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 Sex 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 (2021) reports that the annual wage for sex therapists is $72,859 per year, but this self-reported rate is based only on 12 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 2020) and PayScale.com (2021). 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 2020)Payscale.Com (2021)
Marriage and Family Therapist$56,890$49,706 (Based on 874 salaries)
Clinical, Counseling & School Psychologist$89,290$78,457 (1,527 salaries)
Mental Health & Substance Abuse Social Worker$64,940$43,397 (6,202 salaries)
Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder & Mental Health Counselor$51,550$43,432 (2,622 salaries)
(Psychiatric) Nurse Practitioner$114,510$109,675 (259 salaries)
Clergy$56,560$54,176 (93 salaries)

Average Annual Salaries 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 level (BLS) and experience levels (Payscale.Com).

Stepping-Stone OccupationBy PercentileYears of Experience (# of Salaries Reported)
Marriage and Family Therapist (60,850 employed nationwide)10% – $33,140
25% – $39,130
50% (Median) – $51,340
75% – $68,020
90% – $92,930
0 – 1  Years – $45,846 (38 salaries)
1 – 4  Years – $46,902 (539 salaries)
5 – 9  Years – $54,124 (214 salaries)
10 – 19  Years – $57,410 (148 salaries)
20+  Years – $60,363 (Unknown #)
Clinical, Counseling & School Psychologist (111,320 employed nationwide)10% – $46,410
25% – $60,750
50% (Median) – $79,820
75% – $104,860
90% – $138,550
0 – 1  Years – $66,472 (87 salaries)
1 – 4  Years – $72,080 (651 salaries)
5 – 9  Years -$82,054 (368 salaries)
10 – 19  Years – $90,41 (351 salaries)
20+  Years – $91,290 (Unknown #)
Social Worker (60,390 employed nationwide)10% – $30,770
25% – $37,220
50% (Median) – $48,720
75% – $65,210
90% – $87,420
0 – 1  Years – $41,586 (450 salaries)
1 – 4  Years – $45,127 (2,964 salaries)
5 – 9  Years – $50,249 (1,375 salaries)
10 – 19  Years – $54,895 (1,291 salaries)
20+ Years – $57,626 (Unknown #)
Mental Health Counselor (293,620 employed nationwide)10% – $30,590
25% – $36,950
50% (Median) – $47,660
75% – $61,760
90% – $78,700
0 – 1  Years – $39,470 (181 salaries)
1 – 4  Years – $41,532 (1,528 salaries)
5 – 9  Years – $46,324 (590 salaries)
10 – 19  Years – $49,599 (400 salaries)
20+ Years – $51,111 (Unknown #)
Nurse Practitioner (211,280 employed nationwide)$10% – $82,960
25% – $94,890
50% (Median) – $111,680
75% – $130,240
90% – $156,160
0 – 1  Years – $102,050 (39 salaries)
1 – 4  Years – $107,532 (104 salaries)
5 – 9  Years – $111,136 (51 salaries)
10 – 19  Years – $116,724 (59 salaries)
20+ Years – $122,160 (Unknown #)
Clergy (52,260 employed nationwide)10% – $28,410
25% – $38,110
50% (Median) – $51,940
75% – $66,980
90% – $89,510
0 – 1  Years: No Data
1 – 4  Years – $49,132 (11 salaries)
5 – 9  Years – $52,381 (21 salaries)
10 – 19  Years – $50,600 (40 salaries)
20+ Years – $58,688 (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 2020 data was acquired from the BLS—the latest figures available as of April 2021.

When considering salaries from a regional perspective, it can be important to consider the cost of living in that region. For example, California is a top paying state for many of these stepping-stone occupations. According to the Missouri Economic Information and Resource Center (MERIC 2021), 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 TherapistUtah – $80,110
New Jersey – $78,960
Illinois – $67,650
Hawaii – $65,880
Oklahoma – $65,050
Psychologist (Clinical, Counseling, and School)California – $115,830
Hawaii – $110,780
Louisiana – $109,180
Oregon – $108,000
District of Columbia – $106,920
Social Worker (Mental Health and Abuse)New Jersey – $91,070
District of Columbia – $73,490
California – $73,150
Connecticut – $66,500
Rhode Island – $65,430
Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health CounselorsNevada – $68,560
Utah – $62,250
Alaska – $61,980
New Jersey – $61,310
Oregon – $59,800
Nurse PractitionersCalifornia – $145,970
New Jersey – $130,890
Washington – $126,480
New York – $126,440
Massachusetts – $126,050
ClergyDistrict of Columbia – $73,920
California – $72,760
Washington – $64,910
Delaware – $64,440
Massachusetts – $62,920
Becca Brewer

Becca Brewer

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.