True or false: To get a job in the field of psychology you must have a doctor’s degree. The answer – false. Many people who go into psychology do so with the intention of getting a PhD and becoming a professional counselor. But there are jobs for those with a bachelor’s or master’s degree, as well. The secret is not to use the word psychology.
The business, education, criminal justice and military establishments all need individual with the skills of a psychologist, even if they don’t call it that. Case workers, child protection specialists, and family service professionals who work for foster care agencies all use the expertise of the psychologist in their occupations. Government and private agencies hire some types of youth, substance abuse, and rehabilitation counselors straight out of college.
Helping Maintain Business as Usual
In business all most any job dealing with people requires some knowledge of human behavior, but some are stand-outs. Several books have been written about the psychological component of advertising. Getting people to react in a desired way without their realizing it is close to the ultimate exercise in human understanding. This area would also encompass designing of research studies and analyzing the data produced. Those with posts in human resources, especially an employee counselor, job analyst, job interviewer or personal assistant would benefit from the ability to observe and “read” behavior as would a buyer, manager or customer relations specialist. Non-profit agencies that aid children, the elderly, victims of deadly disease, veterans and others need psychology experts in almost every area of their daily activities. Individuals may also use their specialized knowledge as a technical writer in the medical or legal field.
Academe or the Real World?
Many people figure that even if a job in the working world is hard to find, there is always teaching. In psychology this is a misconception. Most of the time there are fewer jobs available on campus than off. Research, however, widens the possibilities. Besides universities, government agencies, drug manufacturers and, as mentioned, advertising agencies need trained psychologists to perform and analyze research. Recent postings resulting from a search for “psychology” on an Internet jobsite yielded these ads for jobs requiring only a bachelor’s degree: behavior modification therapist for autistic children, personal matchmaker, social worker for adult day care, community AIDS education, a tutor for physically and emotionally traumatized children, team coordinator for those working with patients in an alcoholic detox center and others.
Employment by Degrees
A master’s or doctorate means a boost in salary, of course, though not necessarily more job possibilities. A PhD may be almost a liability as the market, especially in private counseling, is currently overfilled. A master’s degree is required for a position as a clinical or psychiatric social worker. These employees work with children and families, as well as groups in mental health facilities, shelters and hospitals. They may even set up private practice in exception to the usual rule. Corporate counseling positions also usually require a master’s.
Doing School Work
Schools employ masters in psychology as school counselors for troubled youth, student advisors, and career counselors. Educational psychologists, whose specialty is often testing (for intelligence, ADD, language problems, etc.) and some research, work with a district and provide services to a number of schools. Other jobs list an advanced degree as desirable but not necessary. The relatively new disciplines of art and music therapy require special courses in the specific type of therapy, and of course in the content areas of art and music.
Out of the Ordinary
But for the most challenging and best-paying jobs a PhD is highly desirable. The traditional specialties of counseling, developmental and educational psychology are far from the only opportunities available. Forensic psychologists work with the legal system studying the meaning of certain evidence and testifying as experts in criminal trials; human factor studies examine the relationship between humans and machines in the work environment; and the similar industrial psychology which studies employee interface with work environment as a whole. Other areas are the interaction between physical and psychological health and social abnormalities that may cause prejudice and aggression.
Getting enough education and finding a job directly related to the field of psychology may be difficult, but the rewards, both social and monetary are worth it.