Skip to main content

Life as a provider

How much does a typical therapist make?

A dollar sign on a blue and cream background

Curious about the average salary of people in your profession? It depends on a few factors.

Whether you’re considering becoming a therapist or are already in practice, you may be curious about the average salary of people in the profession. Knowing how much your peers are making can help you make a wide range of decisions around practice structure, specialties, education, how to accept insurance, working hours per week, and more. 

As with any profession, there’s no simple answer to the question, and a single dollar figure doesn’t always tell the whole story. 

It’s a wide range that depends a lot on license type

According to Bureau of Labor Statistics data from May 2023, the average annual salary for a therapist is $96,670. This is a broad statistic that includes therapists with a wide range of education and experiences.

The biggest factor in earnings is license type. Prescribing providers in the mental health field typically earn more, because of the advanced degrees required and ability to prescribe medications:

  • Psychiatrists: Due in large part to the extensive educational requirements, psychiatrists make an average annual salary of $256,930. 
  • Medical doctors (MD): The salary range of medical doctors varies by specialty, but on average, the wage is equal or greater than $239,200.
  • Nurse practitioners (NP): Thanks to additional education beyond registered nurses, nurse practitioners make an average annual salary of $128,490. 

There’s also some variation in salary among non-prescribing providers:

  • Licensed marriage and family therapists (LMFT): Marriage and family therapists have a median annual salary of $58,510.
  • Licensed professional counselors (LPC): Counselors, which includes a broad grouping of counselors, social workers, and other community and social service specialists, have a median annual salary of $58,910 per year.
  • Licensed clinical social worker (LCSW): Social workers have a median annual salary of $53,380. 

Headway is a free service that makes it easier and more profitable for therapists and psychiatrists to accept insurance.

4 other factors that impact a therapist’s salary

In addition to level of education and ability to prescribe, there are quite a few other factors at play when determining salary level for therapists. 

1. Experience

Like in most professions, experience plays a significant role in earnings. Therapists with many years in practice can often command higher compensation than those who are just starting out. 

2. Specialization

While many therapists treat clients with a wide range of approaches, therapists who specialize in certain types of therapy may earn more. These include things like trauma therapy, substance abuse counseling, and niche focus areas like art therapy or play therapy. 

3. Location

Pay ranges can vary significantly based on geography. In bigger cities where the cost of living is higher, therapists may receive higher compensation than those working in smaller, more affordable towns. 

4. Practice setting

The type of setting you work in can have a significant impact on your pay range. Community mental health workers are usually paid less than those in group practices. Therapists working in hospitals, healthcare facilities or government agencies often earn less than those who run private practices, but they enjoy additional compensation in the form of job stability, retirement benefits, and high-quality health insurance.

Finally, therapists who operate their own private practice have high earning potential, especially if they have a strong reputation locally and a high demand for their services. 

Curious about what it takes to start a private practice? A Headway practice consultant can help you navigate the requirements and get you credentialed with insurance plans quickly and easily.

No matter your salary, you can focus on financial planning

Another important factor to consider when earning as a therapist is how you’ll manage your money. Planning for financial success is an important part of being a business owner. Many Headway providers choose to partner with Heard to give practice owners access to monthly bookkeeping services that allow you to spend less time balancing the books and more time caring for your clients.