Studying and working with the human brain and its functions in regard to mental and physical health is one of the most important careers out there. The field of psychology is growing at a rapid pace and new careers and research are emerging often. Becoming a psychologist is a vital and admirable career choice as it helps teach about how humans work and function best.
Beginning a career in psychology takes some work as degrees and specific licenses are necessary before you can begin working. However, as you take courses and pursue internships you will be building both your knowledge and your resume to help you in your future career as a psychologist in the healthcare industry.
Luckily there are many that have come before you and have learned tips and tricks along the way to offer to new psychologists entering the workforce. A vital part of beginning your career is planning ahead. As you begin your career path, there are certain things you can do to maximize your learning and improve your skills along the way as you work to enter the field of psychology.
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Tip #1: Map Out Your Career Path
Because psychology is such a broad field, before you commit to a program to pursue a college degree, experts advise taking some time to research the different fields within psychology. For example, if you are interested in forensic psychology it may be beneficial to have a minor in legal studies. Or if you are considering medical school down the line, you will need a variety of prerequisites to pursue that path and it is worth talking with an advisor about what courses you will need as requirements.
It is important to think ahead to the future before starting your research in psychology so that you know where you are headed from the beginning. Set goals for yourself and take time to research different universities and psychology programs that are available for you to attend. It can also be beneficial to talk to other students in the field and the professionals that have experience and can give insight from their own experiences.
Tip #2: Pursue Multiple Degrees
As you can begin your career, you will need to have both the education and correct licensing to practice psychology. Many veterans in the field suggest obtaining an undergraduate degree in general psychology to build a strong foundation on understanding the topic. Then after receiving your bacherlors they suggest pursuing a masters degree to specialize in the area of psychology you are most passionate about and hope to work in.
One of the beneficial aspects of pursuing a career in psychology is that there are multiple avenues and opportunities available to study. One of the fastest growing areas of research in the field of psychology is forensics psychology. Because forensics psychology merges with the legal system, there are numerous jobs available when you complete your research and degree.
Tip #3: Dedicate Time to Volunteer and Learn
As you narrow down which discipline of psychology you plan to pursue, look into finding opportunities to volunteer. If you are a student, ask different professors if they are looking for interns or if you can shadow them to learn more about the career.
If you are interested in working in a clinical setting, reach out to local mental health clinics to see if there are volunteer opportunities available. Many hospitals and clinical settings can be understaffed at times and are often looking for help from volunteers. It is worth thinking about volunteering in a variety of settings to see which discipline of psychology you are interested in most.
Tip #4: Work on Improving Your Interpersonal Skills
Regardless of which field of psychology you plan to pursue a career, all psychologists work with other people in some capacity. As a future psychologist, it is imperative that you are a strong communicator and make people feel safe enough to confide in you as a practitioner or researcher.
Whether you take a course on communication or read books about people skills, there is always room for growth and new knowledge when it comes to interacting with others. As you learn and improve your listening skills, take time to practice with friends and family in your personal life. Ask for constructive feedback from them so that you know what to focus on for improvement.
Tip #5: Focus on the Big Picture
As important as it is that you are passionate about the career you are entering, there is also a practical side to it as well. Because there are so many different avenues available in the field of psychology, different jobs have different earnings. As you commit to a discipline, keep in mind the end result of the salary and if that is a number you are comfortable earning. It is also important to think about how long you will be in school. For example, if you are interested in obtaining a doctorate degree in psychology, be prepared to be in school for a minimum of 7 years. However, the salary will likely be more in the long run with a higher degree. All of these components are important to think about as you begin your path to becoming a psychologist.
Pursuing a career in psychology is a noble task. Helping others is one of the most important things you can do in life and it takes a committed and compassionate person to become a psychologist. Remember that talking with other veteran psychologists can be a great tool to use to ask questions you may have and to get advice on which avenue in psychology may be the best fit for your future career. Although it takes time to earn the degrees, you will obtain the skills and research needed before you become a practicing psychologist in the healthcare field.