How to Become a Vocational Psychologist

The Basics

When practical psychology is discussed, it is mostly under the assumption that its purpose is to help people alleviate disease, disorders, and various types of mental problems. But this isn’t always the case. Scores of people in society need psychological guidance that allows them to utilize strengths they already have, and by becoming a vocational psychologist, you have a chance to be a part of that process.

Are You a Good Decision Maker?

What makes vocational psychology stand out from a lot of other concentrations within psychology is that it requires a tremendous prowess for putting things together – a lot of things. On a given day, you will be turning around many different variables in your mind simultaneously. When doing this, you should not be prone to neither confusion, nor frustration.

Other people will be depending on your ability to discern between what is good and what is bad for a particular client, and that’s especially true for the client. When you make the call on what type of work they should get involved in, it will have far-reaching implications. Hence, it is of utmost importance that the decisions you make are prudent, and nothing but.

What Does a Vocational Psychologist Do?

Vocational psychologists apply psychological theories to issues related to employment. They work with both individuals and companies to improve various factors related to the workplace, such as job satisfaction, employee retention and employee and employer relationships. The exact responsibilities of a vocational psychologist may vary depending on the setting they work in.

Part of what vocational psychologists do is determine how an individual’s abilities make them a good fit for a particular role within a company. For example, they may administer personality and assessment tests and provide job counseling and coaching to individual job seekers. They may also help individuals analyze employment opportunities and develop the attitude and skills needed to secure employment.

Vocational psychologists may also work with companies and management to analyze employment practices and fine-tune how organizations recruit, select and train employees. By choosing the candidate most suited for the position, employers may have a more successful company. For instance, vocational psychologists may develop screening tools, such as assessments, to narrow down candidates.

But even when an organization hires the right candidate and an employee also feels like they are a good fit, conflicts and issues can develop in the workplace. Vocational psychologists also address problems that may develop, such as poor moral or ineffective communication. For example, psychologists may teach classes in communication techniques and conduct individual counseling sessions.

Psychologists may be involved in developing team building strategies and developing programs that deal with leadership development and resolving workplace conflict.

Another aspect of what a vocational psychologist does is help employees deal with the end of employment. Whether a job is ending due to a layoff, company closure or retirement, various emotions can develop. Vocational psychologists help individuals facing the end of a job deal with practical concerns, as well as emotional issues.

Why Do We Need Vocational Psychologists?

Making the decision to work in a specific field or for a certain company is not something an individuals should take lightly. Most adults spend a good portion of their lives working. Finding the type of employment that is a good fit for a person’s strengths, personality, aptitudes and goals are important for individual happiness.

But finding the right employment is not always as simple as applying for a job and getting hired, which is why a vocational psychologist is helpful. Many people fall into a career they either tolerate or dread. When an individual does work they dislike or are not a good fit for, it can lead to problems for both the employee and the company. Vocational psychologists are needed to help people discover a career they will not only do well at but will also be happy they chose.

Vocational psychologists are also needed to help companies and businesses run efficiently. A company is only as good as its employees. If employees are not a good match for their job, morale may be low, and productivity may suffer. Vocational psychologists play an important role in helping companies hire and retain the most qualified applicants.

What are Education and Licensing Requirements?

The requirements to become a vocational psychologist are similar to those of becoming a counseling psychologist. Hence, a Ph.D. or Psy.D. with a specialization in counseling is almost always necessary in order to practice. A Ph.D. degree involves a lot of arduous research, dissertation writing, and an internship. A Psy.D.degree consists more of practical work. Both are doctoral degrees, and hence require many years of dedication and hard work, even after graduating college. To build a solid foundation you should start with a bachelor’s degree in psychology. During your bachelor’s program you should opt for subjects such as general psychology, social science, and counseling.

If you desire to practice independently, you must also get licensed. This requires additional 1-2 years of professional experience, and to pass the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology(Bureau of Labor Statistics). Exact requirements may vary by state. If considering a career in the independent practice of vocational psychology, you should therefor check local requirements with the Association of State and Provincial Licensing Boards.

Where Does a Vocational Psychologist Work?

Vocational psychologists work in a variety of settings and with different client populations. For example, some vocational psychologists work in a school setting, such as colleges and high schools helping young people determine their vocational goals.

Some vocational psychologists choose to work with specific populations. For example, various types of social service agencies and non-profit organizations may hire vocational psychologists to work with specific client populations, such as individuals who have psychiatric problems or people who are homeless.

A small percentage of vocational psychologists may also work for psychometric assessment services and management training centers. They may also work for private companies and corporations. Although vocational psychologist may be hired by businesses of any size, they most commonly work for large companies.

Vocational psychologists may also work for staffing agencies or government agencies. Some vocational psychologists also are in private practice. Additional places of employment include government agencies and universities where they may teach or conduct research.

What is the Employment Outlook for Vocational Psychologists?

As stated repeatedly, vocational psychology falls under the category of psychological counseling. Counseling, clinical, and school psychologists have a combined projected job growth of 20% for 2014-24. This is the same as for psychologists in general (Bureau of Labor Statistics).

Because the need for vocational psychologists is a ubiquitous one, you may find work in any sector. In the public and non-profit spheres, positions are available in schools, universities, and government agencies. Privately, vocational psychologists are sometimes needed in businesses. The former is a lot more common, however.

What is the Salary for a Vocational Psychologist?

Figures from Salary.com reveal that vocational psychologists make from $34,870 to $64,514. As with most other areas within the psychology field, salary prospects hinge largely on the sector of employment. City size is also an influential factor. Metropolitan areas offer greater compensation than smaller communities, because that is where the demand is the highest.

Regardless, paycheck size may not play a big role in your decision of whether or not to become a vocational psychologist. And perhaps it shouldn’t. After all, the greatest reward of all lies in the fulfillment of knowing that you are helping people realize their God-given potential – and that aspect of the job, some say, is invaluable.

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