Advantages and Disadvantages of Being a Psychologist

Is a career in psychology right for you? Well, the short answer is it depends. There are advantages and disadvantages to being a psychologist. Depending on what you're looking for in life and an occupation, psychology may or may not be the right career for you. But chances are if you enjoy helping people, facing new challenges, and are willing to continually learn and grow you'll enjoy psychology. Below are the most noteworthy advantages and disadvantages of career in psychology.

The Advantages
1. The reward of helping people overcome their challenges.
One of the top reasons psychologists cite that they enjoy their careers is that they're able to help other people improve the quality of their lives. Many people throughout the world struggle with disabling mental disorders and disabilities. Pyschologists help these individuals learn to cope with their disorders and disabilities and overcome mental and emotional challenges. While being a psychologist can be stressful it times, it's also a very gratifying and fulfilling occupation.

2. Flexible work schedules.
While many psychologists pull long hours, once you've established your own practice your schedule becomes very flexible. You're able to set your own hours, come and go when you want and have ample vacation time. Most psychologists report one of the aspects of their job they enjoy the most is the ability to spend time with their family and friends. Even though psychologists working in hospitals and clinics don't have a much flexibility in their work schedule, they still report having a lot of control over their schedules and plenty of time to dedicate to their family and personal activites.

3. High earning potential.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, on average psychologists working full-time earn between $50,000 and $100,000 a year. Those who work part-time obviously earn less but they still earn a respectable amount. Psychologists who are able to run a successful private practice can earn up to $200,000 a year and psychiatrists (a field closely related to psychology) average between $150,000 and $200,000 a year. Of course, money alone shouldn't be your motivation for becoming a psychologist but earning a descent living is an attractive benefit.

4. Ability to work for yourself.
Becoming a psychologist is a great career choice for those with an entreprenuerial spirit. Many psychologists go on to establish their own private therapy practices once they get a little experience under their belt and have proven themselves as competent professionals. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, nearly 35 percent of psychologists are self-employed – many of these owning and running their own practices. While being self-employed isn't for everyone, it give you complete control over your time and your earning potential.

5. Opportunity to work with new people every day.
As a psychologist you'll work with clients from all walks of life, cultures and backgrounds. You'll help a large variety of people overcome mental and emotion obstacles. And while you'll face setbacks, the reward of help children, adults and couples achieve their full potential will outweigh any challenges you may face.

The Disadvantages
It's true, psychology can be a very satisfying and rewarding careers but no career is perfect – and psychology's no exception. The following are a few potential disadvantages that anyone thinking about a career in psychology should thoughtfully consider.

1. Dealing with clients can be stressful and draining.
The biggest reward of being a psychologist is often the biggest challenge of being a psychologist – helping people overcome and deal with their mental and emotional struggles. The fact of the matter is, dealing other people's problems on a daily basis is difficult. Most of us have a hard enough time wrapping our mind around our own problems, let alone everyone elses. Psychologists have to learn how to help their clients find effective and productive methods for dealing with their struggles without taking them on themselves. Successful psychologists must learn to separate their work life and personal life and practice effective stress management techniques.

2. Not on is your schedules flexible, it can also be quite erractic.
One of the advantages of being a psychologist is that your schedule can be quite flexible, especially if you run your own practice. At the same time, psychologists are often on call and must deal with client issues that arrise at the most inconvenient times. It's not uncommon for psychologists to meet in evenings with clients who work all day and can't meet during normal business hours, or be called out of bed to help a client that's facing a crisis situation.

3. Having to set up your own practice.
Over a third of psychologists are self employed. Many of these own and operate their own practices. Launching a psychology practice is a daunting task, and keeping it going is also challenging. In addition to finding an office, acquiring necessary equipment and finding clients, psychologists must also purchase malpractice insurance, deal with business taxes, set up a reliable document management system, and deal with never ending billing issues.

4. Dealing with billing issues.
All psychologists, regardless of whether they work as employee of an organization or run their own practice, have to deal with billing issues. These include processing and collecting payments from insurance companies, dealing with piles of paperwork, the unpleasant experience of sending clients who don't pay their bills to collections, and various other billing issues. Dealing with insurance companies in and of itself can be a very trying process, especially if you have your own practice.

5. Constantly drumming up new business.
Many psychologist get into the business to practice psychology – not to become a sales professional. Notwithstandy, if you plan on being self-employed and owning your own practice you'll need to get used to the idea of prospecting for new clients on an ongoing basis. Finding new clients requires time, money and resources and is key to having a successful practice. One of the most effective ways to find new clients is networking. Build relationships with other industry professionals (e.g. doctors, nurses, etc.) and mental health providers that can refer clients to your practice. Conducting free seminars and support group meetings is also an effective method for building your clientele base. And last, but not least, take advantage of some good old fashion advertising in industry publications. While some psychologists really enjoy the business development aspect of operating a private practice, others would rather focus exclusively on therapy work.

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