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What is Psychology?
A psychology professional is a person whose work is centered around figuring out human emotions, motivations, and behaviors, as well as helping those people who have problems controlling their emotions and behaviors. Generally speaking, there are two camps in the world of psychology. The first is involved in research and formal, scientific study of the human mind. The other works with clients on an individual basis, where they may perform psychoanalysis and help their patients come to grips with their lives or their diagnosis. There are still others who bridge the gap. These psychology professionals may take scientific psychological data and then apply it in areas such as corporate organization, marketing, and other fields.
Typically, psychological professionals work with a master’s psychology degree as a minimum. Others, called psychologists, may work with a PhD, and psychiatrists are medical doctors who have completed a psychiatric rotation. However, there are ways for those with associate’s and bachelor's degrees to work in psychology. Many states license people with these degrees to work as substance abuse counselors, for example, and professionals with a bachelor's psychology degree are often found applying their analytical skill in marketing departments.
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Psychology Education in Georgia
Psychology is a rapidly evolving field. New technologies are constantly rolling out, which enable deeper and deeper insights into what makes people tick. The rise of big data, for instance, is allowing researchers new ways of deciphering what makes people do what they do. To help aggregate and make sense of all of this are the psychology professionals who apply psychological theories and scientific methods to interpret all of the information. Naturally, every state wants to retain a competitive edge with regard to this revolution in knowledge and technology. To meet the challenge of both research and clinical psychology, the state of Georgia is supporting educational resources that keep the state in the proverbial game with other states.
As for research psychology, Georgia has been pouring funds into its colleges and universities for decades. When the state implemented its lottery program, the legislature made certain that the resulting revenue would be dedicated solely to education. This created a boom in growth across the state's educational sector. Every school, from kindergarten through university, benefited from the lottery revenue, and that benefit continues to this day. Thus, when a public Georgia university needs new brain imaging technology for its psychology department, the funds are available.
When it comes to clinical mental health psychology practices, Georgia is also at the vanguard. The state has responded to the opioid crisis by licensing addiction counselors with high school diplomas through master’s degrees. There are addiction counseling programs available throughout the state's community college system, and the lottery money helps students afford their counseling education with grants and scholarships.
For each of those licenses, students must meet certain requirements. While the entry-level license only requires a high school diploma or the equivalent, addiction counseling professionals will benefit from at least an associate counseling degree. Those at this level and the bachelor's degree level can earn a degree in psychology or counseling, and the state will accept some related degrees, but everyone must also pass an examination before receiving their license. At the master’s level, the educational requirements become more specific in that these students must hold specific counseling degrees and then also pass the examination. For a master’s level license, there is also a required period of supervised work before they can work one-on-one with clients in private practice.
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Essentially, the state of Georgia recognizes the deep value in studying psychology. As proof, their laws and public policies have been structured to help advance both research and clinical psychology at all levels.
Associate Degree in Psychology (AS)
An associate psychology degree is a terrific way to kick-start a career in the field. Students in Georgia who want to work as counselors or in the mental health field can use their community college diploma to land a license to work as a substance abuse counselor. Addiction counseling requires that they pass an examination and work under supervision, but it is a terrific way to get started.
On top of this opportunity to launch a career as a counselor, an associate psychology degree can have other applications. Those who study the research aspects of psychology, as well as the theory, will have the sort of analytical skills needed to work in a field such as marketing. A psychology background that includes a two-year degree may also help land an entry-level job in a human resources department or consulting firm.
Finally, a Georgia community college degree will satisfy the core college curriculum required by Georgia's public colleges and universities. Psychology degree holders can then apply to a bachelor's degree program and then focus solely on psychology or their degree of choice.
Bachelor's Degree in Psychology (BS)
With a bachelor's psychology degree from a Georgia college or university, students will find many opportunities. They can pursue work in counseling as an addictions counselor or they might seek an entry-level position in some other counseling capacity. For instance, one good choice might be work as an admissions counselor for a college or university. Others may work as career guidance counselors or rehabilitative counselors.
Over the course of a bachelor's psychology degree, students will necessarily take research methods, which can be a solid background for work in marketing. Some psychology majors also apply their skill with statistics to work in finance or elsewhere in business. Students who are eager to work with the public might apply their knowledge of psychology to sales or some sort of customer service field. Finally, a bachelor's degree in psychology has many uses, but those who are passionate for the field will use their four-year degree to apply for a master’s psychology degree for clinical work or psychological research.
Master's Degree in Psychology (MS or MC)
A master’s psychology degree is generally the launchpad for a true career in psychology. During the course of a master’s degree, psychology students can dig deep into the corner of psychology that intrigues them most. Some will get a master’s psychology degree in organizational psychology, while other choices include clinical psychology, research psychology, educational psychology, forensic psychology, and more.
A master’s degree in clinical psychology is perhaps what most think of when they consider this degree option. With a master’s clinical psychology degree, graduates can earn a Georgia state licensure to perform therapy with individual clients. They will have to satisfy other requirements, but a little hard work and dedication will carry them clear to licensure before they know it.
For those who pursue other fields, such as organizational psychology or research psychology, a PhD might be of better use. However, nobody ever earned a doctorate without first completing their master’s psychology degree.
PhD Degree in Psychology (PhD)
PhD/Doctorate Degree: The PhD or doctoral degree is the ultimate academic achievement in any field. For psychological professionals, it is the gold standard, and those with this degree are sure to have brilliant careers. Those who work as therapists can only earn the title psychologist with a PhD. That degree also entitles them to charge more and comes with heightened professional status. Elsewhere in the psychology ecosystem, the PhD is all but a requirement for success.
This is because the field is dominated by academia. Many will earn their doctorate and seek employment as professors in universities. Their doctoral degree will help land the best positions at the best schools, while also enabling them to eventually earn a tenured position. To bring the field forward, professionals need to conduct research, and nothing trains them better for a career in research than a PhD. However, some, such as organizational psychologists, may enter the corporate world where they might not conduct as much original research. Nevertheless, a PhD will help them land the clients they need to succeed.
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Become a Psychologist in Georgia
There is a long road for professionals to walk on the way to become a psychology professional in Georgia. This road typically starts in their early years. Even as young children, many future psychology professionals start showing clear signs that they are intrigued with human thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. While most of us may fit this description, future behavioral scientists take it a step further. They might constantly analyze their and other's actions and motivations. When they gain access to the internet, some may start combing through the pop psychology magazines or even some of the copious amounts of actual psychological literature available there.
In high school, budding psychology professionals need to focus not only on finding psychology courses but also courses in statistics, biology, and any social science courses available to them. Those who are thinking of a career in counseling might consider reading more novels and focusing on their literature courses. They can also investigate volunteer positions that put them in contact with people in need. This will offer experience in ways that school cannot.
When it comes time to find a college degree program for psychology, students should look for programs that focus on the specific areas they are interested in. It's also important to investigate what sorts of resources schools make available to students. Some larger universities may allow undergraduate students access to brain imaging centers or other laboratories. Those who wish to start off in Georgia's community college system may look for degree programs in addiction counseling that will lead to a license and an entry-level position in the mental health field. Regardless of where they wish to take their education and career next, this will prove to be invaluable experience.
Those who go on to a four-year bachelor's psychology degree should make certain that their Georgia college or university has the proper accreditation. At a minimum, their program should hold regional accreditation from a CHEA-approved agency. During the course of the degree, students who wish to pursue a career in research psychology should consider taking additional courses in statistics, sociology, or economics. Those who are interested in clinical work can follow a similar path, but they may also be helped by exploring more work in literature, which can lend added insights into the human condition.
From there, students can pursue their master’s psychology degrees and their PhDs. At the end of their educational journey, they are sure to build brilliant careers in psychology.
Careers for Psychology Graduates
- Psychiatric Technician:
With a high school diploma and a postsecondary certificate, a person can enter the world of psychiatry as a technician. This is a demanding field that will expose workers to the realities of the mental health field. On a daily basis, psychiatric technicians assist people who suffer from a variety of psychiatric and developmental disabilities. Typically, these workers receive on-the-job training. Though this position is very demanding, it can be a terrific entry-level job for someone seeking a long career in psychology.
- Social Work Assistant:
This position can take many forms, but typically these assistants work alongside a social worker who holds a master of social work. They might help their social worker organize their schedule, field calls from their caseload, and even conduct some preliminary interviews with new additions to the caseload. Typically, a social work assistant only needs to hold a high school diploma, though an associate psychology degree will be tremendously helpful.
- Social Worker:
Social workers come in all shapes and sizes. That is, there is no one sort of job that can be called social work. Social workers can earn master’s degrees and work in psychotherapy or as caseworkers for state or non-profit agencies. Some only hold a high school diploma and yet they can work one-on-one with clients with one of many developmental or mental difficulties.
Teachers need to be experts in many fields, including psychology. While a psychology degree isn't necessary, these educational heroes must understand how to motivate students while also having a keen eye for any sorts of difficulties their students may have. After all, teachers are mandatory reporters who are mandated to report any signs of abuse or trauma they detect in their students.
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- Substance Abuse/Addictions Counselor:
This position is one for people at nearly any educational level. The state of Georgia licenses addictions counselors at the high school, associate's degree, bachelor's degree, and master’s levels. At the lower levels, professionals need to work under tight supervision. However, once they attain a master’s degree and a Georgia state license, they can work in private practice or for a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center, as they choose.
- Guidance Counselor/Career Advisor:
The state of Georgia does not require a license for these counseling professionals. However, a typical entry point for the career is a master’s degree in the field. These professionals typically work with undergraduate students to help them build the sort of academic and experiential resume they need to succeed in the field that most interests them.
- Child Counselor/Psychologist:
These psychological professionals are counselors who work exclusively with children who are in need of help. To enter the field, a Georgia state license in counseling psychology is required. Some will come to the field from a master of social work degree program, while others have chosen the more academic master’s in clinical psychology. This field is quite specialized, so budding professionals will need specialized degrees and licensure to work with children. After all, young children need a wholly different approach from adolescents and adults.