Career Paths in Psychology
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Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. I’m considering Going on to Graduate School in Psychology. What do I need to know?

Q2. What are my options for working in a helping capacity with a BA or community college training?

Q3. Do I need an honours degree?

Q4. What’s the difference between a clinical psychologist and a counselling psychologist?

Q5. What’s the difference between a psychologist and a psychiatrist?

Q6. What is a PsyD?

Q7. Where to go for more help discovering your career path?

Q8. Information on volunteer opportunities and possible workplaces for summer jobs.




Q1. I’m considering Going on to Graduate School in Psychology. What do I need to know?

To answer this question, I have organized the information in four parts:

  1. Information on admissions and graduate programs in Canada
  2. What can I do with a Master’s or PhD in Psychology?
  3. What are the differences between experimental and applied graduate programs?
  4. Important web-sites on graduate schools in Canada
  1. Information on admissions and graduate programs in Canada
    Graduate school training (MA or PhD) is required for those wanting to become psychologists and psychometrists, but not required for those interested in other professions.  You should be aware that graduate programs in psychology are very competitive – especially the clinical/counselling sectors where students often have very high entrance GPAs.

    Admission to Graduate School (Masters or PhD):
    • Typically requires completion of an Honours Thesis (see below)
    • Often requires you to write the Graduate Record Exams (both the Subject and General tests). Note that appointments are required to write these tests so book well in advance. For more information on the GREs, see www.gre.org.
    • Very strong GPA
    • Letters of recommendation (2-3) from professors
    • Letter of Intent

  2. What can I do with a masters degree or a doctoral degree in psychology?

    Masters (MA or MSc)
    • generally takes 2-3 years to complete

    Employment:
    • Individuals with Masters degrees (MA or MSC in clinical psychology) can work as clinical psychologists in a few provinces. Check with the College of Psychology in your province to see if an MA/MSc or PhD is required.
    • Psychometrists work with Master’s level training (MA or MSC in clinical psychology)
    • Individuals with Masters level training may also have industry and government jobs that focus on training, research, data analysis, and general personnel issues (such as human resources).
    • Individuals with a Masters degree in psychology may also teach at universities or colleges.  They most often hold positions as ‘lecturers’ as opposed to professors, but this may vary to some degree from institution to institution.

    Doctorate (PhD)
    • typically takes 4-7 years after completion of the Masters degree
    • specialized training in clinical psychology (or other domains - see What are Applied Psychologists, Research Psychologists, & Psychology Professors?), research, and teaching.

    Employment:
    • Clinical psychologist (e.g., hospitals, clinics, private practice)
    • Applied psychologist
    • University professor
    • Researcher (e.g., government agencies, public and private research organizations)

    Since individuals with a PhD in clinical psychology have specialized training in clinical, research, and teaching, they are able to work in any or all of these capacities. 

  3. What are the differences between experimental and applied graduate programs?
    In your application to graduate school in psychology, you will have to chose between Experimental-stream training or Clinical/Applied-stream training.

    Experimental programmes are designed to prepare you for a career focussed on research and university teaching (being an academic) and include such areas of study as social cognitive, biological, and developmental psychology. Different universities will offer different areas of focus.

    Clinical/Applied programmes are designed to prepare you for a career focussed on working with others in therapy or intervention. These programmes include areas such as clinical, counselling, applied social, community, industrial organization, and sport psychology.

  4. Important web-sites on graduate schools in Canada:

    The web-site of the Canadian Psychology Association (CPA) offers a comprehensive Graduate-School Guide featuring descriptions of Canadian graduate program in psychology, as well as, applicant statistics from the previous year (e.g., GPA, GRE scores) and number of anticipated admission spaces for the coming year. 
    http://www.cpa.ca/cpasite/userfiles/Documents/Graduate%20Guide%202009-2010.pdf

    The CPA web-site also offers links to the Psychology Departments of Canadian Universities.
    http://cpa.ca/students/resources/

    Guides to Getting Into Graduate School:
    http://www.apa.org/ed/getin.html  
    http://www.psychgrad.org/

For further information on graduate school for students, from students, see http://cpa.ca/students/




Q2. What are my options for working in a helping capacity with a BA or community college training?

TERMINAL BA

There are numerous entry-level jobs that are open to those with a bachelor's degree in psychology. Those with a major in psychology are “marketable” in that they often have:

  • strong “people” skills;
  • a working understanding of statistics and research methods;
  • good writing skills;
  • good problem-solving skills & analytical skills;
  • critical thinking skills.

These skills can be used in a wide variety of work settings, including human resources, human services (e.g., support worker for individuals with psychiatric or physical disabilities), business, criminal justice (e.g., probation officer, corrections officer), and the health and recreation sectors.

For more information:
Check out the UNB/STU Career Counselling Center’s webpage “What can I do with a major in psychology? ”

Career Counselling Centre (located on the UNB campus but available to STU and UNB students) Jones Student Services Center (2nd floor), 26 Bailey Dr., (506) 453-4820. Or visit them online at http://www.unbf.ca/counselling/careerservices/career_services.html .

STUdent Employment Services http://w3.stu.ca/stu/currentstudents/employment/default.aspx

The following website offers information on careers available to general BA graduates, and those who majored in psychology:
http://www.psychwww.com/careers/entry.htm

 

Q3. Do I need an honours degree?

Graduate programs in psychology (clinical, applied, research) require the completion of an Honours degree in psychology. Other helping professions (e.g., counselling psychology, nursing, sports psychology, speech language pathology, occupational therapy, etc.) may not require an honours degree. If you are interested in graduate training in counselling (e.g., MA or MEd in Counselling Psychology) or sports psychology, check with the graduate program of interest to see if an honours degree is required.

Information on the psychology honours program at STU is available on the following website:
http://w3.stu.ca/stu/academic/departments/psychology/majors.aspx

 


 

Q4. What’s the difference between a clinical psychologist and a counselling psychologist?

Clinical psychologists (PhD, PsyD, MA, or Msc - Masters degrees are sufficient in some provinces, but PhDs are usually required)

Clinical psychologists work with people in distress. The client issues that they work with may range from personal problems such as difficulty adjusting to a life transition, to much more chronic and severe experiences such as bipolar disorder or schizophrenia. Unlike psychiatrists, clinical psychologists do not prescribe medication. Instead, they treat psychological problems through therapy. Clinical psychologists also have specialized training in testing and assessment.

Some clinical psychologists specialize in specific problems, such as anxiety, depression, eating disorders, sexual difficulties, ADHD, or health problems. Others focus on working with specific populations such as children and adolescents, ethnic minority groups, gay, lesbian, bisexual and trans-gendered individuals, older adults, forensic populations, or individuals with neuropsychological problems. 

See FAQ going on to Graduate School

Counselling psychologists (MEd, MA) (see FAQ going on to Graduate School).  Counselling psychologists work in much the same way as clinical psychologists.  However while clinical psychologists have specialised training in working with individuals with more severe psychological disorders (e.g., depression, obsessive compulsive disorder, social phobia, schizophrenia), counsellors may work with individuals with somewhat less severe issues, such as adjustment problems, grief, self-esteem, couples counselling, relationship break-up, etc. Clinical psychologists often work in clinics, hospitals, universities, or private practice and have advanced level training. Individuals with an MEd or MA in Counselling Psychology often provide both personal and vocational counselling services. (Note: To be hired in the school system, applicants often require a BEd.)

 



Q5. What’s the difference between a psychologist and a psychiatrist?

Clinical psychologists (PhD, PsyD, MA, or MSc - Master’s degrees are sufficient in some provinces, but PhDs are usually required)

Clinical psychologists work with people in distress. The client issues that they work with may range from personal problems such as difficulty adjusting to a life transition, to much more chronic and severe experiences such as bipolar disorder or schizophrenia. Unlike psychiatrists, clinical psychologists do not prescribe medication. Instead, they usually treat psychological problems through talk therapy. Clinical psychologists also have specialized training in testing and assessment.

Some clinical psychologists specialize in specific problems, such as anxiety, depression, eating disorders, sexual difficulties, ADHD, or health problems. Others focus on working with specific populations such as children and adolescents, ethnic minority groups, gay, lesbian, bisexual and trans-gendered individuals, older adults, forensic populations, or individuals with neuropsychological problems. 

See FAQ going on to Graduate School

Psychiatrists (MD) also work with people in distress. They typically diagnose, and treat mental, emotional, and behavioural disorders using a medical approach. Psychiatrists tend to work with those individuals who are experiencing more severe forms of psychological problems (e.g., those requiring medication and/or hospitalization). Psychiatrist attends medical school for their postgraduate education where they receive general training in medicine. As students, they specialized by completing residency training in psychiatry at a hospital. They have been awarded a medical degree (M.D.) and are licensed to prescribe medication.

 


 

Q6. What is a PsyD?

  • A PsyD is doctoral level training, equivalent to a PhD.  Whereas the PhD trains psychologists in the ‘scientist-practitioner’ model (having specialized knowledge of both clinical work and research, with the assumption that these inform each other), the PsyD focuses on clinical training with little emphasis on research.
  • Most of these programs are offered in the U.S.

 


 

Q7. Where to go for more help discovering your career path?

Whatever your stage of career planning, you should definitely take the time to visit Career Counselling Services on UNB Campus. They are staffed with career experts who are happy to help students make decisions about their educational and career paths. Counselling Services is located on the UNB campus at Jones Student Services Center (2nd Floor), 26 Bailey Dr. and can be reached at (506) 453-4820. Or visit http://www.unbf.ca/counselling/careerservices/career_services.html

For help finding employment, making a résumé, or preparing for an interview, visit Student Employment Services located on the UNB campus at Neville Homestead, 58 Mackay Drive. You can also contact them by phone at (506) 453-4620, by e-mail at employment@unb.ca, or visit their website: http://www.unb.ca/employment/

Visit the following site to find out which Canadian universities and colleges offer your programmes of interest:
http://oraweb.aucc.ca/showdcu.html  


OTHER GREAT RESOURCES:

Websites

The following website from UNB/STU counselling services offers ideas of what you can do with a major in psychology:
http://www.unbf.ca/counselling/careerservices/sub/psychology_handout.html

The following website offers information on careers available to general BA graduates, and those who majored in psychology:
http://www.psychwww.com/careers/entry.htm

On the following website you’ll find an abundance of information about “the world of work”, such as occupational profiles, information about occupational and educational programs, and much more. http://www.jobfutures.ca/en/home.shtml

Another interesting resource is www.youth.gc.ca, offering information about programs and services available for youth at the community level and beyond. 

Although they are mainly based on U.S. data, the following websites offers great information about careers in the “helping professions.”

http://www.socialpsychology.org/career.htm

http://teachpsych.org/otrp/resources/himelein99.pdf

Books:
DeGalan, J. & Lambert, S. (2001). Great Jobs for Psychology Majors. NTC: Contemporary
Publishing Group: Chicago.

Morgan, B.L., & Korschgen, A. J. (2006). Majoring in psych?: Career options for psychology
undergraduates. Pearson Education: Boston.

Paradis, A. A. (2003). Careers for caring people and other sensitive types. McGraw-Hill: New
York.


PLEASE NOTE
:
This website is not an exhaustive list of resources. Rather, it is designed to get you started with your search for career options. For more information, arrange for a personal consultation with your academic advisor and visit the Career Counselling Centre at (506) 453-4820 or visit them online at http://www.unbf.ca/counselling/careerservices/career_services.html.

In compiling this website, we drew from the computer program “Choices 2006©” by Bridges Transitions Inc. In addition, salary information was compiled using the "Career Cruising 2010©". Access to this website is available through our University's Counselling Services. If you would like a peronal session working with this software, contact Counselling Services at (506) 453-4820 or visit them online.

 

Q8. INFORMATION ON VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITIES AND POSSIBLE WORKPLACE FOR SUMMER JOBS.

Summer/Part-Time Jobs and Volunteer Opportunities

Many students desire to get involved in relevant work experience prior to graduation. Some potential work and/or volunteer positions could include:

  • Summer camps (Camp Rotary, YMCA, etc.)
  • Personal Support Worker (employed through Comcare, We Care Home Health Services, OPAL III, etc.)
  • Resident Life Coordinator
  • Boys and Girls Club
  • CHIMO Helpline
  • Fredericton Sexual Assault Crisis Center
  • Best Buddies - STU or UNB Chapter
  • Other non-profit Organizational (e.g., Diabetes Association, Alzheimer Society, etc.)
  • Community/Church Programs (e.g., soup kitchens, clothing/food drives, etc.)
  • Group Homes/Women's Shelters
  • Hospital/Rehabilitation Center
  • Schools (Primary or Secondary)
  • Retirement Homes

For more information on student employment visit the STUdent Employment Services Edmund Casey Hall, room 102 or visit the student employment opportunities webpage at http://w3.stu.ca/stu/currentstudents/employment/promo_emp3.aspx