Psychology Teacher: Job Description & Requirements
A career as a psychology teacher generally requires a Ph.D. to gain employment as a university-level educator. Read further to learn about the necessary skills, salary expectation and employment outlook of this profession.
Psychology teachers write lesson plans and coursework, present material to students in person or online and evaluate student work. Psychology teachers who are university psychology teachers are also responsible for research and publication of their work, mentoring and supervision of teaching assistants and departmental or committee work as needed. Psychology teachers may be full or assistant professors and generally work during the academic calendar year. The American Association of University Professors reports in its 2008-2009 Report on the Economic Status of the Profession that the ratio of male to female professors with Ph.D.'s decreased from 7:1 to under 4:1 over the past two decades, www.aaup.org.
Become a Psychology Teacher
Psychology teachers usually earn a Ph.D., requiring more than five years of post-undergraduate study plus completion of a dissertation. Psychology teachers will have studied broad topics in the theory and practice of psychology, as well as specialties like clinical psychology, industrial and organizational psychology, school psychology and developmental and child psychology. They must also work as teaching assistants to develop educational skills and research assistants to learn additional needed skills.
Successful psychology teachers are highly motivated individuals who work well independently. Psychology teachers have outstanding oral and written communication skills and a strong desire to teach and conduct original research. Working at the university-level requires the ability to conduct independent, peer-reviewed research projects.
Career and Economic Outlook
Postsecondary teachers in general can look forward to faster than average job growth of 19% from 2012-2022, according to data compiled by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), although most new jobs will be part-time or non-tenured. The BLS reports a 2012 national median annual salary of $68,020 for postsecondary psychology teachers. While an increasing student population means favorable job growth for postsecondary teachers, college and university budget concerns are challenges facing psychology teachers.
Alternate Career Options
Postsecondary Education Administrator
Normally having at least a master's degree, these professionals oversee academics, student services and faculty research at universities and colleges, with duties varying according to specialty. Faster than average employment growth of 15% was anticipated by the BLS from 2012-2022, for these positions that offered an annual median wage of $86,490 in 2012.
Career and Technical Education Teacher
With a bachelor's degree and work experience in their areas of expertise, these educators teach a variety of vocational and technical subjects to help students prepare for future employment. Average employment growth of 9% was forecast by the BLS from 2012-2022, and a median salary of $51,910 per year was reported in 2012.
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