If you are interested in a psychology career, you have many specialties to consider. There generally is more demand for most types of psychologists today because of the expansion of health care coverage to millions more Americans in the last three years. As more people have access to mental health services, more demand is being seen in many mental health fields.
We recommend that you consider the following types of psychology careers for rewarding work, strong demand and good pay:
#1 Industrial/Organizational Psychologist
I/O psychologists use their advanced knowledge of psychology to deal with common workplace issues. For example, these professionals may focus on increasing worker productivity, choosing the best workers for certain jobs, and developing market research surveys to help companies design new products and services.
Some I/O psychologists also work in academic and research positions as they study how to increase worker productivity and satisfaction. Some in this field may focus on human/computer interaction and human factors in the workplace. The most common area of employment is in scientific research and development services.
To become an I/O psychologist, you will need to earn your master’s degree in industrial/organizational psychology.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics states that I/O psychologists will be in more demand to increase worker productivity and to increase employee retention rates in many industries. There also will be more demand for these psychologists to deal with workplace diversity and anti-discrimination policies. Overall job demand in this field will increase by 19% by 2024.
The median annual wage for I/O psychologists is $72,500.
#2 Clinical Psychologist
Clinical psychologist have training in the diagnosis, assessment, treatment and prevention of mental illnesses. This is the largest and most popular employment area in psychology. Clinical psychologists are employed in hospitals, mental health centers, and in private practice.
Clinical psychology also has the largest number of subfields in all of psychology. All clinical psychologists work in mental health, but you may specialize in these subareas:
- Learning disabilities
- Emotional problems
- Substance abuse
- Health psychology
- Learning disabilities
- Adult mental health
- Child mental health
You can start to work as a clinical psychologist with a master’s degree, but you will usually need to earn your doctorate to advance. Some graduate programs may accept you if you have a bachelor’s degree in another field. But many will prefer that you have a bachelor’s in psychology.
Demand for clinical psychologists will increase by 20% by 2024, which is much faster than average. There will be more need for clinical psychologists as people with new access to health insurance start to deal with their mental health issues.
The median salary is $70,500, but your salary largely depends upon your level of experience.
#3 School Psychologist
School psychologists work within elementary, middle and high schools to diagnose and treatment various learning and behavior problems in children. They may work closely with other educational professionals, such as doctors and teachers and also parents. They all work as one unit to help children to overcome their behavioral, emotional, social and academic issues.
The National Association of School Psychology reports that there are five areas where school psychologists provide vital services:
- Research and planning
School psychologists also serve as a resource to help other educational professionals to understand child development, behavior issues and how to deal with problem behavior.
Many school counselors work in elementary and secondary educational facilities. But there are other areas where you may work, such as private clinics, state agencies, and hospitals.
You will generally need a master’s degree in school psychology or a related psychology field to practice in a school.
#4 Counseling Psychologist
Counseling psychologists perform many of the same duties as clinical psychologists in that they provide psychotherapy and treatment for mental health problems. But counseling psychologists will generally work with clients who have less serious mental illnesses.
While many counseling psychologist provide psychotherapy, others career options exist. You also may work in research, teaching, vocational counseling and more, in addition to psychotherapy.
Some of the places you may work include:
- Hospitals and mental health clinics alongside doctors and other healthcare providers
- Academic settings as instructors or professors
- Research settings
- Social work offices and social service centers
Some counseling psychologists can practice in a limited fashion with a master’s degree. However, you will eventually need to obtain your Ph.D. or Psy.D. in counseling psychology.
Counseling psychologist will see 20% job growth by 2024, as more patients are aging and will want to deal with mental health problems associated with the elder years.
Median pay is $70,000, but this will vary widely based upon years of experience and whether you have your doctorate degree.
#5 Forensic Psychologist
Forensic psychologists handle psychological matters that relate to crime and the law. Some of the duties that you would do as a forensic psychologist are to develop a psychological profile of a possible criminal, deal with child custody matters and to investigate allegations of child abuse.
Forensic psychology above all involves principles of psychology to criminal investigation and legal matters. They use their knowledge and skills of psychological principles and utilize them to understand various aspects of the legal system.
This is still a relatively small field but it is growing rapidly. It is reported that the American Psychological Association has more than 3000 members who are forensic psychologists and it is growing every year.
This field is growing in part because it is shown on TV in various crime dramas, but you should know that television portrayals are not always entirely accurate.
Forensic psychologists are often shown on TV as being able to plot the next move of a criminal. But these psychologists in reality often are practicing psychology as a science in courts and the criminal justice system. Relatively few ever work as hands on investigators in the field.
Most forensic psychologists have a doctoral degree in forensic psychology. Some may get their Ph.D. in clinical psychology and then obtain postdoctoral training in forensic psychology.
Forensic psychologists will see 14% increase in job demand by 2024. The median salary is $72,000.
#6 Engineering Psychologist
These psychologists work to improve system design, operations, and equipment to boost productivity and to minimize injuries in an industrial or commercial setting. Engineering psychologists use principles of psychology to solve problems in the real world that can actually save lives.
Engineering psychologists use their skills in engineering and psychology to minimize the risk of accidents and errors. These skills can make systems, products and work environments safer.
Some common examples of systems or equipment that they make safer include GPS systems, mobile phones, medical devices, military equipment, aviation equipment and cars.
Most engineering psychologists have at least a bachelor’s in engineering, and many may have their master’s. They also have a doctoral degree in psychology.
The rate of job growth for engineering psychologists will largely depend upon the industry in which you work. Engineering psychologists may work in virtually any private industry. Median pay is approximately $72,000 per year.