Careers in Psychology
An undergraduate degree in psychology is a wonderful stepping stone into a variety of careers. Psychology majors work in various settings, including business, mental health centers, and universities. Within psychology, there are many fields in which a student can specialize if they choose to pursue graduate study. Below are some of these fields of specialization:
Clinical psychologists are concerned with the causes, assessment, and treatment of mental/behavioral disorders. A clinical psychologist usually works in treatment facilities and private practice; however, some do work in educational fields. Clinicians must be familiar with a wide variety of theories and disorders as well as their possible causes, therapies, and current research.
Cognitive psychology involves the scientific study of attention, perception, memory, language, problem solving, and decision making. This field has applications in areas such as the facilitation of learning, rehabilitation of disabilities, and the enhancement of performance in numerous tasks.
Developmental psychology is the study of the development of humans and the growth of physical, cognitive, social, emotional, and personality characteristics. Change is studied across the life span from conception to death.
Educational psychologists focus on the study of effective teaching and learning. The emphasis is placed on the teacher-learner relationship and the psychological principles and theories that can be applied to the improvement of these relationships.
I/O psychologists are usually employed by the business and professional work force. They apply psychological principles to the work environment to facilitate such things as better production, communication, and morale. They often employ group building techniques and leadership training.
Neuropsychologists study the processes of the brain and central nervous system, from molecular activity to the resulting behavior. This research is often then applied to psychiatry and clinical settings.
Social psychology includes varying areas of study such as obedience to authority, how attitudes develop and their effect on behavior, and stereotyping and prejudice. It is a highly applied science working toward improving group performance and increasing the effectiveness of the individual.
Sports psychologists work toward increasing personal and team performance in sports competition, by helping athletes in areas such as motivation and visualization.
Most engineering psychologists work in industry, but some are employed by the government. They conduct research on how people work best with machines.
Forensic psychologists apply psychological principles to legal issues. Often, they are trained in both psychology and law.
Health psychologists study how biological, psychological, and social factors affect health and illness. In addition, they investigate issues that affect society as a whole, including teenage smoking, drug abuse, and others.
Quantitative and Measurement Psychologists
Quantitative and measurement psychologists focus on methods and techniques for acquiring and analyzing psychological data, as well as develop and evaluate mathematical models for psychological tests. In addition, they evaluate the quality and fairness of psychological tests.
*The majority of these fields require a Ph.D.
In addition to pursuing the fields listed above, some people with a bachelor's degree in psychology choose to go on to graduate school and train to become counselors. Below are some specializations within the field of counseling:
School and College Counselors
- have diverse duties, and may focus on a number of areas including academic, behavioral, or personal problems that students face.
- help students understand their abilities, interests, talents, and personality characteristics to facilitate the development of realistic academic and career options.
- emphasize preventive and developmental counseling to enhance personal, social, and academic growth.
- provide special services, including alcohol and drug prevention programs.
- help persons deal with the personal, social, and vocational effects of their disabilities.
- confer and plan with physicians, psychologists, occupational therapists, and employers to determine the capabilities and skills of the individual.
- help clients evaluate their education, training, work history, interests, skills, personal traits, and physical capacities in order to help clients make wise career decisions.
- help individuals develop job seeking skills and assist clients in locating and applying for jobs.
Mental Health Counselors
- work with individuals and groups to promote optimum mental health.
- help individuals deal with addictions and substance abuse, family, parenting, and marital problems, suicide, stress management, educational issues, etc.
- work closely with psychiatrists, psychologists, clinical social workers, psychiatric nurses and school counselors.
*Counselors can specialize in a particular area, such as marriage and family, multicultural, or gerontological counseling, among others.