The career paths available for psychologists are varied and challenging, and few careers can match the sense of meaning and responsibility being a school psychologist offers. That’s why we’re dedicated to looking at all the factors to help find the best cities for psychologists.
Using wage and location data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the cost of living statistics and student numbers in each city, we calculated the top 50 cities for clinical counseling and school psychologists in the US. We’ve listed our top 10 locations below, but, as with most job and location comparisons, there are pros and cons of being a school psychologist in each location.
10. Rochester, New York
Total score: 220
Rochester, New York, on the south shore of Lake Ontario, came in 10th on our list. Although Rochester offers high salaries and good student-to-psychologist ratios, there are only 13 therapists employed per 10,000 jobs.
9. El Centro, California
Total score: 222
El Centro is located in California, one of the highest paying states for school psychologists. El Centro is also the largest city in the Imperial Valley and offers some of the highest paying therapist jobs in the US for clinical counseling and school psychologists. In terms of job availability, the city has 16 psychologists employed per 10,000 jobs.
However, El Centro has a high student-to-psychologist ratio, with 128 students per each professional.
8. La Crosse, Wisconsin
Total score: 224
In 2013, Forbes declared La Crosse the best small place in Wisconsin for business and careers, and US News and World Report placed it within the top 10 places to live in the US.
In addition to being a great place to call home, La Crosse provides excellent career opportunities for psychologists, with 24 employed Clinical, Counseling and School Psychologists per 10,000 jobs – the third-best in the US. La Crosse’s pupil-to-therapist ratio is also strong, ranking 11th in our top 50 cities.
School psychologist salary in Wisconsin performed less well in regard to compensation – its average salaries are in the 48th percentile.
7. Sacramento, California
Total score: 227
California’s sixth-largest city is the 12th-highest-paying city for Clinical, Counseling and School Psychologists. Although salaries are high, Sacramento ranks 35th for employability, due to the low availability of jobs.
Sacramento is also a great place to live, with a reputation as a vibrant cultural hub: Infogroup ranked it the fourth “most hipster” city in the US, based on its thrift stores, independent coffee shops, and record stores aimed at young consumers.
6. Syracuse, New York
Total score: 236
New York State’s fifth-most populous city is notable for its high salaries. It also boasts an impressive student-to-therapist ratio.
Syracuse isn’t just a great place to work. In 2010, Forbes rated Syracuse the fourth-best place in the US to raise a family.
The downside is jobs aren’t as easy to come by in Syracuse versus some of our other cities. With 13 employed psychologists per 10,000 jobs, only four cities in our top 50 offer fewer employment opportunities than Syracuse.
5. Pittsfield, Massachusetts
Total score: 236
With just over 40,000 residents, Pittsfield isn’t the biggest city in our top 10, but it offers tremendous employment opportunities. In terms of job availability, we scored Pittsfield 99 out of 100.
Pittsfield’s salaries and student-to-therapist ratios are strong, too, ranking 15th and 16th in our top 50, respectively.
4. Duluth, Minnesota
Total score: 237
Duluth, Minnesota is known mainly as a port city. With impressive job opportunities and appealing student-to-therapist ratios, it’s also a great place to be a psychologist. Although the basic salary isn’t as high as many of the other cities on our list, Duluth’s lower-than-average cost of living makes up for it.
3. Hanford, California
Total score: 238
Hanford, located in California, one of the highest paying states for school psychologists, has the highest average annual salaries for Clinical, Counseling and School Psychologists in the US, adjusted for cost of living. Hanford also has the best job opportunities, with 35 employed psychologists per 10,000 jobs. It’s let down slightly by its ratio of students-to-psychologists.
2. Providence, Rhode Island
Total score: 241
Rhode Island’s capital is known for its healthcare and education industries. The city has eight hospitals and seven higher learning institutes.
Although the average salaries in Providence aren’t as high as many of the cities in our top 10, Providence makes up for it with excellent job opportunities and an admirable student-to-psychologist ratio.
1. Kingston, New York
Total score: 271
Topping our list is Kingston, New York – the smallest city in our top 10. Like the other New York cities in our ranking – particularly Rochester and Syracuse, which made the top 10 – it offers high salaries and a strong ratio of therapists to students.
What separates Kingston is the availability of employment. Both Syracuse and Rochester ranked poorly for job availability, but psychologists looking for work in Kingston will find the number of opportunities appealing.
Overall, Kingston ranked high in every category, scoring 96 out of 100 for job opportunities, 88 out of 100 for salaries, and 88 out of 100 for students per psychologist.
The overall ranking was calculated using the Bureau of Labor Statistics data on multiple job profiles, including Clinical, Counseling and School Psychologists. All available metropolitan areas were ranked by jobs per 10,000 to get an initial top 50. Each city in this top 50 was then given a percentile-based score for three different categories: number of job opportunities per 10,000 employed, average salary (adjusted for cost of living- taken from Best Places.net) and number of students in that city per psychologist – combining total employment data from each city with student numbers taken from the National Center for Education Statistics. These scores combined produce an overall score and ranking.
Not a school psychologist, but interested in another school specialty? Check out all of our school-based positions here.