Physiological Psychology Jobs: Options, Requirements and Outlook

Sep 17, 2019

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

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A master's degree or Ph.D. in psychology is typically required to pursue a career as a physiological psychologist. Research assistants may only be required to have a bachelor's degree, but those working in research or clinics must complete a graduate degree in this field and be licensed by the state.

Essential Information

Physiological psychology, also known as biological psychology or behavioral neuroscience, is the study of the relationship between the brain and behavior. Physiological psychologists learn to understand topics like addiction, perceptual processes and learning abilities.

Required Education A master's degree or Ph.D. in psychology with a specialization in an area such as autonomic functions or electroencephalography
Projected Job Growth (2018-2028)* 12% (for psychologists, all other)
Median Annual Salary (May 2018)* $100,770 (for psychologists, all other)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Options

There are few career variations available to physiological psychologists. Primarily, the work available is based either in research or clinical practice. They also might opt for a specialization in autonomic functions, electroencephalography, feelings and emotions, or memory or motor skills. Some physiological psychologists follow the research and development path to create new types of equipment for patient study.

Most physiological psychologists work in hospitals or clinics. Some work in academic settings teaching coursework or conducting theoretical and clinical research. Rarely is a physiological psychologist not part of a team.

Job Requirements

While some individuals work as research assistants with only a bachelor's degree, physiological psychologists who wish to do work in clinics or research must have a master's degree or Ph.D. Coursework is likely to include studies in biopsychology, brain imaging techniques, genetic cross problems, DNA, recessive genetic disorders, sleep and dreaming, natural selection and memory disorders.

Psychologists must be licensed to practice, and the requirements are different for every state. A quick check with the state's psychology board will show the prerequisites for licensure as well as which states share reciprocity.

All psychologists who are not solely involved in academic research should display compassion for their patients, have excellent communication skills and the ability to inspire trust. Physiological psychologists must also use their communication skills to write papers, lecture and communicate with other team members, who range from neuropsychologists to medical doctors.

Job Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment opportunities in the field are expected to grow much faster than the national average from 2018-2028 (www.bls.gov).

A physiological psychologist focuses on how a person's brain can impact the way they behave. They may focus on how people learn or factors that can contribute to addiction. While some may work with patients in hospitals or clinics, others may pursue a career in research or teaching.

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