How to Choose a Psychology Concentration

Psychology majors face a weighty decision before entering the workforce, one that will guide their professional life throughout their career.

That decision is: Which psychology concentration should I choose?

The good news is that psychology is an amazingly diverse field, with many different options available for potential career paths. Of course, that also can be the not-so-good news, because making a choice is not always easy!

Have no concerns, however. Any one of the below concentrations can lead to a rich and rewarding career.

All will require earning at least a bachelor’s degree in psychology,  which prepares you to excel in any of the specialties listed below. With the emergence of online education, it’s now easier than ever to get a degree without having to travel to a traditional campus. That allows students to schedule coursework around busy professional and personal lives.

Others will require earning a master’s degree before launching your career.

Industrial/Organizational Psychology

In this area, psychologists work with organizational leaders. They make recommendations on ways to improve employee performance and create a workplace that makes it better for workers. Rather than working with individuals, industrial/organizational psychologists apply their education and training to the workforce.

This requires having expert-level skills in organizational development, human performance, job and task analysis and small group theory and process, among others. They work to solve issues in many different areas, including recruitment, training, motivation and measuring the performance of workers.

School Psychologist

School psychologists typically work in one-on-one settings with individual students who have had some type of behavioral issue. In some cases, they might also work with administrators to make improvements at a school that can lead to better mental health among the student population. This is especially attractive to those who are comfortable working with kids and young adults, and who want their work to have an impact on a young person’s life.

There are several different concentrations within this area.

  • Elementary education. Psychologists with a degree in this concentration apply concepts on learning and motivation to elementary age students.
  • Secondary education. In this concentration, the same skills are applied to older students and adolescents.
  • Special education. Psychologists who earn a degree with a concentration in special education work with children who are at-risk academically and have learning disabilities.

Focusing in any of the above concentrations can also pave the way to moving on and earning a master’s degree in educational psychology, which opens the door to the top jobs in the field.

Child and Adolescent Psychology

In this role, psychologists also work with children on a one-on-one basis, but outside the school setting. They may work in medical facilities, clinics, community centers or even within the justice system. The focus is on the wide-ranging issues that can affect the mental health of children. These include special needs and the influence of the society they grow up in. A bachelor’s degree in this concentration also leads many students to pursing a graduate degree.

Human Services

This term covers many areas. In general, a human services psychologist works with large groups of people rather than individuals. Their focus is on studying how people interact in group settings. They are typically hired by community centers, hospitals, healthcare facilities, criminal justice systems and other organizations.

In a human services concentration, psychologists apply their knowledge to find ways of improving group interactions and creating an environment conducive to better mental health.

These represent some of the different career paths in psychology. Take the time to investigate each and determine which best suits both your skillset and your interests. Having a job that interests you is the first, and perhaps most important, step in having a successful career.

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