How Much Do Sex Therapists Make?

Sex therapists are professionals who commit to earning the knowledge, therapeutic skills, and interpersonal skills required to help clients navigate successfully through the wild world of human sexuality. The healing, empowerment, and self-actualization that a sex therapist can catalyze are as broad as the field of human sexuality itself.

Sex therapists can help clients heal from the pain and trauma caused by violence to one’s sexual body, identity, or spirit. They can also help perpetrators of sexual violence to come into peaceful wholeness. Sex therapists can help clients to build the emotional and physical bridge between the bodies their clients were born into and the bodies their clients know deep down are their true bodies. They can help clients heal physical and emotional rifts within themselves or between partners when the origins of the rift lie in sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, differences in background, and more.

Sex therapists also can help families navigate the generational differences in how people view, experience, and express sexuality. Sex therapists can also help those in marginalized groups to overcome the sexually limiting narratives internalized from the injustice of an inequitable cultural and historical legacy. This list is by no means exhaustive.

Choosing sex therapy is not currently a straightforward path through the education system. One can come to it from a wide range of backgrounds, including social work, nursing, psychotherapy, counseling, the clergy, marriage and family therapy, and more. Some sex therapists will come to their path through sex-therapy-focused masters, doctoral, or post-doctoral programs, while others will come to their practice through experience, time, need, and self-study. 

Certification to practice sex therapy is not currently required, but some sex therapists will pursue certification from the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors, and Therapists (AASECT). Doing so helps to anchor a culturally misunderstood therapeutic practice within the legitimacy of neutral third-party standards for quality. To become a certified sex therapist (as opposed to a certified sex educator or sex counselor), a candidate for professional certification must have a master’s degree or higher in a clinical specialty that includes psychotherapy training.

In a time where sexuality is becoming more openly diverse and complex, sex therapists can be hugely important in helping people to find peace in an aspect of human existence that can be mysterious, confusing, or cloaked in fear. Keep reading to learn more about how much sex therapists have the potential to earn.

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Sex Therapy Salary Guide

How much a sex therapist makes will vary depending on years of experience, geographic location, sex therapy niche, client base, and more. At the time of this writing, sex therapy salaries are not commonly studied. PayScale.com (2023) reports that the annual wage for sex therapists is $59,425 per year, but this self-reported rate is based only on 24 salaries and therefore does not hold statistical significance.

Because there isn’t solid data on sex therapy salaries specifically, this article will focus on salaries for “stepping-stone occupations.” Stepping-stone occupations are those jobs that can lead a professional to a career in sex therapy, or serve as the baseline career for a sex therapy specialization.

For the purpose of this analysis, salary information was acquired from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2022) and PayScale.com (2023). The BLS collects its data through field visits and interviews. Payscale.com collects its data through self-reporting.

Annual Average Salaries in Occupations Related to Sex Therapy

The following table explains how much a person employed in a stepping-stone occupation makes on average per year. While those practicing sex therapy from these baseline occupations may make more based on their expertise, it’s also possible that these numbers translate directly into what a sex therapist has the potential to earn.

Stepping-Stone OccupationBLS (May 2022), AveragesPayscale.com (2023), Averages
Marriage and Family Therapist$63,300$59,332 (Based on 640 salaries)
Clinical and Counseling Psychologist$102,740$87,846 (1,090 salaries)
Mental Health & Substance Abuse Social Worker$60,130$53,498 (4,936 salaries)
Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder & Mental Health Counselor$56,230$49,542 (2,058 salaries)
(Psychiatric) Nurse Practitioner$124,680$117,806 (151 salaries)
Clergy$60,180$55,434 (77 salaries)

Average Annual Salaries of Sex Therapists by Percentile and Experience

While the averages give a general sense of how much Sex Therapists have the potential to make, the range of what someone in this occupation can vary widely. To paint a more detailed picture of earning potential for sex therapists, the following chart details the range that professionals in the stepping-stone occupations make at different earning levels (BLS) and experience levels (Payscale.com).

Stepping-Stone Occupation with employment according to the BLS (May 2022)By PercentileYears of Experience (# of Salaries Reported)
Marriage and Family Therapist (62,080 employed nationwide)
  • 10% – $36,840

  • 25% – $44,730

  • 50% (Median) – $56,570

  • 75% – $75,220

  • 90% – $98,700
  • 0 – 1  Years – $47,772 (29 salaries)

  • 1 – 4  Years – $55,049 (338 salaries)

  • 5 – 9  Years – $66,433 (184 salaries)

  • 10 – 19  Years – $64,893 (104 salaries)

  • 20+  Years – $70,000 (Unknown #)
Clinical and Counseling Psychologist (62,880 employed nationwide)
  • 10% – $42,760

  • 25% – $62,070

  • 50% (Median) – $90,130

  • 75% – $126,240

  • 90% – $168,790
  • 0 – 1  Years – $73,678 (57 salaries)

  • 1 – 4  Years – $81,534 (386 salaries)

  • 5 – 9  Years – $90,199 (253 salaries)

  • 10 – 19  Years – $95,672 (292 salaries)

  • 20+  Years – $101,365 (Unknown #)
Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Workers (107,940 employed nationwide)
  • 10% – $34,630

  • 25% – $39,730

  • 50% (Median) – $51,240

  • 75% – $73,050

  • 90% – $97,660
  • 0 – 1  Years – $46,867 (299 salaries)

  • 1 – 4  Years – $49,997 (2,282 salaries)

  • 5 – 9  Years – $55,925 (1,126 salaries)

  • 10 – 19  Years – $59,681 (987 salaries)

  • 20+ Years – $61,406 (Unknown #)
Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors (344,970 employed nationwide)
  • 10% – $34,580

  • 25% – $39,810

  • 50% (Median) – $49,710

  • 75% – $64,400

  • 90% – $82,710
  • 0 – 1  Years – $44,048 (131 salaries)

  • 1 – 4  Years – $47,397 (1,195 salaries)

  • 5 – 9  Years – $53,837 (427 salaries)

  • 10 – 19  Years – $57,099 (292 salaries)

  • 20+ Years – $61,540 (Unknown #)
Nurse Practitioner (258,230 employed nationwide)
  • 10% – $87,340

  • 25% – $103,250

  • 50% (Median) – $121,610

  • 75% – $135,470

  • 90% – $165,240
  • 0 – 1  Years – $98,595 (407 salaries)

  • 1 – 4  Years – $103,655 (1,055 salaries)

  • 5 – 9  Years – $109,710 (605 salaries)

  • 10 – 19  Years – $115,328 (439 salaries)

  • 20+ Years – $114,413 (Unknown #)
Clergy (53,140 employed nationwide)
  • 10% – $31,170

  • 25% – $41,040

  • 50% (Median) – $55,550

  • 75% – $61,180

  • 90% – $93,530
  • 0 – 1  Years: No Data

  • 1 – 4  Years – $50,168 (9 salaries)

  • 5 – 9  Years – $52,609 (22 salaries)

  • 10 – 19  Years – $53,485 (19 salaries)

  • 20+ Years – $60,966 (Unknown #)

Highest Regional Annual Salaries – By State

The following table breaks down where each stepping-stone-to-sex-therapy occupation has the highest average yearly salaries. This May 2022 data was acquired from the BLS—the latest figures available as of September 2023.

When considering salaries from a regional perspective, it can be important to consider the cost of living in that region. For example, California is among the top paying states for many of these stepping-stone occupations. According to the Missouri Economic Information and Resource Center (MERIC 2023), California is also the fourth-most expensive state in the country, with particularly high housing costs. This means that the dollar in California doesn’t stretch as far as it might in other regions, and necessitates a higher salary. While not universally the case, salaries often reflect the reality of how much it costs to live in a certain area.

Stepping-Stone OccupationTop Paying States – Average Yearly Wages
Marriage and Family Therapist
  • Utah – $88,980
  • New Jersey – $83,590
  • Maryland – $81,320
  • Wyoming – $80,330
  • Virginia – $75,990
Clinical and Counseling Psychologist
  • New Jersey – $164,110
  • Oregon – $134,830
  • New York – $128,520
  • Arkansas – $128,130
  • California – $124,450
Social Worker (Mental Health and Abuse)
  • New Jersey – $92,850
  • California – $81,720
  • New York – $79,700
  • Connecticut – $79,080
  • District of Columbia – $72,990
Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors
  • Alaska – $68,770
  • Hawaii – $66,610
  • Utah – $65,180
  • New Jersey – $65,090
  • Nevada – $64,890
Nurse Practitioners
  • California – $158,130
  • New Jersey – $143,250
  • Massachusetts – $138,700
  • Oregon – $136,250
  • Nevada – $136,230
Clergy
  • District of Columbia – $81,560
  • California – $74,940
  • Washington – $74,310
  • Hawaii – $72,630
  • New York – $69,840
Becca Brewer, MEd

Becca Brewer, MEd

Writer

Becca Brewer is building a better future on a thriving earth by healing herself into wholeness, divesting from separation, and walking the path of the loving heart. Previously to her journey as an adventurer for a just, meaningful, and regenerative world, Becca was a formally trained sexuality educator with a master of education.