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What is Psychology?

Oregon is a very diverse place. After all, its geography includes beaches, snow-capped mountains, forests, and desert. It’s sparsely populated, but it manages to support a diverse economy that includes ranching, superconductors, athletic apparel, high technology, and even cutting edge culinary and entertainment activities.

The top industry in Oregon happens to be real estate. After all, it does have endless tracts of land in the east and then some of the most sought-after urban plots in Portland. The state is also the nation's 24th ranked for manufacturing and it ranks 23rd for information. These strong numbers are all in spite of a small overall population.

A psychology professional is a person whose career centers around trying to figure out human behavior. We commonly think of psychology professionals as therapists who work in quiet, dimly lit offices where clients lie on a sofa and discuss their troubles. However, there are many psychology professionals who work as researchers, social workers, professors, corporate consultants, or even administrators in mental health agencies.

Psychology professionals typically hold a master’s degree, but that's not a foregone conclusion. Some psychology professionals may earn a license and work as addiction counselors and there are plenty more who put their knowledge to work in other, non-psychology-related sectors with just a bachelor’s degree. However, earning a master’s degree is key for those who wish to work as independent counseling professionals or in academia. Every state requires a master’s degree in clinical psychology or social work for all candidates who wish to work as independent therapists in private practice.

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Online Psychology Education in Oregon

The state also is very strong when it comes to supporting its citizens. Social services are an important part of cities like Portland, where needy folks can always find a helping hand. Naturally, mental health services are also a top priority for Oregonians. Even those who cannot afford private insurance are covered under the Oregon Health Plan, which covers therapist bills, and more.

Thus, Oregon is a terrific place to earn a psychology degree and work in the field. Its colleges and universities support strong programs that are staffed by top faculty from the best schools. While the state's mental health reputation may have been tarnished by the novel One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Oregon has come a long way since then. Psychology professionals have revamped the state's approach to mental health, creating a healthy environment for psychology professionals and their patients.

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Online Associate Degree in Psychology (AS)

There is no direct application of an associate psychology degree in the field of psychology or counseling, but any degree can be a great stepping-stone toward a great career. An associate psychology degree is a terrific degree that has multiple applications. Psychology degrees may be useful for salespeople, customer service jobs, and more. Those psychology students who also take statistics may find even more opportunities.

An associate degree is also very helpful in itself. All community colleges require that students complete the general college curriculum as part of their associate degree. These courses provide students with core skills that improve overall thinking and communication. An associate degree is not a necessary requirement before earning a full four-year bachelor’s degree but, given that community colleges charge far less than their four-year colleagues, students who start their four-year college journey with an associate psychology degree will see great benefits in their long-term financial situation.

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Online Bachelor's Degree in Psychology (BS)

A full four-year bachelor’s psychology degree is perhaps the best starting point for a career in the field. Students who complete their bachelor’s psychology degree will have a solid foundation on which to learn and grow. Some states will even confer licenses so that they can begin a mental health career in addiction counseling with no further education, though Oregon requires that you hold at least a master’s for this type of counseling as well. Therefore, this degree will not allow holders to practice one-on-one counseling, much less open a private counseling practice, but it is necessary for anyone who wants to earn a graduate degree and gain licensure in the state.

A bachelor’s degree also makes sense because it allows students more time and opportunity to study complimentary topics. Some may want to apply their psychology practice to the business community, in which case they can take management courses. They may also want to dive deep into research, and so may take statistics or complete an internship with a research firm. There are also internship opportunities available with mental health agencies.

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Online Master's Degree in Psychology (MS)

A master’s psychology degree is the goal of most psychology students. Whether they want to practice as therapists or conduct research, they will need a master’s psychology degree at some point. States only license therapists and counselors who hold master’s degrees. The licensure process also involves an examination, supervised counseling practice, ethics exams, and references, etc.

Some may take the somewhat unusual step of enrolling in an MBA program. This choice will help those who wish to work as administrators in mental health agencies. They may also use their undergraduate study of psychology to inform their work in management, human resources, or leadership if they decide they do not wish to gain licensure in counseling.

Another choice is to earn a dual MBA along with a master’s psychology degree. This option may be best for those who focus on organizational psychology because the MBA will complement their studies and could open many doors in corporate America. Some may even focus their work in psychology on research and their MBA work on marketing. Thus, they can work as marketing analysts or data scientists in the commercial realm.

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Online PhD Degree in Psychology (PhD)

A PhD in psychology is a very valuable degree, indeed. Most who enter the field aspire to earn their doctorate degree so that they can pursue tenure track positions in academia or to become psychologists in the clinical field. A PhD tends to open up three general opportunities: research, academia, or clinical work.

Those who choose to do scientific research during their PhD studies can then move on to a career in academia. Then they have the choice of entering a job as a research faculty or a teaching professor. Some professors will continue to conduct research and, in fact, that may be necessary for a tenure track position. Those in the research faculty likewise need to continue their work, often bringing grant money into their universities.

There are also organizational psychologists who may work in the corporate sphere. They help firms address issues related to psychology including how to design and arrange workspace, manage employee relations, and how to structure compensation to provide the most satisfactory psychological effect.

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Become a Psychologist in Oregon

Nearly everyone is interested in psychology to a certain extent. We are all interested in how our behavior impacts others, and we may even want sound explanations for our own actions. When we enter the working world, psychological insights can help us have more effective co-worker relationships. We also appreciate deeper insights into those in our personal lives. However, it can sometimes be confusing to figure out how to get into the field.

For most in the psychology field, the journey to become a psychologist started early in life. They may have had a relative who suffered with mental illness or perhaps they witnessed certain phenomena among their peers. Some friends may have matured sooner than others and some may have suffered brain injuries or mental illness that started you thinking about how the mind works.

Regardless of the personal impetus to dive into psychology as an academic and career field, Oregonians can start their journey early. Some high schools these days are offering psychology and sociology courses, which can set the groundwork for later learning in social sciences. Students can also look for courses in statistics, which will be very helpful later on, especially if they are interested in psychological research. It may even be helpful to study economics, since so much of human suffering arises from economic conditions. Further, actions in the market are often due to psychology as much as finance, and an early study of these movements can be invaluable. Indeed, any high school exposure to social science can prove valuable.

Then, when it comes time to find a bachelor’s psychology degree program, students will have some basis for their choices. The more analytical and mathematical students will want to find a program that is strong in research methods, and which may offer minor concentrations in other social sciences or even statistics. It cannot be stressed enough that statistical modeling is vital to the field of psychology.

Students should also look for fully accredited programs whose alumni are known to enter top master’s psychology degree programs. As a minimum standard, students should seek programs with at least regional accreditation. They should also look into how many PhDs are on the permanent, tenured faculty and keep their eyes open for other signs of a strong psychology program.

Once finished with their undergraduate degree, students should seek a master’s psychology program, ideally one with a PhD track if you hope to work at the highest levels in the field. Here, students need to make a decision between taking a clinical or research course. Those in clinical should immediately start preparing for their eventual licensure. The program should have this taken care of, but a diligent student always makes for a successful professional.

Careers for Psychology Graduates

  • Psychiatric Technician:
    This is an entry-level position in the mental health field. PTs look out for the patients in their care and may need to make regular reports to the psychiatric nurses or doctors to whom they report. Some states offer licensure to PTs but Oregon does not, though candidates should be able to qualify for a CNA credential in order to start work as a psychiatric technician.
  • Social Work Assistant:
    This position is primarily administrative in that the assistant is asked to help support the social workers in their department. Though this is primarily an office job, sometimes social work assistants need to venture into the field. There is no degree requirement for this position, but social work assistants can benefit from coursework in social work, psychology, or sociology.
  • Social Worker:
    This is a job title that covers a lot of very different professions. There are some who pursue social work with only an associate degree but then there are licensed, clinical social workers who hold a master’s social work degree and state licensure. Licensed social workers can practice psychotherapy with clients and many open their own counseling practices.
  • Substance Abuse/Addictions Counselor:
    Those who work as addictions counselors usually work with patients who are addicted to drugs or alcohol, helping them to recover from their addiction, avoid triggers that cause them to relapse, and find support. Those with a master’s counseling degree can practice one-on-one psychotherapy and may open their own private counseling practices.
  • Family and Marriage Therapist:
    This position often goes to psychology professionals who have specialized degrees in the field. These therapists work with the family unit as a whole and as individuals to help them work through various issues. Counseling professionals with a master’s clinical psychology degree may also work with families and couples, but their practice may do better if they earn a credential in this specialized field.

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  • Guidance Counselor/Career Advisor:
    These counseling professionals help people live their best lives, though they don't have to conduct psychotherapy. To land this position, guidance counselors need a master’s degree. The position can involve working with students one-on-one, but may also include planning and organizing career fairs that will help their university students land a great job after graduation.
  • Psychiatrist:
    To work in this field, professionals need to complete medical school and then a psychiatric residency. While psychiatrists once conducted psychotherapy, these days they are primarily concerned with prescribing and monitoring the use of psychiatric drugs and they are the only psychology professionals who can prescribe medication.
  • Psychologist:
    These psychological professionals must earn a PhD in order to use this title. Psychologists are able to convert their PhD credentials into higher hourly rates and enhanced status throughout the psychological community. Psychologists need to earn an Oregon license and then maintain that credential with continuing education credits.
  • Forensic Psychologist:
    This position requires a PhD and specialized research into the criminal mind. The position can involve assessing criminals who are up for parole or they may assess suspects and determine whether or not they are fit for trial. Forensic psychologists often consult with law enforcement or defense attorneys and may provide expert testimony in court.
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