Experimental Psychologist: Career Information and Requirements

Experimental psychologists require significant formal education. Learn about the degree programs, job duties, salary expectations and job growth projections to see if this is the right career for you.

An experimental psychologist is a researcher and often a college professor. They are employed by universities, government agencies, and other places that conduct psychological research. A doctorate is mandatory for most positions, although bachelor's and master's degrees can suffice for entry-level work.

Essential Information

Psychology is a field that examines, studies and treats the human mind and human behavior. Experimental psychologists, also known as 'research psychologists', work primarily as researchers seeking to increase scientific knowledge in psychology. They design, conduct, and analyze results of experiments, then report the results in peer-reviewed journals and at conferences. They often work at universities, but some are employed by corporations or government. Most experimental psychologists hold doctoral degrees, although a few entry-level positions may be open to those with bachelor's or master's degrees. Licensing is usually not required for experimental psychologists.

Required Education Doctoral degree in psychology
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 19% for all psychologists
Median Annual Salary (2016)* $75,000

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **PayScale.com.

Experimental Psychologist Career Information

Experimental psychologists are research-oriented professionals that study human behavior and thought processes. In addition to studying humans, they work with various animals, such as monkeys, dogs and mice. Their research is often concentrated in such areas as perception, motivation, substance abuse, learning and memory. Unlike other psychologists, experimental psychologists don't provide care to patients, but rather spend their time conducting experiments. Many of these professionals also serve as college and university instructors.

Job Opportunities

Experimental psychologists are often employed by universities, where they teach and conduct research. They may also work for private research groups or the government. Experimental psychologists might also be employed by corporations, particularly in marketing departments where they perform studies to determine the market viability of a product. Some experimental psychologists have their own consulting firms.

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of psychologists employed in the U.S. in 2014 was approximately 173,900 (www.bls.gov). Jobs in the field are expected to grow by 19% between 2014 and 2024, which is considered faster than average. PayScale.com reported that in January, 2016 experimental psychologists earned a median salary of $75,000 per year.

Experimental Psychologist Requirements

Experimental psychologists usually hold doctoral degrees, although governmental or lower-level positions may accept those with bachelor's or master's degrees. Doctoral degree programs in psychology generally last five years and consist of classroom, laboratory and clinical instruction. Students learn about behavioral analysis, perception, clinical intervention and research methodology, among other topics. Students are required to complete dissertation projects based upon their own original research.

Experimental psychologists study a variety of psychological subjects through natural observation or experiments. The majority of these professionals have graduate level educations. As they do not treat individuals with emotional disturbances, they usually are not required to be licensed.


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