Psychology is a complex and diverse career field that involves helping patients learn more about their own fears, needs and behaviors, so that they can overcome many different hardships. Below are some resources that can help you decide if a career as a psychologist is right for you, what kind of psychologist you'd like to be and what degree you'd need to reach your goal.
Do you consider yourself naturally inquisitive? Are you able to remain mature and sensitive when offering advice to others? Most importantly, do you enjoy helping people? If you answered 'yes' to all of these questions, you may be suited for a career in psychology.
For those with a passion for the subject, psychology can be a very interesting field to pursue, since it offers job prospects in a wide range of industries. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), psychologists held about 170,000 jobs in 2008, with 34% working in private practices, 21% working in health care and 29% holding jobs in research and teaching (www.bls.gov). In May 2010, psychologists earned an average annual salary of $72,540. The Bureau predicted that employment for psychologists would grow about 12% in the period between 2008 and 2018. Job opportunities should be best for those with Ph.D. degrees, licensed psychologists, as well as those with specializations in such areas as counseling, health or school psychology.
You can tailor your psychology career based on your interests. If you like working with children or adolescents, you may be interested in becoming a child psychologist or a guidance counselor. If you're interested in working in with patients who've been affected by illness or injuries, you could become a clinical psychologist. A variety of psychology specialties are available, based on your preferred patient group and work setting.
From a school counselor to a psychology professor, an array of positions are available in the field of psychology, and each requires its own specific level of education. All psychology education programs require a combination of classroom and hands-on training, but the specific requirements vary depending on the type of psychology professional you'd like to be.
If you're hoping to become a psychology assistant, you'll likely need to earn at least an associate degree in psychology. A bachelor's degree in psychology, however, may provide relevant education for careers in which psychological principles are applied, including human resources and market research personnel.
If you're interested in becoming a licensed psychologist, counselor or family therapist, you'll need to earn at least Master of Science in Psychology. Earning a master's degree can allow you to specialize in a particular area of psychology, like forensic psychology or counseling psychology. Further specialization or research, as well as most university teaching positions may require a Ph.D. in psychology.