This career is expected to grow 12 percent through 2018. Employment will grow because of increased demand for psychological services in schools, hospitals, social service agencies, mental health centers, consulting firms and private companies. Job prospects should be best for people who have a doctoral degree from a leading university in an applied specialty, such as counseling or health, and those with a specialist or doctoral degree in school psychology. In fact, many states reserve the term “psychologist” for individuals who have earned doctorate (Ph.D.) degrees and who have passed state-specific licensing exams post-degree.


In 2008, psychologists earned an average salary of $64,140. The middle 50 percent earned $48,700 to $82,800. The highest 10 percent earned more than $106,840.


Psychologists study the human mind and human behavior. Research psychologists investigate the physical, cognitive, emotional or social aspects of human behavior. Psychologists in health service fields provide mental health care in hospitals, clinics, schools or private settings. Psychologists employed in applied settings, such as business, industry, government or nonprofit organizations, provide training, conduct research, design organizational systems and act as advocates for psychology.
Psychologists apply their knowledge to a wide range of endeavors, including health and human services, management, education, law and sports. They usually specialize in one of a number of different areas: clinical psychology, counseling, school psychology, developmental psychology, research psychology or industrial-organizational psychology.
You’re most likely to find a job if you have a doctoral degree from a leading university in a high-demand applied specialty, such as counseling or health. For the widest acceptance and career possibilities your graduate school should be accredited by the APA (American Psychological Association). Specialists who hold doctoral degrees in school psychology will realize some of the best career opportunities and salaries. A master’s degree in psychology is often needed to qualify you to work in industrial-organizational psychology or as a professional licensed counselor.
Licensing: Psychologists in independent unsupervised practice providing direct patient care must meet licensing requirements in all states. Licensing laws vary by state and by type of position. Clinical and counseling psychologists usually must hold a doctorate degree (Ph.D.) in psychology. They also must complete an approved clinical internship which includes one to two years of supervised professional experience. All states require psychologists to pass an examination. Psychologists must also be able to pass criminal background checks.
Entering the Field: Opportunities will be limited for those who hold bachelor’s degrees or less in psychology. Many future psychologists work as supervised counselors in group homes, corrections, prisons, rehab or health centers as they continue their studies to complete a master’s and then a doctorate.
For the most part, the further you progress in your studies, the better your employment opportunities are. There is one exception: In the federal government, candidates having at least 24 semester hours in psychology and one course in statistics may qualify for entry-level positions. However, competition for these jobs is keen.
Career Changers: Because of the high educational barriers to this field, career changers generally must pursue the same educational path as entry-level workers. If you already hold a bachelor's in any area your best course of study will be to work as a counselor while you continue with graduate school.

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Source of salary and growth data is the Bureau of Labor Statistics. For more information on careers in psychology, salaries, and job prospects visit: U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010-11 Edition, Psychologists.


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