How Much Do Therapists Make?

Are you thinking about becoming a therapist? If so, it’s important to understand how much money you can expect to make once you finish your education and become a licensed therapist. Therapists have many different salaries, depending on their education, experience level, specialty, employer, as well as if they provide in-person or online therapy. This guide will help you understand the average therapist salary at each stage of your career and across various specialty areas and employers.

Factors That Affect Average Therapist Salary

If you’re considering a career as a mental health therapist, it’s only natural to consider different therapy questions such as  how much do therapists make. Unfortunately, that’s not an easy question to answer due to the various factors that influence therapists’ salaries, including location, experience, education, specialization, and employer, among others. It is also important to consider the average cost of a therapy session and how that might affect your salary. Let’s look at how each of these affects the actual salaries of a therapist.


Where you live will have a significant impact on the amount of money you earn as a therapist. Salaries often reflect the local cost of living; if you live in an area with a high cost of living, you will have a higher salary but if you reside in a part of the country with a low cost of living, it’s likely you’ll earn less.

Let’s look at an example to illustrate this principle. According to Indeed, the average Marriage and Family Therapist in the United States earns approximately $58,000 per year. Therapists who live in a high-cost area like Connecticut earn a higher salary of $88,000 per year while those in Indiana typically make just $48,000 because the state’s cost of living is lower than the national average. In a state like Texas, where the average cost of living is close to the national average, Marriage and Family Therapists earn $60,000 per year.

Depending on where you are located you may also want to start sliding scale fee therapy. With this type of therapy, you charge people based on their income rate. If you are located in an area with a lower income rate, you might earn less money which could lead to therapist burnout


The level of education you attain will also affect your earning potential as a therapist because potential patients will consider, “Is therapy worth the cost?” if you have a lower experience level. While you only need to earn a master's degree in order to become a licensed therapist, those who continue their education and acquire a doctorate will earn more money; it’s estimated that therapists who have a Ph.D. will earn between $6,000 to $8,000 more per year starting out compared to those with just a master’s degree. 


Who you work for will also affect how much you earn as a therapist; not all employers are created equal. For example, if you work as a mental health counselor in a residential care facility, your typical salary will be around $49,000 per year. Working in an outpatient care center will earn you a bit more, with the average annual salary coming in at $62,740. The highest-paying employers in the mental health field tend to be state governments; you can earn an average of $78,000 per year as an employee of the state (schools and hospitals not included.)

Of course, these salaries are only valid for those working as employees; the earning potential for therapists who run their own private practice is a bit different. According to ZipRecruiter, the average annual salary for a private practice therapist is $97,696—quite a bit higher than what you’d earn working for someone else.

Job Title

The average salary you earn is also tied to your job title and area of expertise. For example, the national average salary for Psychologists is quite high, coming in at $82,180 per year. On the lower end of the spectrum are Mental Health Counselors who specialize in treating substance abuse; their average annual salary is just $47,660. You’ll find salaries for Marriage and Family Therapists in between a psychologist and counselors, averaging $51,340 per year.

Years of Experience

How long you’ve been working as a therapist will also affect your salary potential. If you’ve just completed your degree and passed the licensing exam, you won’t earn nearly as much as someone with ten or more years of experience. The longer you work as a therapist and continue to develop your skill, the more money you’ll be able to make.  

Market Saturation

The amount of money you earn can also be determined in part by how many other therapists there are in your area. If you live in a city with a high concentration of therapists, that could drive the average salary downward since you’re all competing for the same limited pool of potential patients. Conversely, living in an area with high demand for services but few therapists could be beneficial; for example, you could earn more in a state like Alaska with few licensed therapists than you could in a more populated area, like Florida.

The Average Therapist Salary by State

To give you a better idea of how much you might expect to earn, here’s a chart outlining the average salaries for psychologists listed by state.

State                         Rank                     Salary

Alabama                    39                         $69,070

Alaska                       6                           $91,450

Arizona                     43                          $66,040

Arkansas                  40                          $69,000

California                   1                           $108,350

Colorado                  13                           $85,470

Connecticut              7                            $90,870

Delaware                   24                          $78,850

Florida                       29                          $76,190

Georgia                     8                             $89,190

Hawaii                       4                             $94,550

Idaho                         46                           $64,270

Illinois                       32                            $75,180

Indiana                      37                            $73,350

Iowa                           14                            $85,260

Kansas                      44                            $65,320

Kentucky                   45                            $64,330

Louisiana                  10                             $86,630

Maine                         31                             $75,620

Maryland                   23                             $79,820

Massachusetts         11                             $86,490

Michigan                   19                             $83,210

Minnesota                 12                             $85,860

Mississippi                41                            $67,570

Missouri                    28                             $76,480

Montana                    47                             $63,720

Nebraska                  42                              $66,510

Nevada                     16                               $83,760

New Hampshire       15                               $84,270

New Jersey               3                                $98,470

New Mexico              36                              $73,600

New York                   5                                $94,140

North Carolina         27                               $77,470

North Dakota            9                                 $87,090

Ohio                         30                                $75,710

Oklahoma                49                                $60,760

Oregon                      2                                 $103,870

Pennsylvania           17                                $83,610

Rhode Island            20                                $83,030

South Carolina         48                                $63,050

South Dakota           33                                 $73,900

Tennessee                38                                 $69,510

Texas                        35                                  $73,650

Utah                          21                                  $80,920

Vermont                    26                                  $77,670

Virginia                     22                                   $80,380

Washington             34                                   $73,840

West Virginia           50                                   $59,200

Wisconsin                18                                   $83,420

Wyoming                  25                                   $78,360

How Therapists Can Increase Their Income

If you’re working as a therapist and you want to increase your income, there are several ways to go about this. Here are just a few suggestions:

Go Into Private Practice

Those who currently work as employees might consider becoming a private practice therapist to increase their income. When you work for an employer, there will always be limitations placed on how much you can earn. By owning your own business, your earning potential goes up; it’s even possible to make $100,000 or more per year in private practice. Of course, this won’t happen overnight but if you invest your time and energy into building your business up, the reward will be a very healthy income.

Choose a Specialty

Another way you can earn more money is by becoming a specialist instead of a generalist. There are a couple of key reasons why specialists are capable of earning more. For one, specialists are able to command higher rates because they’re experts in their chosen area. Supply and demand also play a role in wages: there are fewer specialists than generalists, which places a premium on specialized therapy services, allowing them to charge more.

Marketing Tools

One of the best ways to increase your income as a therapist is to use marketing tools like Advekit. Advekit is a matching service that helps a potential client locate qualified therapists in their area, which will help keep your appointment calendar full. They also take care of out-of-network billing, which will free up time for you to focus on patients and earn more money.

Gain More Experience

Another way to increase your income is simply to give it time. Therapists who are just starting out earn significantly less than those with years of experience. For example, the average salary for clinical psychologists in the United States with less than a year of experience is $51,100. That amount increases considerably once you’ve acquired more than ten years of experience, going up to $71,500 per year on average. So that means time is on your side—the more years of experience you have, the higher your earning potential.

Diversify Your Income

You can also earn more money by diversifying your income streams. Many therapists have found they can reach more people—and make more money—through blogging, being active on social media, creating podcasts, writing books, delivering speeches, offering online courses, etc. These are all great ways to extend your reach and help more people while also increasing your income.

Therapist Pay Varies, but the Rewards Are Many

How much do therapists make? The short answer is “It varies.” Your salary as a therapist depends on a number of factors, such as your experience, the type of therapy you offer, and where you work, so it’s difficult to pinpoint exactly how much you can expect to make. The good news is that even though actual salaries may vary, working as a therapist is a rewarding career that allows you to help people with their mental health issues and make a positive impact in their lives.