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About Psychology Jobs
When it comes to psychology jobs, there are so many opportunities that settling on a specific career might be a difficult decision. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, demand for psychologists is rising, and there are new subfields in psychology developing constantly—offering various challenging and dynamic job positions.
This is hardly surprising as people today are becoming more aware of the significance of mental health, and even more importantly, they’re realizing how crucial it is to get help from a professional in order to lead a balanced life.
Psychology involves much more than just talking to people and gauging their mental state. It’s a science as complex as the mind itself, one that is constantly evolving and changing. You can do research via clinical trials in controlled environments, have a direct impact on your patients’ lives and help them overcome their difficulties, or work for big corporations and improve workers’ productivity and performance,
In fact, this is such a broad area of expertise that there’s a wide array of careers in psychology that potential candidates can choose from, and most of them pay very well too.
What Do Psychologists Do?
A psychologist studies the way people think, feel, and behave within their environment and to each other. Psychologists may work alone or in a team—often with psychiatrists, physicians, and social workers—to treat mental issues and help people become or feel better.
A Psychologist’s main goal is to understand and explain cognitive, emotional, and behavioral processes.
Most of the tasks and jobs for psychologists involve the following:
- Carrying out scientific research on behavior and how the brain functions
- Collecting data by observing, interviewing, testing, and surveying individuals
- Interpreting and recording how patients and clients interact with their surroundings and the people in their lives
- Identifying and diagnosing psychological, emotional, and behavioral issues and disorders
- Discovering psychological patterns that will make it easier to comprehend and foresee future behavior
- Discussing and developing treatment options with patients and clients
- Supervising the work of interns and other professionals with jobs in psychology
- Publishing research findings in articles, journals, papers, and reports
- Applying knowledge to develop programs that improve work and school environments—as well as the abilities, performance, and skills of school children, athletes, and workers
- Collaborating with other healthcare professionals to provide the best treatment for patients and clients
Psychologists use observation, assessment, and experiments to establish theories about how an individual’s beliefs and feelings affect their actions and behavior. Professionals with psychology degree jobs use experiments in controlled laboratory conditions, psychoanalysis and psychotherapy to collect information and assess behavior, and tests to evaluate an individual’s personality, performance, abilities, aptitude, and intelligence.
Psychologists also evaluate behavioral patterns and the relationships between events, seeking cause-and-effect connections, and then use this data to test theories both in their research work and in the treatment of patients.
What Are the Most Common Types of Psychology Jobs?
Clinical psychology is one of the largest subfields of psychology, offering a wide range of positions to choose from.
The job of a clinical psychologist is to assess, diagnose, and treat mental disorders, as well as emotional and behavioral issues. These range from short-term crises, such as adolescent conflicts or learning difficulties, to more serious mental disorders, like schizophrenia or clinical depression.
Clinical psychologists use various methods to help and treat their patients, which generally vary according to their specialty area. Even though there are clinical psychology jobs available in research, most of these professionals work in health and social care facilities, such as hospitals, health centers, and social services.
Some clinical psychologists choose to focus on specific areas, such as health psychology or neuropsychology, or on certain age groups, possibly specializing in child psychology or geropsychology.
Clinical psychologists often administer interviews, carry out diagnostic tests, and offer psychotherapy sessions for individuals or groups. They can also develop programs aimed at modifying a patient’s behavior and then implement that particular program in their treatment.
Clinical and health psychology jobs often require psychologists to consult psychiatrists and other health care professionals in order to determine the underlying cause of a certain disorder or issue, as well as decide on treatments that involve prescribing medication. Currently, only five US states (Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, and New Mexico) permit clinical psychologists to prescribe medication for their patients.
Counseling psychologists help their patients understand and work through problems. They provide support and guidance on how patients can best utilize their strengths to deal with the issues they face.
Counseling psychology jobs include several career paths:
Mental health counselors treat patients’ mental and emotional issues, such as anxiety, depression, and stress.
Marriage and family counselors work with individuals, couples, or families and help them work through their individual issues, as well as the problems in their relationships.
School counselors help students improve their academic skills, as well as offer advice on career choice and social issues, including peer pressure, bullying, or family issues.
Genetic counseling is a newly emerging type of these psychology jobs. In this case, psychologists help and counsel families or individuals with genetic disorders, as well as couples who might be at risk of passing down a genetic condition to their children.
Substance abuse counselors offer treatment and guidance for people who are dealing with alcoholism, drug addiction, or other mental conditions.
Developmental psychologists study the progress of human development throughout life. This includes all physical, cognitive, social, and emotional growth and development.
The work of a developmental psychologist is important because it helps us understand how people grow, mature, and change. Their findings also provide information and resources on what is common or unusual behavior, which in turn better equips other healthcare professionals, parents, and teachers to deal with developmental problems.
Although most developmental psychologists work with children and teenagers, some can also focus on the elderly.
Forensic psychologists use psychology in criminal and legal processes in order to assist legal professionals in their work. As a forensic psychologist, your job may include carrying out evaluations of people in the criminal justice system, interviewing victims and criminals, and testifying in court.
Thanks to numerous portrayals of this profession in movies and TV shows, not to mention the fascinating nature of the work, forensic psychology has become one of the hottest and fastest-growing subfields of psychology.
Industrial-organizational psychologists apply their knowledge of psychology in the workplace in order to solve problems and improve employees’ productivity and work environment. Some of the industrial-organizational psychologist jobs include recruiting and screening job candidates, managing various work styles, and helping managers devise work strategies that improve efficiency and morale in the office.
Rehabilitation psychologists work closely with individuals suffering from a physical or developmental disability in order to improve their quality of life. These professionals treat a wide range of issues, some of which might be emotional, such as anxiety or depression, while others may involve learning disabilities and physical problems like chronic pain or addiction. The problems that those with rehabilitation psychology jobs treat may be congenital or acquired following an accident or injury.
Rehabilitation psychologists often collaborate with physical therapists and teachers to provide the best results.
School psychologists work in educational environments and help students of all ages improve their ability to learn and deal with various stressors or social and psychological issues. They can also work together with teachers and parents in order to improve students’ behavior at home or in the classroom.
One of the most rewarding jobs for psychology majors, school psychologists can also take part in the creation and application of performance plans, as well as administrative and teaching strategies, by consulting with other professionals in the area of education.
Although most school psychologists work in schools, some may serve as consultants in private companies.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 181,700 psychologists working in the US in 2018. Clinical, counseling, and school psychology jobs made up the majority of these positions (162,000), while industrial-organizational psychologists accounted for 1,400 jobs. The remaining 18,300 were held by professionals working in other branches of psychology.
In 2018, according to data from the BLS, 29% of psychologists were self-employed, usually as private practitioners. 24% were engaged in schools (state, local, and private), making elementary and high school educational institutions the second largest employer of psychologists in the US. Another 18% of psychology jobs were held at ambulatory healthcare services, or outpatient clinics, while 10% were hired by government agencies to work in correctional facilities, the transport industry, and even the Department of Defense. Surprisingly, only 6% of psychologists worked in state, local, or private hospitals.
One of the great things about a career in psychology is that it provides professionals with the opportunity to work alone or as part of a team. Independent work is mostly done in research projects, private practices, or clinics that offer counselor psychology jobs. Being part of a team implies collaborating with physicians, psychiatrists, social workers, teachers, parents, and many others to contribute to the development of the best treatment options for clients and patients.
The working hours of psychologists depend on where they work. Private practitioners, for instance, set their own work schedules, but they often work in the evenings in order to accommodate their patients. Psychologists working in hospitals, companies, and other institutions usually work full-time and have regular business hours. School psychologist jobs, on the other hand, may also work full-time, or they might have most of the summer off, like teachers and other school staff.
How to Become a Psychologist
The academic qualifications required for psychologists depend on the subfield in which they hope to specialize. Although most specialty areas prefer candidates with a PsyD or PhD, there are some job positions where a master’s degree or even a BA is sufficient. Some suitable jobs for those with a bachelor’s in psychology include traffic psychologist and special education teacher.
There are some qualities a psychologist must possess in order to have a successful and productive career.
- Good listening, analytical, and observation skills
- Good communication skills
- Good research skills and attention to detail
- Problem-solving skills
- A passion for learning
- Ethical standards
In general, clinical, counseling, and research psychologists require a doctoral psychology degree. There are two options available if you’re looking for highly paid psychology jobs: a PhD or a PsyD (Doctor of Psychology).
A PhD in psychology focuses more on research and is obtained after the completion of an exam and a doctoral dissertation, which must be based on original research work. PhD study programs usually cover statistics and experimental procedures as well.
On the other hand, a PsyD is a clinical degree that’s obtained after the completion of practical work and exams. PsyD programs place more emphasis on clinical work and applied psychology. Candidates looking for clinical psychologist jobs will also be required to complete a one-year internship as part of the PsyD study course.
A school psychologist requires an advanced degree, such as an education specialist degree (Ed.S.) or a PhD or PsyD, as well as a license and certification. As their job incorporates education and mental health, school psychology study courses cover both topics.
If you have a master’s degree in psychology, some careers to consider include industrial organizational psychology, as well as sports psychology jobs. Master’s programs in industrial organizational psychology typically include courses in data analysis, research design, and engineering and consumer psychology, among others.
Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations
To be able to use the title of “psychologist,” professionals must be licensed in most US states. However, all states require independent practitioners to obtain a license if they wish to practice psychology.
Licensing laws vary according to the state where the psychologist works and the position they hold. For psychology jobs in clinical settings and in counseling, candidates must obtain a doctorate, as well as complete an internship and a minimum 2,000 hours of hands-on, supervised practice. They’re also required to pass the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology, a multiple-choice test that covers behavior bases, assessments and diagnoses, and other areas of psychology.
The EPPP is administered by the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards (ASPPB); however, licenses are granted by individual states.
Certification is a credential that is not required for most psychology major jobs, but it can be obtained voluntarily to show a specific set of knowledge or skills. Certification is granted by the ABPP, which currently offers certifications in 15 subfields of psychology. The American Board of Clinical Neuropsychology is in charge of granting certifications in neuropsychology.
In order to get certified, applicants must have a state-issued license and pass an oral and written examination, as well as meet additional criteria determined by the specialty area they’re interested in.
There are plenty of opportunities for advancement to high-paying psychology jobs in most of the subfields of psychology. A research psychologist might move on to an individual project or start a career as a university professor, and from there, advance to department head or dean. Clinical and counseling psychologists can also move up to higher positions in hospitals or even start their own practices.
The BLS reports that the median annual psychologist salary was $79,010 in May 2018. The lowest reported salaries stood at $43,800, while some went as high as $129,250.
Industrial psychology jobs paid the best with a median average wage of $97,260, while clinical, counseling, and school psychologists made a combined median salary of $76,990 in 2018.
Jobs in schools (elementary and secondary) were the least paid with median annual wages of $75,890, followed by ambulatory healthcare services and hospitals (state and private), which paid professionals $79,180 and $86,530 in median yearly salaries, respectively. The government provided the highest-paying psychology jobs with wages going as high as $96,410.
The career outlook for psychologists is expected to increase by 14% between 2018 and 2028. This rate is much faster than the average for other professions and is the result of several factors—the primary one being raised awareness over the connection between mental health and physical health, learning, and overall well being.
As more institutions are in need of psychological services, the job outlook for psychologists will continue to go up. However, among the fastest expanding and most stable are industrial and organizational psychology jobs. Even during a recession, companies will always strive to create the best work environment for their employees, so I-O psychologists are always needed.
Professionals in industrial-organizational psychology are expected to face the greatest competition due to the rising number of applicants in this area. It’s estimated that the number of jobs in industrial-organizational psychology will increase by 13% within 10 years, so advanced training in research methods might put some I-O psychologists ahead of the game.
The number of clinical, school, and counseling psychologist jobs is projected to increase to 185,800 positions by 2028, the highest growth of all jobs in the area of psychology. The BLS states that candidates with a PhD, PsyD, or Ed.S. will have the highest chances of finding employment in these subfields.
Job prospects for school and rehabilitation psychologists are also expected to increase, particularly those working with the elderly.
Frequently Asked Questions
What jobs can you get with a psychology degree?
A degree in psychology opens up a lot of job opportunities. In addition to the most common careers one can pursue, like clinical or I-O psychology, psych grads can also branch out in social work, media, business and marketing, and even into fields that may not be obviously related to psychology. After all, the study of the mind is a useful tool in any profession. The possibilities are endless, once you decide on your specialty area and complete all the required qualifications, licenses, and certifications.
What jobs can you get with a bachelor’s in psychology?
Some of the most common jobs for students with a BA in psychology include career counselors, case managers, or rehabilitation specialists. These jobs are well-suited for BA psychology students as they require the evaluation of clients, keeping records, and expressing empathy—all qualities that undergraduates in psychology have. Surprisingly, around three-quarters of students with a bachelor’s in psychology end up working in completely unrelated fields, while only a quarter of them pursue a career as psychologists.
What jobs can you get with a masters in psychology?
For many scholars, a master’s degree in psychology is just a stepping stone to a PhD or PsyD. However, there are many job opportunities out there for individuals with an MA in psychology. A master’s degree is required in new and exciting areas of the discipline, such as engineering and experimental psychology. It also makes you a suitable candidate to work in geropsychology and industrial-organizational psychology, two areas where the number of available psychology jobs is expected to increase.