HOW TO BECOME A PSYCHOLOGIST
Psychology's great diversity means that there is room in the field for people with many different personal qualities and aptitudes. A person fascinated by mathematical concepts and computations could build a career in psychometrics. Someone who is interpersonally sensitive might be drawn to working directly with clients who have emotional problems. If you combine skills of reasoning and observation with an interest in children, a career as a researcher in developmental psychology could challenge you. Those individuals who enjoy complexity and difficult decisions can opt for a career as a a manager in one of many types of institutions.
A degree in psychology could be your route into entry-level employment in one of the many occupations for which psychological knowledge or skills is a job requirement or advantage: sales or personnel positions, management training or public relations, research writing or technical writing, psychological services or child care, teaching or vocational training, to name a few.
The bachelor's degree in psychology can also provide a strong foundation for the advanced training that leads to a career as a psychologist or other professional. Many students who have gone into other careers - nursing, law, social work, business - report that their undergraduate program in psychology, as a liberal arts education, gave them an intellectual grounding that enriched their lives and made them more attractive to professional schools and employers. Some business schools report that undergraduate psychology majors are among the most frequently accepted and successful students.
Majoring in psychology commonly requires that you take introductory psychology, experimental psychology, statistics, learning, personality, abnormal psychology, social psychology, developmental psychology, physiological psychology, history and systems, and tests and measurement.
Should you go to graduate school? For a career in psychology beyond the supervised research or psychological/human services assistant level, graduate study is a must. Graduate programs offer different degrees: Master (MA), Master of Science (MS), Master of Education (MEd), Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), Doctor of Psychology (PsyD), and Doctor of Education (EdD). APA recognizes the master's degree (MA, MS or MEd) as the degree for the supervised provision of psychological services, but for independent practice the doctorate (PhD, PsyD, or EdD) is vital.
Most departments have brochures or catalogs available on request. But as a first step, you could consult the APA publication, Graduate Study in Psychology and Associated Fields, which provides information in summary form about more than 600 programs of study, graduate education, financial assistance, requirements for admission, and so forth.
There are two types of master's degree programs in psychology. The professional or terminal master's program is designed to provide training for immediate employment in applied settings such as community mental health systems, business and industry, and school systems. These programs are usually offered at regional or state universities whose primary mission is to serve students and communities in their geographic area. The second type of master's program prepares students to enter a doctoral program. Some of these programs are located in institutions that do not award a doctoral degree, which means that their graduates must apply to doctoral programs in other institution after completing the master's degree.
All 50 states and the District of Columbia have laws that require psychologists to be licensed or certified by a state board in order to engage in the independent and unsupervised practice of psychology.
|LMU Psychology Home|