14 Pros and Cons of Being a Psychologist

Psychologist

Are you intrigued by behavior and the human mind?

Do you wonder what others are thinking when they make certain decisions?

Becoming a psychologist allows you to explore human behavior and the mind in detail.

There are countless psychology fields, some of which are in a lab assessing behaviors and others are in an office helping individuals overcome mental challenges.

There are countless pros and cons to becoming a psychologist and depending on what you are searching for in a career, psychology may be a great field for you.

To learn more about the advantages and disadvantages of becoming a psychologist and whether you should consider entering the field, keep reading!

Pros of Being a Psychologist

There are numerous pros to becoming a psychologist, including:

1. Flexible Work Schedules

Numerous psychologists pull long hours, but if you decide to establish a practice, then your schedule is much more flexible.

You can set hours, come, and go as you please, and enjoy a reasonable amount of vacation.

Many self-employed psychologists report that one of the best aspects of their job is having plenty of time to spend with their friends and family.

Although hospital- and clinic-based psychologists do not have much flexibility, they still have plenty of control over their schedules and time with family. 

2. Helping People

One of the greatest rewards of becoming a psychologist is that you will help others overcome challenges and improve their lives.

Many individuals around the world struggle with mental anxiety, disorders, disabilities, and trauma.

Psychologists help clients learn how to cope with a variety of disorders and overcome emotional and mental challenges.

Although being a psychologist can be stressful, it is also a fulfilling and gratifying occupation.

3. High Earning Potential

Per the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average psychologist earns between $50,000 and $100,000 per year, depending on location.

Those working part-time earn less but still a respectable salary.

Those who operate their practice can earn over $200,000 per year.

While money should never be your motivation for entering into a specific field, it adds to the overall benefits.

4. Work in Various Settings

When you choose a career as a psychologist, you can work in a variety of settings.

For those who enjoy teaching, a career in academia may be a great option.

Others choose to work as counselors within the academic setting to assist students with stress and anxiety.

You could also work in rehabilitation centers, nursing facilities, research centers, psychotherapy locations, private practices, and hospitals.

Having so many environments where you could work is a major advantage and you can always switch them up if you become unhappy.

5. Work for Yourself

If you plan to open a practice someday, you will enjoy the freedom of not having to report to a boss.

A psychologist career is an excellent choice for those who boast an entrepreneurial spirit.

Numerous psychologists open private practices after they earned experience working in clinics, hospitals, or wellness groups and have proven to be competent professionals.

Around 35 percent of psychologists are self-employed, most of whom run a practice.

While this may not be the right choice for everyone, it gives you control of earning potential and time.

6. Work with New People Daily

Within the psychology field, you’ll collaborate with clients from all walks of life, backgrounds, and cultures.

That means you have the chance to help a variety of individuals overcome emotional and mental obstacles that could be impacting their daily lives.

While you will face setbacks, like in any career, the reward of helping couples, adults, and children achieve their full potential outweighs all challenges you face.

7. You Will Never Be Bored

Since you will be meeting with a diversity of clients, you will not complete the same daily tasks.

That means every day will be different.

Your patients and families will have distinct reasons for seeking your help, which ensures your days will never be mundane.

As the old saying goes, “variety is the spice of life” and is also one of the best advantages of becoming a psychologist.

Cons of Being a Psychologist

Although many advantages to becoming a psychologist exist, there are several disadvantages you should be aware of, including:

1. Dealing with Clients Can be Demanding

One of the best rewards of being a psychologist is also one of the greatest challenges, dealing with the emotional and mental struggles of a variety of people.

When you are dealing with other people’s issues daily, it can be demanding and stressful for you.

Most have a difficult enough time understanding and managing our problems, let alone countless others.

Psychologists must learn how to best help their clients find productive and effective means of dealing with their problems.

All psychologists must learn how to separate their professional and personal lives while practicing useful stress management techniques.

2. Extensive Schooling is Required

If you are looking to jump right into the field, then psychology is not for you.

Regardless of the path that you wish to take – clinical psychologist, own practice, work in a mental hospital, etc. – you likely need at least a master’s degree.

That means four years of schooling to complete your bachelor’s, then another two years or longer for your master’s.

You cannot even get your foot in the door without graduate coursework in the field.

As part of your graduate program, you will be required to write an extensive thesis, which requires long hours of writing and research.

To excel in the field, you must earn a Doctorate.

3. Have to Setup a Practice

With more than one-third of psychologists being self-employed, many of whom own a practice, launching a successful business is possible, albeit daunting and challenging.

In addition to searching for a reasonably priced office, obtaining required supplies and equipment, and finding clients, psychologists must also deal with never-ending billing issues, set up a reliable documentation system, deal with business taxes, and purchase malpractice insurance.

4. Must Deal with Billing Issues

To further expand on the above point, all psychologists must deal with billing problems, including collecting and processing payments from insurance companies, riffling through piles of paperwork, sending non-paying clients to collections, and a variety of other billing challenges.

Dealing with insurance companies can be an exhaustive process, especially when you must do this alone.

5. Need to Drum Up New Business

Those who choose to open a practice must gain sales and marketing skills to drum up new business.

To stay afloat, this must be done regularly.

Finding new clients requires resources, money, and time, but is the key to a successful practice.

One of the most effective methods of doing so is through networking.

Building relationships with other mental health providers and healthcare professionals allows them to refer clients to you.

Support group meetings and free seminars are also effective methods for developing a client base.

Furthermore, taking advantage of advertising within industry publications can be a great option.

6. Obtain a License

After all, that schooling is complete, you must acquire a state license.

Although every state has different requirements, you need to complete the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology to earn it.

This is a nationwide exam that is required by all states, so there are no cutting corners by moving to a state with easier requirements.

Additionally, all states require continuing education credits that must be completed each year to ensure you remain updated on the latest psychology trends.

7. Schedule Can Become Erratic

One advantage of becoming a psychologist is a potentially flexible schedule, especially when running a practice.

However, on-call psychologists must be able to manage client issues at incredibly inconvenient times.

Therefore, it is common for psychologists to meet outside of normal business hours to accommodate those who work all day.

Being called out of bed in the middle of the night to help a client-facing an emergency is also common.

Pros and Cons of Being a Psychologist – Summary Table

Pros of Being a PsychologistCons of Being a Psychologist
1. Flexible Work Schedules1. Dealing with Clients Can be Demanding
2. Helping People2. Extensive Schooling is Required
3. High Earning Potential3. Have to Setup a Practice
4. Work in Various Settings4. Must Deal with Billing Issues
5. Work for Yourself5. Need to Drum Up New Business
6. Work with New People Daily6. Obtain a License
7. You Will Never Be Bored7. Schedule Can Become Erratic

Should You Become a Psychologist?

There are numerous pros and cons to becoming a psychologist, which should give you something to think about when determining if you want to get into this field.

On the positive side, you are helping people, can have a flexible schedule with great pay, get to work with a diversity of people in different settings, and you will never be bored at work.

On the other hand, dealing with patients can take a mental toll on you, your schedule could be erratic, extensive schooling and certifications are required, and you must deal with all the headaches of starting a business if you choose that direction.

Therefore, the answer to whether you should become a psychologist is based on your career goals and objectives.

Does helping people sound like something you want?

Can you deal with such a mentally demanding career?

These are some of the questions to ask yourself before making a final decision.

Jamie Willis