So, you have obtained your bachelors’ degree in psychology, and want to go on to major in psychology in graduate school. In your preliminary research, you have probably noticed the wide range of possibilities of careers to be had in the psychology field. Psychologists do research, teach, and perform clinical work. They work in health care settings and industrial plants. They work alone and as interdisciplinary team members. Some information and tips on selecting the specialty area and career in psychology that will best fit for you follow.
Clinical Psychology-This area involves working with people who have mental health and behavioral problems. Clinical psychologists provide assessment, diagnosis, and treatment to individuals, couples, and families. If you think you would enjoy a career working directly with clients and focusing on their personal problems, this is the major for you.
Counseling Psychology-People working in this specialty perform counseling, teaching, and may even do some research. They view the “wholeness” of the environment of people they work with-family, work, gender, cultural issues, and other factors. Although much like clinical psychology, counseling psychologists tend to look at the entire picture of an individual, rather than focusing on the problems. If you want a career where you take the holistic approach to counseling, this may be a good fit for you.
Developmental Psychology-This career specialty focuses on how humans develop and change throughout the lifespan and has typically focused on child and adolescent behavior. However, with baby boomers approaching retirement age, a new focus on geriatric populations has emerged. If you prefer to work with people in a specific age group, developmental psychology might be a good choice.
Experimental Psychology-Students delving into this area of psychology will spend the bulk of their time researching many aspects of psychology and mammals, collecting data, and doing research projects. Some locations an experimental psychologist may work in are a laboratory, a college, or a zoo. If you prefer the research lab as opposed to dealing with people, this may be your bailiwick.
Forensic Psychology-Forensic psychology is a well-defined area of psychology expertise. The forensic psychologist works in court and with the legal system assessing mental competence. They do research on legal-related topics. If you wish to have a career where you are regarded as an expert in court and are precise and detailed, this may be the major for you.
Health Psychology-Students selecting this major focus on factors contributing to health and disease and may perform research in these areas. This is the major for students who want a career in health matters and psychology.
Industrial/organizational Psychology-People selecting this area will learn about how to apply principles of psychology in work settings and engage in consultation regarding management, change, and efficiency in the workplace. If you hope to have a career where you work with people in a business and industry setting, this is a good choice for you.
Neuropsychology-This specialty involves the study of the brain and human response. Students choosing this path may assess and treat people with brain function issues. People choosing neuropsychology as a career may conduct research on traumatic brain injury patients. Those who like science and laboratory research might do very well with this major.
School Psychology-The school psychology major has been around for quite some time. This career involves working with school systems to assist teachers to interact successfully with students and to assess student needs. A rather focused major, people preferring to work in school settings will find this choice a good fit.
Social Psychology-Social psychologists study how people relate to one another, how they influence one another’s behaviors, and how attitudes affect behavioral choices. Career settings for social psychologists include colleges, business, and governmental agencies. This is a good major for students who like variety in their work.
Sports Psychology-This area of psychology has grown as people develop increased interests in sports and competition. A career focus of the sports psychologist includes assisting athletes in overcoming psychological and emotional obstacles. Those selecting this major need to be knowledgeable, interested, and focused in all things related to sports and athleticism.
The psychology field is growing and diversifying. Career options for people possessing graduate degrees are predicted to increase, according to the American Psychological Association. So, if you’ve selected psychology as your field, choices for majors are varied and will no doubt lead to a long, successful career.
American Psychological Association, 2010. Careers in Psychology: Some of the Subfields in Psychology (Online). Accessed April 17, 2010.
American Psychological Association, 2010. Careers in Psychology: The Job Outlook (Online). Accessed April 17, 2010.
Tips for Choosing A Psychology Major, Helium website (original version of this article).