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Careers in Geriatric Psychology

Learn how you can help the elderly as a geriatric psychologist.

geriatric psychologist with elderly patient

Geriatric psychologists deal with the special problems faced by the elderly.

The emergence and growth of these specialties reflects the increasing participation of psychologists in providing direct services to special patient populations. Geriatric psychologists hold PhD degrees in psychology.

There was little focus on geriatric psychology before the 1970s, but as physicians in the U.S. began to age, they realized they needed to understand age-related illnesses such as Alzheimer’s, depression and dementia.

Salaries

Geriatric psychologists are part of the larger field of psychologists. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ 2021 Occupational Employment Statistics, the median national annual salary for psychologists is $102,900.

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

With the baby boomer generation aging and the fact that a larger percentage of the population will be elderly, geriatric psychologists will be in demand. These professionals help older adults deal with change, stress, death, memory problems and anxiety in a healthy fashion. Sometimes emotional problems occur in people who are coping with chronic pain, heart disease, diabetes and strokes, and geriatric psychologists assist in easing their suffering.

Geriatric psychologists see elderly patients in many environments, such as these:

  • Private practice office
  • Hospitals
  • Clinics
  • Long-term care facilities
  • Independent or assisted living facility

Geriatric psychologists may also work with physicians and primary care-givers and act as advisers to nurses and other health care professionals. Advocacy for public health care policy and educating the community could also play an important part in a geriatric psychology career.