A Psychologist is a caring and compassionate individual who, in addition to working directly with individuals in need, conducts research and studies human thoughts and behaviors. Most people recognize the area of psychology where a trained mental health professional works directly with clients. What many people overlook are the many other areas of study and practice with the field of psychology. Psychologists work in research facilities, governmental agencies, colleges and universities, K-12 educational settings, hospitals, businesses and a wide variety of other areas. Psychologists can work in a group practice, in a private practice or inside of an agency or facility.
The field of Psychology has seen steady growth over the past twenty-five years. With the changes to our society and new challenges arising regularly, the need for trained professionals to help tackle those challenges continues to grow. The Bureau of Labor Statistics noted that the job outlook for 2012-2020 for Psychologists and related Mental Health Practitioners shows a predicted rise of 12 percent. This steady rise means that positions within Psychology will continue to grow in the coming years. With a wide variety of specializations within the field of psychology there is a focus area to cater to the needs of every future psychologist.
The field of psychology includes many different areas. Most simply, there is a breakdown of three areas of practice: Applied Psychology, Research Psychology or Mental Health Psychologists. Each of these three areas can be further broken down into hundreds of sub-specializations.
Psychologists are often responsible for conducting scientific investigation of behavior, brain function, human interactions and mental illnesses. They may work on specific research projects, which collect data by several different means of data collection techniques, including direct observation, longitudinal data collection, interviews, questionnaires and many more. The practice of psychology involves behavior, memory, cognition, thoughts, emotions, brain function, human interactions and socialization and many, many other specializations. When someone shows an interest in psychology they have many choices for which direction to take their career.
A Professional Psychologist can work in many different areas. Most people immediately think of a therapist who works directly with people who are mentally ill or have an obstacle in their life. They may also work in mental health or rehabilitations facilities providing care and support to individuals with an addiction or mental illness. They can be found working in schools of all levels as counseling or school psychologists. Psychologists can be found in an assortment of research and laboratory settings. They are often found in businesses, government agencies, social service agencies and many other less traditional places of employment for a psychologist. A “psychologist” is a broad generalization of a wide field of study and practice.
Depending upon the direction you want to take your career in psychology, the list of necessary skills may vary greatly. For those more interested in research, a keen interest in mathematics, statistics and the scientific method is critical. For people who want to work in a private practice and offer supportive services, a high degree of compassion and understanding is essential. Applied psychologists will need to have a good sense of business practice and social interactions.
All candidates for careers in psychology must be flexible, able to think on their feet, critical thinkers and able to adapt to changes. A psychologist in any area of specialization must be able to work directly with others with a high degree of patience, attention to detail and understanding of human behavior and emotion.
Psychology Degrees can be earned at the Associate’s, Bachelor’s, Master’s and Doctoral Level. Which degree is pursued depends largely upon what career path you would like to follow. Students may choose to earn an undergraduate degree and secure employment immediately. They may continue to work or may eventually pursue a graduate degree. Many students are able to continue to work while also attending graduate school. Other students, specifically those who know from the outset that they would like to be a professional psychologist, may choose to earn their undergraduate and graduate degree before seeking employment.
Each Degree Level brings with it new qualifications in where you are qualified to work. Graduates earning an Associate’s Degree in Psychology may be able to work at an entry-level in a mental health facility, nursing home or rehabilitation center. A Bachelor’s degree brings more options such as in human services departments, case management, career counseling, psychiatric technician, human resources professional and many other similar opportunities.
Earning a graduate degree in psychology creates the most opportunities in the field. Some states allow Master’s Level Psychologists to become licensed and open private practices. Even in the more restrictive states, these degree holders can practice therapy in a group practice, work in hospitals, mental health facilities, schools and many other settings. A Doctoral Degree in Psychology affords you the most options. You will be able to conduct research, open a private practice, work in any mental health or hospital setting and work in academics of all levels.
With so many options and so much variety in the field of psychology, finding a good job is easy. Finding the ideal job can be a little more difficult. It is important to consider your long-term career goals, aspirations, strengths and education to figure out what type of position suits you best. While you may be qualified to work in a hospital, it might not be the perfect fit. The best advice is to be both selective and realistic at the same time. Be aware of the limitations your degree level may have and work within those limitations.
Knowing what you want from your career will help get you the job you want. You can use online employment websites, connections through your college or university, professional organizations or affiliation networks and social media to help find the perfect position. If you put enough time into finding the ideal job, it is attainable.
Each state and jurisdiction in the United States has its own regulations about the minimal requirements to obtain a certification or license. One of the major requirements is that you have obtained a required degree level. There is often a requirement that the degree have been obtained at an accredited college or university. There are often experiential requirements by way of internship or fellowship. Some states or jurisdictions outline that for licensure, individuals must have earned specific amounts of credit hours or have completed particular coursework. Completion of the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP) is also required in the majority of jurisdictions. They may also have a minimum score requirement in order to be considered for licensure.
There are many other potential factors that a state can outline in order to obtain a license to practice psychology. In each state that you plan to practice you must fulfill the minimum requirements and obtain a license. It is the responsibility of practitioners to know their states rules and regulations.
An excellent way to stay in touch with what is relevant in the field of psychology is by joining professional organizations or affiliation networks. They can also be outstanding ways to secure internships, search for employment or find an educational program that works for you. Membership to many associations and affiliations can be listed on a psychologists curriculum vitae (the equivalent to a resume) and will aid in finding you gainful employment. Many employers require applicants be members of specific organizations in order to be considered for a position.
There are associations for general psychology as well as many organizations for special areas of study within psychology. A practitioner can choose to join broader organizations like the American Psychological Association or they can join organizations that cater more to their specific area of interest. There is no limit to how many organizations or affiliations a psychologist can join.
With these technological advances, come the responsibility of staying connected with the new innovations and advances in the field of psychology. There are no longer limitations to knowing what is going on in the world of psychological research and practice. Psychologists and mental health professionals can read online publications, blogs, informative websites and organization websites to stay in touch. They can also connect with other professionals through the many social media options. With so many excellent opportunities the sky is the limit.
Most working professionals now have the luxury of accessing a vast collection of apps and mobile websites on their smartphone or tablet. There are apps and websites that cover almost every possible capacity of psychology. Whether a psychologist wants to gather information about a diagnosis, research potential medications, review current research or access psychological theories they learned in school, it is all in the palm of their hands. Not only does this help practitioners save time but it also helps to make them more efficient and effective as psychologists. Utilizing these resources offers all of the supportive information they could possibly need to practice psychology.
As technology continues to advance, so too must the field of psychology. There are a wide range of websites and online organizations for both mental health practitioners as well as the consumers of mental health services. This allows psychologists and mental health consumers to branch out to organizations and resources that are outside of their region or scope. With more and more resources being located online, new doors are being opened in the practice and study of psychology.
Psychology is an interesting and diverse field. There are specializations available in Applied Psychology (like industrial-organizational psychologists or engineering psychologists), Research Psychology (working at universities, private businesses or government agencies) or Mental Health Psychologists (who work with those suffering from mental disorders or psychological distress). The options for employment in the area of psychology are limitless.
As jobs in psychology continue to rise it is an ideal time to enter the field. With jobs at almost every level and educational opportunities to suit almost anyone, more and more people can pursue this career option. In addition to the job and educational opportunities, technological advances are making the research and practice of psychology more and more innovative. For anyone who has considered a career in psychology, now is an ideal time to get started.