The field of Psychological Sciences is one of the most stable in comparison to other job markets. It does not fluctuate with a changing economy, cannot be outsourced to another country, and will always be a much-needed service to the masses. It can be a very lucrative career choice; however, one must earn a psychology degree in order to take full advantage of this excellent career path. There are many branches on the tree of psychological sciences, and choosing a focus branch early on would be beneficial. Earning a degree in psychology doesn’t make a person a psychologist. In order to practice psychology in a professional setting, it is necessary to take a graduate or doctoral course that may take an additional four to seven years beyond the original four-year undergraduate course. Doctoral programs are not easy to get into and many of the best colleges accept a mere two to five percent of the students who apply. Students who score high on the GRE Psychology Subject Test are the most likely candidates to be accepted. Emerging sub-fields of study, such as Behavioral, Bio, Cognitive, and Abnormal Psychology can be equally as intensive.
Graduate and Doctoral Degrees
After obtaining an undergraduate degree in psychology, people who are interested in pursuing clinical psychology will need to put five to seven more years into one of two graduate programs. One of these is the Ph.D., which tends to be more research oriented. The other is the Psy.D. (Doctor of Psychology), which is used in practical applications. Both of these degrees will enable students to work as a psychologist. Once this education is finished, an additional one to two years of supervised training is required to become licensed.
The total amount of time that the supervised training period lasts depends on the state the student wishes to practice in, but it is typically 3,000 hours. After this, students are eligible for licensure. To finish Ph.D. coursework, students must prepare and present a dissertation. Completing a Psy.D. requires practical assignments like clinical work or examinations.
Master’s and Bachelor’s Degrees
Those not choosing to invest in the additional years of education, but still wishing to work in the field of psychology, can obtain a master’s degree in the subject with roughly two years of study. While this degree doesn’t enable someone to become a clinical psychologist, it does however allow him or her to work with trained psychologists in a professional setting. A master’s degree will also enable students to find work with organizations and industries to help companies better understand and interact with their customers and employees.
Earning a bachelor’s degree in psychology can increase a student’s chances of being accepted to a graduate program. However, it has been estimated that only one-fourth of the students who earn a bachelor’s degree in psychology will find a job that directly relates to their area of specialization. Most students find work in less-related areas such as human resources or doing research work, and other fields that still make use of the knowledge and interest in psychology.
Regardless of whether students choose a master’s, bachelor’s or doctorate degree in psychology, this degree will still be useful even without becoming a full-fledged psychologist. Many of the skills gained from such an education can be applied to the research and presentation of convincing results, deciphering data, compiling reports and handling people problems, all of which are skills that are useful in many of today’s jobs. In addition the adage, “those who cannot do teach,” readily applies in this field as many students will parlay this degree into a career in education.