Psychologists are social scientists involved in the study of the human mind and behavior. There are a variety of specialties which a psychologist may choose to pursue, some of them which involve treating patients directly and others which are more research intensive.
This page focuses primarily on clinical psychologists, who are involved in the treatment of patients.
Job Description: A Day in the Life of a Psychologist
The average day of a psychologist depends largely on his or her specialty. A psychologist working in the health services may spend his day at a hospital, clinic, school or other healthcare facility. A psychologist working for a business, in a government job, or for a non-profit organization will likely spend his time conducting research and providing training to others. A research psychologist investigates aspects of human behavior; he is likely to work at a lab or university, conducting experiments exploring certain aspects of human behaviour, analyzing the results and publishing papers on the outcome.
The most common specialty in the field of psychology is that of clinical psychology. Clinical psychologists usually work in private practices, hospitals, clinics, or public counseling centers. The type of patients who a psychologist works with depends on his specialty and place of work. A clinical psychologist working in a hospital may deal with patients undergoing mental and emotional distress due to a serious illness or injury, while a clinical psychologist working at a counseling center may counsel people undergoing traumatic events such as the death of a family member.
General Requirements and Training
Training to become a psychologist is intensive. In some cases, a two-year master’s degree may be enough to start working in the field however job prospects will be far more limited. In most cases a PhD or Doctor of Psychology degree is required; this involves first obtaining a bachelor’s degree and then successfully completing a doctoral degree which can take from five to seven years. Depending on the specialty, an internship may have to be completed as well. Clinical psychologists who work with patients also must meet certification standards and become licensed before they can practice.
Salary, Benefits, and Opportunities for Advancement
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary for clinical, counseling and school psychologists is $64,140 as of May 2008.
According to Payscale.com a clinical psychologists with one to four years of experience earns an average of $43,240 to $68,614 annually, while a clinical psychologists with twenty or more years of experience earns approximately $142,466 to $192,335 annually.
Salary.com reports the mid-50% earnings range of psychologists as a group to be $65,921 to $101,538.