13 Pros and Cons of Being a Psychologist
Written By: Jennifer Schlette MSN, RN
Are you curious about what it takes to be a psychologist? As a psychologist, you will get to help people work through their personal issues and improve their lives, but is it really all rainbows and sunshine? On the one hand, you can help people overcome their challenges and make meaningful changes in their lives. On the other hand, you may need to deal with demanding clients or situations that can be emotionally draining.
Like every profession, being a psychologist has its pros and cons. Do you know what are the pros and cons of being a psychologist? Do not worry if you do not. Below you will find the top 13 pros and cons of being a psychologist. The pros and cons listed below will help you decide if this is the right career for you.
What Does A Psychologist Do?
Psychology is the study of emotions, behavior, and psychological activity. It is a science with an applied focus; psychologists are interested in what people do, think and feel. As a psychologist, your day-to-day will consist of analyzing and figuring out what people do and why they take certain actions. You will put together many pieces of the psychological puzzle to understand why people do what they do and how those actions affect them.
The goal of psychologists is to help people with their psychological issues. They aim to treat and cure disorders such as depression, anxiety, and addictions to name a few. A psychologist will also work with patients in order for them to gain a better understanding of themselves and how they relate to other people.
Where Does A Psychologist Work?
You can find psychologists working in a variety of places. Psychologists work in some of the most common areas such as in private practice, hospitals, research facilities, and universities.
Psychologists are also employed by the government such as with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, National Security Agency, Central Intelligence Agency, Defense Intelligence Agency, and the Department of Justice. Many psychologists use their expertise to conduct court psychological evaluations as forensic consultants. There is so much variety to where you could work.
What Is A Typical Psychologist Work Schedule Like?
As a psychologist, your schedule will vary depending on the type of work you do and where you work. If you work in a hospital, your schedule will differ from working in a private practice. Psychologists who work in the hospital setting will generally work various hours and days of the week. They may also need to be on call. If you are a psychologist who works in the clinic or office setting, you will most likely work the traditional 40-hour week, Monday through Friday.
If you work in the private practice setting, your schedule is likely to be very flexible. You may work from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm, but you could also work from 7:00 am to 3:30 pm or 10:00 am to 7:30 pm if you choose. Since you are the boss, you make the schedule.
How Much Does A Psychologist Make?
As a psychologist, you can expect an annual average salary of $100,130. This six-figure salary will be about $48.14 an hour. Now, there is some variation in the pay you can be making as a psychologist based upon your level of experience.
If you are new to the career of psychology, you can expect an hourly wage of $21.39 an hour or $44,500 a year. Once you have gained some experience, you can expect a sharp increase in what you will be earning. For a mid-level experienced psychologist, you can expect an annual salary of $105,780 a year or $50.86 an hour. If you have been working for a reasonable amount of time and have top-level experience, you can earn an impressive $133,470 a year, which is about $64.17.
|Level of Experience||Hourly||Annual|
|(Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)|
Job Outlook For A Psychologist
The job outlook for those who are ready to embark on the career path to being a psychologist is not exactly booming. Currently, in 2020 there are around 55,200 jobs and are expected to grow to 56,300 in 2030. There is, however, an increase in new employment growth expected between 2020 and 2030. This growth is slight at 1.99% or about 1,100 jobs. Annually the new and replacement job openings are expected to be around 3,700.
| New Employment|
| Annual Job Openings|
(New + Replacement)
| Number || % |
|(Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)|
TOP CONS OF BEING A PSYCHOLOGIST
(The following are the top 13 disadvantages of being a Psychologist.)
1. You will need to earn a bachelor’s degree.
If you plan on starting a career as a psychologist, one of the first steps you will need to take is earning your bachelor's degree. Earning a bachelor's degree will take a reasonable amount of time, work, and effort. You can expect to spend at least 4 years earning your degree. This means 4 years of not working and basically putting your life on hold. 4 years is a long time to just focus on school.
2. You will need to earn a master’s degree.
So, if you thought that you would be done with your education after earning a bachelor's degree, you were strongly mistaken. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), in order for you to become a professional psychologist, you will need to obtain at least a master's degree.
Master's programs can take around two years after earning your bachelor's degree to complete. You will need to take required graduate courses based on your chosen specialization in psychology, which includes studies in social and cognitive psychology. Now, before you can begin this advanced degree, please keep in mind that some programs will expect you to pass the Graduate Record Examinations (GRE
) before they even consider you for their program. So, it is not just as simple as applying.
3. You may need to earn a doctorate degree.
One of the top disadvantages of being a psychologist is that specific fields of psychology will require you to earn a doctorate degree. One example of a field of psychology that will require that you earn a doctorate degree in clinical
psychology. Earning a doctorate degree is highly time-consuming. You will be expected to study for hours on end and get little to no sleep. You will have to defend a dissertation. A ton of blood, sweat, and tears will go into earning this degree.
4. Your education will come with a hefty price tag.
You will have many years of school ahead of you if you plan on being a psychologist. I just hope you know that your education is not free. A bachelor's degree in psychology will cost you anywhere from $8,000 to $60,000 per year, and a master's degree
will cost approximately $9,000 to $30,000 per year. If you choose or must pursue a doctorate degree in psychology, you should prepare yourself to spend anywhere from $11,000 to $34,000 per year. Please also do not forget to consider your cost of living, school materials, and other incidentals.
5. You may end up in debt.
One of the most significant disadvantages of being a psychologist is that all of the education that is required to prepare you for this career is very expensive. If you do not have expendable money lying around, you may end up in a great deal of debt. So, although you may be earning a good salary, it may all go towards your loans. Earning enough money to pay off your debts can be a big challenge for those entering this career.
6. You may need to complete clinical training.
As a psychologist, you will be required to have hands-on training. Without getting your training in the field, you may not be able to practice. This means that if you want to become a psychologist, this could mean doing an unpaid internship.
7. You will need to sit for the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP).
The Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP
) must be successfully completed prior to becoming a psychologist. This exam consists of 225 questions covering ethical and legal issues, research methods, bases of behavior, and treatment. You must answer 200 out of 225 questions correctly in order to pass. If you do not pass this exam, you will not be able to continue pursuing your psychology career. Wow, think of all the wasted time and money.
8. You will need to obtain and maintain your license.
Sure, passing the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP) will earn you your license to practice in some states, but not in all. Some states, like Texas for example, will require an additional state exam and oral exam to become licensed. Other states will have different requirements. Now, you will have to maintain your license once you obtain it. Most states require that you complete continuing education credits. You can check your state's requirements for licensure and renewal here
9. Your job can be emotionally draining.
One of the cons of being a psychologist is that your job can be physically and emotionally draining. More often than not, you are working with patients who are in the worst times of their lives. You often hear shocking stories and relive traumatic experiences as you help them feel better about their lives.
Sometimes, looking at the patients' problems can affect you so much that you start to think about your own life. You may find yourself worrying about what would happen if you were in their situation because the line between reality and work becomes thinner over time.
10. You may have to work irregular hours
One of the factors that you will have to take into account while evaluating the pros and cons of being a psychologist is the need to work irregular hours. There will be times that you will not be able to stick with a regular working schedule due to varying reasons such as the nature of your job. People might want to talk to you at any time of day, and this is where your flexibility comes in at your expense.
As a psychologist, you will be working with individuals and families in crisis. Many of your clients will have an established behavioral or mental health concern. Your services may have you working any time of day. You may end up having to miss important events in the lives of your loved ones.
11. You may have to work weekends or holidays
Another one of the disadvantages of being a psychologist is that you may find that you will have to work weekends or holidays. Some psychologists find that they have to be on call for emergencies. This is common in the world of psychology. You will find that you will sometimes feel that your job will consume so much of the time you planned on dedicating to your loved ones.
12. It can be challenging to set up your own practice
When you consider the pros and cons of being a psychologist, you must think about the challenges you will face if you choose to pursue your own private practice. You should consider the time, energy, and financial commitment that will be required before starting your private practice.
Also, do you have a client following? If not, you will need to have to establish clients to financially support your practice. This means that you will need to have a large enough client base in order for your business to survive. You need to consider other factors: you must think about the cost of renting an office space, insurance, advertising, and equipment such as computers, stationery, and telephones.
13. Your job may be dangerous
As a psychologist, your job may be dangerous at times. You may be called in to counsel people who were involved or witnessed a crime, and other individuals who have been sent to prison. You may also find yourself being targeted because of your role as a mental health counselor.
Keep in mind, you will be working with people who have some sort of psychological ailment. These people could turn on you. Working as a psychologist, you must be aware of the risks. You may find yourself being assaulted or attacked if not careful.
TOP PROS OF BEING A PSYCHOLOGIST
(The following are the top 13 advantages of being a Psychologist.)
1. You will earn decent money.
One of the top pros of being a psychologist is that you will be earning a reasonable salary. The average annual salary for a psychologist is $100,130 a year. Having a salary of this caliber will afford you numerous opportunities; you will be able to own a home, purchase nice things for yourself and your family, or even save money towards retirement.
2. You can work in a variety of settings.
One of the pros of being a psychologist is that you will be able to work in various settings. You can work in schools, hospitals, rehab centers, correctional facilities, and other types of environments.
The significant aspect of having so many settings that you could work in is that you are able to pick the place that would best meet your needs. If you want to work in rehab facilities, then that is what you will be able to do. The same goes for other settings as well. This option of having so many places to go and work at makes this career very appealing.
3. You may be able to work from home.
As a psychologist, you may be able to work from home. The benefit of this is that it makes it easier to balance your work and personal life. Furthermore, you can choose your own hours, and you will be able to take time off for doctor's appointments without worrying about losing compensation. If you have children, you will be able to see them off to school and be there when they get home.
4. You will be helping other people.
One of the most significant advantages of being a psychologist is the opportunity to help others and change people's lives for the better. You will be assisting individuals in dealing with their personal issues and problems and giving them a hand in overcoming their obstacles.
A psychologist is there to listen and provide advice and inform their patients about available options they can use to solve their problems. Also, by helping individuals change their lives for the better, you will also be positively affecting the lives that they are around.
5. You will have a well-respected career.
As a psychologist, you can feel good about the fact that you have chosen a well-respected career. You will be viewed as an expert at helping individuals properly cope with issues such as emotional trauma, depression, and anxiety disorders. Regardless of the specific therapy type you end up specializing in, your job will always be to help people through some of their most difficult times.
6. You can specialize
One of the top pros of being a psychologist is that you will have the option to specialize if you see fit to. You will, in that case, be able to choose to be an addiction psychologist, child psychologist
, forensic psychologist, sports psychologist
, industrial-organizational psychologist
, school psychologist
, to name a few. Specializing will give you the freedom to narrow what you do down into one area of psychology, or it will provide you with the freedom to take your studies even further.
7. You can be the boss
One of the pros and cons of being a psychologist that you will have to weigh is the aspect of opening a private practice. This is a dream for many people and yet not an easy undertaking. As a psychologist in private practice, you are essentially your own boss. This comes with a lot of freedom. You basically call the shots.
8. You will never be bored.
One of the pros of being a psychologist is that your days will be different. You will never be bored. The challenges, stress, and happiness that come with your job will be worth it. The variety of people you get to work with is also one of the critical aspects every psychologist looks forward to. Every person is different. There are no two identical people in this world. Therefore, everybody has various problems.
Every day being different will help develop your creativity as a psychologist very much. You will discover and meet different difficulties and challenges with every new person. The good thing is that you will learn to embrace those challenges as a psychologist. You will learn how to guide your patients on the right path and walk together with them for as long as they need it.
9. You can have a flexible schedule
As a psychologist, you may be privy to a relatively flexible schedule. Of course, not all do, but some may even work from home. Having the flexibility in your schedule will allow you to spend time with your loved ones or complete that never-ending to-do list.
10. You can potentially end up with a reasonable amount of time off
When you decide to specialize as a psychologist, you may end up with a reasonable amount of time off, depending on the specialty you choose. For example, if you decide that you want to become a school psychologist, you will have school vacations off such as winter break, spring break, and summer break. This type of schedule may also be true if you work in academia at the college level. This schedule will be great if you like to travel or just have a staycation.
11. You will have autonomy in your practice
One of the advantages of being a psychologist is that you will have autonomy in treating your patients. This means that you will determine what type of treatment to administer and how often. You will not be micromanaged by others, so you have greater flexibility in your workday. You are an expert in your field and should be treated as one.
12. You may be able to advance the profession of psychology
As a psychologist, you may be able to advance the science of psychology. By studying people's experiences, thoughts, and behaviors, you can discover new aspects about human behavior. You may find new techniques and methods that people can use to become happier, healthier, and more successful in their lives. You may also discover new strategies to prevent or reduce the likelihood of unfortunate events like accidents, addiction, and mental illness.
13. You can feel good about the work you are doing
One of the biggest advantages of being a psychologist is that you should feel good about your work. You are helping people overcome the issues that are causing them distress. The fact that you permit others in so many aspects of their lives will make you feel fantastic. You should be proud of yourself.
My Final Thoughts
The pros and cons of being a psychologist can be complex, so it is essential to weigh your options carefully before choosing this path as your profession. If you are passionate about helping people and want to learn more, there is no better profession than psychology. It is hard work but very rewarding in the end. Keep in mind that being a psychologist is not all roses and rainbows. Many factors go into the decision to become one. If you are considering this career path in your future, you should take some time to ponder what it is really like on both sides of the fence before making any commitments! This is why the top 13 pros and cons of being a psychologist that you have just read will help you decide if this is the career for you.
Jennifer Schlette MSN, RN
Jennifer Schlette is a registered nurse in pediatric critical care in New York City. She is the former Director of Undergraduate Nursing at a college located in New York. After obtaining her BSN from the College of Mount Saint Vincent, she went on to complete her MSN.