Psychologist: Career Definition, Employment Outlook, and Education Requirements
Would you like to become a social scientist and study human behavior? As a licensed psychologist, you could provide mental and emotional support services within hospitals, government agencies, private organizations and educational facilities. To learn more about the career summary, employment outlook and requisite education for psychologists, continue reading. Schools offering Psychology degrees can also be found in these popular choices.
What Is the Career Definition of a Psychologist?
Psychologists identify and treat mental disorders such as depression and schizophrenia, and they offer help for emotional problems, drug addiction and stress-related conditions. It'd be your responsibility as a psychologist to help patients as they make necessary life adjustments. Your job would involve conducting interviews and administering psychological examinations, then formulating diagnoses and treatment plans for their patients. Treatment options can include hypnosis, psychotherapy, laboratory experimentation, and aptitude and personality testing.
The majority of psychologists specialize in clinical psychology and work in schools, psychiatric hospitals and clinics. Counseling psychologists are the second most popular specialty, and their work frequently takes place in private offices where they help patients cope with their emotional concerns. If you end up working for an organization, a hospital and or a business, you'd usually work regular office hours, whereas you'd set your own hours if you worked in your own private practice.
What Is the Employment Outlook?
Psychologists held more than 170,000 jobs in the United States as of 2008, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov). Jobs in the field were expected to expand by about 12% between then and 2018. This expansion was due to a growing need for psychologists in many industries, including social service organizations, schools and hospitals. Also, it was believed that more specialists would be needed to help growing numbers of people dealing with problems such as stress and family conflicts.
Additionally, job opportunities were expected to increase due to rising healthcare costs, as people began seeking interventions for weight issues, smoking and excessive drinking rather than suffer health and financial consequences later. If you pursue a specialty in clinical or counseling psychology, you'd have the largest increase in employment opportunities. As of 2009, psychologists who specialized in clinical, counseling and school psychology, and who worked in elementary and high schools, earned average annual wages of $69,870.
How Do I Fulfill the Education Requirements?
When training to become a psychologist, you'll need a minimum of a master's degree. A doctorate degree will be required if you want to establish your own practice, or if you'd like to work in specialized areas such as clinical psychology, research, teaching or university counseling. First, you must acquire a 4-year undergraduate college degree, such as a Bachelor of Science in Psychology. Typical undergraduate psychology programs should include mathematics, statistics, biological and social science courses.
Next, you'll enter a graduate program of study to earn a Master of Science in Psychology degree, which can take from 2-4 years. Master's degree programs often cover developmental psychopathology, research methods, advanced assessment, health psychology and cognitive neuroscience. Finally, you'll be ready to pursue your doctoral degree in psychology. Accredited doctorate training programs can be located through the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) and the American Psychological Association (APA). Your doctoral degree will require about five years of postgraduate study, a dissertation and an internship. Courses may include psychometrics, medical psychology, professional and ethical issues, research design and methodology, and child psychology.
In every state, psychologists who provide patient care must be properly licensed or certified, but exact laws and requirements will depend on the state in which you reside and practice. Generally, state licensing prerequisites may include completing a doctoral degree and an internship. Additionally, you'll need some years of professional experience in your area of specialty. If you meet your state's requirements, you must then pass a licensing examination which will be given by your state board.
If you specialize in school psychology, you can receive a nationally recognized certification from the National Association of School Psychologists. Requirements include completing a minimum of two years of graduate school and a year-long internship and successfully passing the National School Psychology Examination. When all requirements have been satisfied, you'll be awarded the Nationally Certified School Psychologist (NCSP) credential.
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