What is the Best Degree for a Research Career In Psychology?

When people think of graduate training and a career in psychology they typically think of working directly with clients, offering therapy, while working in a mental health practice of some sort. What most people do not realize is that research makes up a very large portion of the field of psychology. All students earning a Master’s or Doctorate in Psychology will complete a curriculum that is heavily based in research and psychological experimentation. Upon graduation a number of students interested in research will enter the field of Experimental Psychology.

What is Experimental Psychology?

The vast field of Experimental Psychology encompasses psychological research that is conducted to further our knowledge of the brain, how it works, behavior, motivation and a number of other topics. Experimental Psychologists use human and animal subjects in a variety of scientific methods to extract information about a wide range of psychological topics. Experimental psychologists can be employed in many different settings including colleges, universities, research centers, governmental agencies, and private businesses. A percentage of these professionals also focus on teaching experimental methods to students in the academic realm.

What Kind of Degree Should I Pursue to work in Experimental Psychology?

While there are entry-level positions as an assistant or low-level researcher, most individuals in this field have an advanced degree. Positions are available for those with a Master of Science in Psychology. However, the greatest flexibility, most potential earnings and most exciting positions are held for those with a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Psychology or Experimental Psychology. By completing a PhD program, graduates have gathered the information necessary to carry out research, analyze the findings and report the data in publications or at psychological conferences.

What is the Outlook for Experimental Psychologists?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics does not provide data specifically for Experimental Psychologists. We do know that the general field of Psychology is expected to grow at a rate of around 12 percent over the next ten years. We can assume that growth in this specialty field will see at least this much growth. In 2014, PayScale.com reported that the mean annual salary for Experimental Psychologists range from an average low of $29,773 to an average high of $80,389 depending upon a number of factors including educational level, years of experience, geographic location, and where you are employed.

Why Pursue This Area of Psychology?

Conducting psychological research is an exciting and useful career option. While it might seem, at first glance, as if the psychologists offering direct services to clients are more involved in helping those in need, Experimental Psychologists are a large part of this process. It is this research that dictates the trends and changes in how psychological services are delivered. It is only through research and advanced testing that we know which types of therapy or medications can best treat a specific diagnosis or problem. Without Experimental Psychology the field of Psychology would not advance beyond outdated measures.