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Getting a Degree in Psychology

Get a Degree in Psychology

Analyze This: Getting a Degree in Psychology

Looking for an altruistic job helping people and making a great salary? A degree and career in psychology may be right for you! Psychologists study cognitive, emotional, and social processes and behavior. They interpret how people relate to one another and to their environments to help improve quality of life.  Most clinical, counseling, and research psychologists need a doctoral degree. Psychologists in clinical practice need a license. A master’s degree may be sufficient for school and industrial organizational positions.

Psychologists typically do the following:

  • Conduct scientific studies of behavior
  • Conduct scientific studies of brain function
  • Observe, interview, and survey individuals
  • Look for patterns of behavior and relationships between events and people
  • Identify psychological, emotional, behavioral, and organizational issues
  • Research and identify behavioral and emotional patterns
  • Diagnose disorders
  • Discuss treatments with clients
  • Write articles, research papers, and reports to share findings and educate others

 

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates employment of psychologists will grow approximately 3% percent by 2029, about as fast as average for all occupations. Psychologists will continue to be an essential part of the workforce as the need for mental health services continues to be essential across all facets of society, from childhood through geriatric age.

Psychologists can work in many settings, as qualified by their specialty and training. They may have a wide variety of responsibilities as determined by their current job and employment. The following are examples of types of psychologists:

  • Clinical psychologists focus on mental, emotional, and behavioral disorders. Clinical psychologists help people deal with problems ranging from short-term personal issues to severe, chronic conditions. Some states allow clinical psychologists to prescribe medication to patients.
  • Counseling psychologists help patients deal with and understand problems, including issues at home, at the workplace, or in their community.
  • Developmental psychologists study the development that takes place throughout life stages.
  • Forensic psychologists work in the legal and criminal justice system to help others understand the psychological aspects of a particular case. They will typically specialize in family, civil, or criminal casework.
  • Industrial–organizational psychologists apply psychology to the workplace to solve problems and improve the quality of work-life. They can be involved in a variety of aspects including such as employee screening and training, management and employee working styles, employee morale, workplace productivity, policy planning, and organizational development.
  • Rehabilitation psychologists work with physically or developmentally disabled individuals to help improve quality of life.
  • School psychologists address education disorders and developmental disorders. They work with student learning and behavioral problems; counsel students and families; and advise on teaching, learning, and administrative strategies.

Salaries For Psychology Degree Majors

According to the BLS, the median annual wage for psychologists is $80,000. The highest 10 percent earned more than $132,000. The wages for psychologists vary widely depending on their employment. Some examples of psychologist wages by industry are:

Federal government

$95,000

Health practitioners offices

$134,000

Elementary and secondary schools; state, local, and private$77,000
Psychiatric and substance abuse hospitals$73,000
Specialty hospitals (i.e. oncology, geriatric, etc.)$93,000

Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology

Becoming a licensed psychologist requires a graduate level education. Therefore, students can choose from a wide range of bachelor degree programs since this undergraduate education is merely the first step in becoming a psychologist. It is recommended that students wishing to pursue a psychology master’s program choose a psychology as an undergraduate major to prepare themselves for future studies. This will also help fulfill any prerequisites for graduate school. Complementary double majors and minors are also an excellent idea including sociology, criminal justice, and education.

Jobs you can obtain with a Bachelor’s in Psychology include:

Social Worker– works in a variety of settings including mental health clinics, schools, child welfare and human service agencies. Median annual salary: $50,000.

Social Science Research Assistant– assists social scientists in laboratory, survey, and other social science research. Median annual salary: $51,000.

Master’s Degree in Psychology

A Master’s Degree in Psychology is a necessary step in achieving the goal of becoming a psychologist. Although clinical psychologists (and others) require a doctorate, a master’s degree may be sufficient for school and industrial organizational positions. School psychologists need an advanced degree and either certification or licensure to work. School psychologist programs include coursework in education and psychology because their work addresses both education and mental health components of students’ development. Industrial–organizational psychologists typically will include courses in industrial–organizational psychology, statistics, and research design.

Jobs you can obtain with a Master’s in Psychology include:

School Psychologist– works with students, education disorders, and developmental disorders. Median annual salary: $78,000.

Industrial–Organizational Psychologist– helps to improve the quality of work-life for an organization and its employees. Median annual salary: $93,000.

Doctorate Degree in Psychology

There are two paths to earning a doctorate in psychology: Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology (PhD) or a Doctor of Psychology (PsyD). PhD programs typically have a strong focus on research while PsyD prepares students to practice psychology in a wide range of clinical settings with less focus on research. As a licensed psychologist, one can work for themselves in a private practice or choose to work for a wide range of employers including federal and local government and even non-profit programs.

Postsecondary Teacher- instructs courses in psychology at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Median annual salary: $122,000.

Psychologist (Private Practice)assists patients with a wide variety of needs and disorders. Median annual salary: $133,000.

Colleges Offering Psychology Degree Programs

Ready to begin your degree in psychology? Check out these great programs at some of our partner schools:

The College of Saint Rose

Offers a Bachelor of Science in Psychology and a B.S. in Forensic Psychology. The College of Saint Rose also offers 2 unique bachelor’s-to-master’s programs. They offer a 3+1 program combining a 3 year B.S. in Psychology (including a Concentration in Industrial/Organizational Psychology) with a 1 year Master’s in Business Administration, and a 3+2 program combining a 3 year B.S. in Psychology (including a Concentration in Clinical/Counseling Psychology) with a 2 year M.S.Ed. in Counseling, which qualifies graduates to take the licensing exam to become a licensed Mental Health Counselor. The College of Saint Rose participates in the Yellow Ribbon program.

Touro University Worldwide

Offers a variety of psychology degrees from bachelor’s to doctorate level. Touro offers a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, Master of Arts in Psychology, Master of Science in Forensic Psychology, and a Doctor of Psychology in Human and Organizational Psychology. All programs are offered online. Touro University Worldwide is a Yellow Ribbon school.

Upper Iowa University

Offers a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology as both a campus-based and an online program. Upper Iowa University participates in the Yellow Ribbon program.

*All statistics and calculations from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. For more information click here.

 

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About the author

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Born in SoCal yet raised Tampa, Florida - Leah earned her undergraduate BA in Liberal Studies from the University of Central Florida. Leah earned her MA in the MALAS at San Diego State University, while also completing a graduate teaching certificate in English for Secondary Education. An avid traveler, she has visited more than 60 countries. With the birth of her son Spencer in 2012, Leah embarked on her biggest adventure (yet) as parent and Coast Guard wife.