With a Master’s in Psychology, there are many career paths, and professionals can work with individuals or entire populations. The field of psychology involves studying the human mind to understand human behavior. Many enter college to earn an undergraduate degree in psychology. And they plan to return to school at least once throughout their careers.
Earning a bachelor’s degree in psychology enables graduates to work in entry-level positions. Additionally, psychology majors can then find a concentration that suits them best. There are both online and traditional programs for undergraduate psychology degrees. Bachelor’s degree holders can enter the workforce on a career path or continue their education.
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Why Earn a Master’s in Psychology?
Returning to earn a master’s degree in psychology helps a student refine their knowledge of their particular area of interest and find better employment options. So, is a master’s in psychology worth it? Yes. Getting a master’s in psychology can lead to earning a Ph.D. and accessing rewarding jobs that make the educational effort worthwhile.
Becoming a psychologist is one way to help everyone, from individuals to entire populations, live better lives. This may sound altruistic because corporations hire psychologists to help them market their products. Still, a majority of employment options for psychologists like marriage and family therapists that involve helping people. You might work in a laboratory setting and on studies focusing on a specific population and issues they face. Or, you might work in private practice where you help people unpack personal issues to get them to engage in their own lives.
Becoming a psychologist requires a lifelong commitment to education and a doctoral degree to find employment. Earning an undergraduate degree in psychology is just the first step toward becoming a psychologist. You’ll need to earn your master’s degree to find meaningful employment in the psychology concentration of your choice.
How to Choose a Psychology Master’s Program
There are many things to consider when looking for a master’s in psychology program. Some important ones are the convenience of access to the classes, quality of education, accreditation, and the degree’s value in finding employment in a particular concentration. Another aspect to consider is joining professional associations. These groups help professionals stay informed about changes in the field, enhance knowledge, and access support when needed.
Psychology offers rewarding careers for those who want to understand the human mind to help better society. Following is a look at what you can do with a master’s in psychology. However, if psychology is unsuitable for you, consider a Masters in Healthcare Administration (MHA) degree or a Masters in Social Work (MSW) degree.
School Accreditation for Master’s in Psychology Degrees
Accreditation is an essential credential for a psychology degree program. It ensures that the standard of education you receive is acceptable by employers, the government, licensing bodies, and the public. A majority of reputable schools have accreditation for their psychology master’s degree programs, but some schools don’t have accreditation, or if they do, the accreditation isn’t as valuable.
Online Program Accreditation
Accreditation for online psychology master’s degree programs is even more critical due to the decentralized nature of earning a degree online. As a student looking into the best online schools for psychology master’s, you must do your due diligence. Look through the curriculum information on the school’s website and find the information that shows the program is an accredited master’s in psychology online program. If you’re unsure about the accreditation or aren’t finding sufficient information, you can search the U.S. Department of Education’s Database of Accredited Postsecondary Institutions and Programs (OPE).
American Psychological Association
The American Psychological Association (APA) is the most well-known accrediting body for psychology programs. But it only provides accreditation for doctoral programs, doctoral internships, and postdoctoral residencies. If you continue your education through the doctorate level, you should attend an advanced degree program with APA accreditation. The APA also offers accreditation to master’s degree programs with a doctoral degree track.
Accreditation for master’s degree programs typically falls under regional accreditation. There are six regional accrediting institutions for master in psychology degree programs. They include:
- Middle States Commission on Higher Education
- New England Association of Schools and Colleges
- North Central Association Commission on Accreditation
- Northwest Commission on Higher Education
- Southern Association of Schools and Colleges
- Western Association of Schools and Colleges
Masters in Psychology and Counseling Accreditation Council
The Masters in Psychology And Counseling Accreditation Council (MPCAC) is another organization that provides accreditation for masters in psychology programs. It provides additional accreditation to psychology master’s degree programs in regionally accredited colleges and universities in the US. The MPCAC is approved by the Council for Higher Education (CHEA).
The Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education
The Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education (COAMFTE) also provides accreditation. This group accredits master’s degree programs focusing on marriage and therapy psychology education.
Many of these organizations provide accreditation for master’s in psychology online. But if you don’t see them listed on a program you’re interested in, check for regional accreditation or accreditation from another organization recognized by the Department of Education or Council for Higher Education.
Types of Psychology Master’s Degrees
The field of psychology is wide and varied in the areas of specialization available to graduate students. Psychology is used in business, economics, industrial and manufacturing, public health, criminology, and more. The undergraduate level of psychology prepares you for the basics of working in the field of psychology. At the same time, the master’s degree allows you to narrow in on the area of psychology that you find most appealing.
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The first step is taking an online master’s of psychology degree program. Now you have to decide which concentration in psychology works best for your aptitudes and skills. Below are some of the top concentrations in psychology master’s degree programs.
The counseling concentration is considered a general practice and health service provider role for a psychologist. The role requires understanding how people function in their daily lives and relationships at all life stages. Counseling involves working with an individual to help them with various mental health issues and assist them in a time of crisis. A psychologist who provides counseling also assesses and diagnoses psychological symptoms, determines their severity, then treats the patient and their symptoms.
Social psychology involves the study of social interactions between groups of people in various physical environments and social settings. This area of psychology aims to better understand how group dynamics influence people’s actions and decisions within themselves and others. The information learned from the study of social groups is used to design and evaluate policies, develop conflict resolution techniques, and also educational programs.
The role of a forensic psychologist is one of studying criminal populations and individuals who are incarcerated. This area of psychology has become popular due to criminal TV shows and movies that revolve around a cast that includes a psychologist who creates personality and behavioral profiles of the criminal being sought.
In reality, the role is broad regarding the people being interviewed and requires strong clinical skills to provide a thorough profile of someone who’s incarcerated. These psychologists work closely with players in the justice system to determine an incarcerated individual’s mental stability, create a treatment program, and provide recommendations for handling an incarcerated individual.
A Clinical Psychologist work with individuals or groups in multiple sectors. You may find yourself working with people in a health service setting, education, research, and anywhere there’s a need for someone with psychology training and skills to help people with their mental health needs.
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These psychologists work with diverse populations, or you’ll work with a narrowly focused group to understand the challenges they face. A psychologist who works in a clinical setting must help their patients understand their issues, how to manage them, and find a path to wellness. Licensed Professional Clinical Counselors (LPCC) can work in family therapy.
A school psychologist works in elementary, junior high, and high schools. These professionals are integral in monitoring the mental health of the student body and individual students. Additionally, they are ready to intervene when an individual needs help and also intervene in the school system. The school psychologist also creates and develops programs for positive learning environments, then implements and evaluates them to make changes as needed.
Industrial Organizational Psychology (I/O)
Industrial-organizational psychologists study and research employee satisfaction, productivity, and consumer behavior. Using their educational background and psychology skills, these professionals work to increase workplace and customer satisfaction to make a business run more efficiently.
Other Psychology Specializations
Other areas of concentration, focus, or specialization in the field of psychology include:
- Mental Health Psychology
- Marriage and Family Therapy
- Rehabilitation Psychology
- Behavioral and Substance Abuse Psychology
- Child Psychology
- Developmental Psychology
- Psychiatry Research Psychology
- Sports Psychology
- Business Psychology
These specializations represent entirely different psychology degree disciplines. You’ll be able to easily find a concentration that matches your educational goals and the area of psychology you want to gain expertise in. Going through the master’s degree in psychology online route adds to the ease with which you can earn your master’s in psychology and gain a strong foothold in your career. If you want to return to school and earn your Ph.D. in psychology, ensure that the online master’s of psychology degree program leads to a doctorate to quickly transfer your credits.
Certifications and Licenses for Master’s in Psychology
Most states do not require licensure for people who have earned a master’s in psychology degree, but you may not be able to work directly as a psychologist upon graduation. States without licensing requirements for people holding a master’s in psychology assume that you are not finished with your schooling and expect you to return to school to earn your Ph.D. while gaining work experience. Currently, no states allow people with a master’s degree in psychology to work independently, but some allow a master’s-level psychologist to work in specific settings. They are:
States for Master’s-Level School Psychologists:
States for Master’s-Level Behavior Analysts
Practice with Supervision
Some states allow master’s-level psychologists to practice under the supervision of a board-certified psychologist. They include:
- New Mexico
- U.S. Virgin Islands
These states title a master’s-level psychologist a psychological associate. Most of these states require post-graduate work experience, practicum hours, or a residency from the school you attended to apply for a license. You must sit for the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP) to get licensure as a psychological associate or a psychologist. All states require you to pass the exam before granting you licensure.
States that do not license people with master’s degrees in psychology also do not prevent you from working. Employers can hire candidates with a master’s degree in psychology and place them in roles that require you to use your training as a psychologist to help people. This enables you to earn an income and gain experience while planning your return to school to earn your Ph.D.
Careers in Psychology
So, what can you do with a Master’s in Psychology? As previously mentioned, the field of psychology is broad and offers multiple concentrations and specializations underneath its central umbrella. You can find master’s in psychology jobs in just about every professional field that aligns with your specific concentration in psychology. These professionals work in government agencies, corporate settings, and private sectors.
Master’s degree jobs in psychology are also beneficial when it comes to gaining work experience hours before returning to school to earn your PhD. You’ll find plenty of options regarding what you can do with a master’s in psychology. Many states don’t have a licensing requirement for masters in psychology jobs that allows you to work under the supervision of a licensed psychologist.
Here’s a look at some of the jobs with a master’s in psychology:
- Adjunct Instructors / Adjunct Faculty at the university level
- School Psychologist / School Psychologists
- Survey Researchers / Research Assistant
- Marriage and Family Therapist / Marriage and Family Therapists
- Industrial-Organizational Psychologist / Industrial-Organizational Psychologists
- Market Research Analyst / Market Research Analysts
- Forensic Psychologist / Forensic Psychologists
- Community Psychologist / Community Psychologists
- Behavioral Health Psychologist /Behavioral Disorder Psychologist
- Training and Development Specialist / Training and Development Specialists
- Human Resources Specialist / Human Resources Specialists
- Sports Psychologist / Sports Psychologists
- Career counselor / Career counselors
- Program Director
- Victim Advocate
- Veteran Psychologist or Counselor
Employers with a Master’s Degree in Psychology
What Can You Do With a Master’s in Psychology? One of the major employers of master’s-level psychologists are schools. That includes all levels of education, from elementary to university. The federal government is another major employer, but the job titles are not always directly related to psychology.
Instead, the jobs available to a master’s-level psychologist are roles that require an applicant to have a background in psychology to perform their work. Other settings where these professionals work in private practices, hospitals, courts and prisons in the criminal justice system, and community mental health centers.
Master’s in psychology jobs are plentiful, and there are employment opportunities in every concentration. You can’t get licensed as a psychologist without a master’s degree is not a barrier to entry into a master’s degree in psychology jobs. Suppose you’re concerned about your ability to find a master’s degree in psychology jobs. In that case, you should consult with a faculty member in the psychology department or your school’s career placement department to learn more about your options for master’s degree jobs in psychology.
Average Salary for a Master’s in Psychology
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average master’s in psychology was $80,040 per year. This amount represents the median pay for people with a graduate degree in psychology. Psychologists with an undergraduate degree tend to earn less because the field expects people to hold a master’s degree at the very leas
t. Those with PhDs, or doctoral degrees, in psychology, stand to earn the most. A PhD is expected of most people seeking employment in their chosen area of study for psychology. So, the average salary for a master’s degree in psychology may be lower than a doctoral degree in psychology.
Job Outlook and Growth
The BLS expects employment in psychology to grow 8% between 2020 and 2030, which is as fast as the average growth in employment for the same period. In 2020, there were 178,900 jobs for individuals who earned a master’s in psychology, and the field is expected to add another 13,400 positions annually through 2030.
The average master’s in psychology salary ultimately depends on geographical location and your particular concentration in psychology. Urban areas tend to have higher pay and a more extensive client base, while less-populated areas of the country will pay less.
Furthermore, the average starting salary for a master’s in psychology ultimately depends on where you live and work, your chosen concentration in psychology, and the current demand for people with your skills in psychology. Someone who lives in New Jersey and works as a clinical psychologist can expect to earn $106,160 as their average masters in psychology salary. In contrast, someone who lives in West Virginia can expect a medical salary of about $60,000 with a master’s in psychology.
Professional Organizations for Psychologists
Joining a professional psychologist organization allows you to access career and personal well-being support. Associations and organizations for psychologists are places where you can learn about the latest news in the field of psychology as well as your own, find resources for continuing education credits, look for jobs and get a feel for the current state of the psychology job market, and network with others who also work in your particular concentration.
Organizations also provide resources for self-care and what you can do to get relief when the work is draining. Some organizations support psychologists from diverse backgrounds and provide support from a shared point of view. Here’s a look at the major organizations in psychology:
American Psychological Association
The American Psychological Association (APA) is psychologists’ most well-known and respected association. It promotes psychological science advancement, communication, and application to benefit society and improve lives. The benefits of joining include being listed in the APA’s psychologist locator to help potential clients find you, five free continuing education credits every year, discounts on APA conferences and meetings, public speaking training, and the latest information and news in the psychology field.
National Association of School Psychologists
The National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) represents over 25,000 school psychologists, graduate students, and related professionals in the U.S. and internationally. The association’s mission is to ensure youth get the support they need for mental health, learning, and behavior to thrive in school. It supports professionals by guiding on various psychological and social issues that students face.
American Counseling Association
The American Counseling Association (ACA) has the vision to provide quality professional counseling to all who need mental health services to live a better life. It accepts members who work in the field of counseling patients regardless of their degree and their chosen specialty. The ACA promotes professional development, advocates for the counseling profession, and ensures ethical, culturally-inclusive practices for patients.
Mental Health America
Mental Health America (MHA) is a community-based nonprofit dedicated to helping those with mental illness and their needs and promoting overall mental wellness. Its founder, Clifford W. Beers, founded the association in 1909 after witnessing and experiencing horrible abuse during his stays in public and private mental institutions.
The association’s mission is “promoting mental health and preventing mental illness through advocacy, education, research, and services.” MHA has a national office and over 200 affiliates and associates throughout the U.S.
The Association for Behavior Analysis International
The Association for Behavior Analysis International (ABAI) provides information and support for members interested in behavior analysis science, application, philosophy, and teaching. It sponsors events that focus on the science of behavior analysis, provides continuing education opportunities, has job placement services, publishes scholarly journals, and supports the dissemination of behavioral analysis worldwide.
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