Vocational Psychology Degrees – Becoming a Vocational Psychologist [2024]

Last Updated: May 22, 2024

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 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 the rest of psychologists. Hence, a Ph.D. or Psy.D. with a specialization in organizational psychology or counseling is almost always necessary in order to practice.

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.

To begin with, an undergraduate degree must be obtained. Undergraduate studies involve completion of about 60 credit hours of general education requirements, as well as approximately 60 credit hours of psychological studies. From there, students can pursue a master’s degree.

Both general psychology and career focused master’s degree programs can be found at various universities. You may choose to study general psychology or opt for a specific degree like organizational psychology or counseling psychology.

Graduate studies typically last from three to five years and include 30-60 semester credit hours, and often include a lengthy internship of at least 1,000 hours as well.

Coursework at this level focuses on advanced understanding of psychological principles, particularly as they pertain to career counseling. Internships for vocational psychologists may occur in secondary school settings, colleges, or workforce services offices.

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.

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.

What Skills are Required for a Vocational Psychologist?

To be successful as a vocational psychologist, workers must possess the following skills:

  • Ability to administer tests – Vocational psychologists must have strong interest and training in psychometric testing. This includes administering career-related tests, personality tests, and interest inventories, scoring those assessments, and interpreting the results.
  • Ability to work with anyone – Workers in this field have clients from a broad spectrum of backgrounds and experiences, and having the capability and willingness to work with various groups of people is an absolute must.
  • Deep understanding of career issues – Many vocational psychologists work with high school-aged students, and therefore must have an intimate knowledge of academic and career advising techniques that will help students identify their strengths and areas of interest for a career.
  • Willingness to help – All psychologists must possess a willingness to help others, but often that means vocational psychologists must assist their clients with relatively mundane tasks. This includes working on resumes and cover letters or filling out job applications.
  • Excellent communication skills – Vocational counselors often act as a bridge between their clients and potential employers. As a result, vocational counselors must have excellent verbal and written communication skills. This helps them provide services to clients and also helps them make connections in the business community that might benefit their clients down the road.
  • Ability to work as part of a team – In some instances, vocational psychologists offer their services as part of a team-based approach to assisting a client. As such, vocational psychologists must be able to work effectively with other stakeholders to meet team goals for the client.

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 6% for 2022-32. 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.

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