Among the many career paths you could pursue in psychology, counseling is one of the most commonly known. Counseling involves treatment for a wide variety of disorders, including chronic stress, substance abuse, and marital and family problems. As a counselor, you could work for a mental health facility or open your own practice – opportunities that typically require a master’s degree in psychology with a specialization in counseling, and a license from the state of practice.
As a marriage and family therapist, you could help people resolve behavioral problems and emotional distress. Through attentive listening and careful dialogue, such therapists provide the support and guidance needed to help patients become better adjusted and develop more positive relationships. A master’s degree and state license are required to practice marriage and family therapy.
Mental health counselors and marriage and family therapists have been known to earn a median salary of $41,500 per year, with job growth projected to be 29% (much faster than average) through 2022.[i]
Another popular option is social work, which is similar to counseling in that it helps people cope with various problems, including unemployment, domestic abuse, and divorce. Social workers can be broken down into two categories: clinical social workers, who tend to be in private practice, and direct service social workers that government agencies and non-profits commonly employ. Social workers in both categories share common areas of expertise, including treatment for emotional, mental and behavioral disorders, and conduct therapy for families and individuals. While a bachelor’s degree is needed to become a direct service social worker, a master’s degree is the minimum educational requirement for a clinical social worker.
To be legally authorized to practice social work, you may also need a state-issued license.
Social workers commanded a median annual salary of $44,200 in 2012 and can look forward to faster-than-average job growth at 19% through 2022.[ii]
Psychology career paths
The field of psychology is rich and varied. As a result, there is a wide range of career path options you may want to consider as you explore psychology degree programs. Cognitive-Behavioral Psychology, for example, focuses on determining the root causes of human behavior and the factors that influence it. Approved as specialty by the American Psychology Association in 2001, Forensic Psychology is a relatively new discipline applied to various areas of the criminal justice system, including evaluating a defendant’s competency to stand trial or assisting with jury selection.[iii] Other potential career paths include Industrial-Organizational Psychology, which helps companies determine what consumers want and how to serve them better, and Sports Psychology, which explores ways athletes can sharpen their focus and overcome mental obstacles to perform at their best.
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