Clinical psychologists make up the largest specialty in the psychology profession. They evaluate, diagnose and treat patients struggling with mental health issues, including researching human behavior, collecting data, formulating hypotheses and applying their theories to test their validity. Clinical psychologists working in hospital settings help patients who have been admitted for mental and emotional problems, as well as medical and surgical patients who need help coping with illness or injury, such as patients with chronic pain, spinal cord injuries, neurological conditions or stroke.
Education and Training
A Ph.D. in clinical psychology is required even for entry-level positions. Other certification and licensing is regulated on the state level and varies from state to state. Psychologists, unlike psychiatrists, are not medical doctors, so they don't attend medical school. They do receive special training in their graduate coursework in the areas of personality and psychopathology, in addition to specific areas of specialization they may wish to pursue. Examples of specializations that would apply to clinical psychologists working in a hospital setting include neuropsychologists, who study the relationship between the brain and behavior, and health psychologists, who study the psychological effects of illness, substance abuse or teenage pregnancy.
National Average Salaries
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ 2011 report, the annual mean wage for all clinical psychologists is $67, 880. Clinical psychologists working in a hospital setting can expect their salaries to fall on either side of this mean, depending upon the type of hospital setting in which they work. For example, the annual mean wage for clinical psychologists working in psychiatric and substance-abuse hospitals is $76, 580, and for clinical psychologists working in outpatient care facilities, the annual mean is $69, 300. For clinical psychologists working in other residential care facilities, the annual mean is $53, 380.
Related Reading: The Average Salary of a Nationally Certified School Psychologist
Salaries by State
The BLS reports that the top paying states for clinical psychologists are New Jersey, where the annual mean is $96, 200; followed by Hawaii, with $94, 960; California, with $84, 580; New York, with $84, 090; and Rhode Island, with $82, 100. Of the top five highest paying states, only California and New York also made the top five for highest employment level. Other states that rank high in the number of clinical psychologists employed there are Texas, where the annual mean is $64, 260; Pennsylvania, with $72, 060; and Illinois, with $68, 180.
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