If you are like most people, the word “psychologist” probably conjures up images of someone sitting in an armchair, listening attentively as their client pours out their heart. While this is one aspect of psychology, it is by no means the only one! It is a hugely diverse field with opportunities for specialization in almost any area you can imagine.
So, if you are interested in studying the human mind and behavior, let’s find out more about how to become a psychologist.
- What Is A Psychologist?
- What Does A Psychologist Do?
- How To Become A Psychologist – The Steps
- The Benefits Of Becoming A Psychologist
- The Downsides Of Becoming A Psychologist
- Similar Careers
- Career Resources
- Various Fields In Psychology To Consider
- How To Become A Psychologist – Final Thoughts
What Is A Psychologist?
A psychologist is a professional who studies the human mind and its behavior. They can work in a variety of settings, including hospitals, clinics, schools, businesses, and private practices, and may specialize in a particular area, such as forensic, industrial-organizational, or child psychology.
The History of Psychology
This field of study dates back to the early 1800s, when it was first developed by pioneering scientists such as Wilhelm Wundt and William James. Over time, they have made great strides in this field to further our understanding of how the human mind works and how we can encourage positive behavior changes.
What Does A Psychologist Do?
The day-to-day work of a psychologist depends on their specialty. For example, a clinical psychologist might diagnose and treat mental disorders, while a developmental psychologist might research how children’s brains develop. However, there are some common duties that they all perform, such as conducting research, administering psychological tests, and providing therapy.
A large part of this job is conducting research. This may involve studying human behavior in a laboratory setting, observing people in naturalistic settings, or administering surveys. They use their research to build theories about how the mind works and identify new treatments for mental disorders.
Testing and Diagnosis
A common task is administering tests to assess clients’ cognitive functioning and personality traits. These tests can range from intelligence assessments to personality inventories, and they help psychologists identify the root causes of mental health issues such as anxiety and depression.
Many psychologists provide therapy to their clients, either individually or in groups. This may involve helping clients with behavioral problems, offering support during difficult life transitions, or conducting group therapy sessions. Marriage counseling also falls into this category.
How To Become A Psychologist – The Steps
The path to this career typically involves completing an undergraduate degree or post-graduate degree in psychology or a closely related field. Within your degree program, you will likely have the opportunity to specialize in a particular area of interest, such as cognitive psychology or evolutionary psychology.
All states require psychologists to be licensed before they can practice. To gain your license, you will need to complete an internship, pass a written exam, and earn passing scores on the oral and practical portions of the exam.
You are also required to complete continuing education credits regularly to maintain your license. These credits can be earned by taking part in professional development activities, such as attending conferences or taking online courses.
Find a Job
After you have completed your education and earned your license, you will be ready to start your job search. You can search for jobs on job boards, through professional organizations, through your university, or directly with employers.
Advance Your Career
Once you have found a job in psychology, you may eventually want to pursue advanced training or certification in your area of expertise. For example, a developmental psychologist may choose to obtain certification as a board-certified behavior analyst. This type of training can help you advance your career and increase your earning potential over time.
The median annual salary for a psychologist was $79,010 in May 2019.
Job outlook for a Psychologist
Employment in this field is projected to grow 14 percent from 2019 to 2029, much faster than the average for all occupations. Competition for jobs should be strong because many people are interested in working in this sector. Candidates with a doctoral degree in psychology should have the best job opportunities.
The Benefits Of Becoming A Psychologist
Although contributing to people’s mental wellness journey may seem like an obvious benefit, there are plenty of other advantages of following this career path.
Some benefits include:
- Flexible work schedule: You may choose to work full-time or part-time, depending on your lifestyle and preferences. This allows for greater flexibility in your working hours.
- Job opportunities: There is an increasing demand for therapists with more education about the benefits and many celebrities removing the sigma; therefore, job opportunities are plentiful. You will likely have a range of options to choose from, whether you are looking for a high-paying job or one that is more flexible.
- Great salary: You can expect to earn a good living, especially if you have extensive experience and advanced training. This means you can have the financial stability necessary to pursue your passion for helping others.
The Downsides Of Becoming A Psychologist
Of course, some challenges come along with this job position.
- The long road to becoming a psychologist: It can take many years to complete the education and training necessary to become licensed. This can be discouraging for some people who are eager to get started in their careers.
- The emotional toll: Working with clients who are dealing with mental health issues can be emotionally draining. It is important to have a strong support system in place to help you deal with the challenges of your job.
- The risk of burnout: With the demands of your job, it is important to make time for yourself outside of work. If you do not take steps to manage stress, burnout is a real risk.
- Meeting clients outside work: Sometimes, you may bump into clients in social settings, which can make things awkward. If you are not careful, this can affect your objectivity.
There are many different career paths you can pursue if you do not want to work as a psychologist but want a similar job.
Some of the most common include:
- Social workers help people cope with the challenges of daily life. They provide support to individuals, families, and communities.
- Counselors work with clients to help them resolve personal, social, and emotional problems.
- Psychiatrists are medical doctors that specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of mental health disorders.
- Probation officers work with criminals who have been sentenced to probation instead of prison. They help them reintegrate into society and avoid recidivism.
- School counselors assist students in providing support and guidance throughout their education. Their key role is to help students deal with academic, social, and emotional issues.
- Forensic psychologists provide psychological services to the legal system. Tasks involve assessing individuals who are interested in legal disputes, such as victims, witnesses, criminals, and law enforcement officers.
If you are still interested in becoming a psychologist, there are many resources available to help you get started.
- The American Psychological Association (APA) is a good place to start. The APA offers information on careers in psychology, as well as resources for students and educators.
- The Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards (ASPPB) is another helpful resource. The ASPPB provides information on licensure requirements for psychologists in the United States and Canada.
- In addition, your local library or bookstore is likely to have a section on psychology careers. Many online resources can help you learn more about the field of psychology.
If helping people is what you love and the human mind has always intrigued you, then a career in Psychology could be just the thing for you!
Various Fields In Psychology To Consider
Firstly, let’s start with a few introductions such as Psychology: A Complete Introduction, an Introduction to Psychology: Gateways to Mind and Behavior, as well as an Introduction to Psychology.
Next, we move onto the Career Paths in Psychology: Where Your Degree Can Take You, and Your Undergraduate Degree in Psychology: From College to Career, or perhaps an all-in-one, A Degree in a Book: Psychology: Everything You Need to Know to Master the Subject all available online in 2023.
Alternatives in the field include the Foundations of Physiological Psychology, an Introduction to Clinical Psychology, and an Introduction to Abnormal Child and Adolescent Psychology, along with guides on Educational Psychology, Social Psychology, or maybe Developmental Psychology: Childhood and Adolescence, Criminal Psychology, and Abnormal Psychology which I personally found to be a very intriguing read.
How To Become A Psychologist – Final Thoughts
Becoming a psychologist is not an easy task. It takes years of schooling and training to develop the skills needed to help people work through their personal issues.
But if you have the passion for it and are willing to put in the hard work, then it can be one of the most rewarding careers out there. The salary is also quite good, especially compared to other jobs with similar levels of education. And while there are some downsides (such as dealing with difficult patients), on the whole, the pros easily outweigh the cons.
All the very best in your new career as a Psychologist!