What is Psychology?
Life can be stressful. For some, the everyday stresses of life can be hard to navigate and they find themselves struggling. Others might suffer a traumatic incident that leaves them struggling to deal with their lives. Others still just might need an impartial person to bounce thoughts off of that can also help them identify ways of dealing with their problems. The people who are tasked with helping those who are struggling are psychology professionals, and they have become a vital part of our society. Without social workers and other psychology professionals, there would be even more people struggling in the world than there already are. They truly are needed by a lot of people.
There are roughly 1,000 psychology professionals working in Idaho. If you include social workers who are also trained in psychology, that number increases significantly. However, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the need for psychology professionals is expected to increase over the next ten years. If this seems like a profession that might be of interest to you, continue reading the provided information.
When people think of psychology professionals, they often picture a man in his 50s or 60s, smoking a pipe and asking his patient to tell him about his mother. But this is a stereotype, and a pretty inaccurate one at that. Psychology professionals aren’t just sweater-wearing therapists, they can be found in all kinds of industries, doing all kinds of work. Knowing how a person is thinking and why they feel a certain way is important for a variety of reasons. It can drive what they buy, what they wear, and what they believe. All of these things can help business produce better products, healthcare professionals create better treatments, even musicians create better music. There is a lot of benefit to understanding the human psyche, and psychology professionals make a career out of doing so.
Psychology Education in Idaho
As with most professions, the educational requirements differ depending on your career goals. For example, a person who wants to be a social worker and provide services for the state might need a different level of education than someone who wants to become a clinical psychologist. As a rule of thumb, the further a person wants to go in their career in the field of psychology, the more additional education is required. And, for those who want to enter the clinical world, a terminal degree is almost always required to attain a full license. So, if you are someone who isn’t prepared to pursue at least three degrees to reach to top tier of your career, you might want to rethink either your career goals or your chosen field. Below are the various educational levels and what you will study at each level.
Associate Degree in Psychology (AS)
A two-year degree in psychology won’t qualify a person to work directly with patients. What it can do, however, is help a person determine if this is a path they want to take as a career. With an associate degree, a person can work in a clerical position or doing maintenance in a group home setting. It can also be a foot in the door of an agency once the person has attained more education. With that said, a two-year degree does provide an educational foundation that can be built upon.
Students will study the following courses:
- Behavioral Psychology
- Child Psychology
- Human Development
- Intro to Psychology
- Intro to Sociology
The degree typically takes four semesters, or two years, to complete and includes around 60 credit hours of coursework. An associate degree also commonly includes many of the same general education courses that a bachelor’s degree requires, which is why it is an excellent, and inexpensive, way to prepare for a full four-year undergraduate degree.Read More about an Associates in Psychology
Bachelor's Degree in Psychology (BS)
A four-year degree in psychology helps an aspiring psychology professional gain the base knowledge to start their career. The bachelor’s degree helps students develop both their problem solving and critical-thinking skills. They are also introduced to the study of behavioral neuroscience and can hone their communication skills. Once a graduate starts working, these skills will be important wherever they start their careers. Bachelor’s degrees typically take four years to complete but some people need more or less time to graduate.
The program typically includes these core courses:
- Behavioral Neuroscience
- Cognitive Psychology
- General Psychology
- Life Span Development
- Psychology in Everyday Life
- Sensation and Perception
Although a person can have a successful career as a psychology professional with a bachelor’s degree, students who want to work on the clinical side will have to pursue additional education. However, a bachelor’s degree is the most commonly earned degree in the US and helps students to prepare for a career in a variety of fields. Someone planning to earn a master’s will have to earn a bachelor’s before they can gain entry into a graduate program.Read More about a Bachelors in Psychology
Master's Degree in Psychology (MS or MC)
The next step for someone who wants to work as a clinician or counselor is gaining a master’s degree in psychology. Graduate degree programs usually take three to five years and consists of classroom training, an internship, and a capstone or comprehensive exam.
Students enrolled in a graduate program will study courses such as:
- Clinical Psychopharmacology
- Group Dynamics
- Learning and Cognition
- Organizational Behavior
- Principles of Neuroscience
Those who earn a graduate degree are also likely to have access to a variety of concentrations, which may allow students to complete a degree in organizational psychology, mental health counseling, clinical psychology, etc.Read More about a Masters in Psychology
PhD Degree in Psychology (PhD)
There are two types of doctorate degrees psychology professions can attain, a PhD or a PsyD. A doctorate of letters in psychology (PhD) is for people who are more interested in research and academia, i.e., they want to teach psychology. The doctorate in psychology (PsyD) is for those who want to become clinicians and counselors and work with patients. Both require five or more years to complete, and a dissertation must be written and successfully defended.
Some course in both programs include:
- Assessment, Statistics, and Research Techniques
- Developmental Psychology
- Multicultural Consistencies
It’s important to note that students will work on their dissertation throughout their academic career in the program, but there will be a final push to complete and defend the dissertation after all classwork requirements have been met. Some people choose not to finish their dissertation, and these people have the classification of ABD (all but dissertation). But in many states, to achieve full licensure, the dissertation has to be completed so that the full doctorate degree can be granted.
Become a Psychologist in Idaho
The first step to becoming a psychology professional in Idaho is attaining the required education. This means you must attend regionally accredited colleges and universities and complete all the requirements for graduation. Attending a school that is not accredited by an organization recognized by the state of Idaho could mean you will not be allowed to work in the state. After you’ve graduated, you will need to attain the proper licenses in order to work in the state. Idaho is a state where a psychologist can prescribe medication, so if this is an option you want with your career, make sure you choose an educational program that will fulfill the requirements.
Depending on the license desired, the number of clinical hours and internship can vary, so again, it is wise to know the requirements while you’re still in school so that you’ll be prepared to continue your career in a positive direction. Most of the time, working under the tutelage of a licensed clinician is required for a license, as well as a certain number of work hours and courses. In Idaho, those looking to become a psychologist must complete two years, or 2,000 hours, of supervised experience in the field. Each ‘year’ (1,000 hours) may be completed in as little as 12 months or as many as 36, so you can speed through your hours or complete them over time as you finish your doctorate; you can begin your supervised experience after your first year of graduate study.
Most newly graduated psychology professionals spend the next few years attaining the requirements to take the licensing exam. And it is important to note that for a full license, a PhD or PsyD is required. In some cases, a master’s degree and substantial work experience can be substituted but, in most cases, a terminal degree is required. As for the licensing exam, you must complete the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP) before you can obtain full licensure. The exam’s cost is $600, and candidates will need to pay an additional fee to the testing center who proctors the exam.
Careers for Psychology Graduates
There are a lot of careers for a person who wants to be a psychology professional. Below are some of the more interesting and popular choices a person can make.
- Human Resources Specialist
Human resource specialists track the actions of employees in a company. Although they are often in charge of choosing candidates for positions in a company, it’s often more detailed than just whether or not a resume is a good match for a position. If the company performs assessments for employment, the human resource specialist is the one who administers the assessments. They are also the people tasked with maintaining programs aimed at helping employees with emotional and medical conditions that can hamper job performance. An acute attention to detail and excellent communication skills are requirements for this position. This job is a good fit for a person who wants to work as a psychology professional but isn’t ready to pursue an education beyond a bachelor’s degree.
A degree in psychology can help a teacher better understand and communicate with their students. Teachers that understand why students might act as they do can help with the design and execution of lesson plans and the overall approach a teacher uses in a classroom. For example, knowing how students learn and knowing how to assess this information can result in a more positive learning environment for all students. Some teachers return to school and attain a psychology degree, while others include psychology as part of the education degree by either taking psychology courses as electives or declaring psychology as a minor.
- Victim Advocate
Victim advocates represent clients during legal proceedings. They work with adults and children who are survivors of domestic, sexual, and other forms of abuse. The help to advise the client about how court procedures will occur and offer general support. Many victim advocates are social workers, but psychologists can also be advocates as well.
- Community Health Worker
Community health workers observe and help to maintain the overall health and safety of a community. When they recognize issues, they gather the required staff and organizations to help correct the issue. For example, a community health worker could arrange for free blood pressure screenings for a neighborhood with residents dealing with medical conditions or comorbidities that might indicate high blood pressure. They could also organize community activities for children who need to get more exercise or a safe place to go after school.
- Social Worker
Social workers do more than place children in foster care and help reunite families that are in crisis. Social workers work in every industry imaginable, helping people in a variety of ways. A social worker might be a career coach, or an addiction counselor. They could also be the person who stops by a veteran or elderly person’s house and ensures they eaten that day and taken their medications. Social workers strive to keep an eye out for issues or problems and then find solutions to those problems.
Many of psychology-focused professions can be started with a four-year degree, but others will require additional education and licensure.
- Child Counselor/Psychologist
- School/Education Psychologist – School Counselor - Guidance Counselor
- Substance Abuse/Addictions Counselor
- Family and Marriage Therapist
- Psychology Researcher
- Psychology Professor – Postsecondary
- Career Counselor
- Genetic Counselor
- Counselor (Private Practice)
- Residential Counselor
- Clinical Therapist
- College Counselor
- Family Therapist
- Group Counselor
- Marriage and Family Counselor
- Mental Health Counselor
- Psychiatric Technician
- Social Work Assistant
- Community Service Manager
- Administrative Service Manager
- Guidance Counselor/Career Advisor