An Overview of Careers in Psychology

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Psychology is a fascinating and exciting field. Once a person decides she wants to study psychology, the next step will be selecting the career path she wants to pursue. Depending on the number of years one attends college and the type of degrees received, the choices of psychology careers are extensive and varied.

Believe it or not, there are jobs available in the psychology field with just a two year degree. An associates' degree typically requires two years of full time study and can be obtained from a community college. Paraprofessional positions in mental health centers, hospitals, and other human service organizations are just a few examples. A person with an associates' degree could perform some initial evaluation of patients in mental health facilities, drug treatment centers, and hospitals or provide community wide assistance in community service agencies.

Many universities offer a bachelors' degree in psychology after four years of study with psychology as a major. A person possessing a bachelors' degree in psychology has a wide variety of jobs available to them, including:
mental health center technician,
probation or parole officer working with probationers and/or parolees,
teacher or group facilitator in correctional facilities,
case worker in vocational rehabilitation organizations,
teaching high school, although some states also require state teacher certification,
research assistant in research settings such as universities, treatment centers, and hospitals,
supervisor of daycare centers, and
employee relations officer in business and industry.

According to the American Psychological Association's website, individuals receiving bachelors' degrees in 1999 worked in the following settings:
48% were in for-profit companies,
13% worked in other educational institutions,
12% worked in not-for-profit organizations,
11% worked in state or local government settings,
6% were self-employed,
6% worked in universities and 4 year colleges, and
4% worked for the federal government.

Attaining an advanced psychology degree opens even more doors to interesting careers. To obtain an advanced psychology degree, such as a masters' degree, one or two additional years of study after the bachelors' degree are required. Here are some of the jobs one could pursue with a masters':
teaching in a community college or a university,
conducting research in a college setting,
performing clinical work in a prison, government, or military setting,
working in personnel psychology-assisting companies in selecting, training, and evaluating potential hires and employees,
careers in organizational psychology-consulting with companies about how workers adjust to their work environments with foci on leadership, motivation, and job satisfaction,
working as a mental health counselor/clinician in local mental health agencies, hospitals, and family service agencies,
becoming a therapist in a private practice and working in conjunction with a psychiatrist and a nurse practitioner, or
working as an employee assistance program (EAP) counselor/clinician in a hospital, business, or industrial setting.

Finally, some individuals choose to study for a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degree in psychology or a Psychology Doctorate (Psy.D.) and are known as "psychologists". Earning a Ph.D. or Psy.D. requires 4 to 6 years of study beyond the bachelors' degree and a declaration of an area of study. For example, one could focus on clinical psychology, developmental psychology, educational psychology, forensic psychology, research psychology, school psychology, social psychology, or some other area, depending on the courses of study offered by the university attended. Psychologists with Ph.D. or Psy.D. degrees often work in managerial positions for federal, state, or local governmental agencies; have their own private practice, or teach and perform research at schools or universities.

If you are planning to study psychology, be sure to explore options with a career counselor or Student Advisor in your school. The types of positions available in the field depend on the length of time of school attendance, the type of degree obtained, and the particular subdisciplines selected for study. All in all, pursuing study in psychology promises an endless possibility of careers.

APA Online, 2007. Careers in Psychology (Online). Available at . Accessed on August 18, 2007.

APA Online, 2003. Work Settings for Baccalaureate Degree Recipients in Psychology, 1999 (Online). Available at . Accessed on August 18, 2007.

Morris, Charles. G., 1996. Psychology, An Introduction. Ninth Edition. Prentice Hall: Upper Saddle River, New Jersey.

More about this author: Rita Chaney

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