Psychologists (NOC 4151)

High demand occupation

About this job

Psychologists assess and diagnose behavioural, emotional and cognitive disorders, counsel clients, provide therapy and research and apply theory relating to behaviour and mental processes.

See what a day in the life of this job is like—watch WorkBC’s Career Trek video about this occupation.

Source: WorkBC’s Career Trek

People in this occupation:

  • help clients work toward the maintenance and improvement of physical, intellectual, emotional, social and interpersonal functioning
  • work in private practice or in institutions, such as clinics, correctional facilities, hospitals, mental health facilities, rehabilitation centres, community service organizations, businesses, schools and universities, and in government and private research agencies
  • should have creative approaches to problem solving, the ability to lead and inspire others
  • should be able to work individually and as part of a team
  • should have an interest in caring for people by identifying their needs and providing assistance towards solving their concerns
  • should have excellent listening and interpersonal skills, patience, emotional stability
  • should have advanced language and analytical skills
Common job titles
  • biopsychologist
  • neuropsychologist
  • psychologist
  • psychologist, developmental / educational
  • psychologist, forensic
  • psychologist, industrial / organizational
  • biopsychologist
  • neuropsychologist
  • psychologist
  • psychologist / therapist, behavioural
  • psychologist, chartered / registered
  • psychologist, child / school

Duties

Psychologists:

  • examine and assess behaviour, diagnose behavioural, emotional and cognitive disorders, counsel clients and provide therapy
  • help clients manage physical illness and disorders, grief and loss, and life transitions
  • counsel individuals and groups to achieve more effective personal, social and vocational development and adjustment
  • offer mediation services
  • use standard psychological tests for assessment
  • plan intervention programs and do program evaluation
  • apply psychological theory and principles regarding behaviour and mental processes, such as learning, memory, perception and language development to develop treatment programs
  • formulate hypotheses and experimental designs, review literature, do studies and publish research papers, educational texts and articles
  • deliver presentations at conferences, workshops or symposia
  • provide consultation services to government and other organizations

Special duties

Psychologists may specialize in applied psychology or experimental research. Sub-specialities include:

  • behavioural psychology, child psychology, cognitive psychology, developmental psychology, educational and school psychology, industrial psychology, neuropsychology, social psychology or sports psychology

Work environment

Most psychologists work directly with people unless they are engaged primarily in the analysis of research data. These professionals may work one-on-one with individual clients or with couples, groups, families or organizations. They often work in a team with other health-care professionals, and are often specifically trained to work in a variety of settings.

Psychologists may experience stress from working with people with mental health issues or from working in a combination of complex environments. Some may also experience pressure related to research or publication deadlines. Overtime work may be required in some specialties.

A psychologist's specialty and workplace determines the working conditions. Psychologists working in private practice or in clinical, school or counselling psychology specialties, tend to work in offices and set their own hours. They also often work evening hours to accommodate clients.

Those who work in institutions, such as correctional facilities, rehabilitation centres, hospitals and other health facilities, typically work regular daytime hours. However, they may also be required to work evenings and weekends on an as-needed basis. Psychologists employed by academic institutions generally work regular hours, dividing their time between teaching, research and administrative responsibilities.

Many psychologists work in a combination of settings or balance work with a health facility and a part-time private practice.

Psychologists may be required to travel to attend conferences or conduct research.

Insights from industry

More than half of the openings in this group will come from retirements. However, many new positions will also arise from an increase in demand for psychological services to meet public and mental health-care needs. Opportunities will become available in rehabilitation centres, schools, social services and health programs that combat drug dependency, family violence, crime and other mental health issues.

Opportunities in private practice will also continue to be strong. Increased counselling and testing of children, and the growing number of insurance companies providing full or partial coverage for psychological treatment, have promoted the growth of private practice. More businesses need organizational consulting psychologists. Employee assistance programs that offer support to stress-affected employees and help with personal problems will also support the demand for counselling psychologists.

Self-employment, combined with part-time contracted employment in public institutions and teaching will continue to be popular employment options, particularly for new graduates.

Doctoral graduates interested in a research career will be more competitive with extensive training in quantitative research methods and computer science background. Opportunities remain strong for those with an applied emphasis, such as clinical, counselling, health and educational psychology.

Opportunities are available in schools and industrial and organizational psychology. Others may find work in universities, government or private companies involved in research and data collection and analysis.

There may also be opportunities for those with a bachelor's degree to assist psychologists and other mental health professionals in clinical settings or in data collection and analysis. Others may work in related fields, such as marketing research.

Industry sources report that northern B.C. currently requires more practitioners. As well, graduates who focus on neuropsychology and forensic psychology are in high demand.

A trend toward more technology in the workplace means these professionals must be comfortable with technological processes, such as digital record keeping and video conferencing.

Career paths and resources

Career paths

Many opportunities for specializing in one or more particular fields of psychology are available. Some of the fields include child psychology, clinical psychology, clinical neuropsychology, counselling psychology, forensic or correctional psychology, health psychology, industrial/organizational psychology, rehabilitation psychology, research psychology, school psychology or sports psychology.

New graduates typically focus on either research or clinical practice. With experience, psychologists may enter private practice or set up private research or consulting firms.

Some may move to positions, such as managers or administrators or to teaching psychology in post-secondary schools or other settings. They may also choose to transfer their skills and knowledge to other careers in health care.

Additional resources