A psychologist is a trained medical professional who uses knowledge concerning the cognitive, emotional, physical, and social aspects of human behavior to diagnose and then provide health care to individuals suffering from a mental illness or disorder. In particular, psychologists help students enhance their learning, work with performers and athletes to help reduce anxiety and develop concentration, provide critical testimonies in court trials, manage and direct individual and group therapy sessions, and assist in the diagnosis and treatment of cognitive, developmental, and learning disabilities.
Psychologist Schools By State
There are twelve different branches of psychology. Most psychologists specialize in one or more of these.
Clinical psychologists provide therapeutic services such as counseling to a wide gamut of clients, including children, seniors, and individuals suffering from a specific disorder. They tend to work at clinics, schools, and large corporate-sized businesses.
Counseling psychologists provide counseling primarily to individuals suffer from a severe mental disorder. They typically work at a clinic.
Developmental psychologists mainly perform research on intellectual, social, and emotional human development. Some also teach at universities, or provide specialization consultations to schools or human service agencies.
Educational psychologists specialize in researching human learning, and then using the gained knowledge to develop strategies that enhance the learning process. Most educational psychologists work in some sort of academic setting.
Experimental psychologists conduct research on both humans and animals in an attempt to better understand basic psychological principles like cognition, language, memory, and perception. They too work in an academic setting.
Forensic psychologists study crime evidence and assist police departments with criminal investigations. They work exclusively in law enforcement agencies.
Health psychologists assist public health agencies, hospitals, schools, and businesses with designing and promoting healthcare programs that help people stay more physically healthy. These can include programs that help people stop smoking or lose weight.
Human factors psychologists examine the relationship between humans and technology, and then use this knowledge to make products more user-friendly and perhaps even safer. They usually work at the corporate level.
Industrial psychologists examine the relationship between humans and work, and then use this knowledge to develop strategies for increasing productivity. Most industrial psychologists work either in government, or at the corporate level.
Physiological psychologists examine psychology from a biological standpoint. They might use test groups, for instance, to observe the behavior changes that result from a new drug. They work exclusively in an academic setting.
School psychologists work with administrators, parents, and teachers to enhance the learning environment of children. They work exclusively in grade, middle or high schools.
Social psychologists study the interactions between humans. In particular, they focus on how human behaviors, beliefs, and feelings are molded by interactions with others. Social psychologists work either in an academic setting, or at a federal agency performing applied research.
Becoming a psychologist requires obtaining either a Nationally Certified School Psychologist (NCSP) license from the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP), or a State Board of professional registration. Note that licensing laws are different for each state. For instance, only 31 states recognize the NCSP.
Note however that to obtain a license, one must first have acquired either a master’s or doctoral degree, though the latter is preferred. Plus a doctoral degree qualifies the individual for a bevy of additional opportunities, such as starting an independent clinic, performing academic research, teaching at a university, and providing consultations to businesses, schools, or the government.
There are two types of doctoral degrees available, including a Ph.D. and a Psy.D. The former is geared more toward students looking to perform research, while the latter is better suited for those seeking clinical practice. Regardless, both require approximately five years of graduate-level study, a dissertation, and an internship.
After earning their degree, graduates must then complete at least two years of experience in the filed. Only then are they eligible to seek a license. Afterward, psychologists are urged to continue their education by staying up-to-date on clinical/research methods, and by seeking additional licenses and certifications in their areas of interest, such as clinical health, forensic evidence, and group counseling.
There are currently approximately 200,000 psychologists in America. Researchers estimate that the number will increase by at least 12% by 2018. In addition, school, clinical, counseling, and industrial psychologists are expected to fare especially well, as concerns over children’s education, personal mental health, and workplace productivity increase.*
*According to the BLS, http://www.bls.gov/oco/
Overall, employment of psychologists will continue to grow at an average pace. This however only applies to those with a doctoral degree. Those with a master’s degree, on the other hand, are expected to face intense competition. In addition, individuals with just a bachelor’s degree will likely have very few employment opportunities, which is why students serious about studying psychologist are urged to pursue a doctoral degree.
The average annual wages of all psychologists is approximately $64,140. Keep in mind that the average salary varies between the different specialties. Industrial psychologists have the highest average salary of $97,820, while counseling psychologists have the lowest of $43,040. In general, the top 10% of salaries are over $106,840, while the bottom 10% and under $37,900.*
*According to the BLS, http://www.bls.gov/oco/
The working conditions of psychologists greatly vary based on the place of employment. For instance, psychologists who work at a school or operate their own clinic typically work 9 to 5 shifts, whereas those who work at a healthcare facility may be expected to work 2nd or 3rd shifts. In general, though, psychologists work exclusively indoors, and they typically have their own private office.