There are many specialties within the area of psychology. So how do you gain the requirements you need to practice in the field? To begin, enter an associate or bachelor’s program with a concentration in psychology. Of course, an associate’s degree will limit your career choices; however, you will gain exposure into the study of the human mind with a certain amount of research and theory. A bachelor’s degree in psychology will provide more exposure into the field. While it is not necessary to major in psychology at the undergraduate level, it is probably best that you receive an introduction to the coursework the profession requires before entering full throttle into the field. Here are some additional tips on how to become a psychologist:
- The specialty you choose should be a careful decision. If you want to work with children, find a school that specializes in child psychology. If you prefer the clinical aspect of the field, find a school that emphasizes this and provides hands-on clinical experience as early and as often as possible. If research is your preferred area of study, choose a school and program that is noted for this emphasis.
- Once you have decided on a specialty, find a school that suits your interests. Location, expense, ranking are factors to take into consideration. If you need financial assistance, take a look at grants and loans the school provides.
- While in school, if you get the chance to work with graduate students or conduct research with a professor, you will be able to gain insight into what it would be like if you pursued an advanced degree. Try to work or perform research in your desired specialty. What better way to build a resume and get the inside scoop on your profession?
- Once you have found the information you need on how to become a psychologist, research salaries in the profession. Salaries for clinical psychologists begin in the $50,000 range, depending on the school you attend, location of job, and type of position. After gaining experience in the field, you will qualify for licensure which may mean an increase in pay. About five years into the field, a clinical psychologist can earn between $65,000 -$90,000. Salaries may be higher in larger cities, such as New York, Chicago, Boston, or San Francisco. Clinical practitioners with over ten years in the field can earn between $90,000 and $150,000. This professional will work in many different settings, including academia, private practice, research, or mental health and works with others in the field, including social workers and psychiatrists. Changes in managed care have resulted in lower pay for psychologists, so many have entered into private practice or others areas of psychology which are on the rise such as neuropsychology and forensics. A forensic psychologist works with law enforcement, and neuropsychologists work in a hospital setting. These two areas include psychologists who earn over $100,000 annually.
- Psychologists can work in many settings. Professionals who enjoy research tend to work for major colleges and universities. Some students might even teach. Industrial psychologists work for companies who want to understand how to build a high-performance organization through hiring, retention, and training.
There are many things to consider on how to become a psychologist. While it is rewarding to help people with problems, the changes in managed care have created some financial challenges in the profession. Your efforts will have a direct impact on shaping and improving people’s lives, despite the fact that you may have to put in long hours. There is usually flexibility in hours, although many research positions do not guarantee tenure. Once you are established in the field, you will have many opportunities, however it could be costly to build and market your own private practice. The profession is diverse with many opportunities. Although the work can be emotionally draining, there are many networking groups and collaborative routes to explore.