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781639

Hi everyone, I'm currently a freshman psych BA major (probably going to change to BS), and I changed to psych from bio because I actually have a great interest in the field. The psych classes I've taken have been the only ones that genuinely excited me and made me want to learn more.

My goal is to get a PsyD degree, but I'm unsure of what I want to specialize in exactly. The main question I have is regarding salaries. Everywhere I've looked online, I've seen drastically different salary information for the same fields (for example, one website states engineering psych average salary is $179k, another states it's only about $70k).

Is it a realistic expectation to make at least $100k with a PsyD within the first 5 years of practice?


Thank you!
 

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Salaries vary (as with many degrees) depending on where you work (e.g., university, academic medical center, private practice) and what role you occupy (e.g., tenured professor, lead researcher, full-time clinician) and while I would definitely not advise going into a field strictly for the money... I understand that is priority for some. You have to remember that if you are going to a (most likely) unfunded PsyD program, you are going to (most likely) take our student loans with interest for 4+ years. Factor in internship year and potential post doc training and it can be quite a while before you start earning a full fledged salary; you'll have to start somewhere and pay back those loans. I am attending a funded PhD program but nevertheless, money is not led me to this field.

Before you specialize, you have to receive solid, generalist training. It's important to find a program that meets APA guidelines & will prepare you to match to an accredited site. That is your first priority, and then specialization will come down the line. Look at program stats with a magnifying glass!

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I understand your point and I know that what I'm asking isn't my immediate priority, but I like to have an idea of what I'm getting myself into. I'm just fearful that I'll be choosing an unfruitful path.
 
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You can make $100K within the first 5 yrs, BUT it depends on how motivated you are to put yourself on the path to doing so and where you are wanting to live. Both my wife and I made $100K plus in our first 3yrs. Myself in private practice and my wife going the clinical/academic route. I had a business background, hospital internship and private practice/hospital residency and did a turn around job on a failing practice I purchased. She had lots of real publications, research, grants, top internship and residency lots of extra training in med psych and an in-demand sub-specialty. We both worked 80hrs a week. So it really depends on you, but in being fair most psychologists I know make in the $60-90K range and many never move beyond that.
 
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Is it a realistic expectation to make at least $100k with a PsyD within the first 5 years of practice?


Thank you!

At a VA in a high cost of living area, yes...100k right at or just beyond the 5 year mark. Or an admin or leadership position within 5 years in a high COLA. Or, you are an efficient practice in high COLA and working well over 50 hours/week. Find your way into business or industry somehow? Probably.

So, Possible? Yes. Likely? Not particularly.

The 100k mark itself is relatively meaningless after taxes and especially weighing the benefits (total compensation package) of a particular position/company, right? Without my spouse, I think my gross was 120K last year. Can't say I "felt" that much compared to 90K other than in my tax bill and in some retirement account perks/benefits. I do have 2 kids and a spouse who makes a meager salary, however.
 
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Hi everyone, I'm currently a freshman psych BA major (probably going to change to BS), and I changed to psych from bio because I actually have a great interest in the field. The psych classes I've taken have been the only ones that genuinely excited me and made me want to learn more.

My goal is to get a PsyD degree, but I'm unsure of what I want to specialize in exactly. The main question I have is regarding salaries. Everywhere I've looked online, I've seen drastically different salary information for the same fields (for example, one website states engineering psych average salary is $179k, another states it's only about $70k).

Is it a realistic expectation to make at least $100k with a PsyD within the first 5 years of practice?


Thank you!
If you want that sweet cash, you could always go to medical school. Psych starts at around 200k.
 
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Too many factors that affect salary including:
Geography
Job type (private practice, va, academia, community mental health)
Your skillset
How many hours you work

It's possible, but not likely. I hope for 6 figures within 5 years but I'm in a high COL area so...meh.
 

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The hell is engineering psych?

Basically human factors. I think Georgia Tech has a program and there may be a handful of others. Know a guy at RIT who does it. Its an extraordinarily narrow field, so I'd imagine salary estimates for it are even more unreliable than usual. The OP mentioned PsyDs and I don't know if there are any PsyD programs in Engineering Psych, but I imagine attending such a program would be a truly, truly terrible idea given its about as research-y as you can get.

OP - I guess it just depends how much priority you want to place on the salary and what within psych you would consider. If you are making 75k five years out, are you devastated? Its not ideal but not bad? Are you picky about what you'd want to do within psych or willing to go into whatever subfield/setting will give you the best pay?

A lot also depends on what other expectations you might have and raw salary is not necessarily the best way to be thinking about this. A PhD graduate earning 100k in an AMC has a very different financial situation and compensation package (zero/minimal debt, substantial benefits package) than a PsyD earning 100k in private practice (100-200k student loan debt, higher self-employed tax rate, no benefits). Neither is starving, but the first person is going to be infinitely more comfortable than the second from a financial standpoint. Obviously its rare that all things are equal like that, so it just depends what you want to prioritize. I feel like we ignore the benefits side of things all too often in these discussions, but if I sat down and crunched the numbers, I'd need to make at least 30-40% more in private practice just to break even in terms of total compensation (I'm in an AMC).

I will say that if your goal is something like "I want to do therapy all day, every day" and you expect 100k+ salary....I'd look elsewhere. Its certainly possible and I think some folks here have done it, but shouldn't be an expectation/requirement. Most of the high earners have a more diverse portfolio. Plus, I expect salaries for pure therapy positions will trend downwards rather than upwards over time so it might not be sustainable.

Somewhat tangential and you are probably too early in your program to know the difference, but just also want to throw out the usual warning about "I want a PsyD." There just aren't many compelling reasons for wanting a PsyD over a PhD these days as long as you are picking the right programs. With a few exceptions, a PsyD generally just means paying higher costs to ultimately have fewer career options (and all too often...worse training).
 
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DynamicDidactic

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I'll echo Ollie and try to simplify it a bit.

Is it a realistic expectation to make at least $100k with a PsyD within the first 5 years of practice?
Thank you!

I am guessing you are talking about clinical work: Based on APA data from 2009, which is a bit old but the best we have: http://www.apa.org/workforce/publications/09-salaries/table-05.pdf

Lets just look at the 6-9 years mark: the median is $79K. That means 50% make more and 50% make less. The top quarter make more than 100K. Similar for VA positions.

From personal, anecdotal experience, I would say the top quarter of clinical psychologists can start in the 80-90k after post doc at top tier academic medical centers. Probably get over the 100k after 5 years.

HOWEVER, please consider:

Getting a doctorate in clinical psychology is a long exercise of delayed gratification. You spend, on average, 6 years in school. So, you are not making money then. 1-2 years on a post doc, again not making money. For a big chunk of that time you are delaying major life accomplishments (e.g., marriage, children, home purchase, retirement savings). Also understand that PsyDs tend to accumulate more debt and get paid less. Not everyone makes through all the barriers during education either. Competition in major metro areas is fiercer and the salaries are not commensurate with the cost of living.

I think you should consider whether the 6-8 years of education and 5 years of working may be put to something else you enjoy that will provide you with more pay.
 
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Lets just look at the 6-9 years mark: the median is $79K. That means 50% make more and 50% make less. The top quarter make more than 100K. Similar for VA positions.

From personal, anecdotal experience, I would say the top quarter of clinical psychologists can start in the 80-90k after post doc at top tier academic medical centers. Probably get over the 100k after 5 years.

VA has good starting. I was high 80s right out of postdoc. Thing there is that it stalls a bit after your first three step increases.
 
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Does anyone know why the APA won't conduct another salary survey? Is this a political thing?
 

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Depending on your job and geographic location, a lot of your income can depend on how much fee for service work your willing to do on top of your regular job. In NYC I know of doctoral level school psychologists who make in the 100k range in the first year after graduation, but they do that by working 60+ hour weeks, combining the salary of their regular job with extensive fee for sevice hours.
 

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Easy way: go psychology.

Harder way: go psychiatry. Earn more

Harder still: Learn how to make money first. It's an invaluable skill. Then learn according to your interests. Apply those skills to making money.

A few years ago, an entrepreneur friend was encouraging me to move to a European country that didn't really have psychologists. When I asked what she thought I would do for a living she replied, "oh I never worry about you. You always know how to make money.". One of the best compliments of my life.
 

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The hell is engineering psych?
Yup, human factors like Ollie said! Super neato stuff. How people interact with robots and equipment, how people drive, lots of awesome stuff! There's national security and counterterror stuff in there now, too. Lots of funding opportunities from NSF/DoD.
 

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Yup, human factors like Ollie said! Super neato stuff. How people interact with robots and equipment, how people drive, lots of awesome stuff! There's national security and counterterror stuff in there now, too. Lots of funding opportunities from NSF/DoD.

That's what I figured. I imagine it's a super small field, and I also imagine that there are no PsyDs for it (at least anything remotely reputable) to get this type of degree.
 
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Does anyone know why the APA won't conduct another salary survey? Is this a political thing?
They reorganized the entire workforce analysis office just a few years ago. I think that set things back a lot, though I think the goal of the reorg was to make it go faster after it got up and running. We'll see if that happens...
 

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I/O or human factors has the highest average salary of the major groups of psychologists, but even so $179K seems high to me.

I've never made less than $100K/year since I've been out of training, but I'm an outlier. It's not easy money. Nothing is. If your biggest concern is your income potential - and that's a perfectly valid thing to be concerned about - you should look hard at other professions.
 
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THANK YOU ALL FOR YOUR REPLIES! I'm very grateful for your time and input.

I'll be honest, as of now I have no real inclination towards any field of psych simply because I lack exposure. The only thing I feel I'd be weary of is research, as that's one of the salaries that has been consistently low in my searches. But then again I'm taking what the internet says with a huge grain of salt, so if a research position pays well I'm not going to be one to turn it down.

A bit more background info:
Ideally I'd like to work in Los Angeles or Santa Barbara, both of which are COLAs (correct me if I'm wrong).

Some of you have mentioned making money outside of the field or pursuing a different path. I'm actually an aspiring photographer, and it's something I see myself making decent money on the side with. I've already made some decent pocket money (for a college student) and there's potential for making enough so that I won't need a job during the school year. I've only been doing this for two years and have just started getting paid and have also been published, but I know I'm good at it and I'll only improve from here on out, so I'm sure I'll be making at least a few grand on the side in the foreseeable future.

To answer some of your questions:
My initial goal was the med school route (as is all naive bio majors'). I recently realized I just wasn't a good fit for it, so I got out before it was too late, hence why I'm now pursuing psych. I've wanted to pursue psych even when on the med school route, but I was hesitant. Now I'm free to do so.

Making under $100k within five years isn't unappealing to me, so long as there's a real chance that I'll make that or more within a few years after that.
Also, I understand that pursuing a doctorate degree will result in delayed gratification. However, I really do love the field of psych, as I stated earlier it's been the only subject that has made me excited to learn. The way I see it, in order to make good money, I'll have to go to some sort of grad school. So why not pursue psych, something that I actually enjoy?

Additional questions:
Prior to this thread, I was under the impression that a PsyD has more potential for a higher salary than a PhD, which is contrary to your replies. Can I make six figures with a PhD? Also, there seems to be a consensus that working at a VA is very promising, salary-wise. Can I work at a VA with a PhD, or is it PsyD restricted? I'm fairly new to psych so some of your abbreviations go over my head; what is AMC?

What psych route would, in your opinion, provide the best/highest salary?
 
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Prior to this thread, I was under the impression that a PsyD has more potential for a higher salary than a PhD, which is contrary to your replies.

You have been deceived somewhere along the way. This is not remotely true.
 
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THANK YOU ALL FOR YOUR REPLIES! I'm very grateful for your time and input.

I'll be honest, as of now I have no real inclination towards any field of psych simply because I lack exposure. The only thing I feel I'd be weary of is research, as that's one of the salaries that has been consistently low in my searches. But then again I'm taking what the internet says with a huge grain of salt, so if a research position pays well I'm not going to be one to turn it down.

A bit more background info:
Ideally I'd like to work in Los Angeles or Santa Barbara, both of which are COLAs (correct me if I'm wrong).

Some of you have mentioned making money outside of the field or pursuing a different path. I'm actually an aspiring photographer, and it's something I see myself making decent money on the side with. I've already made some decent pocket money (for a college student) and there's potential for making enough so that I won't need a job during the school year. I've only been doing this for two years and have just started getting paid and have also been published, but I know I'm good at it and I'll only improve from here on out, so I'm sure I'll be making at least a few grand on the side in the foreseeable future.

To answer some of your questions:
My initial goal was the med school route (as is all naive bio majors'). I recently realized I just wasn't a good fit for it, so I got out before it was too late, hence why I'm now pursuing psych. I've wanted to pursue psych even when on the med school route, but I was hesitant. Now I'm free to do so.

Making under $100k within five years isn't unappealing to me, so long as there's a real chance that I'll make that or more within a few years after that.
Also, I understand that pursuing a doctorate degree will result in delayed gratification. However, I really do love the field of psych, as I stated earlier it's been the only subject that has made me excited to learn. The way I see it, in order to make good money, I'll have to go to some sort of grad school. So why not pursue psych, something that I actually enjoy?

Additional questions:
Prior to this thread, I was under the impression that a PsyD has more potential for a higher salary than a PhD, which is contrary to your replies. Can I make six figures with a PhD? Also, there seems to be a consensus that working at a VA is very promising, salary-wise. Can I work at a VA with a PhD, or is it PsyD restricted? I'm fairly new to psych so some of your abbreviations go over my head; what is AMC?

What psych route would, in your opinion, provide the best/highest salary?
A PsyD typically costs more than a PhD, not pays more. In fact the opposite is probably more likely. Be careful of the info on this because there are many profit motivated professional schools that want to mislead naive undergrads. I do have a PsyD myself so am speaking from experience. I do make quite a bit more than 100k, but if you subtract my student loan payments that brings me more in line with a much lower paid PhD who didn't take out the loans.
 

erg923

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Salary surveys consistently show higher salaries for the Ph.D (and markedly less student loan debt) due to the diversity of the skill set and the range of employment (especially research and industry) that it can provide over the Psy.D degree. Exceptions happen of course, but this is the general way of things.

VA employment is open to both, but there are certain advances the phd brings when looking for jobs in the VA.
 
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So, if I'm not specifically keen on clinical work, the PhD is a better option, correct? Would I still be able to do clinical work with a PhD?
 

erg923

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So, if I'm not specifically keen on clinical work, the PhD is a better option, correct? Would I still be able to do clinical work with a PhD?

Most clinical phds do full-time clinical work. The Ph.D is called "clinical psychology" for a reason....
 
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Wow okay I'm learning a lot from this thread. I thought PhD was primarily for research and education, and PsyD was primarily for clinical. If PhD allows clinical work then why is there a PsyD degree?

PS; I apologize for sounding ignorant, it's because I am. I haven't had any sort of mentoring/guidance regarding psych other than online forums.
 
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I agree making money is important. However, don't forget to step off the hedonic treadmill. As others have said in the forum, money does not = happiness. Or just watch "Happy" on Netflix. I left a career where I could net $100k/yr but was a slave to corporate America. Wasn't for me
I understand that, however I want to live comfortably as well, and not worry about money as much as possible.
 

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I understand that, however I want to live comfortably as well, and not worry about money as much as possible.

The more you have, the more you worry about it. #TRUE
 
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Then you better learn how to hustle. A PhD in clinical ain't gonna cut it. Follow PsyDr's advice. Some are better at it than others.
Well I didn't say I was set on a clinical psych PhD, my motive for this thread is to understand which are really the best paying psych careers regardless of specialty.
 

erg923

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haha yes, but you have to agree that having more money is better than having less, no?

No, I don't. Asymptote.

Thousands of Monks cant be wrong.
 

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Well I didn't say I was set on a clinical psych PhD, my motive for this thread is to understand which are really the best paying psych careers regardless of specialty.
That's a poor way to approach a career where you will invest 6-8yr of education and for a career that can span 20-30+yrs. You should consider your interests and then figure out how to be paid well doing what you enjoy. You'd be surprised how quickly a person burns out when they do things for just the $.
 
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That's a poor way to approach a career where you will invest 6-8yr of education and for a career that can span 20-30+yrs. You should consider your interests and then figure out how to be paid well doing what you enjoy. You'd be surprised how quickly a person burns out when they do things for just the $.
I understand, however in my current state I'm not averse to any psych field. I'm barely entering my sophomore year of college! I simply want facts.
 

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I'd definitely read up. 100k is not out of reach in this field if you set yourself up right, but I'd say 70-80k is more typical. You can't be an average psychologist (in any field) and be confident you'll make 100k. For perspective, also note that "average psychologist" is far different from what you likely see in undergrad as even most top-of-the-class students will not go on to get doctorates. I'm basically making the point that unless you are the superstar undergrad at Harvard/Stanford/etc. it would be a gamble to assume you'll stand out at the next level. Not that qualifications/abilities and income are perfectly correlated, but you don't want to be middle-of-the-pack and looking for a 90th percentile salary.

There is nothing wrong with wanting to make sure a career will pay a decent salary before entering it, but this is a pretty heterogeneous one with regards to both professional activities and incomes. We can give you averages, but its not going to mean much at this juncture because there is just much variation. Basically...if 100k is important to you, this field is a big risk. That is especially true if you are really committed to living in LA or Santa Barbara. That is a very serious geographic limitation in a popular region. It means you are more likely going to be in a position where you need to take whatever job you can find regardless of salary. Being willing to go anywhere in order to make 100k makes it more psosible.
 
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I'd definitely read up. 100k is not out of reach in this field if you set yourself up right, but I'd say 70-80k is more typical. You can't be an average psychologist (in any field) and be confident you'll make 100k. For perspective, also note that "average psychologist" is far different from what you likely see in undergrad as even most top-of-the-class students will not go on to get doctorates. I'm basically making the point that unless you are the superstar undergrad at Harvard/Stanford/etc. it would be a gamble to assume you'll stand out at the next level. Not that qualifications/abilities and income are perfectly correlated, but you don't want to be middle-of-the-pack and looking for a 90th percentile salary.

There is nothing wrong with wanting to make sure a career will pay a decent salary before entering it, but this is a pretty heterogeneous one with regards to both professional activities and incomes. We can give you averages, but its not going to mean much at this juncture because there is just much variation. Basically...if 100k is important to you, this field is a big risk. That is especially true if you are really committed to living in LA or Santa Barbara. That is a very serious geographic limitation in a popular region. It means you are more likely going to be in a position where you need to take whatever job you can find regardless of salary. Being willing to go anywhere in order to make 100k makes it more psosible.
Thank you for answering my question. I attend UCSB, if that's a factor at all, and I'm very certain of my ability to excel in my psych courses. Can you define an "average psychologist"? Also, I'm not limiting myself to those cities, they're just the ideal locations.
 

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By average psychologist, I basically just meant you can't be a middle-of-the-pack graduate student at a middle-of-the-pack graduate program and expect to make 100k. Could it happen? Sure, but I would strongly recommend against psychology if 100k is a "requirement."

My point wasn't about your ability to excel now. I'm basically just saying that anyone with even the smallest glimpse of hope of becoming a high-earning psychologist had better be able to excel as a sophomore psychology major (some may not because of low effort or personal circumstances, but that's a separate discussion). Its like looking at tee ball and predicting who is going to play for the yankees. Being a good (or even the best) tee-ball player in a little league says almost nothing about one's ability to succeed in the majors. If your goal is to play for the yankees and you would regret having gone into baseball at all if you can't play for the yankees...I would strongly recommend considering non-baseball career paths. Obviously an extreme example (its not THAT hard to make over 100k!), but hopefully it makes my point clear. I'm basically just saying that if > 100k is a requirement, psychology is probably not the best choice.
 
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Ah, that makes more sense. How would I go about "setting myself up right" as you stated earlier? I want to pursue psychology, I don't have much doubt about that, but I also want to maximize my gain from doing so. I get that some folks don't care about money (or so they say) and are happy to work in their field and make $30-60k, but if I'm going to get a PhD/PsyD (still need to think this over), I'm going to want to reap everything the degree has to offer.
 

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PS; I apologize for sounding ignorant, it's because I am. I haven't had any sort of mentoring/guidance regarding psych other than online forums.

You're doing the right thing asking questions now while you still have time to think about and prepare well for graduate school. Do read previous threads as others have suggested, though. Another good source of info: http://clinicalpsychgradschool.org/. Take some time to digest this info and come back when you have more questions.

Most of the people who post here have clinical degrees but as you've already noticed, psychology is a larger discipline and includes fields like I/O, social, cognitive, behavioral neuroscience, etc. There are jobs in academia and industry for all these specialties.
 

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I'll be honest, as of now I have no real inclination towards any field of psych simply because I lack exposure. The only thing I feel I'd be weary of is research, as that's one of the salaries that has been consistently low in my searches. But then again I'm taking what the internet says with a huge grain of salt, so if a research position pays well I'm not going to be one to turn it down.

Ah, that makes more sense. How would I go about "setting myself up right" as you stated earlier? I want to pursue psychology, I don't have much doubt about that


It sounds like you're conflicted about whether you have "no inclination" or "no doubt" about psychology, but that's okay! For myself as an example starting a clinical PhD this fall I wasn't sold on psychology right away. I switched from biology to psychology as a major because I realized that going to medical school was not a hereditary condition as I had been led to believe, yet I wasn't sure what I wanted to with my psychology degree. To get exposure and experience I took lots of small seminar classes from professors who were teaching about their passions and that really helped me figure out what research I was interested in and I was able to join the labs of two professors who taught the seminars that resonated with me most. I went to conferences and read tons of research, not just the required reading for classes. Things like that will help a lot to understand if you want to pursue psychology at the doctoral level, and if you do you'll be set up well for applying if you join labs and get posters and/or publications. I was not exposed to good clinical opportunities at the undergrad level, but I know some volunteer/assistant type positions exist that might help.

If you really feel passionate about making good money, but just enjoy psychology, psychiatry might be a better fit. Medical school is often easier to get into than a good clinical PhD program, in that even if you go to a less prestigious school like a school in Europe or a DO school you likely won't have a hard time getting a psych residency if you are a decent student. The unpaid training is shorter and the low end salaries exceed the high end psychologist salaries. It's not a good fit for me, but it might be worth exploring for you.
 
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It sounds like you're conflicted about whether you have "no inclination" or "no doubt" about psychology, but that's okay! For myself as an example starting a clinical PhD this fall I wasn't sold on psychology right away. I switched from biology to psychology as a major because I realized that going to medical school was not a hereditary condition as I had been led to believe, yet I wasn't sure what I wanted to with my psychology degree. To get exposure and experience I took lots of small seminar classes from professors who were teaching about their passions and that really helped me figure out what research I was interested in and I was able to join the labs of two professors who taught the seminars that resonated with me most. I went to conferences and read tons of research, not just the required reading for classes. Things like that will help a lot to understand if you want to pursue psychology at the doctoral level, and if you do you'll be set up well for applying if you join labs and get posters and/or publications. I was not exposed to good clinical opportunities at the undergrad level, but I know some volunteer/assistant type positions exist that might help.

If you really feel passionate about making good money, but just enjoy psychology, psychiatry might be a better fit. Medical school is often easier to get into than a good clinical PhD program, in that even if you go to a less prestigious school like a school in Europe or a DO school you likely won't have a hard time getting a psych residency if you are a decent student. The unpaid training is shorter and the low end salaries exceed the high end psychologist salaries. It's not a good fit for me, but it might be worth exploring for you.
I did pretty poorly in general chemistry and physics, despite my best efforts, so I HIGHLY doubt I'd even be able to get into a med school, let alone survive its rigor. As of now the only thing I'm certain of is that psychology is my favorite subject and I'm good at it, and to make decent money from it I need to pursue higher education.
 
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I've literally been searching and reading up on this stuff all day..
Anyway, what are your thoughts and opinions on Psychiatric NP? What caught my attention was that the median wage is $91k, which is well over a lot of the other psych careers I've seen. Is it too good to be true? How come it isn't as prominent as clinical psych, I/O, PhD, PsyD, etc? It's rarely mentioned on any websites discussing psych careers, I only found out about it from an old thread on this site. Part of me really wants to pursue doctorate level training in psych, but I'm having trouble justifying it now that I know careers such as Psychiatric NP are out there, which require much less schooling and grant much higher salaries.
 
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