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Psychologists Job Outlook

Overall employment of psychologists is expected to grow 22 percent from 2010 to 2020, faster than the average for all occupations. Employment growth will vary by specialty.

Employment of clinical, counseling, and school psychologists is expected to grow 22 percent, faster than the average for all occupations. Greater demand for psychological services in schools, hospitals, mental health centers, and social services agencies should drive employment growth.

Demand for clinical and counseling psychologists will increase as people continue to turn to psychologists to help solve or manage their problems. More psychologists will be needed to help people deal with issues such as depression and other mental disorders, marriage and family problems, job stress, and addiction. Psychologists also will be needed to provide services to an aging population, helping people deal with the mental and physical changes that happen as they grow older. Through both research and practice, psychologists are also helping other special groups, such as veterans suffering from war trauma, other trauma survivors, and individuals with autism.

Demand for psychologists in the health care industry is also expected to increase, because their work on teams with doctors, social workers, and other healthcare professionals provides patients with comprehensive, interdisciplinary treatments. In addition to treating mental and behavioral health issues, psychologists work on teams to develop or administer prevention or wellness programs.

As the overall number of students grows, more school psychologists will be needed to work with students, particularly those with special needs, learning disabilities, and behavioral issues. Schools also rely on school psychologists to assess and counsel students. Additionally, school psychologists will be needed to study how both in-school and out-of-school factors affect learning, which teachers and administrators can use to improve education.

Employment of industrial-organizational psychologists is expected to grow 35 percent, much faster than the average for all occupations, as organizations use these psychologists to help select and keep employees, increase productivity, and identify potential workplace improvements. However, because it is a small occupation, the fast employment growth will result in only about 800 new jobs over the 10-year period.

Job Prospects

Job prospects should be best for those who have a doctoral degree in an applied specialty and those with a specialist or doctoral degree in school psychology. Because admission to psychology graduate programs is so selective, job opportunities for doctoral graduates are expected to be fair. 

Employment of school psychologists will grow to accommodate the increasing number of children in schools, and many will also be needed to replace workers who retire. Because of the limited number of graduates in this specialty, school psychologists are expected to have good job opportunities.

Candidates with a master’s degree will face competition for positions, and many master’s degree holders will find jobs in a related field outside of psychology. Even industrial-organizational psychologists, despite much faster than average employment growth, are expected to face competition for positions due to the large number of qualified graduates. Industrial-organizational psychologists with extensive training in quantitative research methods and computer science may have a competitive edge.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition