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Employment Trends in Behavioral Health

A psychologist takes notes as she interviews a patient
Antonio Diaz/123RF.com

Whether you’re a new or experienced mental health professional, it is important to keep abreast of job market conditions. You can’t evaluate a job offer if you don’t know how it compares to the norms for the area and industry. Understanding the growth prospects in behavioral health is necessary, too.

The best paying behavioral health jobs are not necessarily in the most expensive areas. Some less expensive areas have better than average paying behavioral health jobs. The statistics below give you insights into whether relocation can improve your standard of living.

Psychiatrists

The best paying psychiatrist jobs are in the local government, home health care, and outpatient care industries. However, the Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that Offices of Physicians, Psychiatric, and General Medical and Surgical Hospitals employ the most psychiatrists. Geriatric specialists typically earn more than psychiatrists who work with children.

Psychiatrists in the United States have a mean annual wage of slightly over $216,000. Psychiatrists in California, New Jersey, Alaska, South Carolina, and Indiana make the most money. The highest paying metropolitan areas are Trenton, NJ, Tacoma, WA, Stockton, San Rafael, and San Jose-Sunnyvale, CA.

Psychologists

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of psychologist jobs will increase 14% by 2026. Most psychologists work in schools or as independent workers. Psychologists employed in health practitioner offices earn almost $15,000 per year more than their peers who work in schools.

$81,330 is the mean annual wage for psychologist jobs in the United States. Psychologists earn the most money in New Jersey, Alaska, Hawaii, California, and Oregon. The three largest metro areas, New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago, have the highest earning psychologists.

Mental Health Counselors 

Mental health counselors can expect robust job growth. The Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts that the number of counselor jobs will increase 23% between now and 2026. By contrast, 7% is the expected job growth overall.

Mental health counselors do not enjoy high wages at this time. The median wage in this field is slightly over $43,000 per year. If these types of behavior health jobs grow faster than people entering the field, expect an increase in earnings.

Psychiatric Nurses (RNs and NPs)

Psychiatric RNs and Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners (NPs) are important behavioral health professionals. Both RNs and NPs enjoy high job satisfaction and are important to delivering care. Experienced RNs and NPs enjoy strong increases in compensation.

The average hourly rate for psychiatric nurses is $29.53; however, location greatly affects pay. Psychiatric RNs in Atlanta and Jacksonville, FL earn a lower hourly rate while behavioral health nurses in Las Vegas, NV and Portland, OR have higher earnings ($32.17 and $34.33 per hour, respectively).

The average salary for a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner is over $103,000 per year per Payscale. Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners earn above average compensation in Dallas and Houston while the same NPs earn below the national average in Nashville and Chicago. The ability to prescribe medications and lead therapy sessions means that Psychiatric NPs take a leadership role in the care of patients.

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About Susan Gulliford CPRW

Susan Gulliford is a Resume Writer based in Schaumburg, IL. Previously she recruited for corporate and healthcare positions before transitioning into the career services field. Susan enjoys helping others with the job search process.