Deciding whether or not to major in psychology is no small decision. While psychology is an exciting and fulfilling career field, it isn’t for everyone. Before you start down the path to becoming a psychologist, there a number of things you should consider and questions you should ask to make sure a career in psychology is going to meet your career, personal, and lifestyle expectations.
Do You Like Working With Others?
Psychology is one career that provides plenty of opportunity to work with people. Not only will you be working with individual patients, but you’ll likely be working with other psychology and medical professional in a cooperative effort to improve the lives of the people you treat. If you really enjoy helping people learn how to live more productive and fruitfull lives, pursuing a psychology major could be an excellent choice.
Can You Deal With Stress?
As a psychologist, not only will you have to cope with your own stress but you’ll have to cope with that of your patients as well. While there are several career options (research, teaching, consulting, etc.) that provide less stressful working environments, most psychology graduates will end up working in the human services field spending the majority of their time treating individuals that suffer from various behavioral and mental disorders. It is not uncommon for psychologists involved in daily direct-patient care to become frustrated or get burnt out.
In addition to traditional psychology courses, it’s wise for aspiring psychologists to get training in counseling and stress management in order to develop productive methods for dealing with ongoing work-related stress. After years of working as a psychologist, it’s not uncommon for even the most seasoned psychologists to experience stress, mental fatique, and even burn-out.
Are Your Ready To Earn A Graduate Degree?
With exception of medicine, very few career paths require as much education as do psychology careers. While non-psychology job opportunities are available for professionals with a bachelor’s degree, most entry-level jobs in psychology fields require a Master’s (minimum), Ph.D. or Psy.D. in psychology from an accredited program. While graduate psychology programs often take 4 to 7 years to complete, job opportunities following graduation are plentiful.
Is A Career in Psychology A Good Fit?
One nice thing about psychology is that it offers an extensive selection of subdisciplines to choose from. However, there are certain aspects of psychology that are common among all disciplines. A few questions that you should ask yourself before you to decide to pursue a career in psychology include the following:
- Do you like experimenting with theorectical ideas?
- Do you enjoy problem solving?
- Do you enjoy working with people?
- Can you handle mentally and emotionally stressful situations?
- Do you like research? Or do you prefer teaching?
- Are you ready for 4 to 7 years of graduate education?
Before you select a psychology major you’ll want to perform an indepth self assessment and identify your own personal preferences and interests. Once you’re sure that psychology is a good fit, you’ll then want to determine which field of psychology you want to pursue, as each has unique educational requirements.
Have You Consulted With an Advisor or Industry Professional
Before jumping head first into a psychology major, take some time and meet with an advisor at the college you attend, or will be attending. An advisor can help you decide if a major in psychology is the right choice based on your personal and career aspirations and goals.
We also highly recommend interviewing a few professionals that currently work in general psychology or in the field of psychology that you want to be involved in. Interviewing a practicing psychologist, and learning about their educational and professional experience, will help you determine if psychology is the field for you. It will also provide valuable insight into possible career paths you may not have considered.