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What Can You Do with a PhD in Clinical Psychology?

The field of clinical psychology provides graduates with a variety of careers!

With millions of Americans suffering from mental health concerns, trained clinical psychologists are one of the most in-demand professions. A clinical psychologist is a broad title for professionals concerned with the prevention, assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of mental illness. The demand for clinical psychologists is not only high currently, but it is expected to grow in the future.  According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, job opportunities for clinical psychologists with a PhD in Psychology are expected to grow by six percent* between 2021 and 2031.

Palo Alto University (PAU) offers two doctoral programs to become a clinical psychologist: PhD (Doctor of Philosophy) in Clinical Psychology and PsyD (Doctor of Psychology). The PhD in Clinical Psychology has a greater focus on research, and many of the graduates from this program work in academia as a researcher and professor along with working with clients as a therapist. The second doctoral offering, the PsyD (Doctor of Psychology), has a greater emphasis on working directly with patients in applied clinical settings, such as hospitals or mental health centers, or in individual or group private practice settings.

*Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Psychologists

 Jobs in Psychology with a PhD

There are a variety of career paths for those with a doctoral degree in psychology. Many clinical psychologists offer private therapy to clients, but other professional psychologists are employed by schools, the court system, or business organizations. Most clinical psychologists specialize their training depending on which demographic they want to serve. 

Within the field of clinical psychology, here are some of the most popular career options.  All Salaries are based on 2024 Zip Recruiter averages, these salaries can depend on many factors. 


Avg. Yearly Salary: $90,572

Some graduates of doctoral degrees in clinical psychology choose to concentrate in psychotherapy, which is the treatment of mental conditions by verbal communication (aka talk therapy). Often, psychotherapists specialize in one counseling method such as cognitive behavioral therapy or hypnotherapy. Many psychotherapists open their own private practice, meet with clients one-on-one in clinical settings, and develop ongoing care plans for their clients. However, psychotherapists can also work at institutions that provide mental health services, such as a hospital, clinic, or residential facility.

Marriage and Family Therapist

Avg. Yearly Salary: $77,166 

A clinical psychologist that offers psychotherapy to couples and families is called a Marriage and Family Therapist. Here, the clinical psychologist addresses mental health concerns and negative habits that occur in the home and facilitates problem solving and care plans to address a variety of mental health needs. 

Child Psychologist

Avg. Yearly Salary: $109,894

Also known as a Pediatric Behavioral Health specialist, this emphasis focuses on the specific mental health needs of children and adolescents. 

School Psychologist

Avg. Yearly Salary: $92,813

This clinical psychologist is employed by public school districts, private schools, or learning centers to help students overcome psychological challenges, such as learning disabilities, emotional issues, social adjustments, or other behavioral problems that hinder learning. Some school psychologists work with teachers, parents, and school administrators to create individualized educational programs for students who struggle with learning as well as for gifted students.

Diversity and Community Mental Health Psychologist

Avg. Yearly Salary: $77,166 

Clinical psychologists who want to work with couples and families from underserved communities can specialize in Diversity and Community Mental Health and be trained to provide culturally-competent psychological services for the public mental health sector.

LGBTQ+ Psychologist

Avg. Yearly Salary: $63,943

LGBTQ+ psychologists are clinical psychologists who want to work with the LGBTQ+ community and acquire knowledge and training to effectively address mental health concerns specific to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer populations.

Forensic Psychologists

Avg. Yearly Salary: $87,877

Forensic Psychologists take psychological insights and apply them to the legal system, such as criminal and civil matters. Some work with law enforcement, court consulting and jury selection. Others offer mental health services in prisons, and work with probation and parole assessment. They can also work with victim advocacy, family law, risk assessment, civil commitment, juvenile delinquency, insurance claims, and other areas of the justice system. 

Health Psychologist

Avg. Yearly Salary: $120,811  

Health psychologists work collaboratively with medical providers to offer mental health services for clients dealing with a physical illness. 


Avg. Yearly Salary: $360,000

Geropychologists specialize in understanding the mental health needs and best treatment for older adults, aged 65 and older. This branch of psychology focuses on serving seniors and their families to maintain a high quality of life and overcome physical, mental, and emotional obstacles related to aging.


Avg. Yearly Salary: $122,928 

Clinical psychologists that are interested in the connection between brain function and human behavior specialize their PhD in Psychology education and training in neuropsychology, which is a great career path for science-minded psychology students.

Trauma Psychologist

Avg. Yearly Salary: $92,813 

Trauma psychologists study how traumatic events affect behavior and offer trauma-informed mental health care to their clients. They offer care to mitigate both the immediate and long-term effects of trauma exposure. Trauma psychologists work with various groups that have experienced trauma, such as combat veterans, victims of mass casualty events, domestic violence, and child abuse.

Rehabilitation Psychologist

Avg. Yearly Salary: $95,844  

 Rehabilitation psychologists work with people who have had an injury or illness resulting in a disability, such as becoming wheelchair bound or having a chronic illness. They focus on the psychology of loss and work with their clients to foster independence and adjustment to living with a disability. Rehabilitation psychologists work in acute care hospitals, inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation centers, assisted living and long-term care facilities, and Veterans Administration (VA) hospitals.

Industrial-Organizational Psychologist

Avg. Yearly Salary: $120,524

Many organizational psychologists work in the human resources department of businesses and non-profit organizations to recruit talent, streamline company processes, facilitate courses in group dynamics and leadership, and promote diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) policies. Within the company, an industrial-organizational psychologist may conduct screening tests, performance reviews, and training sessions to help employees work effectively to achieve common company goals, retain employees, and increase efficiency and overall production.

Sports Psychologist

Avg. Yearly Salary: $92,813 

Sport psychologists work with athletes to enhance their wellbeing and overcome psychological blocks to improving performance and achieve their goals. They often offer therapy for such issues as career transitions, eating disorders, rehabilitation after an injury, or other personal problems that may affect their athletic performance. They may also work with teams to improve group dynamics or leadership issues. Along with psychology, they typically have expertise in physiology, biomechanics, and kinesiology. Some sports psychologists research factors that lead to athletic success, the developmental and social effects of participating in sports at different ages, or the psychological effects of physical injury. 

Clinical Psychology Professor and/or Researcher

Avg. Yearly Salary: $101,568

In many universities, doctoral level faculty split their time teaching classes in psychology and conducting academic research on the influences of thought patterns and human behavior on individuals, families, and society. Research psychologists often manage laboratories with student trainees, write grant applications to fund their research, share their findings at conferences, and publish their findings in academic journals. This research may lead to important discoveries in the field of psychology and influence mental health services that are offered to the public.