Interested In Becoming A Psychologist? Similar Professions You May Also Consider

By Mary Elizabeth Dean|Updated July 11, 2022
CheckedMedically Reviewed By Dawn Brown, LPC

If you're thinking of becoming a psychologist, similar professions exist that you may, or may not have considered. The field of psychology is ever growing and diversifying as the need for therapists, counselors and researchers continue to soar and evolve. However, becoming a psychologist entails years of study, communicating with peers and adapting to new practices and technologies designed with the greater good in mind. So how do you decide whether to join this busy field of experts or boldly venture into a different arena?

Breaking down something as encompassing as psychology into smaller fields of study will produce a laundry list of career titles - everything from academic counselors to youth therapists.

Could You Use Help Choosing A Career Path?

Chances are you're considering a career in psychology because you enjoy learning about people and you want to help others. There are far too many different job titles that involve both of these tenants, so we'll look at a few broad-spectrum fields of study you can use to whittle down these occupations based on your personality and what you choose to pursue.

Similar Professions In The Medical Field

The first thing that comes to mind when considering the role of a psychologist and similar professions is a career in the medical field. Diagnosing and treating the ailment of a young mother, teaching children proper dental hygiene or caring for the eyesight of an elderly veteran are all noble and potentially fulfilling pursuits. At their core, they are the work of caring individuals looking to bring education, relief and hope to others.

Arguably, one of the fastest growing employment fields in America is the medical and healthcare field - this includes both the medical arts and the business administration aspects of this vocation. While positions in hospital management, billing, human resources, and sanitation are essential, let's focus on those career paths that involve more direct contact with patients than with organizations.

Pursuing an undergraduate degree in psychology can be a challenge, requiring many hours of study, communicating with peers and presenting work worthy of the selected educational program. Physicians, dentists, and optometrists must also complete programs of study in their respective fields, then be certified and mentored by others of their specialty before beginning a practice of their own.

To become a licensed healthcare practitioner - a physician, surgeon, chiropractor, veterinarian, optician or pharmacist - you must complete years of learning, earn a doctorate and pass the required licensing qualifications to be recognized in your specialty. For those looking to join the ranks of these esteemed positions, without the doctoral level of study, consider the growing number of assistive level employment positions, where bachelors or even an associate's degree or certification can yield to good-paying jobs.

Nurses, registered nurses, and nurse practitioners are among the fastest growing healthcare provider careers, according to occupational employment figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

While physicians, surgeons, and pediatricians are projected to grow in numbers a little more than 1%, the field of nursing is expected to increase by 15% over the next several years. More than just checking one's blood pressure or tending to a wound, nurses implore several traits similar to psychologists. They assess a person's condition, question them and actively listen, to better diagnose the problem or situation, then suggest and enact a line of treatment. This includes treating patients with mental health problems and addressing their immediate and long-term wellbeing.

Each division of healthcare has its range of assistive level career options. Optometrists utilize opticians and optical assistants, just as veterinarians, dentists, and chiropractors hire and train assistants to perform a variety of tasks. If working with patients or animals, helping others address their health concerns or handling emergency medical situations is your calling, take a look at the many assistive level career options at the forefront of medical arts.

Professional Services

Another growing employment segment that matches psychologist similar professions searches is professional services; namely providing therapy and counseling to those in need.

While there is a difference between being a therapist or a counselor, to being a psychologist, they are similar in that both strive to study the habits, environment, triggers and mental wellbeing of an individual or family; including those of groups and organizations. The intention is to help someone grow, learn and change over time.

You may be familiar with titles such as Youth Counselor, Criminal Psychologist or Social Worker from the captivating storylines on numerous TV dramas. Though not as glamorous as TV would portray, the gritty work of a forensic psychologist or the tireless pursuits of a caseworker can mean all the difference for a family in need of assistance.

Could You Use Help Choosing A Career Path?

Providing therapy or counseling in this manner often does not involve the use of medications for treatment, as many therapists and counselors do not attain the advanced degrees or accreditation a psychiatrist or physician would. As such, they tend to focus on interpersonal treatments and social interactions as the means of working with patients and employers. Still, their services are extremely helpful since many people are seeking online counseling options for figuring out solutions for their problems.

With a bachelors in psychology, you may enjoy a career as a licensed practitioner providing services to schools, nursing facilities, corporate centers or rehabilitation programs, where you will help those who are grieving the loss of a loved one, coping with mental or physical abuse, transitioning into a new career or beating an addiction while incarcerated.

These professionals use their unique abilities to tackle challenging societal problems by being creative, often thinking of new methods or new technologies to aid others. Professional sports teams work with sports psychologists on mental training exercises in addition to physical training and the rehabilitation of injured players.

Occupational therapists strive to help people relearn vocational skills, overcome disabilities or improve their independence through counseling and therapy. Hospitals, treatment centers, and nursing homes all look to hire skilled therapists and counselors to work with people of every age and gender, as they seek personal, familial, and organizational services.

Research And Education

For those who enjoy the study of the mind, human behavior and societal constructs, a career in the expanding field of research could be just what you're looking for. Research psychology involves the systematic study and analysis of groups, individuals and animals by psychologists, to gain academic knowledge for occupational and clinical programs. If you believe you have a good amount of patience, paired with an analytical mindset, then perhaps researching, teaching and educating is for you.

Researchers scientifically explore the tenants of behavior through observation, experimentation, and documentation. Their work can range from the physical study of the brain to how an organization manages its employees. Asking questions, gathering information and recording responses are just some the many aspects of research, with the end goal of presenting your findings to an employer, academic review board or as a published article in a medical or business journal. Social, Cognitive, Experimental Psychologists and Neuropsychologists focus intently on a particular segment of psychology, often undergoing years of academic and peer reviews of their findings.

This is doctorate level work, and certainly not for everyone. However, with the ever-increasing abilities of computers and advancements in technology, there are new opportunities for would-be psychologists seeking similar professions to branch into. Statisticians and research assistants work with private companies and government organizations to research and compile data on many different subjects - think voter opinion polls, consumer purchase patterns, marketing, and brand awareness.

Both emerging companies and seasoned entities utilize aspects of social psychology when deciding upon employee health and wellness programs, skill-building assessments and designing workplace settings. Making this a promising career option for the psychologist, similar professions considered.

When you think of what a teacher is, what comes to mind? Lesson plans, tests, essays, and standards, right? Well, educators do more than just teach lessons and pass grades in a classroom, making this a viable avenue for some job seekers. While many who study psychology may intend to work with patients, the need for quality educators continues to grow.

Educated and dedicated professionals are in demand, using their talents to instruct new students earning a degree or postsecondary credentials in psychology, sociology, political or other social science. Pay is dependent upon your location and level of education, where masters and doctorate level educators earn more than their undergrad counterparts.

What's Next?

Before you decide which profession to pursue, start by assessing your strengths and passions, to help narrow the options to one that you feel more suited towards. For example, if you're a stickler for details and enjoy getting to the root of an issue, then a career in forensic sciences or experimental research may be for you. If you're still thinking of becoming a psychologist, similar professions exist, but psychology may just be your path! As you search, keep in mind your long-term goals as you work to build a challenging and rewarding career.

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