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Careers in Experimental Psychology

Learn about human behavior with a degree in experimental psychology.

man standing on city street holding broken mirror
man standing on city street holding broken mirror

Specialists who work in experimental psychology use a methodological approach to conduct experiments in controlled situations in order to examine human behavior.

These psychologists take nothing for granted as they scrutinize human responses to sensation, perception, motivation, memory, learning and physiological psychology.

Experimental Psychologists may perform the following duties:

  • Run experiments to study human behaviorism and mental phenomena
  • Study behavior processes in animals
  • Use findings to inform diagnoses and treatments for various social, behavioral and emotional disorders

Salaries

Experimental psychologists are part of the larger field of psychologists. Take a look at median annual salaries for psychologists, as reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ 2021 Occupational Employment Statistics, below.

Psychologists, All Other

National data

Median Salary: $102,900

Projected job growth: 2.8%

10th Percentile: $39,760

25th Percentile: $73,910

75th Percentile: $120,240

90th Percentile: $133,200

Projected job growth: 2.8%

State data

State Median Salary Bottom 10% Top 10%
Alaska $113,340 $74,360 $137,780
Alabama $104,420 $39,560 $123,800
Arkansas $95,200 $26,230 $119,770
Arizona $105,000 $47,780 $124,090
California $116,490 $52,520 $165,060
Connecticut $113,570 $42,180 $133,760
District of Columbia $105,300 $51,670 $135,030
Florida $104,720 $48,690 $127,590
Georgia $101,340 $64,650 $119,770
Hawaii $105,640 $23,680 $142,380
Iowa $113,630 $62,350 $129,040
Idaho $92,120 $48,920 $113,630
Illinois $101,600 $38,310 $130,050
Indiana $98,280 $39,380 $120,790
Kansas $102,380 $29,350 $122,150
Kentucky $104,420 $64,270 $121,330
Louisiana $103,040 $43,720 $119,930
Massachusetts $112,860 $49,170 $133,370
Maryland $114,050 $52,170 $159,700
Maine $72,790 $48,770 $104,420
Michigan $64,650 $39,340 $121,410
Minnesota $64,500 $39,560 $130,360
Missouri $105,960 $46,760 $121,530
Mississippi $92,120 $26,230 $119,770
North Carolina $96,430 $46,890 $119,770
North Dakota $101,360 $48,920 $128,380
New Jersey $98,680 $38,210 $127,750
New Mexico $101,980 $26,350 $120,540
Nevada $99,740 $48,920 $128,770
New York $110,550 $30,160 $138,400
Ohio $105,500 $39,090 $132,390
Oklahoma $99,420 $39,630 $124,900
Oregon $108,160 $49,190 $169,620
Pennsylvania $107,540 $50,520 $130,210
Rhode Island $62,410 $29,820 $151,680
South Carolina $110,550 $47,580 $136,840
South Dakota $101,340 $26,230 $119,770
Texas $105,930 $52,960 $127,130
Utah $104,420 $44,990 $135,690
Virginia $107,630 $61,550 $134,780
Vermont $98,280 $77,020 $119,770
Washington $111,030 $56,730 $131,210
Wisconsin $95,200 $46,580 $124,690
West Virginia $40,730 $31,140 $110,550
Wyoming $113,630 $26,230 $169,620

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) 2021 median salary; projected job growth through 2031. Actual salaries vary depending on location, level of education, years of experience, work environment, and other factors. Salaries may differ even more for those who are self-employed or work part time.

Work Environment

Experimental psychologists often work in private research centers and universities (where they are employed as professors), as well as nonprofit, business and government organizations. Their work is primarily focused on statistics, research and experimentation.

Training and Education

Becoming an experimental psychologist should begin with an undergraduate degree in psychology. From there, individuals are free to pursue a Master of Arts or Master of Science degree (MA or MS) in experimental psychology, or simply psychology MA and MS programs in psychology are more plentiful than programs in experimental psychology).

These programs, which generally take two years to complete, will further expose students to the wide and fascinating field of psychology. However, this degree alone is not enough to enter the fiercely competitive field of experimental psychology.

Most doctorate programs (PhD) in experimental psychology require individuals to have obtained their MA or MS degree in one of the psychological fields. PhD programs can take three years or more years to complete, depending on the individual’s time frame. These programs provide students with the nuanced training and knowledge to perform their own empirical research, read data and conduct experiments.