By Sarah Stevenson
Psychology is such an expansive field that the prospect of selecting a specialty can seem daunting. After all, as a future psychologist or counselor you've got the entire spectrum of human thought and behavior to choose from, not to mention the decision whether to pursue a psychology degree online or from an in-person program.
Even if you already have a career in the field and are looking to switch gears, a glance at the vast array of traditional and online psychology degrees might be enough to make you feel like calling a counselor yourself.
One way to narrow down your options is to zero in on which fields expect high growth with respect to job opportunities. The Bureau of Labor Statistics and the American Psychological Association (APA) track these high-growth fields from year to year so that they—and you—can find out where the jobs are.
1. Clinical Psychology: A Classic Field
Online psychology degrees in clinical psychology, as well as online counseling degrees, can help you take advantage of job opportunities in addiction treatment and rehabilitation, employee assistance, marriage and family counseling, and many other clinical practice areas.
2. School Psychology and Counseling Degrees
In addition to helping students with personal and behavioral issues, school psychologists work with special needs students, help tackle drug abuse and bullying, and strive to create a healthy learning environment. School counselors handle many of the same tasks; in addition, they may provide academic and career guidance. Demand is high for trained school psychologists and counselors; those interested in the profession will want to research an online counseling degree or other online psychology degree.
3. Industrial-Organizational Psychology Degree Online Options
Industrial-organizational (I/O) psychology is a fast-growing field that applies psychological principles to the workplace, in areas ranging from communication to employee performance to corporate culture. According to the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology, two of the most popular subfields are executive coaching and occupational health psychology. If you're looking for an I/O psychology degree, online programs are increasingly widespread.
4. Forensic Psychology Works with the Legal System
Although forensic psychology only became an APA-approved specialization in 2001, it's already proven to be a booming field. Psychologists with the expertise to assist in legal and criminal justice matters work in a number of environments, including family, civil and criminal court. They may help legal professionals understand the psychological aspects of a case, typically as an expert witness; they may help to assess offenders; or they may investigate child abuse.
5. Geropsychology Helps Older Adults
The APA estimates that by 2050, 21 percent of the United States population will be 65 or over. As a result, geropsychologists—a subset of clinical psychologists who address issues faced by the elderly—will have ample job opportunities. Geropsychologists help older adults cope with late-life stresses such as medical conditions or the loss of loved ones. Though it is not always a discrete specialty, online psychology degree programs may include geropsychology curriculum.
6. Psychology for Soldiers, Veterans, and Their Families
Another rapidly growing area of clinical psychology practice focuses on mental health services for soldiers, veterans and their families, usually provided by the Department of Defense (DoD) or the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Employment is available in both military and civilian capacities, usually with good benefits and competitive salaries. The VA in particular has funded hundreds of new psychologist jobs, in response to a federal push for more mental health services for veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan.