Mental Health Therapist Salary Guide 2023

Mental health therapists are professionals who provide treatments that improve a person’s overall well-being. They conduct talk therapy sessions with people living with a variety of mental health conditions, such as anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, and more.

While most people don’t get into the mental health field because of the money, knowing how much you can expect to earn can be helpful when planning your future. We’ll discuss the average mental health therapist salary, where you can make the most in this career, and more.

What Salary Can I Expect To Earn as a Mental Health Therapist?

How much you’ll earn as a mental health therapist will depend on your experience, where you live, and who you work for. The average salary for a mental health therapist working in the United States is $78,534 annually.

You won’t start out making that salary, though. The average starting salary for a mental health therapist in the United States is $44,914, while more tenured therapists can potentially make an average of $148,500 with years of experience.

Here’s a breakdown of what you can expect to earn on average as a mental health therapist based on experience:

  • 0-1 year: $44,914
  • 1-4 years: $49,000
  • 5-9 years: $53,000
  • 10-19 years: $78,534
  • 20+ years: $90,000

Which U.S. Cities Are Paying Mental Health Therapists the Most? 

Where you live heavily affects how much you’ll make as a mental health therapist. Cities that have a higher earning potential in this field tend to have a higher requirement for mental health therapists.

Here are ten of the highest-paying cities for mental health therapists and their average annual salaries:

  • Napa, California: $78,660
  • Southeast Alaska nonmetropolitan area, Alaska: $73,510
  • Bend, Oregon: $68,490
  • Anchorage, Alaska: $66,940
  • Fond du Lac, Wisconsin: $66,870
  • Ann Arbor, Michigan: $64,980
  • Wenatchee-East Wenatchee, Washington: $64,800
  • Railbelt-Southwest Alaska nonmetropolitan area, Alaska: $64,640
  • Poughkeepsie-Newburgh-Middletown, New York: $64,030
  • Rocky Mount, North Carolina: $63,960

Keep in mind that even if the salary looks more appealing in these cities, you need to factor in the average cost of living and if you’ll be happy in these cities.

Which U.S. States Are Paying Mental Health Therapists the Most? 

Even though a city in Alaska didn’t make the number one spot as the highest paying city for mental health therapists, they were on the top ten highest paying cities list three times. Something interesting is that many of the highest-paying states aren’t featured on the highest-paying cities list.

Here are the top ten highest-paying states for mental health therapists and their average annual salary:

  • Alaska: $63,900
  • Wyoming: $55,900
  • Utah: $55,150
  • North Dakota: $52,790
  • Arkansas: $51,690
  • Maine: $50,720
  • Oregon: $50,340
  • New Jersey: $50,210
  • Connecticut: $48,410
  • Oklahoma: $48,230

Remember that these are just average salaries; you can make more in other states too. It all depends on your experience and the cost of living in the area you choose to live in.

How Does a Mental Health Therapist’s Salary Compare to Other Psychological Fields? 

Mental health therapists have the potential to earn a nice living. They can sometimes make a six-figure income, but it’s not as common as in other psychological fields. If you’re interested, here’s how a mental health therapist’s salary compares to other psychological careers.

Clinical Psychologist

clinical psychologist has the most similar annual salary to a mental health therapist of the other psychological careers we’ll mention. Clinical psychologists make an average yearly salary of $91,667, depending on experience and location.

Counseling Psychologist

Counseling psychologists typically work as therapists with patients that don’t always have an underlying mental illness. You need a license and doctorate to practice, and the average salary is $80,000.


Neuropsychologists study the human brain and behavior and how they impact each other. They have a doctorate and continue their neuropsychology training and work in research centers. The average salary for an experienced professional is $92,640 annually.


Psychiatrists help diagnose, treat, and prevent mental illnesses. They go to medical school and pass certifications to be able to boost their salary. The average annual salary for a psychiatrist is $250,000.

School Psychologist

School psychologists typically have a master’s degree and potentially a doctorate. They work within school systems to provide counseling services to students. They can give personality tests and create treatment plans for easier learning for students. A school psychologist will typically earn between $63,000-$100,000.

How Do I Advance My Mental Health Therapist Career and Earn More? 

There are a few ways to increase your annual salary as a mental health therapist even after completing all your schooling and licensing.

You can research the highest-paying states and cities and determine if the cost of living will be comparable to a higher salary. Of course, moving to a more prosperous city isn’t the easiest thing to do, but it’s worth considering if you want to boost your salary.

Another way to increase your annual salary as a mental health therapist is to open your practice. When you work for yourself, all the earnings go directly to you. Furthermore, even if you decide to hire some employees, you can still achieve a higher salary than you would have working for somebody else.

You can also participate in further specialization training. Expanding your skillset and being able to offer rehabilitation for specific mental health disorders and illnesses will raise your visibility and value in the mental health community.

Lastly, the longer you work as a mental health therapist, the more you’ll earn. Regardless of where you live, with more experience, you’ll earn more whether you’re working for yourself or someone else.