If you’re into psychology, you probably know all about personality types and color codes. And if you can narrow people down to  red/blue personalities or one type of “love language,” you probably realize there are different strokes for different folks.

You also probably realize not all psychology majors are created equal: where your classmate is dreaming of becoming a marriage counselor, you may shudder at the slightest mention of the thought.

And though growing interest in psychology coupled with economic status in 2011 makes for tough competition in the work field. Luckily, the job offerings are more diverse than many aspiring psychologists may realize.

Narrowing in on your psychological cup of tea will help you define an area of expertise and gain an edge over the competition in the upcoming job hunt, so read up on seven of today’s most popular psychology careers, along with the information to help you decide on the right field for you.

1. Career or Vocational Counselor

Where most job fields dwindle in times of economic downturn, there are a few that tend to flourish. Any job dealing with career advisory usually sees an increase in demand as the population holds career decisions in even higher esteem. Career counselors have an important job and can help change the state of the economy.

Requirements: State counseling certification, interpersonal relationship skills, Bachelor’s Degree

Pros/Cons: Demand for position even during economic downturn, but holds high-pressure role in helping clients who have lost jobs or are under employment-related stress.

Salary: $46,000

2. School Psychologist

Meeting with students for mental, emotional or behavioral disorders and illnesses, school psychologists are onsite assessors of student needs. School psychologists consult with teachers, administration and parents regarding how to best help individuals within the student body. Talk therapy and counseling are the most common modes of treatment for student patients.

Requirements: Master’s degree, state certification, interest in human development, listening skills, communication skills

Pros/Cons: Doctorate degrees are required to be a school psychologist in Hawaii or Maine. There is a high demand for school psychologists, since the field is relatively new. Enjoy the school schedule and holidays off. You may be asked to teach field-related courses at school.

Salary: $36,821 – $79,498

3. Counselor

From marriage and family to individual substance abuse, counselors treat patients with a variety of mental or emotional issues. Health care and social work are common areas for counselors to find employment; specifically narrowing in on schools, colleges, hospitals, health clinics or private practices.

Requirements: Master’s degree, human development, interpersonal skills, communication and listening skills

Pros/Cons: Counselors often carry emotional baggage from their day job to their home life; it’s important to have a supportive family life. There can be unexpected calls from patients. If you are interested in building your own private practice, it can be difficult.

Salary: $47,530

4. Genetics Counselor

Focusing on genetic disorders within families, genetics counselors most often have gone to school for both genetics and psychology. Still, there are many paths to becoming a genetics counselor, and those aspiring toward the career may major in social work, biology, nursing, public health, biology, psychology, or several other areas. These counselors work closely with doctors and scientists to prevent the spread of genetic diseases.

Requirements: Scientific or biological major, Ph.D. in psychology or M.D. degree, interest in science, human interest

Pros/cons: Dealing with emotional patients and intense education and schooling process.

Salary: $71,100

5. Forensic Psychologist

Despite their unrealistic portrayals, popular TV shows like C.S.I. have increased the number of aspiring forensic psychologists in the past few years. Forensic psychologists deal with criminal investigation and law cases. So anyone with an interest in both psychology and law or crime could find fulfillment in this career. While some cases are more outlandish, the most common cases for forensic scientists involve child custody disputes, insurance claims and child abuse investigations.

Requirements: Doctoral degree in psychology, board certification, ability to work with others, problem-solving and analyzing skills, patience, commitment

Pros/cons: It is an interesting and sometimes thrilling field, but day-to-day tasks may be more mundane. Pay is lower than other fields that require the same or less schooling.

Salary: $59,440

6. Engineering Psychologist

Technology and machinery are the main focus of the engineering psychology field. Professionals in this area use psychology to assist in the designing and improving of machines, products and environments including home and public space. Also known as human factors psychology, this field applies knowledge of ergonomics, automation, computer interface design and aviation design.

Requirements: Graduate degree in engineering or experimental psychology, courses in computer programming

Pros/cons: Does not deal with human interaction or emotional baggage. It’s one of the fastest growing fields. Requires more education.

Salary: $79,818

7. Clinical Psychologist

Typically working in hospital and medical settings, clinical psychologists narrow their focus on psychological disorders like phobias, Alzheimer’s disease, social anxiety, mental retardation or anorexia. This field is the largest and most common field for psychologists to enter, with general psychology courses directed at clinical psychology.

Requirements: Doctoral degree in clinical psychology, one-year internship, interest in medical disorders

Pros/cons: Working in a hospital setting, almost exclusively. One of the most competitive fields to enter.

Salary: $63,000

So there you have it – from CSI agent to medical researcher, from the courtroom to the elementary classroom, there’s a niche for psychologists all across the board. Now hit the books and get ready to pick the brains of the young and old, the crazy and the only-slightly troubled.

What are you waiting for? Find out the psychology degree that is right for you today!



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