Average Therapist Salaries: What to Expect in 2021


As mental health awareness continues to rise, the demand for therapists has increased, leading many to wonder about the financial prospects of pursuing a career in therapy. In this article, we will explore the average salaries of therapists in 2021, taking into account various factors such as location, experience, and specialization. By examining the data, we aim to provide a comprehensive overview of what aspiring and current therapists can expect in terms of compensation in the coming year. Whether you are considering a career in therapy or are already established in the field, this article will give you valuable insights into the financial aspect of this rewarding profession.

Table of Contents

Factors Affecting Therapist Salaries

Several factors play a significant role in determining a therapist’s salary. Education and credentials are major contributors. Therapists with advanced degrees or certifications can command higher salaries due to their specialized knowledge and skills. For example, a therapist with a Ph.D. or Psy.D. will typically earn more than one with a Master’s degree.

Experience is another critical factor. As with many professions, therapists with more years of practice under their belt can often negotiate higher pay rates. Similarly, therapists who have built a strong reputation and a successful private practice also have the potential to earn more.

  • Geographical location
  • Type of employer (private practice, hospital, non-profit, etc.)
  • Specialization area (such as marriage and family therapy, substance abuse, child psychology, etc.)

The geographical location where a therapist practices can dramatically affect earnings. Therapists in urban areas or places with higher costs of living typically earn more than those in rural areas. Type of employer is also a significant factor. Those working for private practices tend to earn more than those employed by hospitals or non-profit organizations. Lastly, specialization area can influence salary, as certain fields of therapy may be in higher demand or require more specialized training.

Experience Level Salary Range
Entry-Level $35,000-$45,000
Mid-Career $45,000-$65,000
Experienced $65,000-$85,000
Advanced $85,000+

Average Earnings for Different Types of Therapists

When it comes to the earnings of therapists, it’s important to note that salaries can vary widely based on several factors, including the type of therapy they specialize in, their experience level, and the location of their practice. However, to give you a general idea of what you can expect, here’s a breakdown of :

  • Clinical Psychologists: Clinical psychologists, who often work in hospitals, private practice, or academic settings, have an average annual salary of $81,330 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
  • Marriage and Family Therapists: These therapists specialize in helping couples and families navigate relationship issues, and they earn an average of $51,340 per year.
  • Substance Abuse and Behavioral Disorder Counselors: These counselors work with clients struggling with addiction or other behavioral issues and make an average of $47,660 annually.

It’s also worth noting that therapists who own their private practice may have the potential to earn more, depending on the number of clients they see and the rates they charge. Here’s a simple table showing the potential earnings based on different hourly rates:

Hourly Rate Annual Earnings (Based on a 40-hour workweek)
$50 $104,000
$100 $208,000
$150 $312,000

Keep in mind that these figures are just averages, and there are therapists who earn both more and less than these amounts. Factors such as additional certifications, specialized training, and years of experience can all contribute to a therapist’s earning potential.

Location and Cost of Living Impact on Therapist Income

When considering how much money therapists make, it’s important to factor in the impact of location and cost of living. Therapists practicing in urban areas or cities with a high cost of living may charge more for their services to cover their expenses. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean they take home more income. The cost of rent, utilities, and other living expenses can quickly eat into their earnings.

For example, a therapist in San Francisco may charge $150 per session, while a therapist in a smaller town in the Midwest may charge $75 per session. However, the cost of living in San Francisco is significantly higher, meaning the therapist may actually take home less money at the end of the day.

Location Average Cost of Living Average Session Rate
New York City High $200
Chicago Moderate $125
Des Moines Low $75

It’s also worth considering the cost of living in relation to the average salary for therapists in that area. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average annual wage for therapists in 2020 was $51,340. However, this number can vary widely based on location. For example, therapists in California have an average annual wage of $63,470, while therapists in Iowa have an average annual wage of $44,190.

  • California: Average annual wage of $63,470
  • Iowa: Average annual wage of $44,190

In conclusion, the income of a therapist is not just about the hourly rate or salary they earn, but also the cost of living in the area they practice. Therapists must carefully consider their expenses and the economic climate of their location to determine their true take-home pay.

Maximizing Earnings as a Therapist: Tips and Strategies

As a therapist, your income can vary widely depending on a number of factors. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for therapists was $49,610 in 2020. However, some therapists can earn upwards of $100,000 per year. To maximize your earnings, consider the following tips and strategies:

First and foremost, it’s important to specialize in a niche area that is in high demand. This could include areas such as cognitive-behavioral therapy, trauma therapy, or marriage and family therapy. By becoming an expert in a specific area, you can command higher fees for your services.

Another strategy to consider is expanding your services. In addition to traditional therapy sessions, consider offering workshops, group therapy sessions, or online counseling services. This can help you reach a wider audience and increase your income potential.

Here is a table with some examples of services you can offer as a therapist and the potential income associated with each:

Service Potential Income
Individual therapy sessions $100 – $200 per hour
Group therapy sessions $50 – $100 per person
Workshops $500 – $2,000 per event
Online counseling services $50 – $150 per hour

Finally, consider networking with other professionals in your field. Building relationships with other therapists, psychiatrists, and healthcare providers can lead to referrals and increased business. Additionally, consider joining professional organizations or attending conferences to stay up-to-date on industry trends and best practices. By continuously learning and expanding your skills, you can position yourself as a top therapist in your field, leading to higher earnings.


Q: How much money do therapists make on average?
A: The average salary for therapists varies depending on factors such as location, experience, and type of therapy practiced. However, the average annual wage for therapists ranges from $45,000 to $75,000.

Q: What are some factors that can influence a therapist’s salary?
A: Factors such as location, level of education and experience, type of therapy practiced (e.g. marriage and family therapy, clinical psychology, social work), and whether the therapist is self-employed or working for an organization can all impact a therapist’s salary.

Q: How do therapists in private practice typically earn their income?
A: Therapists in private practice typically earn their income from client fees. The amount they charge per session can vary depending on factors such as location, demand for their services, and their level of expertise.

Q: Are there opportunities for therapists to increase their income?
A: Yes, there are opportunities for therapists to increase their income through continuing education and obtaining specialized certifications. Additionally, some therapists may choose to offer additional services such as workshops, group therapy, or consulting to supplement their income.

Q: What are the income prospects for therapists in different regions?
A: Therapists in metropolitan areas or regions with higher cost of living may earn higher salaries compared to those in rural or less densely populated areas. However, there are also factors such as demand for services and local licensing requirements that can impact income prospects for therapists in different regions.

Q: What are some potential career advancement opportunities for therapists?
A: Therapists may have the opportunity to advance into supervisory or managerial roles within their organizations. Additionally, some therapists may choose to pursue further education to become psychologists or pursue opportunities in academia or research.

Future Outlook

In conclusion, the income of therapists can vary greatly depending on factors such as location, experience, and specialty. While some may make a comfortable living, others may struggle to make ends meet. It is important for those considering a career in therapy to weigh these factors and do thorough research before entering the field. Additionally, it is crucial for therapists to negotiate fair compensation for their services and advocate for fair wages within their profession. Overall, the financial reward of being a therapist can be unpredictable, but the fulfillment of helping others may outweigh the monetary aspect for many within the profession.

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