Physical health has long been critically important to a person’s overall health, but only in recent decades has mental health begun to share that importance. Today, it’s almost universally understood that mental health is just as important to somebody’s overall well-being as any other aspect of health. With more and more people working to improve and maintain their mental health, career opportunities in psychology and counseling have been rising.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, psychologist employment is expected to grow 3% in the next ten years. This signals a great opportunity for students considering a career in psychology or counseling.
But what exactly does that entail? We at OnlineCollegeWiz have decided to dive into the world of psychology and counseling to find all the information students need to go from psych student to psychologist.
Psychology & Counseling from an Online College
A great way to understand psychology & counseling is to think of them as two sides of the same coin. A degree in psychology will focus on the study of psychology – or the study of the mind. This degree typically frames itself around research and clinical studies, so it can tend to be a little more theoretical than it is hands-on. That’s not to say that those who earn an online psychology degree aren’t prepping for a hands-on career.
An online counseling degree takes many of the teachings and psychology findings and works to put them into practice. Students pursuing an online counseling degree will learn how to work directly with clients to improve their mental health and overall well-being.
An important thing to note is that neither of these fields is psychiatry. While psychiatry is related to psychology & counseling in that it also has to do with the mind, psychiatry is a medical field as it involved prescribing medications. If that is of interest to you, then a psychology or counseling degree might not be quite the right degree fit.
Topics Covered in Psychology & Counseling from an Online College
With a broader understanding of what online psychology and counseling degrees are and aren’t, we can take a closer look at the types of information covered within these programs.
Students enrolled in a psychology or counseling degree online will study several topics in psychology. Besides general psychology courses and courses in the history of psychology, students will also explore subjects such as cognitive psychology, developmental psychology, abnormal psychology, and more.
These different facets of psychology will help students gain a more nuanced picture and richer understanding of the different ways the mind operates and the types of interventions and treatments for those who have a mental illness.
In-Demand Psychology & Counseling Majors from Online Colleges
Psychology and counseling degrees run the entire scope of higher education. Students interested in the fastest, most attainable degree in psychology or counseling can enroll in an Associate in Psychology/Counseling. These degrees can be completed in under two years and provide a starting point for your psychology or counseling education. However, most psychology and counseling careers require students to have earned more than an associate’s degree.
The next and most common psychology/counseling degree is the Bachelor of Science in Psychology / Counseling. This four-year degree goes beyond the coursework of an associate’s degree to give students a more encompassing understanding of psychology. Students with a bachelor’s in psychology or counseling will be ready for careers in the field.
The Master’s and doctoral degrees in psychology and counseling are further education options for students. Upon completion of an online master’s in psychology or counseling, students will be eligible to take the examination to become a licensed counselor or psychologist. This level of education is crucial if you are interested in that particular career path.
Besides the different levels of education, psychology and counseling degrees are also offered in various specializations. Students can choose to focus specifically on mental health topics such as substance abuse, family and marriage counseling, abnormal psychology, and many other subsets of the subject. This specialization allows students to hone their education towards a particular career path.
What are some careers in psychology and counseling?
The most common and clearest-cut career path for someone with a degree in psychology or counseling is becoming a psychologist or counselor. As a psychologist, you will study and conduct research that pertains to the field of psychology. That means exploring the ways people behave and the ways that they process thoughts and information. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, psychologists earn a median annual salary of $82,180.
A mental health counselor takes psychology concepts and applies them to working with patients to improve their mental health. While psychologists can also work with patients, the mental health counselor’s is this function. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, mental health counselors earn a median salary of $47,660.
With the more obvious career paths out of the way, we also wanted to highlight some more non-traditional career paths for those with a psychology or counseling degree.
- Market Research Analyst – Psychology students can apply their understanding of the human mind and cognition in marketing. Using valuable psychologic insights, market research analysts understand consumer behavior to understand purchasing and spending habits.
- Substance Abuse Counselor – Substance abuse is a significant issue plaguing many in the United States and worldwide. Substance abuse counselors work with patients to help them handle their substance abuse issues to lead healthier lives.
- Industrial-organizational psychologist – A particular type of psychologist, the industrial-organizational psychologist studies how people interact within an organization, like the workplace. This is a very lucrative and in-demand field of study. Many large businesses and corporations like to employ an industrial-organizational psychologist to assess the quality of their workplace.
Online College Accreditations for Psychology and Counseling Degrees
We try to stress the importance of attending an online college accredited by a nationally recognized accreditation board. Whether it’s the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on College or the Higher Learning Commission, accreditation boards help legitimize an online university or college quality.
It’s also essential to find a psychology or counseling degree program that has received industry-standard accreditation. This accreditation type goes a step further in ensuring that a particular online degree in psychology will provide students with the proper training and skills needed to succeed in the workplace.
Notable accreditation boards to keep an eye out for are the American Psychological Association (APA), the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP), and the Psychological Clinical Science Accreditation System (PCSAS). If any of these organizations accredit a college program you’re considering; you can be assured of that program’s quality.
Licensure For Psychology & Counseling Students at Online Colleges
Beyond earning a degree in psychology and counseling, students must pass specific examinations and gain licensure before they can work as a psychologist or counselor. Much like the medical field, psychologists and counselors must be licensed to work with patients.
To become a licensed psychologist, students must pass the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP). This examination is made available by the Association of State Provincial Psychology Boards (ASPPB). This test can be challenging, and it is advised that students make sure they are adequately prepared before attempting this examination.
After earning licensure, some particular areas of psychology require additional training and examinations. The American Board of Professional Psychology (ABPP) is just one of several bodies that provide other certification types.
Scholarship For Online College Psychology & Counseling Programs
The number one way to decrease the cost of an online college education is through scholarships. Students interested in earning an online psychology or counseling degree should research scholarship opportunities to reduce program costs. Some scholarships that we’ve found to be worth applying for are the Credentialing Scholarships, the Benton-Meier Scholarship, and the Violet and Cyril Franks Scholarship.
Psychology & Counseling: Is it right for me?
Choosing a degree in psychology or counseling is a great way to prepare for a career geared towards helping others while also ensuring opportunities for a secure and prosperous future. If you are someone who finds the human mind and human behavior fascinating, then a psychology or counseling degree might be for you.
This degree and subsequent career path are advantageous as it gives people the opportunity to help others live fuller and happier lives. As a psychologist or counselor, you’ll be having a direct impact on the lives of others as you work to promote their mental health and well-being.
Beyond those careers, psychology and counseling students will have gained a variety of insights and skills applied in many different workforces.
Whether it’s counseling, psychology, or some other field of work entirely, an understanding of the human mind and human behavior is a valuable toolset that can be the cornerstone of a fruitful career.