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Psychologist Job Duties, Job Description and Employment Opportunities

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a psychologist. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about training, job duties and licensure to find out if this is the career for you.

Essential Information

A psychologist is someone who has at least an undergraduate degree in psychology, which is the study of the brain in terms of human behavior and personality. Psychologists work in a variety of settings with individual patients, businesses, hospitals, clinics, schools, prisons, communities, the government, the military, and many others. Most psychology professions require an advanced degree, such as a master's or a doctorate. To work, a psychologist must be licensed at the state or national level.

Required Education Undergraduate degree in psychology (2-4 years)
Graduate degree (master's or doctorate) often required by employers
Licensure & Certification State licensure required
Certification available in various areas of specialization
Projected Job Growth (2012-2022) 12%*
Average Salary (2013) $72,710-$88,400 depending on type of psychologist*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Psychologist Job Duties

Specific job duties for psychologists vary according to their specialty. Counseling psychologists work at schools, hospitals or individual practices. They lead group or individual counseling sessions. Their job involves talking to people and fostering positive mental health and personal growth.

Developmental psychologists research changes in behavioral patterns over a person's life; some focus in on particular time periods, like infancy or adolescence. Developmental psychologists aim to correct behavioral disorders caused by improper development.

Forensic psychologists work with law-enforcement personnel and act as experts in various legal cases. Particular tasks include assessing competency, working with child witnesses and performing psychological evaluations.

Research psychologists study the causes of particular behavioral patterns. They perform various lab tests on animals and humans and conduct trials with carefully controlled sample groups. They aim to learn how memory, thought and perception actually work.

Industrial-organizational psychologists work with businesses to maintain a high-quality work environment. Duties include talking with employees to help them with any problems, screening applicants and training new hires.

Clinical psychologists work to prevent, diagnose and treat mental disorders. These psychologists typically have their own offices and perform diagnostic exams on patients. They also work alongside doctors to determine the best course of treatment for particular patients.

School psychologists work with parents, teachers and students to foster learning, address school-related problems and promote a safe educational environment. A key role of school psychologists is to evaluate a student's special needs and accommodate them accordingly.

Social psychologists examine behavioral trends in society. Their research is used to give advice on leadership, group behavior and attitude control. They also use their findings to influence system design and advertisements.

Job Description

Psychologists study the human mind. Their research helps us understand behavior, memory and mental health disorders. Through counseling and experimentation, psychologists work to promote safety, understanding and good mental health. They can be found in practically any work environment, including hospitals, schools or corporations. Psychology professions require at least a master's degree, and most require a doctorate. During their training, psychologists choose an area of specialization. Psychologists must also be licensed or certified at the state or national level.

Salary and Job Growth Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (the BLS), the employment rate for all psychologists was expected to grow 12% from 2012-2022. In 2013, the BLS found the average annual salaries to be $87,960 for industrial-organizational psychologists, $72,710 for counseling, school, and clinical psychologists, and $88,400 for all other psychology professions.

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