Careers in Psychology

Careers in Psychology

Generally, psychologists look for patterns in people's thoughts, feelings and actions as these unfold in a variety of personal and social circumstances; they also suggest reasons or motivations behind the patterns, and clinical psychologists may offer one of many therapeutic interventions with the intention of helping people to change their patterns.

Psychologists generally have a Ph.D degree from a Psychology department at a university; psychiatrists have a medical degree with subsequent specialization in Psychiatry. Both psychologist and psychiatrist may share the same concepts, some assessment methods and certain treatment orientations, but only the Psychiatrist is licensed to dispense drugs.

Psychologists work in a variety of different subject areas, therefore, the specifics of what psychologists do and study depend on their areas of interest within psychology, and even determine the methods they use. There are also a variety of philosophical approaches to psychology which can substantially affect what a psychologist does, and occasionally what he considers valid subject matter for psychologists to emphasize.

Learn more about areas of specialization within Psychology.

What qualifications are required to become a psychologist?

In Canada, Psychologists must hold either a Masters or a Doctorate (Ph.D in Psychology). Positions on a university faculty almost always demand a doctorate. In most jurisdictions a person must also satisfy Provincial or Territorial Licensing Requirements Canadian Licensing Bodies for Psychology with a licensing body such as the B.C. College of Psychologists. The passing of written and oral licensing examinations is usually required before the title of 'Psychologist' can be used for the purpose of practicing psychology in an applied setting with people; i.e., performing assessments or offering treatment. In some provinces, such as B.C., a doctoral degree is required before a person may even apply for registration, and some licensing bodies may require an additional post-doctoral, supervised internship before granting a license to practice. University and college faculty do not necessarily have to registered.

For those who wish to contact the registrar in their jurisdiction to determine the educational requirement for becoming a psychologist, a complete list of Canadian Licensing Bodies for Psychologyprovides access to the addresses of all the licensing bodies across Canada.

Which universities in Canada offer psychology programmes?

Most universities in Canada offer degrees up to the doctoral level. University psychology departments differ in respect of study opportunities in various specialty areas of psychology; therefore, a student contemplating a career in psychology might wish to ascertain which university best appeals to his own area of interest. Consult the Canadian Psychological Association's Graduate Guide for material on Graduate Psychology Programmes in Canadian Universities.

How many years of study are required at each degree level in psychology?

The following time frames for acquisition of degrees in psychology are routine in Canada:

Honours B.A. = minimum of four years;

Masters degree (M.A.) = minimum of two years after the B.A.;

Doctoral degree (Ph.D.) = three to five years after the M.A. degree.

Post doctoral fellowships are followed by some people who wish to continue specific research interests. Those who wish to practice psychology would normally spend up to a year of internship prior to a Masters or Ph.D. degree. Internships required by licensing bodies should be considered an additional post-graduate requirement which varies from one jurisdiction to another.