Nija Jackson, LMSW
It is a great question that you are asking and you have every right to know before getting yourself into the field of psychology. It is always good to brainstrom and figure things out. There are always advantages and disadvantages to every career.
The disadvantages to being a psychologist is that you have an extensive level of training that you must complete before becoming a licensed psychologist. You have to complete High School education; college degree and pursue a doctorate degree, which can take 3-7 years depending on the pace of the program. Being a psychologist takes a great deal of studying and you have to obtain a license within your state once you finish your graduate studies. Depending on the workplace, the position could possibly require for you to work long hours; work in the evenings and on the weekend if you are working in a healthcare setting or if you have your own clinical practice.
In this profession, there are concerns that psychologist may face or endure violence by patients at some point of your career. Several psychologists practice in isolation where it can be an emotional stressor because they don't have the opportunity to socialize and share/receive professional knowlege from other disciplines. You are usually alone in making sound judgment and patients view you as the expert. Sometimes when you are listening to patients' intense situations on a regular basis; it appears to be draining. You have to suppress your own emotional issues long enough to help the patients with their emotional issues. The emotional strain can cause psychologists to be burnout, depressed and in distressed. It even can impede with your daily life functioning.
Overall, it is rewarding to be in the field of Psychology but you must be emotionally, mentally and physically prepare to deal with the challenges. There are various appropriate ways of dealing with the stressors on the job. If you have the passion to become a psychologist, go for it and don't give up. Every career has it's own advantages and disadvantages. You can make it through the challenges and you will conquer. Don't let the challenges discourage you from pursuing your educational and career goals.
Nija recommends the following next steps:
A lot of the work psychologists do, such as mental health assessment and treatment, and places they may work, such as mental health clinics, schools, hospitals, colleges, etc., can also be done by other professionals such as clinical social workers who don't usually have a doctorate. Because of their higher level of education and training (more years and specialized training), they are more expensive to hire and therefore their may be fewer positions available. The things psychologists can do specially, such as different kinds of assessment and testing services, and oftentimes research and administrative duties, may be in less demand per organization, also meaning fewer positions available.