Psychology can be a highly fulfilling and fairly lucrative career. On average, Americans with either master’s or doctorate-level psychology degrees stand to make an annual $80,000 working with patients, conducting research, consulting with clients, working independently, or collaborating with other healthcare professionals. The field is wide and there are many options for anyone looking to build a career in psychology. If you want to narrow down these options, it helps to have a general idea about the different paths which you can take.
Clinical psychologists use theory and research to help treat people with depression, anxiety, eating disorders, substance abuse, and other disorders and mental health issues. Their expertise combines a wide array of knowledge in order to understand the behavioral, emotional, intellectual, psychological, and social aspects of a person’s life – as well as how those aspects affect their health. These are your psychotherapists, talk therapists, and researchers.
Clinical Health Psychology
These specialists use psychological techniques and procedures for treating physiological conditions and diseases. Health psychologists can help patients to better manage pain, manage their weight, adjust to a chronic disease, or recover from substance use and abuse. Socio-cultural, psychological, and biological knowledge intersect for clinical health psychologists who work in hospitals, corporations, government units, and private research firms.
Clinical Child Psychology
Infants, toddlers, children, and adolescents are the key points of focus for the child psychologist. Their job entails a deep understanding of everything from developmental issues and disabilities to dealing with trauma. Apart from schools and rehabilitation centers, child or developmental psychologists are needed in hospitals, clinics, and communities.
This highly specialized branch of psychology is focused on the relationship between human behavior, the central nervous system, and brain dysfunctions. Neuropsychologists work to treat people with Parkinson’s disease, dementia, learning disabilities, traumatic head injuries, and seizures. Hospitals, research firms, and private health corporations are always on the lookout for the best neuropsychologists.
As the psychological experts within the judicial, legal, and criminal justice systems, forensic psychologists work with attorneys, law enforcement, and anyone else involved in civil, delinquency, or criminal proceedings. The various roles that forensic psychologists can take in law firms, police stations, or court houses are informed by a combined knowledge of the law and human behavior.
This area of expertise is focused on using psychology to understand and treat behavioral issues with addiction. Trained in evidence-based addiction treatment and prevention methods, specialists in addiction psychology can help not just those with substance abuse, but anyone addicted to shopping, gambling, sex, and other addictions.
Concerned with the rehabilitation and full recovery of those with injuries, disabilities, or illnesses, rehabilitation psychologists specialize in helping patients live more independent lives. These are the psychotherapists for people with spinal cord injuries, limb loss, multiple sclerosis, traumatic brain injuries, or stroke. This career path entails the willingness to also work as a caregiver on top of being a psychologist.
Coaches, administrators, parents, and teachers work with sports psychologists to help athletes perform at the highest possible levels while supporting their well-being. Sports psychologists are experts in the social dynamics of sports, the psychology of athletic development and motivation, and how mental health translates to physical performance.
School psychologists are trained to help students succeed not just academically, but also socially and emotionally. Apart from providing psychological services to students, they also support programs aimed at developing inclusive, safe, and supportive academic environments.
Marriage and Family Psychology
Focused on providing services to families, marriage and family psychologists are specialists in systemic relational systems. As a wide range of factors affect marital and filial relationships, these psychologists are also knowledgeable in areas like depression, trauma, substance abuse, developmental psychology, and more.
These are the key areas you can focus on as a practicing psychologist. If you’re still unsure which path to take, keep this list bookmarked for future reference.