The Earning Power of an Online Degree in Psychology

folded money with psychologists pen

By Sarah Stevenson

Psychology is a competitive field, so it's generally a good idea to target your online degree in psychology to those disciplines with the greatest need for qualified workers. For the time being, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, psychiatry and clinical psychology are fields with excellent job growth, as well as industrial-organizational psychology, geriatric psychology and counseling psychology. Social workers, particularly those in mental health, public health and substance abuse, are also in high demand.

As far as salary is concerned, counselors and social workers may not be as high on the totem pole as psychologists or psychiatrists. But online counseling and online social work degrees may lead to careers that are just as rewarding, in many of the same settings as other types of mental health professionals. Not only that, jobs in counseling or social work do not necessarily require you to hold a doctoral degree—a great many jobs are available for master's degree holders and even bachelor's degree holders.

Psychology Salaries

Career/SpecialtyMedian Annual Salary*
School Psychologist $68,900
Industrial-Organizational Psychologist $76,950
Clinical Psychologist $68,900
Postsecondary Professor of Psychology $70,790
Psychiatrist $181,880

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics 2016-17 Occupational Outlook Handbook; Psychologists; Postsecondary Teachers; Psychiatrists.

Counseling Salaries

Career/SpecialtyMedian Annual Salary*
Substance Abuse Counselor $39,270
Mental Health Counselor $40,850
School Counselor $53,370
Marriage/Family Therapist $48,040
Rehabilitation Counselor $34,380

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics 2016-17 Occupational Outlook Handbook;; Substance Abuse and Behavioral Disorder CounselorsMental Health CounselorsSchool and Career Counselors; Marriage and Family Therapists; Rehabilitation Counselors.

Social Work Salaries

Career/SpecialtyMedian Annual Salary*
Case Manager $70,016
Social Worker (BSW) $52,285
Social Worker (MSW) $59,488
Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) $63,413

Sources:, 2015; Case ManagerSocial Worker (BSW); Social Worker (MSW); Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW).
*The salary information listed is based on a national average, unless noted. Actual salaries may vary greatly based on specialization within the field, location, years of experience and a variety of other factors. National long-term projections of employment growth may not reflect local and/or short-term economic or job conditions, and do not guarantee actual job growth.