Career in Psychology

Psychology is the science of the mind and behaviour. The word "psychology" comes from the Greek word “psyche” that means “the study of” or “research”. A professional practitioner or researcher is called a psychologist, and can be a social scientist, behavioural scientist, or a cognitive scientist.

Sherlock Holmes, in a lot of ways is an inspiration to many psychologists. His keen observation, careful reasoning and explanations to any problem highlight the need to avoid a narrow outlook. Why?
 
Psychology is a branch of medicine which investigates the depths and complexities of the mind. Sometimes this is undertaken with the intention of helping people in therapy, or in an attempt to learn more about humans in general. This takes a certain level of understanding and so a narrow outlook on things doesn’t help. 
In fact, Psychologists get so involved in their work that they feel responsible to cheer up anyone who is having a bad day. Following are the areas that a student of Psychology is trained on:
 
  • Identifying psychological, emotional, or behavioural issues and diagnosing disorders. (In the genre of mystery movies, usually the Psychologist is the one with the ulterior motive. Watch any such movie; you’ll know what I am talking about!)
  • Developing and implementing individual treatment plans.
  • Interacting with clients to assist them in gaining insight, defining goals, and planning action. (Isn’t it depressing to deal with depressed clients the entire day? Wonder who depressed psychologists approach when they need assistance!)
  • Discussing the treatment of problems with clients.
The most popular branches of psychology include:
  • Clinical psychology
  • Developmental psychology
  • Evolutionary psychology
  • Forensic psychology
 

Top Colleges

Being a psychologist requires quite a bit of schooling as well as an advanced degree from the reputed psychology schools. Sigmund Freud, the most famous psychoanalyst was a graduate of the University of Vienna and a private medical practitioner when he started developing his theories which are recognised throughout the world today.

Having a Bachelor’s Degree in psychology will enable you to find work as an assistant to other psychologists. A master’s degree will further qualify you to work as school psychologists or industrial-organisational psychologists.

USA

Harvard University | Stanford University |University of California, Berkeley (UCB) | Yale University

UK

University College London | University Of Cambridge |University Of Glasgow | University of Oxford

AUSTRALIA

University of Melbourne | University of Sydney |Australian National University | Monash University

INDIA

Lady Shri Ram College for Women | Christ University | Presidency College | St. Xavier's College, Mumbai

Career Prospects

Psychologists work in many fields, ranging from clinical and educational psychology to the sports and leisure industries. You could also teach at a college or a university. Alternatively, you could be a Forensic Psychologist, Police Psychologist in the Federal Government, Trial Consultant, an expert witness in employment discrimination cases or even a Science Writer.

Jobs & Salary

Both government and private firms need and employ Psychologists. They work in courthouses, prisons, hospitals, clinics, juvenile detention centers, adult remand centers, police stations, schools, universities, colleges, government offices, NGOs, law offices and private firms.

Apart from this, there are many mental health clinics and outpatient centers that hire psychologists to do evaluations, testing, and therapy. They may also become executive coaches and do individual services with leaders.

In fact, psychologists have some of the most interesting and odd jobs. Circus Psychologists for example, yes, circus! These are professional who help performers adjust to their new job, overcome fear and stage fright and recover from injuries and fatigue. Practicing psychologists have the professional training and clinical skills to help people learn to cope more effectively with life issues and mental health problems. After years of graduate school and supervised training, they become equipped to provide a number of services, including evaluations and psychotherapy. 

A career in psychology is appealing for a variety of reasons including satisfying work, flexible hours and good pay. In fact, in the U.S., the median salary in 2010 for clinical, counselling, and school psychologists was US$66,810 and the median salary for organisational psychologists was US$77,010. A typical starting salary for a Psychologist in UK is in the region of £30,460.

Pros & Cons

One question that many psychology students may ask themselves is whether or not they will enjoy a career as a psychologist. Following are some of the advantages:

  • Helping other people can be very rewarding- One of the major attractions of becoming a psychologist is the opportunity to help others. If you enjoy working with people, a career in psychology is a great choice.
  • Flexible work schedules- One big advantage of becoming a psychologist is that you can have a rewarding career and still have plenty of time to spend with your friends and family.
  • High salaries- While money alone is never a good reason to choose a certain career, psychologists are generally well compensated for their time and effort.
No career is a 100-percent perfect. While working as a psychologist can be an extremely rewarding and satisfying career choice, there are some potential disadvantages that all psychology students must consider:
  • Dealing with paperwork- Whether you operate your own therapy practice or work in an established mental health office, you will have to deal with paperwork, insurance and billing issues
  • Dealing with clients on a daily basis can be emotionally draining- While one of the great rewards of being a psychologist is the opportunity to truly help people, the daily strain of dealing with the difficult issues your clients face can be emotionally exhausting.
 

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