Location, location, location. It’s not just an important topic for realtors. Now that you have a degree in psychology, where should you put it to best use? The foggy minds of Seattle? The hurried psyches of New York? Perhaps the mid-westerners, who claim they have no accent and try to stay safely landlocked from coastal disasters, could use your professional assistance. Before you pack your bags or make an offer on the condo of your dreams, consider the following:

Growing Facts

  • Psychologists held about 170,200 jobs in 2008.
  • According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of psychologists is expected to grow 7-13% between the years 2008-2018.

  • The Bureau also predicts an increase in the demand for psychological services in schools, clinical psychology services related to unhealthy lifestyles, employee assistance programs, elderly services, veteran programs, and industrial-organizational psychologists.
  • Salary.com puts the median expected salary for a typical psychologist in the United States at $82,115.
With these facts in mind, where should a psychologist go to maximize their job opportunities and bank account? Several cities continue to crop up as winners in the “best cities for psychologist” surveys. The following is a breakdown of some specifics on why these ten cities regularly outrank the rest. Of course, there are so many factors to consider, including where the in-laws live, that we need to narrow the scope. For our purposes, we will examine four categories:
  • Median income of psychologists for the area – Who doesn’t want a bigger paycheck? Keep in mind, cost of living varies greatly by region. A smaller income does not necessarily mean smaller living for the psychologist.
  • Relative Popularity of “psychologist” – Defined as average number of jobs per population compared to the rest of the nation. 1.0  = average number of jobs. Higher numbers mean proportionally more jobs. (citytowninfo.com)
  • Population growth – Areas with greater growth generally offer more opportunities, e.g. new schools, hospitals, social service agencies, businesses – all in need of psychologists. Percentage shown covers the period 2000-2010. (US Census Bureau)
  • Location perks – Living in a desirable city is always a good thing. This category is a bit more subjective, but the items listed are generally time-tested and agreed upon.
Some cities, while showing less population growth than others, have a greater number of jobs for psychologists (relative popularity) and were therefore included. Looking solely at overall unemployment rates will also produce different results, but this should be considered carefully and weighed with other factors. With a 3.2 percent unemployment rate, the state of North Dakota sounds appealing at first glance. However, the entire state’s population is under 650,000. Less competition in the job market? Probably. Less desirable place to live? Looking at the numbers, this also seems to be a yes. Another factor to consider is the clientele you desire to serve. Do you have a passion for working with the elderly? Perhaps an area of retiree-saturated Florida or Arizona would be best. Do you enjoy a diverse population for work and leisure? Larger metro areas or the coasts are going to be a better fit for you than the rural south. If you have simply fallen in love with the state of California, carefully consider which area would be the best match for you. An agricultural area, Silicon valley, coastal, dense urban settings, or more leisurely beaches will all have their own set of social service needs specific to the region. Which category is most important? That is up for debate. In the end, a position in Boulder may offer more money, but if you hate the mountains it may not be worth it. San Francisco may be home to businesses with the opportunities in industrial and media psychology you seek, but you prefer small-town life. The question is, which category is most important, to you? So, where will you go? Check out these additional resources to help you decide: Best Places To Live The College Majors Handbook Occupational Outlook Handbook

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