If you’re interested in becoming a psychologist, you’re likely someone who has a scientific mind but also loves working with people and their issues. You probably love helping people and feeling like your work has a sense of purpose.
Psychologists are special people, but that doesn’t mean they don’t fall victim to the travel bug too. You might be wondering if there are such things as traveling psychologist careers.
When it comes to finding a job in psychology, new opportunities abound. But can you travel with a psychology job? Let’s have a look.
Requirements for Psychologist Jobs
There are many different types of psychologist careers out there, and all with different requirements. Being a school psychologist, for example, is very different from working in rehab or forensic psychology. Psychological fields are broad.
You’ll have to earn a bachelor’s degree in psychology first (which can take 4-5 years to complete), and then obtain a master’s degree in a psychology field. If you’re going to practice clinical psychology, you’ll also need a doctorate (which is about 4-7 years of grad school). Education programs can be very time consuming. Then you’ll need formal training and licensing to perfect those new skills.
You don’t necessarily need to spend half of your lifetime in school. For example, if you want to become a licensed family therapist, you only need to complete your master’s. You also don’t necessarily need to have a psychiatric degree to become a psychotherapist (although most psychotherapists have completed their graduate studies). What is a psychotherapist? It’s someone who looks at recurring issues and patterns in someone’s life, to get to the root of the problems they’re facing.
If you have an interest in psychology but you’re unsure of where to specialize, don’t worry—there are so many different areas to explore!
Other types of related psychologist and therapist jobs include:
- Cognitive Psychologist
- Cross-Cultural Psychologist
- Environmental Psychologist
- Social Psychologists
Other than education, you should have strong observational skills, a passion for research, a desire to help others, and a good deal of patience. You’ll have to master the art of persuasion, and you’ll have to have a strong sense of ethics.
You should also keep in mind that different countries may have different requirements. Getting licensed in the United States may be very different from getting licensed in the United Kingdom.
How Much Money Do Psychologists Make?
As there are lots of different psychologist jobs out there, the pay scale is also quite varied. A counselor, for example, will average about $40,000 in salary per year. A school psychologist makes from about $56,000 per year. On the higher end of the spectrum, a psychiatrist makes upwards of $200,000 per year because they must earn a medical degree first and will work in a clinical setting.
Some other average job salaries include:
- Marriage and family counselor – $50,000+/year
- Forensic psychologist – $60,000+/year
- Neuropsychologist – $70,000+/year
- Industrial-organizational psychologists – $97,000+/year
And as with most jobs, your level of experience and education tends to be related to your level of pay, and what kind of an environment you work in. If you’re working for a non-profit organization, or even in social work, you might make significantly less than someone who works in a specialized hospital job. Like all healthcare professionals, your education and training will also determine what kind of therapy or treatment you can provide.
But keep in mind that salary isn’t everything. What do you think will be most rewarding for you? Is your goal to help and care for others, or to earn a big salary? And no, the two do not have to be mutually exclusive.
How to Travel as a Psychologist
There are many different ways you can travel as a psychologist. First: if you’re in the academic stream, and especially if you’re conducting new research, you can study abroad or spend a good deal of time traveling for conferences a few years a year. Becoming an expert in your field is often a good way to travel internationally. You could end up giving keynotes or lectures as you travel around the world.
You can also take a more freelance work approach to counseling and therapy. Since the outbreak of COVID-19, more and more health professionals are turning to telehealth to deliver help and counseling to patients and clients without having to actually see them in-person. This is a remarkable service for anyone who doesn’t have immediate access to healthcare, including mental healthcare. All you need is an Internet connection that works well. You’ll get to set your own working hours, and often you’ll have greater flexibility throughout your day.
Practicing cross-cultural psychology is also an excellent way to get some travel cred. These psychologists often study how different cultures around the world influence behavior, and how some behavior is universal, and some behavior is not. For example, a cross-cultural psychologist may look at how parenting differs per country. This field tends to become research heavy (many cross-cultural psychologists work in research labs or post-secondary institutions) where travel is important fieldwork.
Consider a career as a school psychologist as well. Tending to the mental health of students is rewarding work, and you’ll get summers and holidays off during school breaks.
You can also seek out jobs in organizations with locations all around the world. For example, you could work as a military psychologist, traveling from base to base to provide veteran care for a few months at a time, or you could even work for an organization like Red Cross specializing in disaster management (or something related) with a team of psychological experts.
According to the American Psychological Association, one of the fastest growing areas is in the field of industrial-organizational psychology. This is when an employer hires a psychologist to better understand their organizational needs, including things like restructuring the entire organization or management team to help boost workers’ productivity and wellbeing. These psychologists may also consult with businesses about workplace diversity and establishing anti-discrimination policies. If you’re looking for the best travel jobs out there, this is a great career option to consider—many companies requiring this type of psychology expertise have many offices in locations around the world.
Where to Find Psychology Careers
The demand for psychology careers is growing. The field is ever-changing; for example, according to the American Psychologist Association, the demand for school psychologists is particularly growing, as situations involving the likes of drug abuse and child bullying are on the rise. If this kind of experience appeals to you, child therapy might be a good area for you to explore.
There’s tons of opportunities and programs out there, offering a range of services. Most psychologists find careers in fields and services like:
- Specialty mental health clinics
- Private community clinics
- Educational roles
- Government organizations
- Private organizations
- Correctional facilities
If you want to improve your chances of finding a great career in psychology, becoming specialized within your field is your best bet. Students with graduate-level psychology degrees have far better chances of landing that dream job than someone with just a degree in psychology. The more school the better your chances.
Depending on what country you’re in, you’ll also most likely have to get licensed before you can call yourself a psychologist and taking on clients. For example, if you’re in the United States, you’re required to write an exam from the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards (ASPPB) before you can start a career in psychology.
If you’re unsure where to start, you may want to reach out to the psychology association in your country (or area), and figure out what your career options are, and what the educational requirements are. The world certainly needs more compassionate mental health workers out there, and psychology jobs and services are always needed. You have many options well within reach.
If you want to become a traveling psychologist and you desire helping others, there are plenty of areas of psychology you can explore—whether you want to work one on one with people, or help restructure an organization. If you’re passionate about mental health and finding work in the psychological world, there’s a travel psychology career out there with your name on it.