Jobs and Career Info for a Masters in General Psychology Degree

A doctorate in psychology generally is needed to become an independent psychologist. However, students with a master's degree in the field can pursue careers as social workers or counselors.

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Social Worker Career Information

Social workers tend to work in a specific area, like child and family social work, school social work, medical and public health social work or substance abuse and mental health social work. While job duties vary, social workers in general help patients to cope with and resolve issues that are interfering with their everyday lives, such as drug or alcohol abuse, domestic conflicts or marital problems. Social workers also might help clients with physical disabilities or diseases, as well as those with social or financial problems, including unemployment or lack of adequate housing.

Education Requirements

While students with a degree in social work might be favored for social worker positions, many employers also accept applicants with a degree in psychology. Master's programs can prepare graduates for both entry-level and advanced positions in social work, and choosing a minor or specialization in social services, administration or social work can be particularly beneficial. Additionally, an internship in a position related to social work can help psychology students demonstrate their experience to prospective employers.

Licensure Information

In all 50 states, social workers need a license or certification to work. The majority of states require a minimum amount of supervised work experience, generally two years, to qualify for licensure.

Employment Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), career opportunities for social workers are expected to increase by 19% between 2012 and 2022, which is faster than the national average for all careers (www.bls.gov). The BLS also reported that as of May 2013, the average salary among all kinds of social workers was $48,370.

Counselor Career Information

Occupational settings and job titles for counselors vary greatly. Specializations include high school counselor, career counselor, family and marriage counselor, mental health counselor, substance abuse counselor and elementary school counselor. While job duties of each position vary, counselors in general work with patients to identify life or mental health problems and then assist them through support services, such as individual or group counseling sessions, advocacy or mediation.

Education Requirements

A master's degree is the minimum level of education needed to become a licensed counselor. A general psychology degree might be a good choice for a prospective counselor due to the mental health aspects of the counseling vocation. Psychology students who aspire to become counselors might benefit from a minor in a specialized field, such as marriage and family therapy, education or rehabilitation counseling. Additional training for new counselors typically is offered by employers.

Licensure and Certification Information

Licensure requirements vary by state and specialty area. Generally, counselors working for public schools must have state licensure, as must family and marriage therapists. Additionally, the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC) offers several voluntary credentials, including National Certified Counselor, National Certified School Counselor, Certified Clinical Medical Health Counselor and Master Addictions Counselor.

Employment Outlook

The BLS expects a 12% increase in employment for school and career counselors between 2012 and 2022. This statistic is about the same as the national average for all occupations. Educational, guidance and career counselors earned an average income of $56,160 per year as of 2013.

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