As the medical field advances treatment for physical ailments, more people are paying attention to their mental health. Demand for psychologists and psychological services continues to grow, with the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projecting a 14% increase in these jobs through 2026. Schools, hospitals, social service agencies, and even corporations are looking to hire more mental health experts to serve their students, patients, and customers.
Earning an online master’s in psychology prepares graduates to help clients in some clinical settings, assist psychologists in delivering treatment, and assume school counseling responsibilities. Online master’s programs in psychology also prepare students for rigorous, research-based, and clinically focused doctorate programs. Students considering a psychology major must have empathy for their clients an ability to approach problems analytically. The coursework introduces students to theories on why people behave in certain ways and how their thought processes work. It also offers instruction in evaluating and assessing patients, identifying mental health or developmental disorders, and developing effective treatment strategies.
Clinical, counseling, and school psychologists find work in a variety of fields, such as hospitals, outpatient care centers, and private practices. Most, however, work in elementary and secondary schools, helping students plan for their futures or overcome the challenges of childhood. These mental health professionals command a salary almost twice the average worker's wage, with a national mean salary of $81,330.
Many factors impact how much a psychologist can expect to earn, however, such as years of work experience, the industry you work in, and your state of residence. New Jersey offers the highest mean wage of $97,790 annually. Government jobs also offer increased earning potential, paying a median wage of $94,910 compared to $74,470 for psychologists working in elementary and secondary schools.
|State||Employment||Annual Mean Wage|
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics
Earning an online master's in psychology prepares graduates for a variety of careers either working directly with clients or developing research that informs and improves treatment options. Multiple specialization areas allow individuals to follow their interests, whether they be working with students on career planning or helping addicts rebuild relationships with estranged family and friends. Students should possess empathy for individuals from diverse backgrounds and circumstances, plus a keen eye for detail to make clinical observations. Data analysis and problem-solving skills help these professionals develop appropriate intervention and treatment strategies, as well.
Annual Median Salary: $75,090
Projected Growth Rate: 14%
School psychologists assist students at all levels to develop their academic ability, determine their career interests, and select appropriate courses. They may also intervene in issues of emotional or behavioral disturbance, conferring with parents and other medical providers on their observations and developing and implementing treatment plans. School psychologists have also been called upon to help address issues related to bullying, and help students overcome social challenges.
Annual Median Salary: $48,790
Projected Growth Rate: 23%
This practice specialty helps clients manage problems in their closest relationships, such as between spouses or parents and children. They encourage discussion of emotions and behaviors to address conflict, and help family members cope with changes, such as the death of a loved one or a divorce. Many family counselors operate private practices, though the rise of collaborative and integrated care has led to more counselors working with other healthcare providers or outpatient facilities.
Annual Median Salary: $47,980
Projected Growth Rate: 16%
Social workers provide group and individual therapy and behavior intervention, and help address clients' practical concerns, like access to safe housing or navigating assistance programs. Socials workers must gain state licensure to diagnose or treat mental health disorders. They often work in social services offices at local and state governments, in hospitals, or with individual family services.
Annual Median Salary: $43,300
Projected Growth Rate: 23%
Counselors in this specialty area work with clients overcoming substance abuse, developing goals and implementing various forms of treatment. They may work with clients one-on-one, or in group sessions. They address underlying issues that may have led to addiction, such as undiagnosed mental health disorders, trauma, or stress, and provide support as clients rebuild personal and professional relationships.
Annual Median Salary: $73,770
Projected Growth Rate: 15%
An online master's in psychology prepares graduates to take on postsecondary teaching positions at community colleges or four-year universities. Often, individuals with their master's degrees teach survey and foundational courses to prepare students for further advanced study. Many institutions require teachers to earn a doctorate before advancing to full professorships and tenure-track positions.
You can expect to spend 2-3 years completing your master's in psychology online, depending on credit requirements and whether you study full-time. Curricula may vary depending on your practice area. Individuals interested in clinical practice must complete intensive internships and practicums in addition to core curriculum courses, such as those listed below. Most schools also require students to complete an independent research project and thesis.
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