What is a psychologist?
This is a medical professional that performs therapy and research on the patient’s mind and even the unconscious mind will become a part of the study. The field of psychology is described as the “scientific study of perception, emotion, attention, personality, behavior, interpersonal relationships, and motivation.” Psychology has been practiced since the time of the Ancient Greeks. In time it branched off from philosophy into its own field.
Being a psychologist you will have 3 main areas of focus which are teaching, research, and practice. Although most psychologists are trained in practice and research they may emphasize 1 area more than the other area in their practice. One thing that many people do is confuse a psychiatrist and psychologist but both are very different. One big difference between the two is what their underlying focus is. A psychologist uses treatments that are more non-medical and a psychiatrist has a medical focus of treatment because they are licensed physicians. Another difference is a psychologist cannot prescribe medicine and a psychiatrist can.
Being a “psychologist” is a general term as there are different specialties that a psychologist can major in such as:
- Neuropsychologists—they deal with the delicate relationship between the brain to overt behavior and psychological processes
- Developmental psychologist—they deal with the crucial stages of development.
- Clinical psychologist—this is the largest specialty of all. They help people to cope with their emotional or mental problems.
Job description of a psychologist
As mentioned there are 3 main areas of focus but only 2 most are trained in. These are the 2 areas, what they mean, and what the psychologist does in each area.
- Research—in this area it consists of performing experiments and then gathering the information as to why animals or people think the way they do and have certain behaviors. This area includes experiments in the lab and other settings, studies on the physical aspects of how their brain works, interviews, and surveys.
- Practice—in this area it is the interaction with patients. It will generally include things like creating treatment plans that can include cognitive behavioral therapy or counseling.
In addition to these 2 main focal areas some in this field will also teach at the university level. What exactly a psychologist would do each day would largely depend on what area of specialization that they have chosen. Within their specialty their daily tasks will also vary. Most psychologists are trained to be clinical psychologists and will used a wide variety of knowledge and skills of behavior and the human mind to treat their patients who have a wide list of issues. Most will help their patients to readjust to life after a life-changing event like death or divorce. They will usually work with a patient on a one-on-one basis to help them to evaluate and diagnose their problem and then provide the appropriate treatment.
Some of their daily tasks might include:
- Using a wide array of methods to collect data such as using observations, tests, surveys, and interviews with the patient.
- Working not only with the patient but also their families to improve or modify their social and personal behaviors.
- Diagnose and then treat a variety of behavioral, emotional, or mental disorders
- For each patient develop and implement individualized treatment plans and follow up with the patient to make sure that the treatment plan was appropriate for their disorder and that it is still working.
- When developing treatment plans for their patients collaborate with other health care practitioners to get their input.
- Write patient reports and maintain paperwork and filing
- Carry out different scientific studies to examine human behavior
- If necessary refer your patients to other support services and specialists
- To help improve mental health implement programs in schools and institutions
How to become a psychologist?
To become a psychologist you must have at least a master’s degree but if the degree is in Master of Arts (MA) in Psychology it could limit the options you have for specialization. If you do have this degree and are licensed by the state in which you are practicing you could qualify for a job as an industrial-organizational psychologist. If you have a Doctor of Psychology (PsyD) or Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) you could obtain experimental, counselling, clinical, or research positions or become a self-employed psychologist. If you have a doctoral degree you could also train others to become a psychologist or perform administrative duties.
If you want to specialize and be hired as a school psychologist you would need to have an Educational Specialist (EdS) degree that has a focus on school psychology which is usually a requirement for getting a job in this particular field. To get into a master’s degree program in psychology is very competitive so most schools that offer this program will require the applicants to also have a bachelor’s degree in psychology. When you graduate you will need to seek certification or licensure at either the national or state level before they can practice.
If you decide that you do not want to seek a master’s degree and only get a bachelor’s degree you could find a job as a psychological assistant or work in the federal government. In a bachelor’s degree program you would be introduced to fundamental concepts such as cognitive processes and human development along with general psychology courses. You may also be required to take courses in related subjects like neuroscience or in major concentration area.
In the master’s degree program it can be completed in 2 years if going full time. Some of the core requirements are in research and development and psychology learning principles. You may also be required to complete a clinical rotation. To receive your master’s degree you may only have to complete a thesis but some of the programs may give the students the option of a comprehensive exam or project to do in order to graduate.
If you plan to offer patient care of any type you will be required to be licensed and often includes the student to have a doctorate degree which is either a PhD or PsyD. If you want to go into research you should consider getting a PhD but if you want to specialize in clinical practice you should choose a PsyD. To get either of these degrees it can take 4-5 years to complete. You will have advanced experience and coursework requirements. There are some schools that will alternate the coursework in the spring and fall with summer research or clinical experience. The PhD program has requirements in research and experimenting while the PsyD curriculum includes subjects in applied psychology. If you decide to major in school psychology or clinical counseling you have an additional year of supervised post=doctoral experience.
The requirements to obtain your license after graduating will vary from state to state. It is a requirement that if you will be working in private practice or provide patient care services to be licensed. Typically the state where you will be practicing will administer the standardized test Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology after you have met the internship which is usually 1-2 years of professional experience and education requirements. In order to renew your license most states will require you to complete continuing education courses. Some workplaces, like hospitals, may require additional or a specific license and certifications.
Work environment and schedule
Being a psychologist you will have a variety of work environments to choose from. There are some who have their own private practice, join a group practice, work in clinics and hospitals, work in correctional facilities, schools, etc. You could choose to engage in research or be a faculty member at an university and teach.
The work schedule that a psychologist has depends a lot on the type of work setting they work in. If you work in academic, government, or business work environments you will typically have a daytime schedule that is predictable and will follow normal business hours of 40 hours a week Monday through Friday. They may also work some evenings for people who work during the day and some may work on Saturdays. If you choose to work in nursing homes, other health care facilities, hospitals, correctional facilities, etc.then you may have different work schedules where you could work first, second, or third shift or even be on-call if an emergency arises. You may also find yourself working weekends and holidays. The hours may also not be a straight 8 hours but could be a 12 hour shift.
Pros and cons of being a Psychologist
When searching for the right job, don’t hesitate to take a look at the growth rate, the satisfaction that can be achieved in a job. You should also check the expectations that will mark your career and your ability to fulfill them. The income is another strong point if you want to afford a great live and if you want to change your social status.
Make sure that this is what you want and then before acting upon your decisions inform yourself and even have a chat with a Psychologist. You’ll meet plenty of interesting people each one having a story to tell, and since the demand is increasing, the job satisfaction and growth rate are not to be ignored.
You’ll learn and achieve knowledge on how to watch and understand things from different perspectives, this can help you also to apply the knowledge for your personal life if there will be a need. Your satisfaction will increase greatly when you see that the treatment plan that you’ve established is working on your patient and that the recorded process has turned in a huge progress. There is nothing more achievement then when you see your patients getting better and then being able to discharge them.
However this job can be pretty competitive and emotional burnout since you’ll deal with many people that are hurt or that are going through a tough period, people that might have been abused in another number of cases.
The setting in which you are providing your services are usually very safe but in other facilities such as jails your safety if all the measures are not taken as they should be compromised. Even if you dedicated entirely to your job and you’ve invested a lot, there will always be people that will doubt your methods and will doubt your claims, assuming that your job is a fake.
Another con on your list is the cost of your education and training. After graduation, you’ll have some first years when you’ll have to deal a lot with students loans and being able to pay them back.
Psychologist job growth
For the next five to ten years, the employment job growth has a projection of 19%-21%, or even a little bit higher. The job prospects are estimated to be great especially for those who have a doctoral degree in an applied specialty field.
The work environment opportunities are very good, especially since as a psychologist you can work independently or work as part of a healthcare team. One of the factors that impact the growth in the employment rate is the number of demanding for psychological services especially in institutions such as hospitals, schools, mental health centers and other as well. The job growth projection is influenced by various factors especially the academic qualification that one professional possess.
What the average annual salary of a psychologist would be depends on the years of practical experience they have, the geographical location, and educational qualifications. Working as a psychologist in urban cities you would earn more than if you worked on the outskirts of a city. The salary also depends on whether you specialized or not. For example, if you specialized in child psychology you would start out at approximately $45,000 and with a few years of experience you could be making as much as $60,000 annually.
In the United State the least amount that you might make annually would be $35,000 but you could make as much as $120,000 annually. According to some medical experts the annual psychologist salary is expected to grow by 15% over the next few years. Although a self-employed psychologist will have more expenses it is found that they will earn more once they have a proven practice than ones employed in other work environments. The average annual salary for newly graduated psychologists is $40,000. It has also been shown that sometimes the average annual salary is based on gender with women earning up to $69,898 and men earning up to $81,794.
Five of the top paying states include:
- $92,580 in Rhode Island
- $90,420 in Hawaii
- $84,850 in New York
- $83,870 in New Jersey
- $80,430 in Alabama
In addition to the psychologist salary there is that great benefit package unless you have your own private practice which in that case you would be the one supplying the benefit package. Most benefit packages include paid vacation and sick days, paid holidays, vision and dental care, life insurance, health insurance that may include the family, malpractice insurance, profit sharing, 401K, social security, pension, shift deferential if you work nights, stipends for your phone bill if you are on-call, education reimbursement or help with paying for continuing education classes, etc.
Salary of a Psychologist in 2015
These professionals are quoted among the highest, and their salary are very good. The psychologist salary in 2015 will depend on various factors, the most encountered are linked with the years of training and the specialized qualification, the location in which one of these professionals can be found.
The salary is also influenced by the years of experience and with the number of demanding that is constantly increasing, and the job prospects are very good. A psychologist in United States can reach a mean salary of about $85,353 per year. The lower and the highest points in the economic flux must be taken into consideration as well.
The lower percent in this profession will gain a salary that reaches about $67,010 per year while those with a higher salary can reach about $130,010 per year. According to each state, the income of a Psychologist will vary as well, and it will present very differently.
Psychologist Salary in 2016
The incomes of psychologists, in the United States, for the year 2016 are mainly affected and influenced by several factors such as academic qualifications, geographical location, type of employment, industry, years of experience and other as well.
The average median income for a psychologist according to PayScale salary surveys is estimated at $70,651 per year. The salaries in this profession start at $41,723 per year and can climb up to $108,976 per year. The granted bonuses offered by employers tend to reach at $9,910 while the profit sharing reaches at $10,343. The commission for psychologists usually tends to reach at $17,005, this leading after all these benefits are added to a total payment that is comprised between $42,232 and up to $127,483.
The incomes of these professionals are also influenced as early reminded by the geographical location factor. The earnings vary from state to state, and from city to city, being mainly influenced by several factors such as the existing costs of living as well as by the living expenses, and the level of competitiveness that generally exists on the market.
Psychologists who are based in California can expect to receive earnings that are comprised between $48,723 and $122,158 while those established in Florida can expect to receive earnings that vary between $34,522 and up to $106,437.
When it comes to the cities, psychologists that work in Dallas can expect to receive earnings that range between $23,490 and up to $99,489, while those who are based in New York can expect to gain between $39,867 per year and up to $133,493 per year.
The salary statistics that are provided by PayScale, when it comes to the working experience indicate various levels of earnings. For instance, psychologists who have 1 and up to 4 years of working experience in the field can expect to receive an income that varies between $35,676 and up to $89,450. Those with 5 and up to 9 years of practice in the field can expect to take home earnings that are comprised between $41,218 and up to $102,316 while those working for 10 and up to 19 years will receive earnings that range from $46,675 and up to $118,621.
On the other side, the veterans in this field with more than 20 years of working experience can expect to take home earnings that usually range between $55,151 per year and up to $133,899 per year. Each industry pays their psychologist’s employees with various figures. Those who found work in the healthcare industry can expect to receive earnings that are comprised between $40,646 and $119,914 while those working in correctional facilities can expect to earnings that are comprised between $58,512 and up to $116,606.
Psychologist salary in Canada, Australia and the UK
- United Kingdom—in the UK a psychologist average annual salary is based on their age bracket. If they are in their 20’s it would be up to 26,513, in their 30’s it would be up to 34.643, and if they are in their 40’s or 50’s it would be up to 41,006
- Australia—the average annual salary for a psychologist would be AU$66,000-AU$75,00
- Canada—the average annual salary for a psychologist is CAD$44,510-CAD$148,188
Conclusion on psychologist salary
If you were a pediatric psychologist your average annual salary would be $60,000 if you work in schools but if you were employed in an independent agency your average annual salary could be up to $120,000. Before you applied to a psychology program you should decide if you want to specialize and if yes, what specialty do you want to major in. It is best if you do your research to see what the average annual salary is for different specialties.
You also have to look at the great benefit package if you are not going to be in private practice. You want to make sure that it has everything that you want like paid vacation and sick days, the right type of insurance, the pension plan, etc. Yes, the field of psychology is going to be growing and is one of the better fields of medicine to get into.
- First Published Date: 10 October, 2014
- Last Updated Date: 1 September, 2016