Psychologists held about 179,000 jobs in 2004. Educational institutions employed about one out of four psychologists in positions other than teaching, such as counseling, testing, research, and administration. About two out of ten were employed in health care, primarily in offices of mental health practitioners, physicians’ offices, outpatient mental health clinics, substance abuse centers, and private hospitals. Government agencies at the state and local levels employed psychologists in public hospitals, clinics, correctional facilities, and other settings.
The outlook for this field is very good. Employment of psychologists is expected to increase between 18 and 26 percent through 2014, based on increased demand for psychological services in schools, hospitals, social service agencies, mental health centers, substance abuse treatment clinics, consulting firms, and private companies.
Among the specialties, job opportunities should be best for school psychologists, especially those with a specialist degree or higher. Growing awareness of how students’ mental health and behavioral problems, such as bullying, affect learning is increasing demand for school psychologists to offer student counseling and mental health services.
Clinical and counseling psychologists will be needed to help people deal with depression and other mental disorders, marriage and family problems, job stress, and addiction. The rise in health care costs associated with unhealthy lifestyles, such as smoking, alcoholism, and obesity, has made prevention and treatment more critical. An increase in the number of employee assistance programs, which help workers deal with personal problems, also should spur job growth in these specialties.
Industrial and organizational psychologists will be in demand to help boost worker productivity and retention rates in a wide range of businesses. They will help companies deal with issues such as workplace diversity and antidiscrimination policies. Companies also will use psychologists’ expertise in survey design, analysis, and research to develop tools for marketing evaluation and statistical analysis.
Demand should be particularly strong for professionals who hold doctorates from leading universities in applied specialties, such as counseling, health, and school psychology. Those with extensive training in quantitative research methods and computer science may have a competitive edge over applicants without such experience.
Psychologists with master’s degrees in fields other than industrial or organizational psychology will face keen competition for jobs because of the limited number of positions that require only a master’s degree. They may find jobs as psychological assistants or counselors, providing mental health services under the direct supervision of a licensed psychologist. Still others may find jobs involving research and data collection and analysis in universities, government, or private companies.
Opportunities directly related to psychology will be limited for bachelor’s degree holders. Some may find jobs as assistants in rehabilitation centers or in other jobs involving data collection and analysis. Those who meet state certification requirements may become high school psychology teachers.