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.

Career Definition for Psychology Teachers

Psychology teachers write lesson plans and coursework, present material to students in person or online, and evaluate student work. Psychology teachers at the university level are also responsible for research and the publication of their work, mentoring and supervising teaching assistants, and departmental or committee work as needed. Psychology teachers may be assistant or full-time professors and generally work during the academic calendar year.

Education Doctorate in chosen specialization
Job Duties Create lesson plans, present materials to students, mentor teaching assistants
Median Salary (2015) $70,260 (psychology postsecondary teachers)
Job Growth (2014-2024) 13% (all postsecondary teachers)

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Required Education

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.

Required 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 13% from 2014-2024, 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 2015 national median annual salary of $70,260 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

Similar career options within this field include:

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 specialization. A faster-than-average employment growth of 9% was anticipated by the BLS from 2014-2024, and these positions offered an annual median wage of $88,580 in 2015.

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. A slower-than-average employment growth of 4% was forecasted by the BLS from 2014-2024, and a median salary of $52,800 per year was reported in 2015.


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