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What is Psychology?
Psychology is the study of the psyche, human behavior, and the effects of environment and other factors upon the mind. Psychologists work with patients in order to address mental health issues, or work in research to experiment and identify the causes of mental health problems. Psychologists seek to solves issues through understanding how the brain functions and identifying discrepancies and illnesses that may adversely affect behavior. Individuals working in research will create conditions in order to monitor brain activity and further the understanding of how it works.
Students interested in the field of psychology will want to at least pursue a bachelor's degree as most entry level positions require a minimum of four years of study. Those wishing to treat patients will want to pursue a doctorate as one is required in order to do clinical work. Psychologists can specialize in one of the many sub-fields that comprise the field of psychology.
Classes for a degree in psychology may include:
- Human Physiology
- Brain and Behavior
- Human Memory
- Social Psychology
- Mind and Cognition
Specialization in psychology is typically earned at the postgraduate level, where a student may choose to focus on one of the many varying aspects the field has to offer. Individuals will pursue such specializations in order to narrow their area of expertise and increase their effectiveness in either research or clinical implementation. Some forms of specialization in psychology deal primarily with the forms of treatment and the types of patients one will encounter, whereas others are more research oriented and focus on theory and development.
Types of specialization for psychologists include:
Psychologists typically work in schools, clinics, or are self employed, operating private practices. Some psychologists may work in hospitals in conjunction with physicians or in mental wards offering assistance to traumatized patients. A small percentage of psychologists work in research facilities in order to conduct studies and write reports based on findings. Typically the type of psychology one practices determines what work environment he or she will find herself in.
All psychologists seeking certification or licensure will be required to fulfill certain prerequisites in order to complete the process. These may include supervised experience either before or after obtaining a doctoral degree, an internship, or residency program. School psychologists tend to have a year-long supervised internship program in order to be considered for license or certification. Psychologists must obtain licensure from their respective state and may wish to obtain specialization certification from the American Board of Professional Psychology (ABPP).
Job Growth, Salary, and Related Fields
Job growth in psychology is expected to grow faster than average over the next decade. This is due primarily to the large and aging population in the United States, resulting in individuals who will seek treatment and care to adjust to their new roles in life. As a result, psychologists working in healthcare are expected to have the largest overall growth, as the need for professionals in a hospital setting increases in demand.
The median wage for a psychologist is $64,000 per year, with the bottom 10% earning less than $37,000 per year. The chances of finding a job in the field of psychology increase greatly with higher education. Entry level positions are available for those holding a bachelor's degree, but the opportunities are competitive and limited.
For more information, check out our Career Guide in Psychology on the MatchCollege blog.