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“People are very complex. And for a psychologist, you get fascinated by the complexity of human beings, and that is what I have lived with, you know, in my career all of my life, is the complexity of human beings” – Daniel Kahneman. Curiosity is part of human nature. As children we often ask “why?” As adults, we continue to wonder, but we have the opportunity to do something about it. Psychologists apply that very universal curiosity to collect and interpret data to better understand and solve some of society’s most challenging psychological problems. Psychologists are very important people; these individuals aid millions of people with their everyday struggles and problems that they have to deal with on a daily basis. Not only do psychologists help people with problems that they cannot handle on their own, they also are scientists who study human minds and behaviors. Everyone has days when they just don’t feel like themselves. For the majority of people, these feelings are normal and they don’t last long. For some, however, these feelings are more serious, and they could lead to or fester up as mental or emotional problems. When facing psychological or mental issues, it can often become frustrating for the individual, simply because they do not know how to help themselves. With being a psychologist, there are many different careers to choose from within this profession. You can choose between a variety of careers. Clinical psychology is a broad branch of psychology that focuses on diagnosing and treating mental, emotional, and behavioral disorders. Counseling psychology is a type of psychology that can be used to help people gain control of their feelings. This type of psychology focuses on treating individuals with a variety of different emotional, behavioral, and social problems or disorders. These are two of the most common but these are definitely not the only two branches of psychology out there. Forensic psychology studies criminals, specifically, their thoughts and intentions, motives and reactions, emotions and feelings, especially as experienced when the individual is engaging in criminal behaviors. Child psychology is a specialized branch of traditional psychology that focuses on children, mainly their development and behavior. It is one of the most commonly studied types of psychology today.A psychologist and a psychiatrist are often confused as being the same thing. While both study the brain, emotions, feelings and thoughts, there is a very distinct difference between the two fields of study. The primary differences between the two fields is mainly the education requirements and salary. “Psychiatrists are medical doctors with at least 11 years of training – usually more. They first do a medical degree at university. Next they spend at least 1 or 2 years training as a general doctor” (Your Health in Mind). “Psychologists have at least 6 years of university training and supervised experience. They may also hold a Masters or Doctorate level qualification in psychology. If they have a Doctorate (PhD) a psychologist can call themselves ‘Dr’, but they are not medical doctors. Clinical psychologists have special training in the diagnosis and treatment of mental illness. They then complete at least 5 years training in the diagnosis and treatment of mental illness” (Your Health in Mind). Pursuing a career in psychology can be challenging, and rightfully so, due to the high amount of responsibility and trust we place with individuals who care for our mental and physical health.  For those who reach their goal of becoming a psychologist, there are real advantages.  While a doctoral degree provides a solid foundation for a successful career in psychology, experience and on-the-job training are required to maximize salary potential, as well. One can complete a Ph.D. in psychology or a Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.) degree. “A Ph.D. in psychology is a research degree that is received after taking an exam and writing a dissertation, while, the Psy.D. is a clinical degree based on practical work and examinations, rather than a dissertation” (US BLS).  In clinical, counseling, school, or health service settings, students usually complete a 1-year internship as part of the doctoral program. In most states, practicing psychology or having the title “psychologist” requires one to obtain a license to do so. Just like any other profession that requires you to obtain a license, licensing laws vary by state and by type of position. In Mississippi, psychologists are regulated by the Mississippi Board of Psychology. In order to be licensed, one must earn a doctoral degree in psychology, pass two examinations, and work under supervision. The demand for psychologists will always be increasing as people will always continue to turn to psychologists for help with problems they cannot face on their own. Psychologists will also be needed to help people deal with the mental and physical changes that are inevitable as they grow older and change within themselves. “Each year, psychology programs graduate about 5,000 new doctorates across all subfields of psychology, according to APA’s Center for Workforce Studies” (APA). The good news is that the U.S. Department of Labor predicts that jobs in the field of psychology will grow about 12 percent over the next 10 years — about average for all occupations. According to the American Psychological Association, it is the third fastest-growing field in America through the year 2005 and is anticipated to steadily grow for at last another 12 years after that. These new jobs, however, aren’t reserved for psychologists with doctoral degrees; many may go to people with master’s degrees in psychology or related fields. People who intend on becoming a psychologist need to be prepared to evolve with the field. “Psychology and counseling are ever evolving. For example, teletherapy was once viewed as an inferior psychotherapy method, but has developed a strong presence within the mental health field. Teletherapy is advantageous with certain groups as it makes therapy more accessible to some populations who are unable to attend traditional in-person therapy. There is also a much stronger focus on integrated healthcare models, in which psychologists are a part of health professional teams. As the mental health field continues to evolve, you must be ready to evolve with it” (Shelton). It can become overwhelming when deciding where to go to graduate school. Specifically for psychology students, the options are essentially endless. Psychology is such a universal study, so you can go to school all over the country. “Stanford University being number one on the list. Locally, Ole Miss, Mississippi state and Southern Miss are on the list, as well” ( Plous). There are and always will be very diverse options for people intending on pursuing psychology, which makes psychology a very appealing choice.   Not only do psychologists get to spend their days helping people, they also make a substantial amount of money doing so. “The median annual pay  for psychologists was $75,230 in May 2016. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $41,890, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $121,610” (US BLS). “While looking at the pay and employment in regards to area, California is recorded to be the highest paying state for clinical, counseling, and school psychologists with annual pay being $90,210 and employment being 18,990” (US BLS). Mississippi was one of the lowest employing states with employment ranging from only 200-430. “While many psychologists work for medical facilities and corporations, about 35% of psychologists are self- employed and operate their own private practices. Venturing out on your own can be risky but psychologists who operate their own practice are some of the highest paid psychology professionals” ( CareerProfiles). When considering a career that focuses on this aspect of life that every person has and that most people take for granted, a psychologist is the career choice that comes to mind. I extensively researched the pros and cons of being a psychologist and the results were endless for both sides. Just like any other profession, there are generally equal amounts of cons as there are pros when you are researching a particular job. “The pros include: Several different areas of study depending on your interests,  an incredibly rewarding career path, good pay depending on where you end up, and job prospects all over the world” (HRF). “The cons include: Getting a job might be a challenge, undergraduate and graduate school is a must, chance of research failing or being disproven, and some people do not consider psychology as an actual science” (HRF). Also, dealing with clients and their issues can, oftentimes, be draining and difficult to do.  In my survey, I went to the Baptist Student Union at Itawamba Community College and asked 20 students (3 black males, 1 black female, 10 white males, 5 white females, 1 hispanic female) about their field of study and their intended major. I also asked them what inspired them to choose this particular field of study. While not all of them chose psychology, there were a handful of students who were pursuing some kind of career in psychology. In my questionnaire, I asked the students who were pursuing psychology a series of questions. I also interviewed my friend River’s mom from Winona, Ms because she is an active Psychologist herself. I asked her about educational requirements and how demanding this field of study was. She gave me some insights that were very helpful, seeing as she has first hand experience in the field. I asked her to be honest when she gave me the positive and negative aspects of being a psychologist, so I could have a better understanding of the career as a whole.  First, the questionnaire on becoming a psychologist revealed that it would be demanding, given the fact that you, generally, have to obtain a doctorate degree to be successful in this field. River’s mom told me that as well as the negative aspects of this job, there are so many positive aspects that come with helping people cope with everyday struggles. Secondly, the student survey showed that some of the students (50%) choose their major based upon salary. While others, choose their major based upon personal interests and dreams. The ones who chose psychology as their field of study, In my recent researching and surveying, I have learned many things about psychology that I did not know before. Initially, I was skeptical about my choice to obtain a degree in psychology simply because everything I read about psychology pointed to it being a very unreliable degree choice. When in actuality, psychology is a very reliable career choice. With median earnings being $75,230 in May of 2016. Psychologists have a lifetime of helping people. What psychologists do for people is worth more than money can buy. Psychologists help people regain themselves when, oftentimes, people do not ever think they will be able to be themselves again. That in itself is enough reward. The job outlook is said to grow about 12 percent over the next 10 years, which is about average for all occupations. Everything I have read has assured me that psychology is indeed a great field of study. I have come to realize that being a psychologist is so much more than the money earned. Researching and understanding this field has given me the passion and intensity to pursue this degree with no hesitations. The more in depth that I research, the more in love I fall with the field of psychology.


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