its own risks.


Another warning is be careful where you choose to live because your license typically is not valid in another state, which means you might need to redo your post-Master's degree hours or maybe even take Master's level college classes that the state you move to requires to practice.


So you might have to start working a non-therapy job in order to pay to be a therapist. Master's of Counseling, Master's of Family Therapy, Master's of Psychology, and (mine) Master's of Art Therapy all face the same plight. If you want to skip all of this, drop out of your program and join an MSW program (Master's of Social Work). Social Workers have a full license upon graduation from their degree and passing the licensing exam. So they can practice right away, but again you cannot practice as a Psychologist without a Doctoral degree.


If you want more info on the politics behind why an MSW can practice right away upon graduating (and passing the licensing exam) and the Master's in Counseling needs to wait, I'm happy to elaborate.


*Note my information comes from personal knowledge of obtaining a Master's in Art Therapy in NY State & considering heavily completing a Doctoral in Clinical Psychology (I was accepted to a program but declined). I have since moved to Oregon, and it's still, as far as I'm aware, almost impossible to practice what I went to school for.

Andy recommends the following next steps:

Research your state's requirements to obtain your license to practice therapy upon graduation
Decide if the licensing requirements are something that you can handle for potentially 2-3 years after graduating (most Master level programs are 2 full years, meaning no breaks, already).
Consider an MSW as a possibility since they can practice right away upon graduation.
If you want to go the route of being a Psychologist, look at Doctoral programs in Clinical Psychology. Note: Doctoral degrees are a much longer time and monetary investment & there are post-Doctoral licensing requirements that are just as rigorous, if not more so, as the Master's level.
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John H.’s Answer

Hi, Rachel: the best info on career prospects for any career field are found in the US Gov'ts Occupational Outlook Handbook (you can Google it), but I found this page which should give you some answers:


https://www.bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/psychologists.htm


Hope it gives you some ideas and more places to research. Let me know if you have more questions.

Thank you comment icon She cannot practice as a Clinical Psychologist with a Master's degree in Counseling. She can only make that around that salary range with a Doctoral Degree in Clinical Psychology & finishing the post-Doctoral hours for licensing. So that's about a 10 year investment. Andy Tennant
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Ann’s Answer

Hi Rachel,

Thanks for your question! Your salary will all depend on what type of work you choose right out of school. Depending on the degree you earn, your state's requirements, and whether or not your program is CACREP accredited will determine what steps you need to take in order to be an LPC (Licensed Practicing Counselor). If you are unsure of the answers to these questions, I recommend speaking to an Academic Advisor at your school.


However, there are a number of career paths that you can go into with a Masters in Counseling. For example, Academic Advisor, Career Counselor or School Counselor to name a few. Some career paths will require additional certification such as a Substance Abuse or School Counselor. Hope this helps!

Ann recommends the following next steps:

To get salary averages for some of the careers I listed above I would go a search on onetonline.org for these and other career titles. It will give you national and stated averages.
Meet with an Academic of Faculty Advisor to get more information on career possible with your specific degree.
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