Psychologists are scientists that study human behavior. They're involved in various areas including social service in clinics, schools, government agencies and private industry. Some psychologists are involved in teaching or research. Psychology is a large field and includes numerous specializations. Approximately 40 percent of psychologists work in private practice.
They utilize their knowledge to help emotionally or mentally disturbed patients make adjustments to life. Those involved in research develop theories to provide an explanation for the various types of reactions people have to their environment. Some psychologists help surgical and medical patients cope with injury or illness.
Some of the areas of specialization are clinical psychology, industrial and organizational psychology, school psychology, social psychology, developmental psychology and experimental or research psychology.
The largest area of specialization is clinical psychology. Clinical psychologists help families and individuals and provide group psychotherapy for people dealing with emotional problems. Some of the specializations in clinical psychology are neuropsychology, health psychology and geropsychology. Neuropsychologists examine the relationship between the brain and behavior. Health psychologists examine how psychological, biological and social factors affect health and illness. Geropsychologists deal with the problems of the elderly.
School psychologists work to resolve students' behavior or learning problems in schools or district offices.
Counseling psychologists offer advice to patients regarding how to deal with problems of everyday living.
Developmental psychologists analyze cognitive, physiological and social development that occurs throughout life.
Industrial organizational psychologists improve productivity and the quality of work life by using psychological principles and research methods.
Experimental or research psychologists analyze behavior processes by using human beings and animals.
Social psychologists study peoples' interactions with others and also with their social environment.
- Help people that have emotional or mental problems
- Interview patients
- Provide individual group or family therapy
- Give diagnostic tests
- Help people deal with a personal crisis
- Create and implement behavior modification programs
- Work with physicians and other specialists in order to develop and implement intervention and treatment programs for patients
The work setting of psychologists vary by the place of employment and the subfield. Those in private practice set their own hours. They typically provide evening and weekend sessions in order to accommodate the schedules of their patients. Most psychologists that are employed by the government or in industry have structured work schedules.
Psychologists should be mature, sensitive and compassionate. They also need good communication skills. Being able to inspire and lead others are important assets for the occupation.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics has projected a 15 percent employment growth from 2006 to 2016 for psychologists which is faster than average for all occupations. Job growth varies by specialty.
Salaries vary depending on the specialty and the type of employer. In 2006 the median annual earnings of psychologists working in mental health practitioners offices was $69,510. The salary for those working for local governments was $58,770. The salary for psychologists working at elementary and secondary schools was $61,290. Those working in individual and family services earned $50,780. Industrial and organizational psychologists earned $86,420.
Education, Certification, and Licensing
Most psychologists are required to have a master's or doctoral degree and a license. Psychologists that want to have an independent practice are typically required to have a doctoral degree. Those with a doctoral degree also work in clinical positions, perform research, teach or are involved with administrative duties. In addition, the American Board of Professional Psychology provides specialty certifications in numerous areas.
It usually takes five to seven years of graduate study to earn a doctoral degree. The doctoral program includes a dissertation based on original research. A Psy.D degree can be based on practical work and examinations instead of a dissertation. The doctoral degree requirements for clinical, school psychology and counseling include at least a one year internship.
Psychologists that hold a master's degree have opportunities for employment as an industrial organizational psychologist. They also have opportunities for positions as a psychological assistant and work under the supervision of a psychologist that holds a doctoral degree. They may perform psychological evaluations or conduct research.
It typically takes at least two years of full time graduate study to earn a master's degree in psychology. A master's degree typically requires a master's thesis which needs to be based on an original research project and practical experience in an applied environment.
All states require psychologists that are working in independent practice, or providing any type of patient care to meet certification or licensing requirements. Licensing laws vary by the type of position and by state. Certified or licensed psychologists are required to limit their practice to fields they have developed professional competence in via training and experience.
- American Psychological Association
- American Board of Professional Psychology
- Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards
Many psychologists are self-employed. The top job providers are educational institutions, healthcare facilities and the government.
Schools for Psychologists are listed in the Browse Schools Section.