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Education and Training: Doctoral degree in psychology
Average Salary: $64,140 per year
Job Outlook: Good

A psychologist is a specialist doctor who studies mental behavior by observing and interpreting the interrelationship of people with one another and the environment. They use scientific methods, tests, and principles to look for patterns in behavior and use these patterns to predict their future responses. Based on their observance of an individual’s behavior, psychologists formulate hypotheses and their possible explanations. This helps increase understanding between individuals and groups.
Psychologists typically use the techniques of observing, interpreting, and experimenting for conducting their research. They conduct hypnosis, laboratory experiments, psychoanalysis, and psychotherapy to analyze and predict human behavior. Psychologists also conduct personality, aptitude, intelligence, and performance tests to study the cause and effect relationship between events.
Studies conducted by psychologists are useful in interpreting human response to specific situations, development of personality, promoting healthy environment, and treating alcoholism and drug addiction. The inputs provided by psychologists are helpful in improving relationships between people as individuals, family members, and workers.
There are various fields of specialization in psychology. Specialized psychologists include: clinical, health, counseling, school, developmental, social, forensic, research, and industrial-organizational psychologists.

Education and Training Requirements

Psychologists need to have a doctoral degree, such as Ph.D. or Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.), to practice independently as a psychologist. To attain the doctoral degree, psychologists need to complete 5 years of graduate school and submit a dissertation at the end, based on their research work. The Psy.D. degree requires more of practical experience and involves passing examinations. Psychologists can also get a specialist degree in psychology to further enhance their career prospects. Some states require a license for solo or group practice. The license can be attained by passing an examination conducted by the state licensing boards.
Psychologists need to continuously brush up their knowledge by participating in continuing education programs.

Getting the Job

In addition to meeting the educational requirements, psychologists need to be emotionally stable and mature. They must have excellent interpersonal skills as they need to interact with patients on a daily basis. They should be keen listeners and should have a calm and composed outlook.
Achieving substantial results with patients might take a long time and therefore psychologists need to be perseverant.

Job Prospects, Employment Outlook and Career Development

The job prospects for psychologists are good and employment opportunities are expected to grow by 12% for 2008-2018. With an increased awareness about mental health and human behavior, there is a growing need for psychologists. Psychologists are more likely to be employed by hospitals, social service organizations, schools, rehabilitation and correctional centers, and consulting firms.
Psychologists with a doctoral degree and a specialization have bright future prospects.
To further advance in their careers, psychologists can earn higher degrees and start their own private practice.

Working Conditions and Environment

The work environment for psychologists varies depending on their area of specialization and the place of employment. Various psychologists, who have their own private practice, work from well-organized and comfortable offices. Psychologists who work in hospitals and nursing homes might need to work during evenings or weekends. Many psychologists work in teams in consultation with other psychologists and medical professionals. Some psychologists might experience stress because of tight schedules and deadlines.

Salary and Benefits

As per the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the annual median salaries for psychologists was $64,140 in May 2008. Experienced psychologists can earn close to $82,800 per year depending on their area of expertise. Industrial-organizational psychologists can even earn approximately $149,120 per year.

Where to Go for More Information

American Psychological Association
750 First St. NE
Washington, DC 20002-4242
(800) 374-2721

National Association of School Psychologists
4340 East West Hwy., Ste. 402
Bethesda, MD 20814
(301) 657-0270

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