American aphorist Mason Cooley joked that “psychology keeps trying to vindicate human nature; history keeps undermining the effort.”

While there certainly is no shortage of jokes about psychology, there is no doubting the fact that the human psyche is an amazing thing. The human psyche – which consists of love, fear, joy, hatred, boredom and sexuality – is what makes a person unique.

Psychology is the scientific study of the human mind and its functioning. Those who study psychology are called psychologists. In addition to studying and understanding the human psyche, psychologists also are charged with the treatment of certain mental conditions which affect the health and daily functioning of human beings.
Educational Requirements

The kind of degree necessary to work in psychology is entirely dependent on which field of psychology will be practiced. While there are several levels of degrees available for psychology, each one will qualify its holders to work in only select areas of the industry.

An associate degree in psychology requires two years of schooling to complete. Most students who earn associate degrees continue their education toward a four-year degree, called a bachelor’s degree. While it is possible to find employment in the psychology industry with only an associate’s degree, those positions will be limited and the earning potential quite low.
Bachelor degree programs in psychology take four years to complete; however, those who possess them still are considered entry-level within the profession, and will find jobs to be limited and low-paying with this degree.
A master’s degree in psychology requires two to three years of additional schooling beyond a bachelor’s degree, and prepares students to enter the workforce upon completion. Jobs available to those with a master’s degree include mental health services provider, mental health government agencies, social services worker, drug and alcohol treatment counselor or behavioral counseling.
Students who successfully earn a master’s degree also have the option to continue their education toward a doctorate degree. A doctorate degree program requires dedication and commitment. Candidates must complete all required coursework and an internship with a licensed psychologist. The majority of candidates who earn a doctorate degree plan to work in research-oriented jobs. They also have the option of going into private practice, becoming a clinical psychologist or becoming a counselor. Others opt to work in the field of research.
There also is a degree option called a doctor of psychology, or a Psy.D. This degree option was created as an alternative to the traditional doctorate degree and focuses on the professional practice of psychology. Candidates who plan to pursue careers as licensed psychologists – which qualify them to diagnose and treat mental disorders – are required to earn this degree.
Future Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts demand for trained psychologists will increase between now and 2020 by 22 percent. The biggest area of demand will be for those who possess a doctorate degree in applied psychology or in school psychology.
The average annual salary for psychologists with a four-year degree is $68,640 and $110,880 for the top 10 percent of wage earners.

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