Psychology is a wide field that focuses on cognitive, emotional and social processes and behavior. Psychologists observe, interpret and record how humans relate to one another and their environments and how this can be altered or changed.

There are three main kinds of psychologists: clinical, counseling and research. Clinical psychologists assess, diagnose and treat mental, emotional and behavioral disorders. They can focus on specific populations like children, abuse victims, addicts and others. Counseling psychologists often work directly with patients and focus on the emotional, social, vocational, educational and health-related psychology that contributes to personal and interpersonal functions.

Research psychologists apply the same principles to concepts instead of patients. Industrial/organizational psychologists use their skills and knowledge in psychology to make work environments more productive and inclusive places. Forensic psychologists work with judges and attorneys to assess the psychological aspects of different cases.

How to Become a Psychologist

Most psychologist positions require a doctoral degree. Individuals can either pursue a Ph.D. in Psychology of a Doctor of Psychology. The Ph.D. is considered a research degree that requires passing a comprehensive exam and writing a dissertation research that is unique and contributes new knowledge to the profession. A Psy.D. is based on practical work and dissertation that is adds to the practical knowledge of  the practice

Many doctoral programs require their students to have a graduate degree in psychology. Depending on what kind of psychologist they want to become, individuals have many different options.

Industrial/Organizational Psychologists

Industrial/organizational psychologist positions generally require a master’s degree. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that the job outlook for industrial/organizational psychologists is very positive. This occupational field will grow 19 percent by 2024, which is much faster than the average occupation in the United States. Industrial/organizational psychologists make an average salary of $77,350 a year.

Health Psychologists

Health psychologists focus on the psychological and behavioral factors that influence health and sickness. They generally work in clinics or hospitals and educate both medical professionals and patients about how mental health and behavior relates to other health issues. They may develop and implement programs that address health-related behaviors like addiction, lethargy and poor diets. Health psychologists are generally required to have a doctoral degree, specifically a Ph.D.

The average salary of a health psychologist is $94,590 a year, and the BLS projects that this field will experience a 20 percent growth rate over the next few years.

Counseling Psychologists

A counseling psychologist works directly with patients in order to help them deal with mental health-related problems. Counseling psychologists work in a variety of settings including private practice, community health centers and hospitals. They help their patients to recognize strengths and access resources in order to manage problems. Specific counseling psychologist positions include: mental health counselors, marriage and family therapists, substance abuse counselors and behavioral disorder counselors.

Typically, counselors need a master’s degree in psychology. But to increase job prospects and marketability, a counseling psychologist needs a Doctor of Psychology degree.