Is a Psychology Degree for You?
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If you are curious about human behavior patterns and the way the mind works, then psychology may be a great field of study for you. In a psychology program, you will explore the inner workings of the brain, study the decision making process of humans and animals and take an in-depth look at primate socialization processes. The study of psychology requires participants to be comfortable with both scientific thinking and communication. Laboratory research is an integral part of a psychology degree program. Psychology students must have the ability to translate scientific research and results into concise and understandable language.
Advice for Earning Your Psychology Degree Online
The psychology degree is flexible, making it an ideal choice for students who are inquisitive about the broad scope of human interaction. There are numerous specializations within the psychology discipline. You may choose to specialize in clinical, counseling or school psychology, psychoanalysis, biopsychology or behavioral neuroscience. With an array of interdisciplinary choices, a psychology degree translates well to the working world. Students who study psychology become fluent in basic mathematic processes, scientific reasoning and complex problem solving.
Because psychology students learn to collaborate with peers, polish their problem solving skills and develop strong writing abilities, employers from a variety of fields are attracted to them. In most cases, psychology students wishing to become psychiatrists, psychologists or counselors must obtain advanced degrees. At any degree level, though, students should make sure their schools of interest are accredited, as only those institutions are likely to be accepted in the workforce.
Because a psychology degree program encompasses such a broad scope of disciplines, the courses required are vast and varied. The needed and elective classes you may take include developmental, social or abnormal psychology, animal behavior, basic statistics, physiological psychology, ethics, psychological research methods, human development and history of psychology. Psychology students are also required to perform a certain number of laboratory hours each semester.
Common Career Paths
Students who graduate with a bachelor's degree in psychology often elect to study further in graduate programs. Although obtaining a master's degree or doctorate in psychology is common, it is not entirely necessary to land a job within the field. There are many entry-level positions for college graduates with a bachelor's degree in psychology. Common positions for psychology graduates include (but are not limited to):
- Clinical Psychologist: Clinical psychologists meet with patients, assess their conditions, diagnosis their mental disorders and then help them deal with treating their symptoms. Clinical psychologists create and administer behavior modification programs. They set up group, individual, couple and family therapy sessions. Because of the complexity of their job, clinical psychologists must have a doctoral degree in psychology. Clinical psychologists also are often required to apply for certification to practice and interact with patients. Clinical psychologists will also be needed to help fill a demand in the health care system for people to treat those with unhealthy lifestyles, such as smokers and alcoholics.
The rise of employee health assistance programs will mean that more clinical psychologists will be needed to address workers' issues. Employment growth for all types of psychologists is projected to be 22 percent between 2010 and 2020. The median annual salary for all types of psychologists was $68,640 in 2010, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
- School Psychologist: School psychologists work within institutions to support students, faculty and other staffers with counseling and advice regarding how to create the best learning and work environment possible. School psychologists can focus on helping young children and their teachers nurture effective learning styles. They also meet with parents to talk about child development. School psychologists help treat behavioral and learning problems that arise among the student body as well. They often collaborate closely with teachers and school officials to handle educational policy decisions at all levels, from classroom management to the school's long-term objectives. They help analyze and evaluate the results of various academic programs. Because they work in challenging environments that deal with children's education, school psychologists must have a doctoral degree and extensive experience in the field of psychology and education. In many states, school psychologists must also have a specialist degree.
The demand for school psychologists will improve as more educators become aware of how important it is to understand how students' mental health affects their learning capabilities.
- Industrial-organizational Psychologist: Industrial-organizational psychologists help companies and other organizations improve their employees' productivity. Industrial-organizational psychologists analyze how workers function, try to figure out ways to improve their office environment and workflow, and advise companies about what measures they can take to increase productivity and boost retention rates. Industrial-organizational psychologists can also help companies deal with diversity in the workplace, and assist with the handling of discrimination or harassment claims. Finally, industrial-organizational psychologists can turn their attention outward to help companies develop effective surveys, promotions, research and development tools, and other marketing strategies. To do this kind of work, industrial-organizational psychologists most often are required to have earned at least a master's degree in psychology.
In addition to having a solid academic background, industrial-organizational psychologists will need to keep up with the latest trends regarding psychology in the workplace. Competition for these positions will be stiff, despite expansion within the industry. Candidates will want to make themselves stand out as much as possible.