They say that the human brain houses a universe more complex than well, the universe. If that was the case, understanding it would probably be one of the most challenging pursuit there is. But, as much as curiosity killed the cat, such curiosity might just kill the naive student that wanted to be a psychologist. But if you already have your mind set, here are tips on the path of becoming a practicing psychologist.
First and foremost, you have to decide how you want to pursue the field. The easiest way would probably be by enrolling in online PsyD courses. Days when there were questions about the validity of online classes are long gone and these programs have gained acceptance in the academic community. A classical setting also has its merits of course. And all in all, either of these choices will largely depend on which one you prefer personally and the time afforded to you.
In becoming a psychologist, there is an abundance of fields wherein you can specialize. The field has become one of the most diverse branches of science. It is not an exaggeration to say that you can come from any form of academic background and be able to build upon your education to pursue a specialized field in psychology.
Psychologists can work in many industries, be it in government, corporate, or an academic setting. Governments hire psychologists to perform a critical evaluation of the policies and procedures of government institutions. This is to ensure the mental and emotional health of the constituents of the government that leads them.
Corporations hire psychologists for a similar reason as well. Corporate employees, especially in the US, are exposed to one of the most mentally, and emotionally challenging workplace environments. Some US states and governments from other parts of the world require that corporations have a system in place to ensure the mental stability of their employees.
If you want to go into psychology for the love of the study itself, you might want to engage in the academic aspect of the field. Psychology has one of the most vibrant and fastest growing research capacities in all of academics.
You can also choose to work privately. This option presents many different kinds of opportunities. As a therapist for instance, a psychologist applies the teachings of the field to help individuals, partners and groups in resolving issues among themselves. Another area where you could ply your trade is as a counselor. You can work as a guidance counselor for a school, a community counselor, jail counselor, or a supervisor for personal behavioural abuses like addiction. If you want to work at resolving extreme issues involving chemical imbalances in the brain that causes mental instability like schizophrenia and other behaviors that can cause self harm, you can choose to become a clinical psychologist. Clinical psychology is probably the toughest field to get into, and that is because it is one of the toughest jobs there is.
Psychologists can work literally everywhere. They can work as researchers in laboratories, sitting at home teaching online PsyD courses, as doctors in hospitals, as counselors in prisons, schools and universities, in a supporting role for soldiers in the war fronts, as priests, as hired psychologists in courtrooms, and when the Mars mission comes into fruition, you can bet that there is going to be a psychologist on board.
As a socially involved profession, psychologists are expected to work with others whether with fellow psychologist or professionals from other fields. This means working with medical doctors, military generals, politicians, engineers, scientists and virtually any profession.
To enhance effectiveness of a practicing psychologist he/she must choose a target population category that he/she wish to specialize in. He/she will choose his/her specialization by gender, age group, mental disability, income class, and others. Gender specialization can be one of, or a combination of, either male, female, and transgender. Age groups can be divided as infants, toddlers, pre-teen, teen, young adult, adult, middle age, and elderly. Mental disabilities comes in many shapes and sizes, thus categorizing work in this scope are treated in different ways. For example, an addiction is a general mental condition that can be used as a single specialization. And borne from it, are other specializations that are derivative of that mental condition such as specializations in treating alcoholism and drug dependencies.
Now that we have elaborated on most of the possible fields where a psychologist can practice. Here are the steps in becoming a practicing psychologist.
Earn an undergraduate
As the subtitle states, you should earn an undergraduate. But not necessarily as a psychology major. It is highly encouraged to choose a major that you can see yourself in the environment of. For instance, if you wish to become a guidance counselor, an undergraduate background in education will be very helpful. Or if you want to work at a research facility, a strong scientific background, in majors like biology and chemistry will be of value.
Get your license
Most countries offer licences in psychology to masters degree holders. This is mainly due to the level of maturity required to perform psychology evaluations and treatments. As with all professional licences, the system is designed to regulate highly critical societal roles. And this is no different in the psychologist profession. A missed diagnosis, or a wrong advice can lead to life and death.
Get a PsyD or PhD
A PsyD is the probably easier one to get between the two. Online PsyD classes are more common than PhD classes as well. A doctorate is the highest possible academic degree that can be given to an individual. Having a doctorate not only gives your further validity as a psychology professional, but allows you to apply for the highest licenses that the field can offer.
Psychology is truly a marvelous field of study. It is as much as lucrative as it is an opportunity to help out others in dire need. The experience in itself can be very rewarding and agonizing, depending on how you view it. But in the end, being a psychologist will make it all worthwhile.