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What Type of Careers are in Academic Psychology?

Academic PsychologyMany aspiring psychology students wonder about the type of careers in academic psychology. This is because academic psychology, along with applied psychology, are the two main branches of psychology. Read more to learn about the exciting career opportunities available in academic psychology.

What is Academic Psychology?

Academic psychology is opposite to applied psychology. That is, academic psychology focuses on using scientific and scholarly research to understand all aspects of human behavior and cognition. While most people assume academic psychologists are either counselors or professors, there are also other careers available.

School Psychologist

According to the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP), these mental health care professionals help students of all ages achieve social, behavioral and academic success. They work with a diverse array of people, including teachers, administrators, families and even law enforcement to create a safe and productive learning environment. School psychologists, or academic psychologists, usually have either a specialist or doctoral degree. The first degree requires at least 60 graduate hours and the second requires at least 90. Nevertheless, both require a year-long supervised internship that takes 1200 hours to complete. School psychologists have specialized training in behavioral interventions, developmental diversity and assessing risk factors. While most school psychologists work in K-12 public schools, others work in private organizations that provide data collection, assessment and consultation services.

Academic Opportunities

The type of careers that are available in academic psychology tend to be centered in higher education. The heart of academic psychologies likes in graduate level university research. College professors with either a master’s or doctoral degree will enjoy being able to educate students and conduct research. Academic psychologists are fortunate to have the flexibility to work in different areas of psychology. For example, an academic psychologist may research social psychology through carefully controlled group experiments. On the other hand, a cognitive psychologist may spend every day using complex electronic equipment to measure brain and neurological activity.

Alternative Academic Appointments

Not all college-based psychology professors work in the Psychology department. Faculty positions in other departments are available for academic psychologists. For instance, a social psychologist might be assigned to a business school to research leadership and management. This will naturally lead to working with large corporations and other industrial psychologists. Conversely, an academic psychologist might work for a different humanities department and engage in fascinating cross-culture or anthropology research.

Tenure vs. Non-tenure?

According to the American Psychological Association (APA), there are many opportunities available in academic psychology to post-doctoral students. However, tenured positions are highly sought after and competitive. Consequently, there are many non-tenure track positions available. A non-tenure position makes sense because certain students accumulate student debt and can’t wait for an ideal position to open up. Additionally, accepting a non-tenured position is a convenient way to remain in the same location. Non-tenured teachers typically take on more undergraduate courses because they aren’t expected to do much research. Thus, those who prefer teaching should select a non-tenured faculty position.

Related Resource: Experimental Psychology

To recap, academic psychology offers plenty of research based job opportunities and alternative career paths . Academic psychologists typically work in both public and private educational organizations. Keep in mind that the type of careers in academic psychology aren’t just limited to counseling students or university based psychology research.

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