What is Psychology?
Although many people automatically think of psychologists or psychiatrists when psychology is mentioned, these are just two of many careers in the field. This is because there are many types of psychology professionals needed: adults, children, families, veterans, and others all might need assistance at some point, and each of these areas are a specialization for psychology professionals. If you think you would be interested in helping people when they are seeking mental health assistance, keep reading. Below you’ll find information about education requirements, job duties, and a few descriptions of careers a person with an education in psychology can explore.
A psychology professional is someone who works in the psychology field. When many people think of a psychology professional, they automatically think of my psychologist or psychiatrist. And, although both of these professions do make up a large part of the industry, there are many other careers that fall within the psychology profession. In that same vein, some careers require certifications and licenses, while others do not. Educational requirements are also different depending on the chosen career. Many psychology professionals work in a hospital or clinic setting, but others work for social service agencies, schools, and in corporate America. Psychology professionals work with individuals, groups, and people from every walk of life.
Online Psychology Education in Michigan
Like most careers, the more education a person has in psychology, the further they can progress in the industry. This does not mean that a person cannot work in the psychology field with an associate or bachelor’s degree. However, they will not be able to work in one-on-one counseling at these levels. Below are the degree levels a person can pursue and some ideas of positions a person can hold depending on their level of education.
Online Associate Degree in Psychology (AS)
An associate degree in psychology isn’t enough education for a person to work with patients. However, it is enough to allow a person to work in hospital and clinics in clerk or assistant roles. The degree can also give a student an idea of what they will be studying and help them decide if they want to continue to pursue a higher degree. And for those who do choose to continue their education, the degree is usually transferrable to our four-year program.
Students will study the following courses:
- Behavioral Psychology
- Child Psychology
- Human Development
- Intro to Psychology
- Intro to Sociology
This degree typically takes four semesters to complete.
Online Bachelor's Degree in Psychology (BS)
Bachelor's Degrees in Psychology typically include core courses covering subjects such as the following.
- Behavioral Psychology
- Cognitive Psychology
- General Psychology
- Life Span Development
- Psychology in Everyday Life
- Sensation and Perception
- Abnormal Psychology
- And More
Although a person can have a successful career as a psychology professional with a bachelor’s degree if they wish to work in assisting positions or with those suffering from addictions, students who want to work on the clinical side or in a private counseling position will have to pursue additional education.
Online Master's Degree in Psychology (MS or MA)
A master’s degree in psychology is usually required for anyone who wants to have a career as a counselor or therapist. Master degrees generally take 18 months to two years to complete and a capstone as well as clinical hours are required for successful completion of a program. A master’s degree is psychology is common, but many people also get master degrees in social work, sociology, or another area of human services. With the graduate degree, a person can apply for a license, sit for certification exams, and work as a therapist under the tutelage of a licensed clinician.
Online PhD Degree in Psychology (PhD)
A doctorate degree is also referred to as a terminal degree because this is the highest degree level you can acquire. Once a person has a doctorate, they have fulfilled all educational requirements to become a licensed clinician who can have their own practice. A doctorate degree can take up to seven years to complete, and a dissertation is required to be completed and defended. Upon completion, doctorate holders can go into private practice, take teaching positions, or work as researchers.
Become a Psychologist in Michigan
The first step in becoming a psychology professional in Michigan is attaining the required education. You can start with an associate degree in psychology to see if this is a profession you are truly interested in pursuing. Many schools that offer two-year degrees in psychology are coupled with the best college or university that offers bachelor's degrees in the field, so making the jump from a two to four-year degree can be relatively seamless.
With a degree in psychology, you can get positions at social service agencies and mental health organizations. You won’t be able to work as a therapist or counselor in most cases, but you can do intake services and screenings. If you want to become a counselor or therapist, you will need additional training and education. This is when a graduate degree should be pursued. While working on your graduate degree, continue working in the field so you have a rapport with local agencies you might want to work with after you finish your graduate degree.
Also, while you’re working on your graduate degree you’ll want to decide what licenses or certifications you want to pursue. There are many options; you can choose to work with children, adults, families, the elderly, veterans, the homeless, the mentally ill, or a combination of these areas. Depending on the direction you choose, you’ll pick the certification and license that matches this path. For example, if you want to become an alcohol or drug counselor, you’ll pursue the qualifications for alcohol and drug counseling.
With the graduate degree, you can now get a license to practice as a therapist under a licensed clinician. However, if you want to open your own private practice, you’ll need your doctorate. Along with the doctorate, you’ll need work experience under the tutelage of a licensed clinician in a specific area. Your previous and current work experience applies toward that requirement. Another option is for people who want to become psychiatrists to apply to medical school so they can attain the medical education needed to become a psychiatrist.
Potential Careers for Psychology Graduates
- Psychiatric Technician
Psychiatric technicians offer therapeutic care to people who are being treated for mental illness. They most often work in clinics and psychiatric hospitals and they assist with bathing, clothing, general hygiene care, and supervising patients when they are in common areas such as the conference room or outside.
- Social Work Assistant or Social Worker
Social workers help people in crisis. Whether they are helping the homeless find shelter, assisting with children in the foster care system, or as a community outreach worker, social workers’ primary goals are to help people overcome issues that might be hampering their lives. Social workers are licensed, and some can also work as counselors or therapists.
- Community Service Manager
Community service managers work with organizations that are part of a community. They are often well known in the community they serve, speaking with residents and determining their needs. They then take this information back to the organizations for which they work, and solutions are sought to meet the community needs. For example, a community service manager might meet with parents in the community and help to develop before or after school programs so that kids have some place safe to go before and after school while their parents are working.
- Guidance Counselor/Career Advisor
Students about to graduate from high school or college don’t always know what their next step should be. Guidance counselors can help students examine their options and make the best choice for them. For adults who are changing careers, career advisors offer this same service for them. Both guidance counselors and career advisors use a set of tools and techniques to help their advisees narrow down their interests and focus until their best options are apparent to them.
- Victim Advocate
Victims are often too traumatized to speak for themselves and victim advocates are assigned to speak for them. Advocates are well-versed in the systems that victims are often forced to deal with either while seeking justice or other forms of relief, and they can educate victims on how these processes work. Victim advocates work with adults, children, and families to ensure that their issues are addressed and they are treated fairly and with care.
- Child Counselor/Psychologist
Psychologists that work with children have a specific skill set and are trained to work with children. They work with both children of all ages. Some opt to specialize in various age groups such as young children, pre-teens, and teenagers, those who are dealing with behavioral issues, emotional issues, or at-home problems that are affecting them at school. These counselors work in clinics, schools, and for social service agencies that are called in for interventions and to help families in crisis.
Below are more of the possibilities for those who complete bachelor’s, master’s or PhD degrees. There are a huge number of options for anyone interested in this field.
- Substance Abuse/Addictions Counselor
- Family and Marriage Therapist
- Psychology Researcher
- Psychology Professor – Postsecondary
- Career Counselor
- Counselor (Private Practice)
- Community Health Worker
- Residential Counselor
- Clinical Therapist
- College Counselor
- Family Therapist
- Group Counselor
- Marriage and Family Counselor
- Mental Health Counselor
- Administrative Service Manager
- Human Resources Specialist