Careers in Psychology: A Wealth of Options and Challenges

by Marquis Matson

Careers in Psychology

Psychology is an incredibly diverse field that attracts many different types of thinkers and workers. Many people are understandably drawn to the field as it scientifically dissects the very nature of human behavior, something that each of us participates in whether we intend to or not. While this field provides ample opportunity to use your degree in many different ways it can also mean that entering the field can be a bit confusing at first. Here is a breakdown of Psychology as a field and how to make your path toward a career in Psychology.

Training and Education

In order to practice Psychology a minimum of a Master’s degree is required. From this point forward, though, there are many different degrees available to choose from as well as many different career paths, to match. Which career path in Psychology you choose depends on your particular degree and whether you want to treat patients, conduct research, enter the world of consulting or teach at the college level.

Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology

A Bachelor’s degree in Psychology is a great launching point for many that are uncertain of exactly what they would like to do for a career. It serves well for entry-level jobs as it provides an intimate look into the human behavior processes while also offering a scientific background, as Psychology is technically a science. As a result, this degree is well rounded and quite versatile in the workforce. Though Psychology proves to be an excellent major choice for students earning their Bachelor’s degrees it actually does very little for those seeking a career in Psychology. For those truly interested in pursuing this path then a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology will simply serve as a minimal requirement for admission into the graduate programs that this field offers.

Master’s Degree in Psychology

A Master’s degree opens many doors in the way of a career in Psychology as it allows you to choose, more specifically, what kind of path you would like to take. For those seeking a counseling or therapy role in the field then they can qualify themselves as practitioners with this level of education. There are many different degrees available that offer the opportunity to practice, such as Marriage and Family Therapy, Mental Health Counseling, and Social Work.  The more traditional degrees in Psychology, such as Experimental Psychology or Clinical Psychology, can also provide very specialized training and education in the field, thus qualifying as a career in Psychology as well. While there are many different general degree options available students often choose a specific program of focus in order to study exactly what they’re interested in.

Doctoral Degree in Psychology

For those that wish to truly practice clinical Psychology then a PhD will be required. Unlike what most people think clinical Psychology actually focuses more on the diagnosis and research in the field than actual treatment. This type of degree is typically research based and, in fact, each university offers different—yet very narrow—topics of research per program. With this level of education psychologists can then teach at the university level, conduct research or work in clinical settings such as hospitals, with the government or in private practice. While a doctorate degree is a coveted degree by many entering the field of Psychology it is also important to note that by earning this degree you are narrowing your reach down to a specialized area within the field. Those interested in a more generalized practice with fewer research requirements would benefit from a PsyD, or Doctor of Psychology, which offers the doctorate level of education with the practitioner’s focus.

The Different Fields of Psychology

A career in Psychology can be made in almost any industry, depending on what you are searching for. The type of degree will determine the specific role the degree holder has in the industry making it incredibly important to choose wisely before entering a graduate program. That being said, the possibilities are virtually endless.

Psychology is a multidisciplinary field, meaning that Psychologists work with many other professionals. Industrial-Organizational Psychologists, for example, often work in company settings in order to increase workplace productivity, head human resources and provide mental health support in the work setting. Clinical and counseling psychologists will find jobs in hospital settings as well as government funded positions, such as with veterans. School psychology is also a booming area within the field that offers the opportunity to work in a school setting or in educational services. Health psychologists have also found a growth in opportunity over the past decade as the health industry has boomed in recent years.

Salary and Outlook

The U.S. Department of Labor predicts an unprecedented growth in demand for psychologists in the upcoming decade making a career in Psychology a wise investment in your time and education. The salary for psychologists varies greatly as there are many different levels of education, expertise and disciplines to choose from. An average salary in the U.S. is between $40,000 and $60,000 each year though many positions, such as Social Worker, can be as low as $30,000. Likewise, Health Psychologists and Industrial-Organizational Psychologists can earn anywhere between $80,000 and $100,000 a year.

A career in Psychology can mean a variety of options with a wide range of salaries to match. Each pathway toward this career is different and leads to different areas of expertise and earnings so it is always important to research which discipline you are interested in before committing. With a little bit of research and several extra years of education, though, psychologists are well equipped for the upcoming job market. The possibilities are seemingly endless when we consider the wide reach of Psychology, proving that a career in Psychology may be a great fit for many!

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