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Is the payoff for being a psychologist worth it?

I'm a freshman in high school and clearly have a ways to go before I choose what profession I want to go into. However, helping people and talking them through their problems seems like it would be an incredible job, or at least one I'd want to go into. My first question is: What is the best part about being a psychologist, and if I get a degree in psychology what other fields of work can that branch into? Thank you for taking the time to answer my question!!

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Dr. Ray’s Answer

Dear Ada,

I apologize for taking so long to respond to your question. I hope my comments are not too late to be helpful to you.

To answer your question "Is the payoff for being a psychologist worth it (I presume you mean is it worth the time and effort of becoming one), in my case the answer is definitely yes! I worked as a clinical psychologist for about 45 years and was able to help many people move from unhappy, stressful lives to happier and more rewarding ones. Since you seem to enjoy helping people you would probably enjoy this work too. However, most states require a Ph.D. degree to become licensed as a psychologist, so you are looking at a lot of college, about four years as an undergraduate and four more years in graduate school. You could get just a master's degree in psychology but most states require that you work for a licensed psychologist, so your possibilities are more limited.

If you are not dead set on becoming a psychologist you could get a master's degree in counseling, social work or marriage and family therapy and be licensed and practice independently. People with these degrees perform counseling and therapy. They may also find work in business, education law enforcement and a variety of human service fields.

There are very few jobs which require a bachelor's degree in psychology, but on the other hand there are many employers who don't care what field your degree is in as long as you have one. In that case a psychology degree is as good a choice as any, and probably better than a degree in something like art history or philosophy.

At your stage in life I would advise you to to take a wide range of courses and expose yourself to a range of activities, since you may not have discovered your passion yet. I wish you the best in your life and career pursuits.

Ray Finn, Ph.D.

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Nancy’s Answer

Hi, Ada,
I worked as a master's degree psychologist for 10 years in Michigan. Most states require a Ph.D. or Psy.D. doctoral degree for full privileges. The best part was utilizing psychological principles to help improve people's lives. It certainly wasn't great pay! Yes, you can use a psychology degree to go into business such as in Human Resources. You could get a master's in education and go into teaching or child development. You could pursue graduate study in psychology and go into research. You could go into marketing or sales because you understand principles of human behavior. It is a fascinating area of study.