The Average Salary of a Cognitive Behavioral Therapist


Cognitive behavioral therapists help patients change how they feel about themselves, as well as how they react in certain situations. For example, some of these types of therapists help patients work through panic attacks or treat lifelong depression issues. This profession requires many years of education and training, including an undergraduate degree, a master’s degree or doctorate in psychology and certification in cognitive behavior therapy.


As of May 2010, the national median yearly salary was around $72,000 for cognitive behavioral therapists, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This national average used a median hourly wage of about $34 per hour. Many cognitive behavioral therapists can earn wages through traditional or nontraditional methods. For example, some work directly for hospitals or social service organizations, while others run independent, private practices. Some charge per visit, rather than by the hour.

Top-Paying Locations

Cognitive behavioral therapists that work in certain parts of the U.S. can earn more than their counterparts in other areas. For example, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average mean wage for these types of therapists was $82,000 in California and New York. Those in Massachusetts, Connecticut and Hawaii earned an average of around $75,000 per year. However, the top-paying state was New Jersey at an annual mean wage of almost $92,000 per year. Colorado came in a close second at an average median salary of near $89,000.

Top-Paying Industries

These specialized therapists can work in a wide variety of work settings and industries – and some pay better than others. As of May 2010, the highest paying industry for cognitive behavioral therapy was employment services. Therapists working in this industry earned an annual mean wage of $96,700, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The next-highest-paying industry was company and enterprise management, with a national median salary of around $94,000. The other top-paying industries include business schools and management training, health practitioners’ offices and physicians’ offices.


If you are considering pursuing employment in this mental health field, you have several career paths to choose from. Some industries hire more cognitive behavioral therapists than others. As of May 2010, the industries with the highest levels of employment in this type of therapy included elementary and secondary schools, health practitioners’ offices, family and individual services and state government offices. The median wage for schools was $71,000 per year, the mean average salary for family services was around $69,500 per year and the mean wage for state government positions was around $74,000 per year.

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