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Psychology Job Descriptions – The Ultimate Guide

There is a wide array of job opportunities in the field of psychology.  Psychologists can provide direct therapy and assessment services, support institutions with behavioral supports and problem-solving approaches, and conduct research to learn more about brain functions and their impacts on behavior and emotions.

Psychology Key Responsibilities

Although there is a wide range of roles within the field of psychology, there are several core skills and responsibilities that all psychologists need to perform in order to be successful.

Interpersonal Skills

Despite your specific role within psychology, the ability to actively listen, meaningfully engage, and gain the trust of others is crucial. For those working in the role of counselor or therapist, clients and colleagues need to view you as someone who will listen to, support, and guide them. You need to be able to deliver difficult information and process through emotionally charged scenarios with your clients in a supportive and constructive manner.

Even those working in more removed settings, such as a university classroom or research lab, need to possess these skills. Professors need to model and emulate interpersonal skills so that their students can learn and apply them to their practical work. Psychologists who conduct research need to be attuned to the problems that need to be investigated and need to sufficiently gain the trust of any human subjects that they study.


Working effectively with others is an important skill regardless of your specific role in psychology. Those working in practices or organizations as a school psychologist, clinical psychologist, or counselor will need to work with a team to plan and deliver care to clients. Professionals in these settings need to coordinate and communicate with family members, educators or medical staff, and any others involved in the client’s plans and protocols.

For those in a teaching or research role, you will need to collaborate with your colleagues and participants. You will work with others to develop curricula for instruction or the experimental procedure for a study. Additionally, you will work with your colleagues to assess the efficacy of your work and to accept and discuss feedback with them to improve your plans and approaches.

Critical Thinking and Problem Solving

The crux of psychology involves analyzing patterns in brain function, behavior, and emotions in order to solve a problem. Therefore, the ability to approach a situation using critical thinking is essential regardless of the specific job you have as a psychologist. You need to be able to assess potential causes or contributions to a problem and to suggest reasonable and actionable steps to resolve the issue.

For those working in a school setting, this may involve investigating the root causes and functions of a student’s behavior or learning difficulties. In a healthcare or therapy setting, you will need to apply critical thinking in order to determine how the patient’s emotional and behavioral health needs fit into the bigger picture of their care. If you work in a research setting, you will need to be able to analyze and evaluate the design and results of your studies in order to understand and apply your findings.

Psychology Job Location

Psychologists can be employed in any state in the country.  Although the jobs can be found in nearly any city, areas with greater population and healthcare facilities are most likely to have available positions for psychologists. Florida, Illinois, and Texas have the greatest potential for employment.

Regardless of what state they work in, psychologists can be employed in a variety of settings. You can work exclusively through an organization, such as a school or hospital, or work for yourself in your own practice or lab. Additionally, you can contract your services out and work with a variety of clients.

Psychology Experience and Education

Positions in the field of psychology require significant educational preparation and work experience. In addition to readying you with the background knowledge needed to understand how the brain works and affects emotions and behavior, the practicum experience that you complete as part of your degree program will hone your interpersonal, communication, and critical thinking skills.

Education Requirements

Positions in the field of psychology require you to obtain a minimum of a Bachelor’s degree. Your undergraduate major should be in psychology or a related subject. The coursework should have a focus on mathematics, neurology, and human development. Depending on where you live, a bachelor’s degree will most likely allow you to enter a non-clinical position, such as human resources, research, or management.

 If your goal is to pursue a clinical position in psychology, you will almost certainly need to pursue a master’s degree. This will give you additional knowledge, practice, and experience within the specified area that you choose, such as clinical psychology or organizational psychology. You will gain research, collaboration, and internship experience that can then be applied to your new position when you enter the field. A clinical psychologist will also require licensure in the state in which you want to practice.

 A more advanced degree may be necessary in order to pursue more specialized positions in psychology. A doctoral degree could be a requirement for those who want to teach college, conduct research, or work clinically within their own practice or healthcare practice. These degree requirements vary by state and organization, so it is important to understand the specific level of education that you will need for your preferred position.

Experience Requirements

A practicum is necessary in the field of psychology in order to provide you with the skills and experience needed to assess, treat, and research. You can expect an internship within the requirements for each degree that you obtain in psychology, particularly those that prepare you for clinical practice.


Psychology Salary

The median salary in the field of psychology according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics https://www.bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/psychologists.htm] is about $89,000. The median salary in the field of psychology is about $91,000. The actual salary for psychology positions will vary based on location, degree required, and job responsibilities.

Salaries for jobs in this field are highest in areas that need to attract qualified psychologists and for positions that are demanding and require advanced degrees. California, Alaska, and Illinois offer the highest median salaries in the country. 

Psychology Resume Tips

Since jobs vary so widely in the field of psychology, it is important to make sure that your resume is tailored to the qualifications and responsibilities of the position that you want to obtain. Include your relevant education, work experiences, licenses, and skills that have prepared you to be successful in your desired position.

As you list your work experience, but the positions you have held in reverse chronological order with the most recent job at the top. Highlight the most recent and relevant experiences if you are a seasoned psychologist, or be sure to include your internship as work experience if you are just starting out. When discussing your education experience in the resume, be sure to include all of your degrees and majors in order to help the employer determine if you are the right fit.