What Area of Specialization Has the Highest Demand?

If you are considering a career in the social sciences, you will want to know and understand the current and projected demand for psychologists. Which degrees in psychology are the most marketable? How can you ensure job security for yourself once you’ve received your degree? According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the field of psychology is projected to grow by 12 percent between 2012 and 2022. This is about average for all jobs in the United States, but certain specializations in psychology are seeing significantly higher growth rates.

Industrial-Organizational Psychology

The job outlook for industrial-organizational (I/O) psychologists is considerably better than that for psychologists in general. The current economic climate has caused businesses to seek the advice of psychologists as they make decisions regarding employees and their work environments. I/O psychologists help companies make decisions that boost morale, engage employees and improve overall performance. These psychologists assess applicants for a variety of jobs, design training and employee development programs, and create policies that improve employee retention rates. In fact, many psychologists are now heading human resources departments, while others work closely with human resources teams to develop best practices. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 53-percent increase in the number of industrial-organizational psychologists’ jobs between 2012 and 2022.

Neuropsychology

According to the American Psychological Association (APA), the field of neuropsychology is expected to see major growth in the near future as well. Neuropsychologists study the relationship between the brain and behavior.  They work to assess, treat, and rehabilitate patients suffering from brain injuries and disease. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicates that over 2 million individuals each year in the U.S. suffer from a brain injury. The increasing number of brain injuries, along with improvements in the technology used to diagnose and treat brain injuries and diseases, is creating a greater demand for psychologists to work with neurological patients and research brain function and anatomy.

Geropsychology

Geropsychology is another growing field of specialization. The elderly population in the U.S. is expanding rapidly, and it is expected to double from 2010 to 2050. As middle-aged individuals, who are more open to mental health treatment, begin to age, the demand for geriatric mental health services is certain to rise. Additionally, current evidence suggests that elderly populations are significantly underserved by the mental health industry, with around two thirds of older adults lacking necessary mental health care.

The field of geropsychology is relatively new. Guidelines established by the APA in 2003 by the APA, led to the recommendation that geropsychology become a formal specialization. This allowed government funding for geriatric studies, previously reserved for medical professionals, to become available to psychologists as well. The fledgling nature of this specialization means that there are plenty of opportunities for research and clinical practice in geropsychology.

Projections don’t always show the full picture concerning a specific job field or specialization. However, several factors solidly indicate that the specializations of industrial-organizational psychology, neuropsychology and geropsychology will continue to expand. As you choose a degree program or follow a career path in the social sciences, keep in mind the demand for psychologists in these fields.

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