A master’s in psychology can open the door to a diverse array of potential careers. Picking the ideal job in the field of psychology depends on the nature of your degree and how you see yourself in the future. Some different fields of psychology include:
- Mental health
- Forensic psychology
- Engineering psychology
- Social psychology
The Bureau of Labor (BLS) reports a strong forecast for psychologists, with job growth estimated at 14 percent over the next decade. The BLS also reports that psychologists earned on average $75, 230 a year as of May 2016.
Narrowing down your career path to a particular field is the first step toward earning your master’s degree. A major part of that process is deciding not only which area of study appeals to you most, but also how much psychologists in those fields are compensated. Keep in mind that you may require additional schooling, training or certification on top of a master’s degree in psychology to pursue these careers.
The industrial-organizational (IO) psychologist studies workplace behavior and worker relations. They typically work in the business sector and specialize in:
- Worker productivity
- Employee training
- Human resources
They seek to solve issues in the workplace regarding how workers feel and interact with one another. The median salary for I-O psychologists, according to the BLS, is $82,760.
Engineering psychologists examine the way human beings interact with products and technology. They seek to make products easier and safer for people to use, minimizing the likelihood of injuries and malfunctioning.
The school psychologist works with teachers and other individuals in the education system to better understand behavioral and learning problems in children.
School psychologists typically deal with students who struggle with violence, bullying, hyperactivity, autism and various learning disabilities. It is up to them to develop special education programs that facilitate unique environments for these students in which they can thrive.
Sports psychologists study the ways mental and emotional problems hinder the talents of athletes. Sports psychologists educate athletes on the ways that their mental state can affect their performance; the step after that is developing and proposing solutions to help them better manage their emotions during an event, such as relaxation and visualization techniques.
Sports psychologists also compile research for people who work regularly with athletes, such as trainers and coaches, in order to help them better understand the nature of their players and how to better manage them.
The developmental psychologist studies how people change over the course of their lives. Developmental psychology deals with every stage of life, from infancy to the latter stages of adulthood. Developmental psychologists address the emotional, psychological and physiological changes that people experience at various life stages.
Deciding which subfield to practice in is largely a matter of personal interest. For example, you may be interested in studying neuropsychology if you have an interest in how the brain impacts human behavior; or you may decide to pursue forensic psychology if you have an interest in the legal system. Of course, there may be other factors to consider when deciding on a specialty in professional psychology.
The APA used the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) to look at the 10-year growth in the number of psychology master’s degrees awarded by subfield. An excerpt from this survey shows the concentrations that experienced the most growth over between 2004 and 2013:
The APA also examined data from the National Science Foundation (NSF) and reported on the median salaries of different psychology degree fields:
- General Psychology – $80,000
- Clinical Psychology – $80,000
- Counseling Psychology – $90,000
- Educational Psychology – $72,000
- Experimental Psychology – $92,000
- Industrial/Organizational Psychology – $125,000
- Social Psychology – $85,000
When you’re charting the course of your career in psychology, keep in mind that a master’s degree is not always the final step toward acquiring a job. Many jobs with “psychologist” in the titles require a doctorate, with a master’s only being the halfway mark. Research the specific educational requirements of whatever career you are considering to make sure you stay on track as a student.
A Master of Psychology is still a critical role in the development of a future psychologist, and it speaks to his or her aptitude and expertise. The skills you will obtain in your post-graduate journey are invaluable to your growth as a mental health professional.
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