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What is Psychology?

Psychology is the ideal career option for those interested in learning about and understanding the human condition. There is a real need for psychology professionals currently, both in North Dakota as well as the rest of the United States. Life for the last several years have taken a toll on people and many struggle to cope. They are seeking assistance while remaining productive members or society or, if they fell on hard times, help with finding ways to return to the life they once enjoyed. Psychology professionals are just the people to assist in that journey.

There are numerous options for someone who wants to work as a psychology professional. Whether you want to work with children, adults, the elderly, veterans, addicts, or people living with mental health issues, you can build a vital and important career. In the state of North Dakota, there is a shortage of people working in the psychology field. So much so, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) does not have enough data to provide information for the state. However, on a national stage, the need for psychology professionals in expected to increase by 8% between now and 2030. The need is there and, if you have the desire to help people understand themselves on a deeper level, then this is a good time to pursue a career as a psychology professional. Below is some information to help you get started. You’ll find educational paths, licensing requirement, and some potential career ideas for when you are ready to begin working in the field.

Simply put, a psychology professional is a person who works in the psychology field. The position a person holds within the industry will depend upon their education, experience, and interests. You may find a position in counseling, therapy, research, and more. The common denominator is that a person in this field is focused on helping people. Some might want to work as counselors and therapists, while other want to work at ground level to eliminate the issues that lead people to need mental health services. There really is no average day for people who work in this industry since the people and situations revolving them change daily.

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Online Psychology Education in North Dakota

As with most careers, there are educational levels for those who want to work as psychology professionals. The more education a person has, the further they can progress in their careers. Also, in order to attain certain licenses in psychology or counseling, a person much reach certain educational levels. For the most part, those who want to work in research or in a clinical setting have to attain at a minimum a graduate degree. This also applies for anyone who wants to enter academia. Below are some of the degree requirements for each degree level.

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Online Associate Degree in Psychology (AS)

An associate degree in psychology gives a person an idea of whether or not they want to pursue a career in psychology and can jumpstart your bachelor’s degree if you attend a school that will transfer credits to your future learning institution. In terms of usefulness in the workforce, the degree won’t offer a whole lot within psychology roles, though you may find a job in business or another field based on having earned any degree. Some organizations might allow a person with a two-year degree to do clerical work, but they will not be allowed to work with patients.

Courses included in the two-year degree include:

  • Intro to Psychology
  • Intro to Sociology
  • Behavioral Psychology
  • Ethics
  • Human Development
  • Child Psychology

The degree typically takes four semesters to complete, assuming you attend full-time. Those who attend only part-time may take a bit longer to complete their program. For those who are interested in a degree but already have a job or family obligations, there are online learning options available from across the country at this level. These options generally do not require any residency, so you can earn your degree without ever leaving home.

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Online Bachelor's Degree in Psychology (BS)

A bachelor’s degree in psychology introduces students to behavioral neuroscience and helps them develop communication, problem-solving, and critical thinking skills. These skills are important and will be needed once a student graduates and starts their career working for places such as welfare agencies, businesses, human resources, or the government, just to name a few options.

These degrees take four years to complete and students will cover courses such as the following.

  • General Psychology
  • Life Span Development
  • Behavioral Neuroscience
  • Cognitive Psychology
  • Sensation and Perception
  • Psychology in Everyday Life
  • And more

For students who want to explore the clinical side of working as a psychology professional, additional education will be required, but that doesn’t mean a person cannot have a successful career with a bachelor’s degree. You may be able to work as a psychiatric technician, assist in a private practice, work as a substance abuse counselor, or find a number of available careers outside the field of psychology.

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Online Master's Degree in Psychology (MS)

The next step for someone who wants to work as a clinician or counselor is getting a master’s degree in psychology, or counseling if that’s a better fit for you. Graduate degree programs usually take three to five years and consist of classroom training, an internship, and a capstone or comprehensive exam.

Students enrolled in a graduate program will study courses such as:

  • Clinical Psychopharmacology
  • Ethics
  • Group Dynamics
  • Learning and Cognition
  • Organizational Behavior
  • Principles of Neuroscience
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Online PhD Degree in Psychology (PhD)

Doctorate students have two options when it comes to terminal degrees. The first option is the PhD, or the Doctorate of Letters in Psychology, which is ideal for those who want to work in research or want to teach psychology at the university level. For those who want to become clinicians and work with patients, the Doctorate in Psychology (PsyD) is their best option. Both degrees take between five and seven years to complete, and a dissertation must be written and successfully defended.

Some of the classes included in doctorate programs include the following.

  • Assessment, Statistics, and Research Techniques
  • Developmental Psychology
  • Multicultural Consistencies

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It is possible to complete all the coursework and clinicals required and work as a counselor at some capacity without completing a dissertation. This is referred to as a PhD-ABD or PsyD-ABD. ABD stands for “all but dissertation”. However, in many states, Kansas included, to receive a license to run a private practice, you must complete your doctorate degree, including the dissertation.

Become a Psychologist in North Dakota

Unlike some professions that can be started without a formal education, a psychology professional’s first step is attaining an education in psychology. For those who want a better understanding of how and why a person acts a certain way in order to better communicate with them in a business setting, a bachelor’s degree could be sufficient. But for those who want to enter into research of clinical practice, then continuing to get a graduate degree is the next step.

Once a person has a graduate degree, they can work as a counselor or therapist in many areas. The only requirement is that they must work under a licensed clinician. For those who want to one day start their own practice, independent of another clinician, a terminal degree, either a PhD or PsyD, will be required. This degree will require three to five more years of education and a dissertation.

To work in some areas of psychology in North Dakota, a license is required. The more education a person has, the easier it is to meet the requirements.

For example, a person holding a PhD in Psychology or other related field must meet the following criteria to become a licensed clinical counselor in North Dakota:

  • A total of 60 graduate semester credits that must include abnormal psychology and psychopathology, and clinical counseling skills.
  • Must have completed 700 hours of training in supervised practice and/or internships relevant to the practice of counseling.
  • Two years (3,000 hours) of post-masters supervised clinical experience in a clinical setting. All applications received after 7-1-16 must show 100 hours of supervision by an LPCC.
  • Three letters of reference from clinical professionals, including a form to be filled out by the clinical supervisor.
  • A passing score on the National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination.

Careers for Psychology Graduates

With an education in psychology, there are several directions a person can go to find their ideal career. Below are a few of the options you can consider.

  • Psychiatric Technician
    Psychiatric technicians assist with the day-to-day care of psychiatric patients in facilities and group homes. They help with feeding, bathing, and other daily activities a person might have. They are also often safe people for patients to talk to. This is a position that someone with a two-year degree or a new bachelor’s degree graduate might hold. It’s a good way to help a person decide if they want to work with people with mental health issues or might prefer to work with another group in the psychology field.
  • Social Worker
    Social workers work with the public and help them solve problems. A social workers’ duties will vary depending on the people they are serving. Some people automatically think of children and family services when they think of social workers, but that is a very narrow focus. Social workers work with veterans, adults with mental and emotional health issues, the elderly, and children of all ages. Social workers have a keen sense of detail and can often “read between the lines” when observing situations. They may work for government agencies, private companies, hospitals, clinics, schools, or colleges.
  • Community Service Manager
    A community service manager meets with community members and organizations with funding for the community to determine and meet the needs of the community. Service managers create and fine tune programs created to meet the needs of the community. They are aware of the needs of the community they service because they are often a part of that community.
  • Victim Advocate
    Victim advocates support clients during legal proceedings. They work with adults and children who are survivors of domestic, sexual, and other forms of abuse. They help to advise the client about how court procedures will occur and offer general support. Many victim advocates are social workers, but psychologists can be advocates, as well. Advocates can be appointed by the court or can work independently through other social service agencies.

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  • Child Counselor/Psychologist
    When children need to talk to someone because of a mental or emotional issue, they often speak to child counselors or a child psychologist. These professionals are specially trained to help children deal with their issues. Child psychologists can be found in schools, social service agencies, hospitals, and in private practice.
  • Substance Abuse/Addictions Counselor
    Substance abuse and addiction counselors work with people who are aiming to overcome addiction issues. Some counselors choose to focus on certain additions over others, such as drugs and alcohol, while other work with all types of addictions. The counseling can be done on both an individual and group level and can take place off-site or at a facility for in-patients and out-patients. Counselors have techniques they use to assist a person with working through their addictions, identifying the triggers, and learning ways to avoid these issues in the future so they can protect their sobriety.
  • Family and Marriage Therapist
    Family and marriage therapists work with married couples and families to assist in creating solutions to issues. Marriage therapists help a married couple navigate issues that are hampering or even jeopardizing their marriage. Family therapists work with the whole family to improve the family dynamic.

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