Having the desire to help others can transition into a number of exciting careers. For individuals interested in counseling and mental health care, a career in psychology can be very rewarding. With several different areas of discipline to practice, many people may ask themselves, “How do I become a psychologist?”
The life of a psychologist varies depending on the setting in which they work. Clinical psychologists usually work in hospitals or mental health facilities. They spend majority of their time evaluating and diagnosing patients who suffer from mental or emotional disorders. Psychologists who work in academic settings as school psychologists and counselors will spend majority of their time working with children, adolescents and other faculty members. Researchers may work alone or on teams, depending on the complexity of experiment requirements. While some time is spent in the field collecting data, researchers also spend many hours reading and performing statistical analyses.
There are several routes that can be taken to become a psychologist. First, individuals will need to obtain a bachelor’s degree from a four-year accredited university. But having a bachelor’s degree alone will not qualify students to work as psychologists. While majoring in psychology is not mandatory, students who want to become a psychologist are advised to take introductory courses relating to psychology, statistics and research to prepare for graduate work. After determining the discipline of psychology that they would like to pursue, students will need to apply to graduate school programs. Most programs in clinical and counseling psychology are very competitive so students may want to apply to several different schools to increase their chances of acceptance. People interested in working in public or private school settings will need to have at least a master’s degree in psychology. Additionally, most school psychologists have backgrounds specializing in education. Industrial and organizational psychologists usually have a master’s degree as well. Doctorate degrees in philosophy (Ph.D) or psychology (Psy.D) are required for all psychologists who administers treatment plans or who provides mental health assessments and diagnosis. Most states require that all psychologists be licensed and certified in the state where they practice.
Many students who want to become a psychologist wonder how much they can make. This depends on a combination of the industry in which they are employed and the amount of education and experience acquired. The median salary for psychologists in 2010 ranged from $66,000 to $89,900. Salaries can exceed this range, especially for those who have independent practices. Graduate students can get a job in psychology a number of ways. Accepting an internship can open many avenues for permanent employment. Local universities may host job fairs for new graduates. Networking and joining psychology associations can also be useful in finding new job leads. Employment opportunities are in demand for clinical, counseling, industrial and school psychology. With job prospects expecting to increase by twenty two percent between the years 2010 and 2020, undergraduates and adults looking to start a second career should consider what it takes to become a psychologist.