Psychology Career Fields

What are a few exciting career options available to psychologists?

There are hundreds of professions that call upon the unique expertise of psychologists trained in the various subfields of psychology.  Students are encouraged to explore these options thoroughly to find which one would be best suited to their career goals.  Here are a few of the careers in psychology that are in highest demand:

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Counseling Psychologists usually come to mind when one considers a career in psychology.  These psychologists work directly with clients applying the principals of any number of the schools of psychological thought, and often

What are the various subfields of psychology?

Academic focus on one of the subfields of psychology, in many cases, dictates what profession the graduate will enter.  The tremendous number of psychological subfields acknowledged by the American Psychological Association (APA) illustrates the number of vocational opportunities that are available after earning a degree in psychology.

Here is a sampling of the common subfields a student may choose as their academic and professional focus based on their personal interests and aptitude:

  • Abnormal Psychology is concerned with disorders that result in behavior that deviates from societal norms.  These disorders would typically include some form of neuroses (a distress inducing mental imbalance), psychoses (indicated by hallucinations and delusional beliefs), or mental retardation.
  • Biological Psychology is focused on the physiological connection to psychology; specifically how the nervous system affects behavior.
  • Comparative Psychology is concerned with animal cognition and behavior, and its evolutionary links to humanity.  This includes Ethology (the study of specific behaviors among different species of animals, i.e. aggression).
  • Counseling Psychology involves the interaction between a trained councilor and an individual suffering from anxiety, depression, or stress associated with either normal developmental issues or the problems brought on by physical, mental, or emotional disorders.
  • Clinical Psychology assesses and treats more severe psychological issues like schizophrenia and personality disorders.  It is closely related to counseling psychology in the methods employed, i.e. psychotherapy.
  • Critical Psychology critiques all societal expectations and status quo behavioral norms, including mainstream psychology itself, as being oppressive to the individual.  It points to societal factors that work upon the individual as being the source of psychological distress.
  • Developmental Psychology is concerned with infant and childhood development, and the developmental changes in an individual through the course of life and into old age.
  • Educational Psychology courses are often a part of teacher education programs.  This sub-field focuses on how humans learn within educational settings, the social psychology of these settings, and the effectiveness of teaching methods and educational practices.
  • Evolutionary Psychology studies the genetic source of mental and behavioral patterns, and how these evolutionary adaptations may be maladaptive in the context of modern societal life.
  • Forensic Psychology is applied in a legal context, and is concerned with the evaluation of a criminal defendant’s competency to stand trial.  A forensic psychologist would also assess a defendant’s sanity in determining eligibility for execution.
  • Global Psychology is concerned with psychological affects on the individual caused by large scale phenomena like economic destabilization.
  • Health Psychology is focused on the psychology of behavior such as eating, drug use, and sexual habits that directly impact a person’s physical health.
  • Industrial/Organizational Psychology is applied to the selection and evaluation of workers in any commercial industry to organize and employ methods that maximize efficiency and workplace performance.
  • Legal Psychology is a general term used to describe the field of research psychology used to examine jury decision making, eyewitness memory, scientific evidence, and legal policy.  It is also used in offender profiling.
  • Personality Psychology looks at the differences and converse similarities in characteristics and behavior among individuals.  Through this it seeks an understanding of the unique psychological aspects of an individual.
  • Quantitative Psychology applies math and computational statistical models to develop methods to analyze and explain psychological data.  It includes psychometrics (creation of procedures and theoretical approaches to measurement) and mathematical psychology (modeling individual mental and motor processes).
  • Social Psychology is concerned with how humans interact within a society, and what they think about one another.  It studies group dynamics like conformity and persuasion in the development of beliefs and attitudes.
  • School Psychology addresses the unique needs of both students with learning disabilities and those with exceptional aptitude.  Psychologists in this field seek to maximize efficacy in learning environments.

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