Understanding the mind and human behavior is the hallmark of psychology. The discipline is essentially an invitation to those who are interested in studying learning processes, memory and cognition, emotional development and human behavior, to name a few. Most practicing psychologists are self employed with their own practices. Others may work in various settings spanning industry, business, marketing, research, government and non-profit groups.
There are several degree programs available in psychology available through both campus and online modes spanning Associate’s, Bachelor’s, Master’s and Doctorate degrees. However, in order to practice as a psychologist, the minimum expectation is a Master’s degree in Psychology. An Associate degree in Psychology is not enough to pursue a career as a psychologist though a Bachelor’s degree can serve as a stepping stone in this discipline. A graduate of a Bachelor program can begin a career as an assistant to a practicing licensed psychologist or assist with experimental research.
For those whose heart lies in practicing in the psychology profession, a Doctoral degree is strongly recommended though a Master’s degree may do. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that a Doctoral degree is essential in most cases for practicing as licensed psychologists. Both Master and Doctoral degrees require a dissertation and internship under a licensed psychologist. A Bachelor degree usually spans around 3 years whereas Associate’s, Master’s and Doctoral degrees last approximately 2 years.
License is mandatory for practicing as psychologist and requires lot of hands-on work. Professional experience for a few years is necessary over and above the internship done [3 months to 1 year] as part of Master’s and Doctoral degree programs. Potential psychologists also need to qualify in the State licensing exams for psychologists.
Course content for these programs usually revolves around subjects such as research methods, clinical sciences, cognition, behavioral psychology, biology, statistics and developmental and social psychology. Specializations can be selected in areas of sports, child psychology, clinical psychology, school counselors and organizational psychology.
Career outlook for the psychology discipline is predicted to be positive. The Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts 9% job growth in this profession. The discipline has various types of psychologists such as developmental psychologists, child psychologists, clinical psychologists, organizational psychologists and counseling psychologists. Those who possess higher educational qualifications such as Doctoral degrees are expected to benefit the most in the thriving competition.
Earnings or salaries in this field can be lucrative for those with established practices or those who have made their mark in employment. They vary based on the practicing discipline. The highest 10% in this discipline drew more than $87,060 annually in 2002. The median annual earnings for school psychologists stood at $54,980 whereas it was $71,400 for organizational psychologists. Employment opportunities exist in fields such as management, human resources, marketing, research and corporate training among other avenues.
The growth in the psychology discipline is expected to be fueled by the growing demand for health care and clinical services, awareness and inclusion of psychology elements in school curriculum and expansion of medical services.