Considering an online psychology degree? If you’re compassionate, good at listening and driven to help others, becoming a psychologist is a field that might be right for you. The stereotype of a psychologist is someone who sits impassively behind a desk, occasionally nodding and making notes on a yellow pad of legal paper, as a client lies down on a leather sofa and discusses his or her feelings. While this stereotype of a psychologist may sometimes have some truth to it, the field of psychology is far larger than just counseling.
Different Types of Psychologists
First of all, there are several different types of psychologists; not all of them are the type of mental health professionals who counsel individual clients. Research psychologists, for instance, are psychologists who are essentially scientists of human consciousness. Industrial psychologists, meanwhile, focus on helping corporations to improve work environments.
For example, an industrial psychologist may work with managers to improve employee morale and organizational processes. School psychologists, who should not be confused with school counselors, help to evaluate and work with school children so that learning, behavior and family problems that impede a student’s education can be properly addressed.
Finally, there are the psychologists who more-or-less fit the stereotype described above. These psychologists are the clinical psychologists and counselors who use particular psychological models to help patients overcome their mental problems. These problems could include:
- Depression and anxiety
- Specific mental disorders, such as bipolar or eating disorders
- Marital problems
- Family problems
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
Different Types of Psychology Degrees
Regardless of the subfield of psychology that the psychologist focuses on, all psychologists follow a similar education route. All of the psychologists described above hold some type of advanced degree (and currently, there have never been so many online degrees for psychology careers as there are today). At the very least, they hold master’s degrees in psychology; many also have a Ph.D. Almost all research psychologists employed at universities hold a Ph.D. Counselors or clinical psychologists sometimes hold a doctorate degree in psychology, known as a Psy.D. School psychologists often hold an Ed. S., or “education specialist” degree. An Ed. S. degree is considered to be higher than a master’s degree but not as advanced as a doctorate. When people become clinical psychologists, their degrees typically include a good deal of practical work as well, not just classroom work. Just as future nurses and future doctors work with actual patients as part of their education, so future psychologists also help to counsel people as a part of their education. Keep in mind that in order to earn any of these advanced degrees, it is first necessary to complete a bachelor’s degree, preferably in psychology.
Work Environments, Job Prospects and Pay
As alluded to above, the type of work environment a psychologist finds him or herself in depends on what type of psychology he or she specializes in. Research psychologists and social psychologists are often professors in university settings or support these types of psychology professors. In order to keep a university job, they usually are required to publish the results of their studies in well-known psychology journals on a regular basis. Industrial psychologists typically work within a corporation or consult with corporations; school psychologists usually work in public schools; clinical psychologists often work for themselves or in a hospital or rehabilitation environment. The job prospects for psychologists are good (see image above). According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the profession is expected to grow by 22 percent between 2010 and 2020, which is a faster-than-average rate of growth. Pay for psychologist varies, depending on specialty. Industrial psychologists earn more than most of the other types of psychologists except for researchers. Industrial psychologists can expect to earn about $87,000 per year. Clinical psychologists and school psychologists earn the least out of all psychologists; their pay averages about $66,000 per year.
Summary Becoming a psychologist can be a mentally stimulating and rewarding profession. Regardless of what type of psychology they practice, all psychologists often enjoy the fulfillment of being able to benefit others in a meaningful and lasting way. Although it takes a great deal of education to become a psychologist, most psychologists earn enough money to make all that time in school worthwhile.