What Are the Career Options in Psychology?

Counseling psychologists help patients struggling with mental and behavioral disorders.
Counseling psychologists help patients struggling with mental and behavioral disorders. (Image: Creatas Images/Creatas/Getty Images)

Psychology, which is the study of the mind and human behavior, offers a much more diverse range of career options than many people realize. Psychologists observe and study people's mental or behavioral traits. The best job opportunites are available to people who earn doctoral degrees in the field, reports the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Salaries ranged from $39,000 to $109,000 in 2009 for the majority of psychologists employed in the clinical and counseling psychology fields.

Research Psychology

Research psychologists work on the academic side of psychology. They are often employed in colleges and universities, private research facilities, business and government agencies. Psychologists conduct research in a variety of mental and behavioral areas and study mental processes, sensory and perception and substance abuse. Research is often published in academic journals, textbooks and other publications to further develop a particular field of psychology.

Clinical Psychology

Clinical psychology is the largest area of specialization among career options in psychology, according to the BLS. Clinical psychologists assess, diagnose, treat and prevent mental health disorders.Clinical psychologists balance diagnosis and treatment of mental health issues with helping people cope with their particular mental and behavioral health challenges. Clinical psychologists often specialize in working with particular types of clients such as children.

Counseling Psychology

Counseling psychologists help their patients manage mental health conditions. They meet and talk with people who are diagnosed with mental disorders, emotional problems or addictions, helping them balance life at work and at home. Counseling psychologists may work in hospitals, rehabilation centers, and in private and group practices.

School Psychology

School psychologists work with students and often partner educators in elementary and secondary school buildings to make certain that children receive a fair opportunity to learn. School psychologists typically collaborate with other special needs service providers and school administrators to develop individual learning plans for students with special mental and behavioral needs.

Developmental Psychology

Developmental psychologists specialize in the study of physiological, cognitive, and social development. They track people through various stages of life and use that information to formulate ways to improve quality of life issues. Some development psychologists focus early childhood development, while others work on helping the elderly people.

Forensic Psychology

Forensic psychologists apply their psychological expertise to the legal system. Some forensics psychologists work in law enforcement and assist in developing criminal profiles and tracking suspects. Others work with law enforcement, lawyers and other professionals in the legal system to assist in family, civil, or criminal courts, by offering expert opinions on cases.

Business and Marketing

People with backgrounds or degrees in psychology can often find jobs in business and marketing. Industrial-organizational psychologists specifically work in the area of improving workplace conditions and relationships between employees to improve productivity. Research-based marketing and advertising jobs are often a good fit for those with psychology backgrounds. Many of the research methods psychology students learn can be applied to gathering data on customers, analyzing market segments, and trying to understand and predict consumer behavior.

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