How to Become a Psychologist
A psychologist diagnoses and treats a patient who suffers from mental illnesses and disorders, provides counseling services, helps people to modify their behavior, and conducts research into human behavior. One of the major differences between a psychologist and a psychiatrist is that a psychiatrist has a medical degree and can prescribe drugs.
If you are interested in human behavior, enjoy studying, and have good interpersonal skills then you might like to become a psychologist. There are many different sectors of this field that you can work in, so you can find a role that caters to your interests.
Psychologists work in hospitals, health care facilities, and from their own consulting offices. Much of their work comes from referral for private psychologists or from a hospital if they are staffed there.
Education Requirements to Become a Psychologist
If you would like to become a psychologist, you should take subjects in english, science, and the humanities while you are in high school. You will need to get good grades to earn a place in college.
At college you will need to complete a bachelors degree with a major in psychology, followed by a masters degree. This will allow you to gain a position as a psychologist's assistant, or as a researcher in the field of psychology. It's a good idea to take up one of these positions while you are still studying. To work as a psychologist you will need to earn a doctorate as well.
It's a good idea to decide on which area of psychology you intend to work in early on. You can then choose coursework and work placements that reflect these interests.
Your work in college will consist mostly of theoretical work, but you will also need to participate in supervised work practice and internships.
To become a psychologist, you will need to be a sound and stable person emotionally. You will need to be able to communicate well with your patients, and also be a very tolerant and patient person when you need to be. Having the ability to keep your clients problems at arms length is a very valuable skill.
Psychologist Job Description
There are many different roles that a psychologist may find themselves in throughout the course of their career. Here are some of the more common tasks you could find yourself completing:
- Meeting with a patient
- Obtaining a medical history
- Devising a treatment plan
- Providing counseling
- Prescribing exercises and activities to aid treatment
- Administering tests
- Diary management
- Report writing
- Keeping accurate patient records
Many people think psychologists just help people with emotional problems, but they do much more than that. A sports psychologist helps athletes train at their best and overcome mental barriers. A neuropsychologist assists people with a brain injury or condition to live their lives to the fullest. Here are some of the areas you could work in when you become a psychologist:
- Clinical psychologist
- Sports psychologist
- Industrial psychologist
Psychologist Salary and Career Path
Many psychologists will start their career working as a researcher or an assistant to a psychologist while they are completing their doctorate. Upon completion of their certification within their state, they will start working as a psychologist, usually within a hospital.
Later in their careers, many go on to work in private practice and open their own offices. Some move on to specialize in other areas of psychology or within other areas of the healthcare industry. Many become psychology teachers at high schools and colleges.
Similar roles could include:
- Medical Researcher
- Case Manager
- Social Worker
- Psychology Teacher
- Human Resources Officer
- Speech Pathologist
The median salary of a psychologist is $68,000 a year. The area of specialization, geographical area, and place of employment will all have an impact on a psychologist's earning capacity. Those in urban areas will make more than those in rural areas, and those who work in private practice will often earn more than those who work for schools or hospitals.
If you are interested in people, have great communication skills, and enjoy study and research then it's likely you would enjoy a career in psychology. Job prospects are good for those that complete a doctorate program and it is set to grow in the future.
*Salary Information provided by the Bureau Of Labor Statistics