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What Psychologists Do

In: Philosophy and Psychology

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An in-depth review of various career opportunities in the field of psychology was conducted. In this paper three different professional psychology sub-specialties fields were explored by gathering information from various websites. The three sub-specialty fields discussed are an Experimental Psychology, Industrial/Organizational Psychology and Health Psychology.
Experimental Psychology The experimental psychology field is one that conducts research in cognitive behaviors of humans and animals, neuroscience and personalities. The field does this research using the scientific method. The experimental psychologist work setting can widely range from college and universities, to government and facility based settings. The information gathered is used in a variety of ways, including therapeutic methods, work related production issues, employee wellness and even employee safety issues. The methods used for the research also vary depending on the area being studied. The models all follow scientific methodology, utilizing group settings, manipulating independent variables, collecting the data and then forming a hypothesis (APA, 2012). The education preparation and training for an experimental psychologist is usually focused on research and how to conduct this research. The minimum education needed is a master’s degree in general psychology or experimental psychology. To advance in research, certain schools/Universities or salary a doctorate degree in psychology is almost always required (APA, 2012).
The Careers for an experimental psychologist range from being a professor at a university teaching experimental psychology to aspiring bachelor level students, to working and directing the clinical study in some controlled setting (APA, 2012). The license/certification pertaining to an experimental psychologist, just as most psychologists practicing in the different psychology areas will requires licensure or certification at the state level (ACA, 2012).
The Professional organization that may be of importance to an experimental psychologist is the American Board of Professional Psychology, the American Psychology Association and the Society of Experimental Social Psychology (APA, 2012).
The salary base for such positions depends on the institution that one works at. At low to moderate level, an experimental psychologist can make between $55,000 - $78,000; at the high end of the spectrum the experimental psychologist can make up to $778,000 per year (Payscale, 2012). It all depends on the level of direction and participation the psychologist has.
The job forecast for experimental psychologist is expected to grow in the upcoming years, According to the Occupational Outlook Handbook published by the U.S. Department of Labor. (BLS, 2012)
The field of Experimental psychology is not one that I would be interested in pursuing. Although I am interested in research in the many areas that experimental psychologist work in, the research findings will eventually have to be published in professional journals. So far in my studies in the field of psychology I continue to have a hard time with writing and even understanding the research studies I have reviewed. I do not feel I will ever reach a level of writing and comprehension that would be worthy of publishing.
Industrial-Organizational Psychologist The industrial-organizational psychology field is focused on the study of workplace behavior; with the goal to increase productivity, improve employee morale, safety concerns and even helping to profile appropriate applicants for the position. In some organizations, they need specific people to fill the job, i.e., law enforcement. Each department has a set criterion of what they are looking for in an officer; some departments require an aggressive alpha type individual, whereas others require a more passive person. The psychologist will perform as series of psychological background tests in order to help determine if the person is right for the position or not. This helps to eliminate the potential for a mismatch in the hiring practice (SIOP, 2012).
The industrial/occupation psychologist working in this field typically does not have much person based interaction; they are more research based and providing options and potential solutions (SIOP, 2012). The psychologist working in the field of industrial-organization psychology needs to have a least a Bachelor degree for the entry level work, a Master’s degree for client and customer interaction and a Doctorate level to direct and break down the information to provide the solution based options (SIOP, 2012). The license/certification pertaining to an industrial/organization psychologist, just as most psychologists practicing in the different psychology areas will requires licensure or certification at the state level (APA, 2012).
The Professional organizations that may be of importance to an experimental psychology the American Psychology Association and the Society for Industrial & Organizational Psychology (APA, 2012).
At an entry level position, the employee can earn $38,000 per year; at the doctorate level they can earn $70,000 in an institution based job and up to $200,000 in the private sector. The higher the level of education, the better the job opportunities there are (Payscale, 2012).
The field of Industrial/ Organizational psychology does not interest me due to the psychologists in the field spend a lot of time performing research and statistics. I do not like the field of statistics and have always struggled in the all areas that relate in any way to mathematics. The projects that an industrial organizations psychology participates in may change frequently and the field covers a lot of areas that do not interest me.
Health Psychologist
The field of health psychology is the study of psychological and behavioral processes in health, illness and healthcare. The health psychologist can work in a variety of settings. If they work in a clinical setting, there focus is on behavioral issues, so they will conduct interviews, assessments and tests. The psychologist will work with individuals and groups to address intervention techniques, educating clients in management styles for anger, stress and addictive behaviors. Typically their role is the educator of alternate solutions promoting healthy choices instead of unhealthy behaviors (Ogden, 2007). If the psychologist works in a research setting, their role is to conduct research in a variety of health related issues. The researcher may focus on causes of health problems, establishing preventative techniques and programs and helping individuals to access treatment for recognized issues (Ogden, 2007). Finally, if the psychologist works in the public policy area, their job may be in government or private funded agencies with policy agendas. This type of work is more related to public policy on health issues; they may work for lobbyist or work for the government in helping to reform areas of health care (Ogden, 2007). Most of the psychologist’s working in the field of health psychology holds a doctorate-level degree, because they will be working in a capacity to be questioned as an expert in the field. Those holding lower level education degrees will typically work as an associate with a lower pay scale, or finding themselves working in the areas such as corrections work, Departments of Health and Welfare, HR Departments, etc. (Odgen, 2007).
The heath psychologist license or certification will be usually be governed by the state or area that they reside and practice in. The different states will have different requirements that individuals will need to fulfill to become active in that particular state (APA. 2012).
The professional organizations that area of importance to the health psychologist is the American psychology Association and the American Board of Professional psychology (APA, 2012).

The typical health psychologist can earn up to $85,000 per year. Some of the subfields in this area include clinical health psychology, community health psychology, public health psychology and occupational health psychology. With all the subfields available, the job prospect is very high (Payscale, 2011).
The field of Health psychology interests me due to I like to have an understanding of how biological, behavioral, and social factors influence health and illness. The new technology that is being developed in the medical field makes this field wide open for new knowledge. The other medical fields that the heath psychologist will work among are professionals that I feel I would benefit greatly from working with. The work setting and duties would be based on biology and real life people and their health issues which I feel are the most important aspects of understanding psychology.
References
American Counseling Association (ACA, 2012) Retrieved from www.counseling.org.
American Psychological Association (APA, 2012) Retrieved from http://www.apa.org
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook (2012), Psychologists, Retrieved from www.bls.gov
Ogden, J. (2007). Health psychology: A textbook (4th Ed.). Berkshire, England: Open University Press.
PayScale.com. (2011). Salary Snapshot for Experimental Psychologist Jobs. Retrieved from www.payscale.com
Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology (SIOP, 2012) Retrieved from www.siop.org

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