Do you find yourself wondering, “What can I do with a psychology degree in the medical field?”
Maybe you want to pursue a psychology undergraduate degree, but you are also interested in working in the medical field. Can you use your psychology degree to get a job in the medical industry? If you can, how can you use it?
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There are many career options to pursue for people with psychology degrees at every educational level. What you can do with a psychology degree just might surprise you.
What Can I Do with a Psychology Degree in the Medical Field?
Psychologists study the social, emotional, behavioral, and cognitive processes in human beings. They explore why people think and behave as they do so they can help them identify and solve their personal problems.
Many psychologists work as mental health counselors, case managers, and behavior specialists. They work in a wide variety of settings, such as nonprofits and public schools. They even work in industrial organizations or businesses.
According to The Bureau of Labor Statistics, most psychologists are self-employed. These psychologists are typically clinical psychologists and have opened their own practices. Ambulatory health care services and hospitals employ 25% of all psychologists though.
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What does a psychologist do in the medical field? They do the same thing they do in every other industry, which is help people solve their problems. In the medical field, this often means adjusting to big life changes.
Medical psychologists often work as grief counselors, addiction counselors, behavioral specialists, neuropsychologists, and emergency management and trauma specialists. They are needed to help people overcome addictions, adjust to life-changing accidents, or to manage the grief of losing a loved one. There are many things psychologists can do in medical psychology.
5 Things You Can Do with a Psychology Degree in the Medical Field
What you can do as a medical psychologist highly depends on your educational level. Most psychology jobs in hospitals require at least a bachelor’s degree in psychology, but many require a master’s or a doctorate. Though PhD in Psychology programs are well known, another option is the PsyD degree. It’s the doctorate of psychology, and focuses more on practical applications in the profession.
A growing number of universities offer online PsyD programs that may make it easier for working professionals to earn a doctorate. Some schools also offer combined masters and PsyD programs that may shorten the time it takes to earn these two degrees.
1. Rehabilitation Specialist
A rehabilitation specialist helps someone who has experienced a traumatic life event. If you work as a rehab specialist, you might help someone manage the mental and emotional process of learning to walk or speak again or even dealing with the loss of a limb.
Rehabilitation specialists help people with disabilities live as independently as possible. Rehab specialists often have master’s degrees, but you may be able to gain entry level employment with a bachelors as well.
2. Laboratory Assistant
If you enjoy the field of medicine, a psychology degree can help you land a job working as a lab assistant.
Lab assistants collect samples of body tissues, fluids, and other substances to test and analyze them. Their findings are usually recorded and then reported to the doctors in charge of a patient’s care. This helps doctors diagnose and treat patients. Lab assistants often need a bachelor’s degree for employment.
3. Psychiatric Technician
Psychiatric technicians are entry-level mental health workers. They are often employed in residential treatment centers, nursing homes, psychiatric hospitals, or other facilities where there are developmentally disabled or mentally ill patients.
Their primary job is to assist psychiatrists, doctors, and registered nurses in caring for developmentally disabled or mentally ill patients. They are basically the equivalent of nurses, only for mental health rather than physical health. A bachelor’s degree is typically needed to be a psychiatric technician.
4. Case Manager
A case manager oversees a patient’s care. It is their job to make sure the patient has an effective treatment plan that covers all aspects of that patient’s care, including mental and emotional health.
They also advocates for their patients, making sure they receive all the services they need. Generally, a bachelor’s degree is needed to be a case manager.
5. Human Resources Specialist
Human resource specialists don’t work with patients. Their job is to recruit, screen, and interview potential employees. They also manage onboarding, training, and employee benefits.
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In some instances, they may even fire workers. A bachelor’s degree is usually required to become a human resource specialist.
Psychology Careers & Salaries
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary for all psychologists is $82,180. However, the median annual salary for hospital psychologists is $90,640, which is the second-highest-paying industry for psychologists.
There are a variety of careers that can be pursued with a psychology degree, and many of them can be obtained in the medical field. Here are the median annual salaries for jobs that can be pursued with a psychology degree according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
|Careers||Annual Median Salaries|
|Human Resources Specialists||$63,490|
|School and Career Counselors and Advisors||$58,120|
|Marriage and Family Therapists||$51,340|
|Health Education Specialists and Community Health Workers||$48,140|
|Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors||$47,660|
|Social and Human Services Assistants||$35,960|
Some of the careers listed may need additional licensure, education, or work experience to obtain.
How Much Money Can You Make with a Degree in Psychology?
The amount of money you can make with a degree in psychology depends on a number of factors, including where you work. The top-paying industries are typically federal, state, and local governments, hospitals and healthcare settings, and public schools.
The type of work you do can also determine how much you make. For example, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, clinical psychologists have a median annual salary of $79,820, but psychiatric technicians have a median annual salary of $33,140.
Your educational level and where you live can also play into how much you make. The top-paying positions usually require master’s or doctorate degrees.
What Do You Learn in Psychology?
Core courses in psychology degrees are usually biology, cognitive psychology, ethical issues, and history of psychology.
You will likely take courses in general psychology, abnormal psychology, developmental psychology, experimental psychology, and physiological psychology as well. You may even be required to take other courses, such as statistics and methods of research.
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Many psychology courses are designed to teach practical, hands-on skills. Some of the skills that are beneficial to psychologists are writing skills, critical thinking, and time management. Your psychology courses can also help you learn communication, research, prioritization, and problem-solving skills.
What Field of Psychology Makes the Most Money?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, psychiatry makes the most money. Psychiatrists make an annual mean wage of $217,100, or about $104.38 an hour. This is because they not only treat patients but also diagnose and prescribe medications for mental health patients.
Psychiatrists usually work in doctor’s offices, hospitals, outpatient care centers, and government agencies. To become a psychiatrist, you typically need a Doctor of Medicine. Many people mistake psychologists for psychiatrists, but the two are not one and the same.
Is Psychology a Health Science?
No, psychology is not a health science. Health science studies health and disease in the human body. Psychology studies how people behave, think, and feel.
Psychology is a social science. Social science is the scientific study of human society and societal relationships. There are seven original fields of social science, and psychology is one of them. The social sciences have expanded to include many academic disciplines though.
Students majoring in health science can expect to take biology, anatomy, physiology, and genetics. They may take a couple of social science courses, as well, such as psychology or sociology.
Can You Go to Med School with a Psychology Degree?
Yes, you can go to med school with a degree in psychology. It is one of the most popular undergraduate degrees for med students, second only to biology. If you study psychology, you will need to also take all the prerequisites required of med school students, such as biology, anatomy, and chemistry.
Some schools offer two psychology degrees: a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and a Bachelor of Science in Psychology. A Bachelor of Science is heavier on research and science and may be more beneficial to pre-med students.
Is a Psychologist a Doctor?
No, a psychologist is not a doctor. A psychologist does not have a medical degree and cannot prescribe medications. Psychiatrists can prescribe medications.
Psychologist and psychiatrist are often used interchangeably, but they are not one and the same. Both psychologists and psychiatrists specialize in the study, diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of mental, emotional, and behavioral issues.
Psychiatrists are medical doctors though. They have degrees in medicine and focus on mental disorders and chemical imbalances in the brain. A psychiatrist can prescribe medication because of this.
Can a Psychologist Work in the Hospital?
Yes, hospitals need psychologists. Hospitals generally treat health issues, but there are so many underlying psychological and emotional issues that often impact health issues. For example, a person in the hospital for a liver transplant may also be an alcoholic. If so, the hospital may add an addiction counselor to that patient’s treatment team.
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Many people are in the hospital because they suffered a tragic life-changing event, such as the loss of a limb or ability. Psychologists can help these patients manage the mental and emotional sides of adapting to this loss or with the rehabilitation process.
What Psychology Jobs Are Available in a Hospital?
Most hospitals offer similar positions as other industries in the field of psychology.
Some of the most common career options are:
- Substance abuse counselor
- Grief counselor
- Rehabilitation specialist
- Case manager
- Family counselor
- Behavioral specialist
- Geriatrics psychiatrist
Some psychologists in the medical industry don’t work with patients. A lot of organizations hire psychologists to work with their staff, and hospitals are no different.
You might work as a human relations specialist, a program manager, or an industrial and organizational psychologist. These psychologists help staff solve their differences, manage company wellness programs, and help in the hiring process.
Is a Psychology Degree Worth It?
Yes, a psychology degree is worth it for many students. If you love helping people and are fascinated with human behavior and how the brain works, then health psychology may be worth it to you.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the projected job growth rate for psychologists is 3% through 2029, which is the same as the national average for all careers.
Almost every industry needs psychologists, but some industries are expected to grow at a faster rate than others. Clinical, counseling, and school psychologists are projected to grow because of a greater demand in schools, hospitals, and mental health services.
Getting Your Degree in Psychology Online
If you are fascinated by the human mind and love discovering why people do what they do, then a psych degree might be a great fit for you.
Psychologists study the mental, emotional, and behavioral processes in people and use this knowledge to help people change their lives for the better. They work in a variety of industries and positions, including the medical industry. Doctors, health practitioners, and public-school systems hire the most psychologists.
If you are interested in quickly becoming a psychologist and pursuing a career in the medical field, you can start your educational journey by exploring accelerated psychology degree online programs today!