Psychology Education: Less Is Not More

Don’t stop now! You worked your psychoanalytic tail off to get that college diploma. You feel you are now a true psychology aficionado. But wait, there’s more! Forge ahead to even greater things in the world of mentality and personality. With a few more credits, a master’s or doctorate can tap you into a much bigger well of opportunity.

While there are many prospects for those with a bachelor’s degree in psychology, the book opens up to whole new chapters for those holding graduate degrees. Psychology graduate Chad Muntz, now Director of Institutional Research for the University System of Maryland, insists, “Graduate school must be on the mind of every college psychology major.”  If a career in psychology is the goal, an education plan that culminates in a graduate degree will be most beneficial. In short, the advanced degree = more + more.

More Opportunities

The American Psychological Association (APA) and the Bureau of Labor Statistics agree on the job outlook for the field of psychology. The greatest range of jobs is available to psychology doctorates.

In 1999, fewer than 5% of recent psychology BA recipients were employed in psychology or a field related to psychology.

For those who are in the field, the job is often as assistant to other professionals. Muntz notes of the “helping” field of psychology, “Unfortunately, with only a bachelor’s degree, the person is only going to ‘help’ other professionals accomplish their occupational responsibilities.”

Master’s Degree Opportunities

For those with a master’s several fields open up:

  • Health, industry, and education are the primary areas of employment
  • Industrial-organizational psychology is a growing field in search of MA’s
  • Research – many areas and job settings available
  • Data collection and analysis
  • Mental health services

A master’s degree definitely broadens the horizons compared to those seen by a bachelor’s. Still, about two thirds of master’s graduates are employed outside psychology.

Doctoral Degree Opportunities

The demand for doctoral graduates has remained stable over the past decade. Psychologists with a Ph.D. or Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.) qualify for a variety of positions:

  • Teaching
  • Research
  • Counseling
  • Clinical positions
    • Universities
    • Healthcare Services
    • Schools
    • Private Industry
    • Government

Further, a doctoral degree is almost always required for independent practice as a psychologist. If you want those couch sessions, you’ll need the degree.

Certification Opportunities

Specialty certification is another perk available solely to those with a doctorate. The APA tells us that job prospects should be best for people who have a doctoral degree in an applied specialty. The American Board of Professional Psychology (ABPP) awards specialty certification in 13 areas, including:

  • Psychoanalysis
  • Rehabilitation
  • Forensic
  • Group
  • School
  • Clinical health

Over the last decade the following for-profit and self-employment sectors have seen the greatest expansion of career opportunities for doctoral psychologists:

  • Health Service
  • Industrial-Organizational Psychology
  • Educational Psychology

Specializing in one of these areas is a wise idea.

More Moolah

Career motives of psychology graduates may be altruistic, but they still need to eat. If the palate desires more than ramen and Kraft products, a degree that pays a bit more generously is the route to take. Some quick stats from Payscale.com:

Median salary for a BA professional:

  • $34,000 for 1-4 years of experience
  • $45,000 after 5 years in the field

Adding a master’s degree to the resume brings the median income up to a range of $42,729-$68,000 with 5-9 years experience.

If you really want to pump up your earnings potential, a doctorate is key. The median income for those holding a doctorate:

  • $65,000 at career start
  • $80,500 with 5-9 years under the belt

Ok, I’m convinced. Now what?

Princeton Review reveals that psychology is the second most popular major today. In 2000, 74,654 graduates hit the streets with a BA. Few go on to higher education. Muntz points out what the research has shown, “Because of the vast numbers of psychology graduates, competition is fierce.  It is actually harder to get admitted into a psychology Ph.D. program than medical school (statistically speaking given the small acceptance rates and high drop-out/low yield rates).” While a challenge, this competitive edge translates into better opportunities for those who do complete the program.

You do the math: more education = more jobs + more cash. Looks like a good equation. Besides, don’t you like the sound of doctor in front of your name?

So where should a psych major’s gaze fall when looking to further their education? Check out these resources to tap into your best potential career.

–  Online Master Degrees

–  Online Doctoral Degrees

–  APA’s Graduate Study in Psychology

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