Become a Psychologist
The human mind has been the subject of study and awe for many years, and those who choose to study it along with certain associated human behavior are called psychologists. If you have a keen interest in how the mind works and what makes people tick, then psychology is for you. A psychologist’s main aim is to help people through counseling sessions and provide some insight into certain aspects of their lives. There are different kinds of psychologists, namely:
- Clinical Psychologists (covering health psychology, neuropsychology, geropsychology, and child psychology)
- Forensic Psychologists
- Counseling Psychologists
- School Psychologists
- Industrial/Organizational Psychologists
- Social Psychologists
- Developmental Psychologists
- Research Psychologists
Each form of psychology is motivated by a person’s feelings and beliefs, and like other social sciences, this involves hypothesizing and developing theories based on what psychologists observe. This is largely done through observation and experimentation with patients using a broad spectrum of tests and procedures. Some of these include psychoanalysis, interviews, hypnosis, administering aptitude tests and various other surveys and clinical studies. The main aim is to look for patterns in people’s behavior and find a cause-and-effect relationship so that they can be helped.
Over the years, psychologists have discovered what makes people more comfortable, how personalities develop, how to diagnose and treat addictions, how to help people break bad habits, what ensures a more productive workplace, and how to encourage healthy development. All in all, to become a psychologist essentially means that you are helping people to function better in their lives.
The first step to becoming a psychologist is to get a degree. To become a clinical psychologist, you are required to have a Doctorate, either a Ph.D or Psy.D (Doctor of Psychology). This will qualify you to teach, conduct research, counsel patients, work in healthcare and schools, as well as open a private practice. To get your Ph.D you will be required to study full time for 5 years as a graduate and also work on a dissertation. A Psy.D requires you to carry out more practical work, and a year of supervised experience in the field once you have your doctorate is also required if you want to go into counseling, clinical. School psychologists are require to complete 2 years of graduate study to get an Ed.S degree, as well as a year of supervised experience.
If you have your Master’s degree which required 2 years of full time graduate study and an original research based thesis, you are qualified to work as an industrial or organizational psychologist, but you can also get work as a psychological assistant working directly under a doctoral level psychologist.
With a Bachelor’s degree you are able to work in community health centers and rehab facilities, as well as helping out psychologists with administrative tasks. With this level you can also work for the Federal Government as long as you have completed 24 hours in psychology or combined it with education.
It is not easy to get accepted into university and you need to complete coursework in basic psychology, or an undergraduate major in psychology before even being considered. Accredited courses and training programs as well as internship institutions can be found through the American Psychological Association (APA), with the National Association of School Psychologists and the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education approving school psychology degree programs.
Once you are qualified you will also be required to apply for a state issued license which involves completing a written and oral examination. For school psychologists, the Nationally Certified School Psychologist (NCSP) title is awarded which gives you a national recognition as opposed to a State one. This requires at least 60 hours of school psychology graduate study, a 1200 hour internship, 600 hours of school based experience, and the passing of your NCSP exam. With you license you can obtain your certification, of which there are 13 specialties recognized by the American Board of Professional Psychology (ABPP).
A psychologist can work in numerous fields and must have the patience to see out research and treatments over the long haul. It is a demanding and sometimes stressful job, but highly rewarding when you are able to see the people you have helped.
Psychologist Quick Facts
Job Title: Psychologist
Office: Hospitals, private rooms, schools, rehab centers, various workplaces, and research labs
Description: Diagnose, assess, evaluate, and predict patterns in human behavior related to mental illness and social problems.
Certifications/Education: Bachelor’s, Master’s and Doctoral degrees are required, as well as licensing and certification for the more advanced levels.
Necessary Skills: Psychologists need to be mature, compassionate, sensitive and emotionally stable, with good communication skills and the ability to care for people effectively, whilst also being patient and determined.
Potential Employers: Psychologists can find work in numerous industries including healthcare, sports, law, and human services being employed by the Government, schools, hospitals, rehabilitation centers, and research facilities.
The median annual salary for a clinical psychologist is $64,140, with industrial-organizational psychologists earning an average of $77,010. Here is a breakdown of the salaries for various psychologist employers:
Offices of other health practitioners – $68,400
Elementary and secondary schools – $65,710
State government – $63,710
Outpatient care centers – $59,130
Individual and family services – $57,440
More salary research:
Helpful Psychology Career Links:
National Association of School Psychologists
American Psychological Association
American Board of Professional Psychology
American Board of Forensic Psychology
National Council for Accreditation or Teacher Preparation
International Association for Correctional and Forensic Psychology
Encyclopedia of Psychology
Social Psychology Network