Up until recently I did not know what I wanted to do with my life. I was going to
school but I really had no idea what I wanted to study. Recently, after contemplating
multiple career choices, I have decided that I want to become a psychologist.
Psychologists study the human mind and human behavior. Like other scientists,
psychologists make hypothesis and then perform experiments to test these assumptions.
Their research methods may differ depending on what topic they are studying. There are
numerous research methods in which psychologists gather their data. Sometimes they
gather information through controlled laboratory experiments. Psychologists also
administer personality, performance, aptitude and intelligence tests. Other methods
include observation, interviews, questionnaires, clinical studies and surveys. Psychologists
use their knowledge in a wide variety of settings including health and human services,
management, education, law and sports. In addition to the variety of work settings,
psychologists usually specialize in a single aspect of their growing field. Some types of
psychologists include clinical, counseling, school, industrial, developmental, social and
experimental or research psychologists. There are two categories of psychology that I am
interested in, they are clinical and industrial.
Clinical psychology is a branch of psychology that deals with applying research
findings in the diagnosis and treatment of mental disorders. Clinical psychologists classify
their work under three major headings: assessment, treatment and research. In
assessment, they give and interpret psychological tests. These tests are given to determine
the patients intelligence or to determine their mental characteristics. Another way to
determine these characteristics is in an interview, where the psychologist questions and
interacts with the patients. For the treatment stage the psychologist may use several types
of psychotherapy. Lately psychologists have been concentrating on the electric approach
but there is also behavior therapy, group therapy and psychoanalysis. Research is an
important aspect to most psychologists. Clinical psychologists are often participants in
research projects that have a bearing on mental-health care. A doctoral degree is usually
required to be a licensed clinical psychologist. Areas of specialization within clinical
psychology include health psychology, neuropsychology and geropsychology. Health
psychologists promote good health through counseling programs designed to help people
achieve goals such as to stop smoking or lose weight. Neuropsychologists studt the
relation between the brain and behavior. Geropsychologists deal with the special problems
faced by the elderly. The growth of these specialities reflect the growing need for
psychologists that deal with particular situations and conditions.
Industrial psychology is the application of various psychological techniques to the
workplace and industry. These techniques can be in the form of job analysis and
performance appraisals. It relates to the efficiency of the organization through appropriate
use of their human resources. Organizational psychology goes hand in hand with
industrial psychology. Organizational focuses on the development and understanding of
people in the organization. Psychologists in this field advise businesses and organizations
on the selection of workers and how to promote efficient working conditions. Also how
to boost morale, productivity, and job satisfaction. Industrial-Organizational psychology
(I-O psychology) was first developed in the US and became prominent during World War
II, when it became necessary to recruit and train the large number of workers who were
needed to meet the expanding economy. An I-O psychologist might work with
management to reorganize the work environment to improve productivity or the quality of
life in the workplace. They frequently act as concultants, brought in by the management in
order to solve a particular problem. As opposed to other fields of psychology, a person
only need s a master’s degree to become an I-O psychologist.
A psychologist’s working conditions are determined by their specialty and the
environment they work in. Clinical, school and counseling psychologists mostly have
private practices and set their own hours. However, they often have to work nights and
weekends to accommodate their patients. Psychologists that are employed in hospitals
and other health facilities work in shifts while those that work in clinics keep normal
hours. Increasingly, many psychologists now work in teams. These teams are composed
of other psychologists and some professionals. They use these groups for research or
strictly for consulting. Travel is also a part of a psychologists working condition. They
often have to travel around the country to attend different seminars and conduct research.
An important fact to note is that one half of all psychologists are self-employed. This
statistic is about five times the average for a professional worker. Educational institutions
employed the greatest number of psychologists, four out of ten. The next highest number
was in health services, which employed three out of ten. Employment of psychologists is
expected to grow about as fast as the average for all other occupations through 2008.
People holding doctorates from respected universities should have particularly good
opportunities. Also psychologists with a computer background should do especially well
in the future. The average annual income of psychologists as of 1998 was $48,050.
Psychologists just getting into the field with a degree can expect to start around $20,600.
Psychologists with some experience can make about $66,800 a year.