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What are the challenges of working to get a master's degree?

Hi! I'm thinking about if I want to earn a master's degree in psychology so that I can get the most successful job in the future. I'm worried that working to get a master's degree might be too overwhelming and time consuming. However, I feel that a master's degree will be worth it in the long run when trying to find a job in psychology.

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Ebony’s Answer, CareerVillage.org Team

Hi Kaitlyn,
I am in CA currently working on my MA in Clinical Counseling pursuing a dual focus on Marriage and Family Therapy as well as Professional Clinical Counseling. I am also working full-time, and a mother of two small children.
I am going to disagree with part of Michael's answer. You do not need a doctorate. As part of my MA process, we are required to complete a traineeship which means we see clients now (prior to graduation). These hours can be obtained on a school campus, community counseling centers, the county, and so much more.
If you are interested in licensure (becoming licensed and able to start your own practice) then yes, you will need a MA.
However, it is important to determine if you actually want to become a therapist or if you are interested in one of the other many options related to the field. You have also started this process by posting this question but mental health has several career options. Some focus on talk therapy, others prescribe medication (this is where the doctorate is needed) , some are support staff and the list goes on. One way to sample these is to continue your research and internships.
Overall obtaining a MA can be challenging but the biggest challenge is time management which you've likely mastered while working on your BA or BS. With that in mind, it's doable. Just be sure to find a program that offers a structure that works for you. For me, I needed an online program because that's what works best for me but perhaps you need something else. It's important that you are sensitive to that. Otherwise, you got this!
Thank you comment icon Thank you! This really encouraged me and helped me to get to a better understanding. Kaitlyn
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Noah’s Answer

You're definitely correct that a masters degree is worth it in the field of psychology. It's virtually the only way to get licensed aside from a doctorate. One of the things that you should consider before going for your masters is how you're going to pay for it. Scholarships and financial aid for master's degrees can be different and sometimes less available than how it was for your bachelor's so you should do some research on any ways for you to cut down that cost. Many people also work part time when pursuing their masters. If you can get an internship or some other entry level job in psych/counseling that would be even better and make you stand out from your peers. It's very important that you plan ahead for the job you'll be in after you graduate and what kind of salary you expect to have in order to pay of that debt. From the research that i've done, I doubt a master's will be any more overwhelming and time consuming than it was to get your bachelor's, maybe even less so considering it's a masters in counseling/psych.

Also I saw that you're in ohio as well so you'll probably be aiming it either LPC or LMFT licensure. If you're going for LPC (which is what i'm doing) then make sure that your masters program is CACREP accredited and preferably no longer than a 2 year program (some can be 2.5 or 3) so you don't waste any more time/money than you need to.

Take a look at this website and maybe go over some of the details with your prospecting master's program before fully enrolling (especially if it's an out of state program. https://cswmft.ohio.gov/get-licensed/counselors/lpc-application-instructions

Noah recommends the following next steps:

Plan for how you'll pay for the degree
Make sure there's a route towards the licensure you want to obtain
Thank you comment icon Thank you so much for the advice. Kaitlyn
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Michael’s Answer

Requirements to work in the clinical field of psychology, one needs to have a doctorate degree! A master’s degree teaches theory of psychology and counseling! First thing one should do when seeking higher education is to realize it is an investment into their future! Do not sell one’s self short by contemplating whether the work is hard or not. Allow your create juices to work as you learn and you will find as much pleasure in learning as you may find in actually doing the job. Most of all you learn, will be an exercise in most of what you already know. Always find a competent study partner and you will realize your dreams, aspirations and goals sooner than you think.
Thank you comment icon Thank you for the advice. Kaitlyn
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Noah’s Answer

You're definitely correct that a masters degree is worth it in the field of psychology. It's virtually the only way to get licensed aside from a doctorate. One of the things that you should consider before going for your masters is how you're going to pay for it. Scholarships and financial aid for master's degrees can be different and sometimes less available than how it was for your bachelor's so you should do some research on any ways for you to cut down that cost. Many people also work part time when pursuing their masters. If you can get an internship or some other entry level job in psych/counseling that would be even better and make you stand out from your peers. It's very important that you plan ahead for the job you'll be in after you graduate and what kind of salary you expect to have in order to pay of that debt. From the research that i've done, I doubt a master's will be any more overwhelming and time consuming than it was to get your bachelor's, maybe even less so considering it's a masters in counseling/psych.

Also I saw that you're in ohio as well so you'll probably be aiming it either LPC or LMFT licensure. If you're going for LPC (which is what i'm doing) then make sure that your masters program is CACREP accredited and preferably no longer than a 2 year program (some can be 2.5 or 3) so you don't waste any more time/money than you need to.

Take a look at this website and maybe go over some of the details with your prospecting master's program before fully enrolling (especially if it's an out of state program. https://cswmft.ohio.gov/get-licensed/counselors/lpc-application-instructions

Noah recommends the following next steps:

Plan for how you'll pay for the degree
Make sure there's a route towards the licensure you want to obtain
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0
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Noah’s Answer

You're definitely correct that a masters degree is worth it in the field of psychology. It's virtually the only way to get licensed aside from a doctorate. One of the things that you should consider before going for your masters is how you're going to pay for it. Scholarships and financial aid for master's degrees can be different and sometimes less available than how it was for your bachelor's so you should do some research on any ways for you to cut down that cost. Many people also work part time when pursuing their masters. If you can get an internship or some other entry level job in psych/counseling that would be even better and make you stand out from your peers. It's very important that you plan ahead for the job you'll be in after you graduate and what kind of salary you expect to have in order to pay of that debt. From the research that i've done, I doubt a master's will be any more overwhelming and time consuming than it was to get your bachelor's, maybe even less so considering it's a masters in counseling/psych.

Also I saw that you're in ohio as well so you'll probably be aiming it either LPC or LMFT licensure. If you're going for LPC (which is what i'm doing) then make sure that your masters program is CACREP accredited and preferably no longer than a 2 year program (some can be 2.5 or 3) so you don't waste any more time/money than you need to.

Take a look at this website and maybe go over some of the details with your prospecting master's program before fully enrolling (especially if it's an out of state program. https://cswmft.ohio.gov/get-licensed/counselors/lpc-application-instructions

Noah recommends the following next steps:

Plan for how you'll pay for the degree
Make sure there's a route towards the licensure you want to obtain
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Carey’s Answer

Hi, Kaitlyn!

I worked full-time while completing my Master's degree, and I got it done in a year total. I think it is absolutely worth it. My salary has increased almost doubly and I got my dream job after receiving my Masters in Writing and Digital Communications. You totally got this! Here's a few tips I can share:

- Get a planner and write down everything. And I mean everything. It's a busy time, for sure, so you'll be managing your free time in a way you didn't have to before.
- If you're working while completing your degree, let your employer know and see if they can assist you in the process. Maybe they can help cover the cost (mine did), or they can give you some free time in the afternoon to work on homework.
- Reward yourself for every little victory. It's a difficult and stressful time, so give yourself a break in good things happen. Buy yourself a nice dinner for a good grade on a paper, treat yourself to a movie when you finish a class. That will keep you encouraged and lively for the entire process.
- Get ahead of as many projects as you can. Chewing off things little by little is much more manageable (and fun) then waiting to do everything the last minute.

You got this!
Thank you comment icon Thank you so much, this cleared a lot of things up for me and made me feel a lot better! Kaitlyn
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