Careers in Health Psychology: Salary and Career Facts

Research what it takes to become a psychiatric aide or a health psychologist. Learn about education requirements, job duties, average wages and job outlook to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Health Psychology degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Health Psychologist?

Health psychologists apply the principles of psychological research to individuals with illnesses. They specifically study how psychological factors may affect a person's health or their illness. Part of their work is to educate medical staff on how to promote health and address psychological issues that may be negatively affecting a patient's health or recovery. Health psychologists also work with individuals with behaviors that have an impact on their health, such as people who are sedentary, have poor eating habits or who smoke. Psychiatric aides work with health psychologists to help implement a treatment plan and may monitor and document patients' progress.

Psychiatric AideHealth Psychologist
Degree Required H.S. diploma or GED at minimum; certificate programs availablePh.D. or Psy.D.
Education Field of StudyMental Health Technology
Psychology
Biology
Psychology
Key ResponsibilitiesInteract with patients
Lead groups
Accompany patients to appointments
Work with clients
Consult with other professionals
Conduct research
Licensure and Certification N/ALicense is required; board certification required to specialize in clinical health psychology
Job Growth (2014-2024)5%* 19% for all psychologists*
Average Salary (2015)$28,170 yearly*$93,050 yearly for various types of psychologists, including health psychologists*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Types of Activities Would I Perform?

Working as a psychiatric aide, you would interact directly with patients who have severe mental or emotional issues. While you generally assist patients with their basic needs and observe their behavior, you may also lead group activities. Other responsibilities can include taking patients on field trips or to therapy appointments.

Health psychologists work with clients to assist them with disease prevention, as well as other health and wellness issues. This can include working with patients adjusting to chronic conditions that require regular medical or other treatments.

The American Psychological Association (APA) notes that end-of-life issues are becoming more acceptable to discuss and treat (www.apa.org). As a result, more health psychologists are working with patients and their families to discuss rights and options. For example, you may assist patients with preparing for death, provide grief counseling to the family and discuss living wills.

What Are the Requirements?

You will need at least a high school diploma or GED equivalent to work as a psychiatric aide. You may receive the majority of your training on the job, as well as through psychiatric rehabilitation technician certificate or similar programs.

Health psychologists generally need a doctoral degree, such as the Doctor of Psychology in Clinical Psychology with a concentration in health psychology or Doctor of Philosophy in Clinical Health Psychology. In order to practice, you will need licensure and board certification, such as the clinical health psychology specialty certification from American Board of Clinical Health Psychology (ABCHP) (www.abpp.org). You can also specialize in experimental health psychology if you are interested in a career in research or policy.

What is the Career Outlook?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average salary for psychiatric aides was $28,170 in 2015. In the same year, the BLS reported that the average salary for various types of psychologists, including those specializing in health psychology, was $93,050. The BLS predicted employment growth for psychiatric aides of 5% between 2014 and 2024, while all psychologists should see a 19% growth during that same period.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Healthcare social workers and substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors share many similar career aspects with health psychologists. Healthcare social workers specifically work with patients who are ill. They help them process their diagnosis and help them make adjustments in their life due to their illness. They may also work with the patient's family to help them adjust to the illness and the impact the illness has had on the patient's life. They make recommendations for lifestyle changes that are intended to improve a patient's health. Social workers need a bachelor's or master's degree in social work.

Substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors also address behavioral issues that may affect a person's health. They work with individuals struggling with addiction, eating disorders or self-harm issues. They may specifically focus on identifying triggers for self-destructive behavior and help their clients understand how to avoid those triggers and make healthier choices. Substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors need a bachelor's degree in a related field.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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