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How to Get Your First Job in Psychology

Posted on the 18 May 2017 by Ncrimaldi @MsCareerGirl

How to Get Your First Job in Psychology

The following is a guest post by Jessy Faraday. Her bio follows.

According to a report by Center of Disease Control and Prevention, 25% of adults in U.S. suffer from a mental illness and 50% of individuals go through mental crisis at least once in their lifetime. This portrays the increasing need for qualified psychologists. As a certified, highly paid psychologist, you can contribute towards lowering the rising rates of mental disorders.

A doctorate degree in Psychology can help you get your first job in Psychology. According to the doctorate employment survey conducted by the American Psychological Association (APA), 72% psychologists with a doctorate degree secured their first choice of job while 73% secured a job within 3 months of getting their doctorate.

Interestingly, you can still get your first job in Psychology with your Bachelor's or Master's degree.

Basic Things You Should Know

As a psychologist, your salary as well as job responsibilities depend on your level of qualification, prior experience, and chosen specialty. Some of the various fields in psychology range from teaching, conducting personality tests for recruitment or other areas, psychotherapy, research, counseling, forensic psychology, sports psychology, and more.

Workplaces for Psychologists

Psychologists are not confined to hospitals only. They work in diversified environments. Here are a few of these:

  • Social service organizations
  • Schools and universities
  • Rehabilitation centers
  • Government agencies
  • Nursing homes
  • Marketing research firms and other businesses
  • Management consulting firms
  • Hospitals and clinics

Future Opportunity for Psychologists

About two-thirds of psychologists have their own private practice. Once you have gained a few years of experience in your preferred field, you can avail the opportunity of setting up your own counseling clinic.

The Salary

Since Psychology is a vast field, there are a myriad of careers you can choose from. Some of these professions are listed below with their respective annual (average) salaries:

  1. School Psychologist: $66,166
  2. Clinical Psychologist: $68,900
  3. Genetics Counselor: $69,458
  4. Industrial-Organizational Psychologist: $115,867
  5. Engineering Psychologist: $101, 500

How to Secure Your First Job

Due to an increased number of graduates applying for jobs in psychology, you will find intense competition in this industry. Therefore, it's always better to achieve a competitive edge to get your first job. Though this requires considerable hard work, you can do it for sure if you are passionate enough to jump start your career in Psychology.

To ensure that you get the job you always dreamt of, you will need to take the following steps:

Acquire a Master's degree in Psychology

Undeniably, applicants with a Master's degree are highly preferred over those with a Bachelor's degree. This applies to the field of Psychology too. If you are an undergraduate but are passionate about pursuing a career in psychology, it is imperative to pursue a Master's degree to open up a promising career path.

Start off by enrolling in one of the top universities that offer Master's degree in Psychology.

Once you have acquired your degree, you can gain prior experience in the same industry. Volunteering in rehabilitation centers is a good start. Besides this, you can also teach psychology in high schools.

How to Get Your First Job in Psychology

Enroll in a Doctoral Degree

A Master's degree opens up great opportunities especially if you are just starting off. However, when it comes to achieving higher growth opportunities in Psychology, it is recommended to acquire a doctoral degree. Since the term, "Psychologist" is reserved for those who possess doctoral qualification and professional training (according to the licensing laws of APA), this advanced level of qualification will help you be known as a certified psychologist.

Join an Internship Program

After acquiring a doctoral degree, you are required to work as a supervised intern. This should be the first step towards your psychology practice. This is usually a part of your doctoral practice. Even though, the requirements of internship vary, it takes about a year or two to complete this practice.

The benefit?

Supervised internships provide practical exposure about the overall industry of psychology, how psychological counseling sessions are conducted, how patients are dealt with, and how every patient is taken care of depending on their psychological situation.

Qualify for a License

There are certain requirements to qualify before attaining the license to practice your psychology job. The fee of this license ranges between $500 and $1000. This includes the application fees, licensing fees, and examination fees.

To acquire a license, you will need to follow these basic steps:

  1. Submitting administrative materials - to support your education, you will be required to provide materials like proof of coursework, professors' names and qualifications, types of issues treated during the tenure of your internship, and other supervised experiences.
  2. Passing the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP) test - passing scores vary in each state. Most of these tests require at least 70% passing score.
  3. Receiving Approval - the licensing board of your state will issue an approval once all requirements have been met.

With a license, you can apply for jobs related to Psychology.

Start Applying for Jobs

Once you have got the license, the job search is pretty much like any other job searches in other fields. To apply for a psychology job, follow these steps:

  • Start reviewing job specialties as well as current trends in the industry.
  • Determine your long-terms goals.
  • Build a strong resume and write an impressive cover letter. Once done, send these to the job openings that interest you the most.
  • Figure out if you would require any other training or course for your preferred job.
  • Create a strong networking profile. You can do this by attending conferences and seminars conducted by known psychologists. Another way is to start your own blog to build your network.
  • Check out job forums.
  • Reach out to your psychology professors and mentors who can refer you or alert you about a job opening that matches your qualifications, skills, and experience.

Opt for Private Practice

With a license to practice, you have an option to open your own private practice. However, this requires you to go the extra mile. To be known as a highly qualified psychologist who is capable enough to start off with their own clinic, it's vital to achieve some extra exposure in the same field. Though it will take some efforts, your hard work will pay off.

As a first timer, you can reach out to an experienced psychologist who has been successfully conducting private practice for a few years. You can work with them to learn how working in a private setting differs from working in an organization. Once you have gained ample exposure as to how a full-fledged psychology consulting business works, you can plan about setting up your own clinic.

The Bottom Line

A career in psychology is here to stay. Interestingly, there is sufficient evidence for this: According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, from 2014 to 2024, there will be 12% growth in jobs in various healthcare industries. Whether you see yourself as a neuropsychologist, marriage and family therapist, or a clinical researcher in the near future, you are bound to succeed if you excel the steps of getting your first job in psychology.

How to Get Your First Job in Psychology

We wish you all the success!

About Jessy Faraday

How to Get Your First Job in Psychology
I believe that it is the power of words that influence people, decisions, directions, and above all: the readers! With the passion to explore the new horizons of different careers, I am here to guide you with all that you need to know about pursuing your career in the field that is made for you. Wondering how being passionate about your career can help you? Keep reading 🙂

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How to Get Your First Job in Psychology

Ms. Career Girl was started in 2008 to help ambitious young professional women figure out who they are, what they want and how to get it.


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