Psychologists assess and diagnose behavioural, emotional and cognitive disorders, counsel clients, provide therapy and research and apply theory relating to behaviour and mental processes.
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People in this occupation:
Estimated median employment income based on 2021 Job Bank median hourly wage rate (median annual salary = hourly wage rate x 40 (hours per week) x 52.14 (weeks per year))
Note:Estimated median employment income based on 2021 Job Bank median hourly wage rate (median annual salary = hourly wage rate x 40 (hours per week) x 52.14 (weeks per year))
Source: 2021 Job Bank Wage Report
Source: B.C. Labour Market Outlook
10 year expected job openings: 980
N/A - Data not available
Psychologists may specialize in applied psychology or experimental research. Sub-specialities include:
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.
Source: 2016 Census
A doctoral degree in psychology is required for registration as a psychologist in B.C.
The College of Psychologists of British Columbia (CPBC) is the regulatory body for the profession of psychology in B.C. Psychologists must be registered with the CPBC in order to practice. To be registered applicants must:
Psychologists and psychological associates register through the College of Psychologists of British Columbia with a self-declared area of competence in one of nine practice areas: clinical, counselling, health, forensic/corrections, school, neuropsychology, rehabilitation, research/academic or industrial/organizational.
Membership in the BC Psychological Association is available for registered psychologists and psychological associates, but is not required.
Pre- and post-doctorial internships can provide specialized experience and training.
Psychologists who are certified for that occupation by a regulator elsewhere in Canada can apply for the same certification from the regulator in B.C. Under the terms of the Canadian Free Trade Agreement (CFTA), most applicants who are transferring their credentials from elsewhere in Canada will not be required to complete additional training or testing. However, the B.C. regulator may ask applicants to provide further information such as a letter of good standing, references, or criminal record check.
For those who trained outside of Canada and never received certification from any Canadian jurisdiction, a full assessment is likely needed. Most occupational regulators have a process for assessment and recognize internationally trained applicants.
Contact the College of Psychologists of BC and/or the BC Association of School Psychologists for details on how to apply for certification in B.C.
For information about labour mobility in Canada, visit www.workersmobility.ca.
View a list of B.C. occupational regulators.
For more information about programs offered specifically for this career, visit EducationPlannerBC.
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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.
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.