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Sample employment after a Masters or PhD in Psychology

Career options and job settings following graduate training in Psychology

The range of specializations for graduate level training in psychology is diverse. Thus, career options and job settings for those who pursue graduate level training in psychology are diverse and include:

  • faculty members at universities are involved in research and teaching activities.
  • research scientists in government or industrial research and development labs e.g., aerospace industry, information technology.
  • clinical psychologists provide assessment and treatment services for individuals or groups who have emotional and behavioural problems. They work in all applied settings, for example, mental health facilities, hospitals, clinics, the penal system, or in private practice. They also conduct research on psychological disorders and treatment effectiveness.
  • counselling psychologists do similar work to clinical psychologists but tend to provide services to less severely disordered clientele.
  • psychometrists are skilled in the design and administration of psychological tests. They work in all applied settings including education, mental health, business, and government.
  • health psychologists conduct research and are involved in health promotion and illness prevention programs.
  • clinical neuropsychologists conduct research as well as do assessment and treatment for disorders of the central nervous system e.g., brain damage due to a head injury or stroke)
  • educational psychologists are interested in basic research on effective learning strategies and the assessment of learning difficulties. They work at all levels of the education system, for government or business training programs, or as consultants.
  • industrial/organizational psychologists are employed as researchers, consultants, and/or human resource managers. They are interested in such issues as job satisfaction, perceptions of fairness, decision making, productivity, training, leadership, and biases in the interview process.
  • product/market researchers in the private sector.
  • senior administrators in numerous settings including universities.
  • directors in mental health facilities and hospitals.

Profiles and achievements of those with graduate level degrees from the University of Waterloo.

How do clinical psychologists, counselling psychologists, psychiatrists, psychotherapists, and social workers differ in their approaches to helping people with their problems?

Several helping professions work closely together to administer assessment and treatment services to clients.

Common to the work of clinical psychologists, counselling psychologists, psychiatrists, and social workers are applications of various interviewing and assessment skills along with 'talk therapy' interventions. No particular one of these disciplines seems to own any specific treatment philosophy or therapeutic technique, but there are certain distinct features which separate their job functions.

Clinical Psychologist

Many clinical psychologists have a PhD (Doctor of Philosophy) in Psychology. Although in some jurisdictions individuals with a Master's degree and extensive supervised practice may be registered as a clinical psychologist. Graduate training in clinical psychology differs somewhat from one institution to another in its emphasis and focus. However, common to all accredited clinical psychology programs is an extended period of involvement in a hospital or other service agency where student interns receive continuous supervision of their work with patients. In addition to this internship experience, students in PhD programs are generally well trained in research technologies (e.g., experimental psychopathology, evaluation research, and other areas important to advancing our understanding of services and patients) and are expected to complete a dissertation on a research topic that is relevant to clinical psychology.

A few programs offering a PsyD (Doctor of Psychology) instead of a PhD (Doctor of Philosophy) in Psychology emphasize professional training (i.e., supervised patient contact) and require an experimentally less rigorous research project than that expected in a PhD dissertation.

Although the specific curriculum in clinical psychology differs from university to university, usually some attempt is made to train students in intellectual assessment (I.Q. tests), personality and/or behavioural assessment, and psychotherapy. In addition to these practical courses, the student is exposed to the scholarly literature in personality and psychopathology, as well as statistics and research design. Generally, clinical students are also expected to have a subsidiary interest area, such as cognitive neuroscience, developmental, or social psychology.

Clinical psychologists are not sanctioned to prescribe medications as part of their treatment interventions (see psychiatry).

The diverse possibilities for employment include academic jobs in universities and medical schools where there is an expectation for research productivity. In addition, there are many opportunities for employment in hospitals, reform institutions, and other centers, in which the primary duties typically are service delivery (i.e., patient contact), but that occasionally permit and sometimes encourage research with clinical populations.

The Canadian Psychological Association provides advice regarding the training and licensing requirements to practice Psychology in Canada.

Counselling Psychologist

Many counselling psychologists have a PhD in Psychology. Similar to clinical psychologists, counselling psychologists are also trained for research roles. Counselling psychologists differ from clinical psychologists in that counselling psychologists typically provide services to a less severely disordered clientele. They may, for example, be employed in counselling services departments at universities, colleges, and secondary schools, as well as other agencies that assist with vocational guidance and life adjustment issues. Other specialists give focus to child development issues, school problems, occupational therapy, clinical neuropsychology (e.g., offering assessment or rehabilitation for brain injuries), chronic physical disabilities, etc.

When searching for graduate programs, check counselling psychology and school psychology within psychology departments, as well as counselling psychology programs within education departments.

The Canadian Psychological Association provides advice regarding the training and licensing requirements to practice Psychology in Canada.

Psychotherapist

See the Therapy Toronto (Ontario) for a description of the field of Psychotherapy and the licensing requirements for the profession of psychotherapy.

Psychiatrist

Several years of training beyond a medical degree will be required to become a psychiatrist.

After receiving a medical degree, physicians interested in specializing in the treatment of people (e.g., children, adolescents, adults, geriatric) who suffer from biologically-based mental disorders will pursue psychiatric training.

Psychiatrists are sanctioned to prescribe medications and other physical treatments as part of their therapeutic intervention with patients. Psychiatrists typically do not have specific training in research.

For further details:

Canadian Psychiatric Association

Ontario Psychiatric Association

Social Worker

Social workers and social services workers are the professionals most heavily identified with Family and Children's Services. However, they are also employed in numerous other settings such as hospitals, community and mental health facilities, correctional facilities, the military, etc.

Those in a Master's of Social Work program are trained to provide individuals (children, adolescents, adults, the elderly), families, and groups who are experiencing difficulties (e.g., economic, emotional, physical, social, safety, etc.) with counselling, therapy and/or mediation as well as to connect with appropriate resources and support services. They are involved in community development services and programs, and advocate for community and government policy changes to improve the well-being and quality of life for their client base. Although some Master's programs do not emphasis research training, students will develop a critical and thoughtful approach to claims made about people and about psychological research.

Those with a Social Services Worker diploma from a community college are trained for front-line roles. They interview clients, assist with identifying the sources of difficulty, and prepare in-take reports. They provide practical assistant for their clients such as connecting them with necessary resources and support services, providing life skills workshops, making referrals for crisis intervention, etc.

To call or represent oneself as a social worker or a social services worker in Ontario, you must be in good standing with the Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Services Workers.

For further details regarding the field of social work, please refer to the following programs at Renison University College:

Bachelor of Social Work

Master’s of Social Work


Last updated: September 14, 2015