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Positive Psychology: Career Options, Job Duties and Requirements

Learn about the education and preparation needed to prepare for a career in positive psychology. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about schooling, job duties and certification to find out if this is the career for you.

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Human resource specialists, school counselors and psychologists can all work in the field of positive psychology. The educational requirements vary from needing a bachelor's degree to be a human resource specialist to psychologists needing a doctoral degree. School counselors are typically required to have a master's degree and may also need to have a teaching license.

Essential Information

Positive psychology is a recently developed discipline of psychology that focuses on human strengths and studies the factors that make social units such as families and communities flourish. Unlike most fields of psychology that seek to manage behavior problems and mental distress, positive psychology aims to foster an individual's healthy experiences of love, responsibility and happiness.

Career Psychologist School Counselor Human Resources Specialist
Required Education Doctoral degree Master's degree Bachelor's degree
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 19% 8% 5%
Median Salary (2015)* $72,580 $53,660 $58,350

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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Career Options

Positive psychology is a specialty that is often applied to other major disciplines within psychology, such as counseling psychology or industrial-organizational psychology. Although employment choices for psychologists are highly flexible, many of them work in academic institutions, research firms and government agencies. Alternatively, they may become therapists or counselors within health care establishments. Other industries rely on psychologists as human resource specialists who identify applicants who will best fit the needs of the organizations. Furthermore, they might be employed as school counselors.

Psychologist

The idea behind positive psychology is to bring out the best in individuals in order for them to carry out happy, satisfying and meaningful lives. Positive psychologists contribute to society as they help nurture and maintain the well-being of people, create environments with high productivity, build interactive communities that support children and guide families to develop healthy lifestyles. Psychologists also coach people to keep a positive outlook in life, perform effectively in their jobs, harbor positive emotions and virtues, nurture healthy relationships and make a good impact in the world.

Education Requirements

For a psychologist to be qualified for most occupations and to start his or her own practice, he or she needs to have a doctoral degree. A Ph.D. or Psy.D. program may take 5-7 years to complete after a 4-year course of study at the undergraduate level. Individuals can choose positive psychology as their concentration within educational, counseling or general psychology programs.

A psychologist who works independently or offers patient services is required to obtain a license from the state where she or he practices. Psychologists might also seek optional board certification to enhance their credentials and increase their job prospects and earning potential. The American Board of Professional Psychology is the main organization that grants voluntary board certification in psychology. While certification in positive psychology was not offered as of November 2011, a psychologist trained in positive psychology might be prepared to take the counseling or couple and family examinations. Postdoctoral training plus professional experience are typically necessary for board certification.

Salary and Career Info

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), psychologists in general are expected to see a 19% increase in job opportunities, which is much faster than average. The median salary for all psychologists was $72,580 as of 2015.

Human Resources Specialist

HR specialists are responsible for managing a company's employees. They screen and interview new candidates, train and integrate new hires, and settle conflicts between current employees. They may also be responsible for corporate issues such as payroll and benefits, and it is often their duty to ensure that the company is in compliance with all local, state, and federal regulations.

Education Requirements

All HR professionals must have a bachelor's degree from an accredited university in human resources, business, or other related field. These degree programs provide students with a solid foundation in the field and include courses in areas such as business, psychology, and human resource management.

The Society for Human Resource Management offers certification, but this is voluntary and not required by most employers. Certification is an appealing option for HR specialists looking to advance their careers; specialists can improve their chances of advancement by becoming certified.

Salary and Job Outlook Info

The median salary for HR specialists was $58,350 in 2015, per the BLS. From 2014-2024, these professionals were projected to see employment options increase by 5%, which is about average compared to all occupational fields.

School Counselor

Another option for students looking to pursue a career involving positive psychology is to become a school counselor. School counselors assist students with personal matters and help develop academic and social skills. Typical job duties for a counselor will vary depending on the age of the students being mentored. For younger children, counselors often solve conflicts between students and interact with parents. Counselors working with older students on the verge of graduation provide advice about future professional academic or professional goals, such as college options or professional training programs.

Education Requirements

Counselors are expected to be well-educated, with the minimum level of education being a master's degree. Degree programs in school counseling generally focus on teaching students about the art of fostering academic development, group counseling, teacher and parent coordination, and the development and implementation of various counseling programs. Sometimes, these programs also require students to complete an internship or practicum in order to gain experience.

Licensure is not required in every state, but any counselor wishing to work in a public school needs a state-issued credential. Certification often requires some teaching experience or a teaching license.

Salary and Job Outlook Info

An 8% increase in job openings is expected for school and career counselors between 2014 and 2024. As of 2015, the median salary for these professionals was $53,660, as noted by the BLS.

Positive psychology focuses on people's abilities. The emphasis is on their strengths and talents, and what contributes to positive relationships. Instead of trying to address problems in a person's life, positive psychology focuses on supporting healthy experiences that increase a person's happiness.

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