Many people are drawn to the career of psychology, seeing it as that training in which they will learn to do psychotherapy and uncover the mysterious puzzles behind why people behave the way we do.
However, not all that glitters is gold. Whether the degree has started or is in the process of being completed, many behavioral science students they wonder what to do at the end of their psychology degree.
There are a lot of questions about the employment opportunities of those who finish psychology and today we are going to explore them. Find out what to do when you finish your psychology degree or diploma.
What to do at the end of a university degree in psychology
The degree in psychology is attractive to thousands of pre-university students. Many people who become psychologists, deciding to study the career motivated by the idea that one day they will practice psychotherapy and help people who are going through a bad patch, convinced that after the diploma is completed they will be able to practice in a very short time frame have studied.
However, those who are already inside and are in third and fourth year are repeatedly asked what to do after completing their psychology degree. Although they have been studying it for a while and also know what it is about it often happens that his not-so-distant professional future is seen as a gray color turning to black, a very ugly color. Questions such as “What career opportunities are there after you finish?” “Can you make a living from it?” “What should I do if I cannot work from what I have studied? And many others can overwhelm us a lot.
To avoid feeling so much anxiety about our professional future, throughout this article we will be thinking about what can be done at the end of the psychology degree, also giving some tips for those who have it. already started and motivating those they end up not stopping or surrendering. Getting a degree doesn’t mean getting a job right away, but having certain education and skills acquired after graduation will increase your chances of someday practicing psychology.
The first: lower expectations
The first thing we will do will be make the vase of cold water for those who are just starting or are planning to study psychology. Many believe that the degree in psychology is aimed at acquiring all the necessary tools so that after psychotherapy is completed, psychotherapy can be carried out. This belief ends in a huge disappointment when one finds out that while it is true that the university degree continues to have a clinical bias, teaching psychotherapy is not what is planned, at least initially.
During the first two or three years, students will acquire the epistemological pillars of the discipline. The subjects of the first years are aimed at ensuring that the students understand the origin of psychology, what are the psychological currents, how the nervous system is structured and function, discover the basic psychological processes and become familiar with the statistics and the research. others.
Many of the subjects in which this knowledge is taught can be very heavy, experienced as if a heavy truck is passing over us (in my case, statistics) and can be demotivating by not seeing anywhere a subject or a subject that we use to help. the patients. It can become so disappointing for some that it is only between the first 4 and 9 months that there are more dropouts in the classroom.
All we have to study just to get started is what there is. We must be patient, because over the semesters we will acquire knowledge that will allow us to familiarize ourselves with the branches of psychology. and what exactly a psychologist does. From the third year, we already have a sufficiently comprehensive and in-depth view of the discipline to get an idea of our preferred field of intervention and to think about the training to follow once the diploma has been obtained.
Discover specializations from the start
One piece of advice that I would have liked to have received at the start of my license is to find out about the specializations of my license. While in my case I was clear that what is mine is clinical psychology, I rather knew nothing about the other branches, as happened to many of my colleagues. Because of this innocent ignorance, when they reached the end of third year and had to choose electives, a deep and harsh existential crisis came to them.
Elective courses are subjects that, although it is compulsory to take them to complete the degree, you can choose several from a long list with all kinds of options. These subjects are listed in the mentions, modalities of the study plan in which we are specialized. While taking a mention, for example, in a clinic, shouldn’t prevent us from doing a master’s degree in social psychology later, the knowledge gained in the elective courses we do in fourth year can give us advantages or disadvantages. to choose a course after finishing. degree.
It is for this reason that, and in order to avoid the so dreaded existential crisis of third parties and the insecurity of what to do once the race is over, the ideal is to document from the start how much there is of branches and what it is. Is. It’s true, it may seem a bit early and it’s also true that in the third year we discover what these branches are dedicated to, but to avoid choosing just at the last moment and above all making mistakes, the ideal is is to be clear from the start what clinical, social, forensic psychology …
But also this early documentation will help us not only to know what is being done in each branch, but also this will help us to see how we can acquire additional training while we are still studying the degree. By researching what clinical or educational psychology or any other psychology is, we may come into contact with postgraduate courses, specialized web pages in which branch, or even supervision groups organized by professors or psychologists with extensive experience that psychology students seek. collaborate on projects in which they will be rewarded with professional experience.
Career opportunities in the branches of psychology
Psychology is a very diverse discipline, there are many fields of work and specialized branches because there are many contexts in which the figure of the psychologist can be very useful. The professional opportunities of psychology are immense, so numerous that they can confuse us.
Below we will give a brief overview of the five main branches of psychology and what is done in them.
1. Clinical psychology
One of the more popular branches of the discipline is clinical psychology, fitting the classic image of what a psychologist does in movies. Here is the diagnosis and treatment of children and adolescents, family dysfunctions, mental disorders … problems which to function properly must have acquired a vast theoretical and practical knowledge.
It is one of the most popular branches of psychology, but it can also become the most overwhelming.. It is necessary to devote many hours to it, to be always up to date for the sake of the mental health of the patients and, in order to be able to exercise it, specific clinical training is required, being the most common way to study the master’s degree in general health. degree or present oppositions (PIR).
Despite its high standards, this branch has the most opportunities because the figure of the clinical psychologist is very popular, even if the necessary places in public health are not available and there is always reluctance to follow private psychotherapy. .
2. Social psychology
You could say that psychology social is the most favorable branch within the discipline in general, like social psychologists they seek to improve the company, but usually the time they devote to it is not properly compensated in their fees. Work in this area generally comes from NGOs, local and regional administrations.
If this is an exciting branch for those who work there, because it can be used to change the world, it is also the specialization in which part-time work and low wages predominate. Depending on where you live, the public administration can rate the figure of the social psychologist very positively, but this is usually a bit rare.
3. Legal and forensic psychology
Legal and forensic psychology focuses on everything related to the field of people involved in the commission of a certain type of crime (such as victims or perpetrators) or who have a conflict that must be resolved before the judge. We find in this field psychologists specializing in the conduct of expertises in the private and private sphere for example.
4. Experimental psychology
Really, research in psychology can focus on any branch of it and focus on any topic. Whatever may be said, psychology is a science insofar as it applies the scientific method to nurture new knowledge based on empirical evidence and, therefore, experimental psychology is extremely necessary for the discipline.
The good thing about this area of application is that it can be done from any branch of psychology. Experimental psychology is not just done by clinical psychologists, but also social, organizational, medico-legal and whatever their origin. The worst part is that it depends a lot on external factors such as the state’s investment in science or the funds of the university where the experiment is taking place.
5. Organizational psychology
The psychology of organizations and business has a lot to do with human resources and marketing. It is a relatively new branch and has become very popular in recent years, which may even be considered the goose that lays the golden eggs but, like everything in this life, it may or may not be yours. If you love the world of economics and business, organizational psychology is likely to be yours..
How to train at the end of your career?
It doesn’t matter if we get a job just by finishing the degree or not, it is crucial not to stop training. Psychology is a young discipline, a science which is updated every two or three, making obsolete knowledge which until recently was considered a reality, something common in all science but which in ours takes a form. very frequented.
With this in mind, whether we have a background in clinical psychology and want to work with patients or have become social and want to help change the world, consult all kinds of sources of information and expand our knowledge once we are already psychologists, it is extremely necessary. In fact, I would dare to say that it is an ethical imperative, since the discipline cannot be exercised correctly if we base our professional activity on already outdated knowledge.
Below we will see what to do to train at the end of the race.
1. Masters and postgraduate students
To practice in certain branches of psychology, you must have obtained a master’s degree, as can be seen with clinical psychology and the general health master if you want to do private psychotherapy.
But one thing must be said. The world of masters is a bit murky. While those offered by universities are reliable, especially if they are officers recognized throughout the state, externally one can also find this type of training or other postgraduate courses that offer things the university doesn’t give us.
There are hundreds of institutes and academies specializing in certain areas of psychology which can help us a lot in expanding our knowledge and making our program competitive in the world of work. However, having so many establishments offering their own courses should make us cautious, as maybe what they offer is not recognized as real training and we will have paid for something that does not serve us.
That is why it is essential that before entering a course in such an institute or psychological center, it is best to research the postgraduate and masters degrees offered both by our university and by any another educational center whose diplomas will be the most appreciated. .. for our future employers than those that any academy can offer.
2. Watch groups
One of the best ways to gain practice as a psychologist is to create supervisory groups. There are many senior psychologists who organize small supervision groups where real cases are exposed and the content and tools for working with them are discussed, making their students an active role in a practical and real work setting.
This way, not only do we gain in practice by exercising our own profession, but we also gain in confidence and, if the psychologist who teaches us has prestige or fame, it is always a positive point in our program, in addition to which he can refer us when looking for a job in the future.
3. Online resources
Most of today’s psychology students are digital natives. We are surrounded by devices that connect us to the greatest source of information that humans have ever had in all of its history: the Internet. The Library of Alexandria is nothing compared to anything that can be found in this vast place that is the cyber world.
Besides watching kitten videos and chatting about the latest posts from our favorite youtuber, the cyberworld can help us expand our professional knowledge for free and effectively, keeping us up to date with the latest techniques and knowledge. its elimination.
It’s got everything and much of it is free digital content, so there’s no excuse it’s worth it.. We can expand our knowledge of psychology on Youtube, on the websites of universities and institutes of psychology or, at the very least, in Psychology and Mind. don’t tell yourself.
4. Books and magazines
Every psychologist should try to read at least one psychology book every month, even if it is a popular science book for all kinds of people. As I mentioned, psychology is a young and constantly evolving profession, which means that a lot of the knowledge that we study in the career, even if it has only been a year since we completed it, is more fully valid.
Books and journals by recent authors published less than 6 months ago are a reliable and reliable source for acquiring professional knowledge of the discipline. This does not mean that we should rule out classical sources of psychology, such as the work of Sigmund Freud or BF Skinner, in fact, it is strongly recommended to read books by historical authors in order to have an even more global vision if possible of our career.
In any case, consulting any source of information once the diploma is completed is the perfect way to expand our curriculum, make it more competitive in the world of work and, at the same time, fall back in love with the diploma we have. selected. No matter how expert we are, we will never stop learning new things from our own careers.
- Amic Vázquez, I., Fernández Rodríguez, C. & Pérez Álvarez, M. (2003). Manual of Health Psychology. Madrid: Pyramid.
- APA (2011). Psychologists: what they do and how they help us. apa.org.
- Drenth, PJD; Thierry, H .; de Wolff, CJ (1998). Manual of work and organizational psychology. Hove: Psychology Press.