Is psychology really the career for you?

If you’ve watched the good old family classic “What About Bob?” lately, you may be thinking a job in psychology is more of a joke than a desirable, respectable career.

And perhaps if you had Bob Wiley stalking your family while you’re basking in the summer sunshine at Lake Winnipesaukee, you too might begin to question your choice in career path.

But despite media portrayals of crazed patients lying on leather couches, there are many other areas of psychology to explore. After all, psychology is one of the most popular majors at colleges across the nation. Those psychology majors can’t possibly all be spending their days handing out tissues.

Counseling psychology does involve a good deal of time spent with traumatized or grieving patients, not unlike the obsessive and loopy character from “What About Bob?” But areas of business psychology, sports psychology, engineering psychology or genetics counseling provide completely diverse day-to-day tasks for the aspiring psychologist.

Diverse job opportunities

The bottom line is this: you can apply your interest in psychology to hundreds of different fields to make your psychology education tailor-fit to a job that will keep you satisfied and engaged in your work. Just take “baby steps” to figure out your niche (another “What About Bob?” reference, FYI!) As long as you have an interest in human behavior and understanding the inner-workings of the brain, a psychology career may just be right up your alley.

And even if you don’t end up in a specific field of psychology, many other job fields value the skill sets developed with an education in psychology. With experience in data collection and interpretation, statistics, analysis and critical thinking, psychology majors usually develop characteristics of hard-working and valuable employees.

Hospitals, laboratories, courtrooms, universities, elementary schools, prisons or private practices can be the setting for a psychologist’s every day work, all depending on the specific field of the industry.

A growing field

Whereas some careers are bound to be extinct — or at least greatly evolved — in the next few decades, (Imagine explaining to your children about your job as a company tweeter or maybe a newspaper writer?) psychology is a career that seems to have promise for the future. After all, humans will always have an interest in understanding more about themselves.

And as the average age of the American population continues to increase, so will job opportunities for psychologists. The aging population requires more research and implementation of programs to adapt our environment to the elderly, and psychologists are the ones to provide the solutions to the predicament.

The Department of Labor reports that people with graduate degrees in psychology found between 10 to 20 percent more job opportunities in 2010, and the numbers continue to grow with each passing year.

Additionally, psychology majors who go on to earn a Ph.D. have even greater chances of finding a career: according to the 2001 Doctorate Employment Survey from APA’s Center for Psychology Workforce Analysis and Research (CPWAR), 73 percent of the 1,754 responding psychologists who earned their doctorates in 2000-2001 secured their first choice when looking for a job. Also, 75 percent of the respondents were found a job within 3 months of receiving their doctorate degree.

All for the love

With various job opportunities, changing daily tasks and flexible schedules, most psychologists report high job satisfaction. Counselors, therapists, psychologists and social workers all devote their time in the “daily grind” to helping people increase happiness, life balance and general well being.

From business psychology to child psychology, the field is wide enough to tailor fit the interests of each and every psychologists. And if you’re interests change, why not try something new?

Whether they are finding a cure for disease, defining mental problems or resolving complex emotional issues, psychologists can try out different areas until they find the niche that’s right for them, helping people help themselves all along the way.

Understanding your own kind

One of the main characteristics setting humans apart is their ability to critically think and feel emotions; with that in mind, psychologists must be the most compassionate humans of all! Without a doubt, an understanding of brain function, human behavior and how it all works together is a rewarding and marketable skill set that will help in the journey through life and in the journey to pay the mortgage.

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