In some states, master’s-level psychologists—often referred to as psychological associates or assistants—are regulated and licensed much the same as full-authority doctorate-level psychologists. Among those states where psychological associates are licensed or registered, some allow them to work independently, while others require them to work under the direct or general supervision of doctorate-prepared psychologists.
In all instances, master’s-prepared psychologists enjoy fulfilling careers in nearly all psychological subfields, from neuropsychology to experimental psychology to child psychology and beyond.
So, whether you want to focus your career on treating clinical disorders, providing counseling services, or making strides in research, you’ll find jobs for master’s-level psychological associates are rarely in short supply.
Here we present the top careers for master’s level psychological associates in some of the most popular subfields.
Master’s Prepared Practitioners in Behavioral and Cognitive Psychology
There are four subfields of behavioral psychology:
- Applied Behavior Analysis
- Behavior Therapy
- Cognitive-Behavior Therapy
- Cognitive Therapy
As a behavioral psychological associate, you may use one of these behavioral or cognitive therapies to help a patient quit smoking, internet or sex addiction; handle anxiety or depression, and it could involve working with individuals, couples, children or families.
Behavioral and cognitive psychology studies the connection between our minds and our behavior. As a behavioral psychological associate, you will seek out patterns in the actions and behaviors of people. The goal of behavioral psychology is to put the findings of behavioral science research to use to help individuals address problem behaviors and reinforce more constructive, healthy behaviors. In other words, you will work with patients to replace self-destructive behaviors with positive ones, thereby helping them gain more control over their lives.
A key component of behavior therapy is the monitoring and evaluation of a patient’s progress. In general, behavioral psychology seeks to improve a patient’s self-control by providing them with new skills and abilities.
Careers in Child Psychology for Master’s Educated Practitioners
Child psychology is the subfield that focuses solely on infants, toddlers, children and adolescents. As a child psychological associate, you will focus your practice on the unique needs of children and adolescents and how they interact with family and others in a variety of social contexts. You will assess their social and psychological health, social adaptation and development in a variety of contexts, including socially, cognitively and behaviorally, among others.
Child psychologists and psychological associates help children and adolescents deal with trauma and loss, health-related problems, emotional and development problems, cognitive issues and even mental disorders.
The role of the child psychological associate is often to perform assessments, develop interventions and consult with child psychologists and other health professionals to provide comprehensive care. They are also often integral in the development of prevention programs that address contemporary issues like bullying, teen pregnancy, addiction and obesity.
Master’s Prepared Psychological Associate’s Working in Community Psychology
As a community psychological associate, you may help communities prevent crime, recover from natural and man-made disasters and work to change policies that help improve the health and well-being of the community at large. You likely will work alongside public health professionals, nonprofit groups, governmental agencies and citizen groups to implement changes and advance social justice.
Community psychology involves implementing interventions that improve and strengthen communities. This may involve collaborating with other professionals to identify and develop resources with the ultimate goal of empowering communities to help overcome socially-destructive issues.
Preparing for a Career in Engineering Psychology with a Master’s Degree
Chances are, the design and function of that new food processor or laptop you’ve been enjoying were influenced to some degree by the application of engineering psychology.
This unique subset of psychology studies how people interact with machines. Or, more specifically, how the design of machines, devices and systems can improve individual performance and safety.
As an engineering psychological associate, you will strive to make interactions between people and machines less complicated, less stressful, safer and easier. Thanks to engineering psychology, everything from medical equipment to consumer electronic devices like smart phones are made safer and more user-friendly. For example, engineering psychology may make it easier for a medical professional to use hospital equipment, thereby saving more lives. Or it may make aviation equipment easier to operate, thereby preventing accidents.
Manufacturers use master’s prepared engineering psychological assistants to better design and develop machines, services and devices. Their expertise in human behavior allows them to recommend changes that will ultimately improve human interactions with systems and equipment, whether used by employees or consumers.
Master’s Prepared Practitioners in Environmental Psychology
Environmental psychology explores the dynamic between individuals and their environment, with the concept of the environment including both natural and manmade environments, as well as social, cultural and even informational or virtual environments.
As an environmental psychological associate, you’ll likely work with practitioners in other fields like sociology, anthropology, biology and ecology, among others.
Careers in Experimental Psychology for Master’s Prepared Practitioners
Why do we behave the we do? How do our life experiences shape who we are? Experimental psychology seeks to understand behavior.
As an experimental psychological associate, you’ll explore theoretical questions and then seek to prove or disprove them through experimentation and research. Your work may focus on a wide array of issues, such as emotion, cognition, attention and perception.
You may focus your work on a single area over the course of many years, building on your research over time, in an effort to come to a overarching conclusion. As an experimental psychological assistant, you may work in any number of settings, from research centers to universities to private industry to government agencies.
If you work in experimental psychology, chances are you will fully devote your career to research in a specific subfield of psychology, from I/O psychology to child psychology to school psychology and beyond.
Master’s Prepared Practitioners Working in Forensic Psychology
Forensic psychology is a unique amalgamation between psychology and the judicial and military systems. As a forensic psychological assistant, you’ll provide services to law enforcement, public safety, the courts and the military. Your expertise may be used in private practice, academia, psychiatric facility and prisons, among others.
You may work on court cases that require you to determine a defendant’s mental state. You may work in the area of threat assessment, determining whether certain individuals are at risk for committing violent crimes. Or you may help attorneys select juries. This emerging subfield of psychology has a number of interesting career paths.
Master’s Educated Psychological Associates in Geropsychology
A massive Baby Boomer population either near or in retirement has sparked a growing need for professionals skilled in geropsychology. Similar to child psychologists, geropsychologists and geropsychological assistants work with a specific population—in this case, older adults, where they tackle the many, often complex, biological, psychological, social and sociocultural issues that accompany aging.
The practice of geropsychology often includes helping patients cope with:
- Dementia/Alzheimer’s disease
- End-of-life care
Geropsychology also serves the families of older adults, along with organizations and services that work with this population. You will provide your services in a variety of inpatient and outpatient settings, including hospitals, long-term care facilities and mental health facilities.
Careers in Industrial-Organizational Psychology for Master’s Prepared Associates
Industrial-organizational psychology (often referred to simply as I/O psychology) is a swiftly growing area of psychology that’s focused on studying and influencing human behavior (among individuals and in groups) in work settings – from offices to manufacturing plants. As an I/O psychological associate, you’ll be involved in affecting positive change in everything from recruitment practices to training and development to performance to quality of work life to safety and beyond.
Thanks to a growing interest in the value of employee satisfaction and efficiency, I/O psychologists and psychological associates can increasingly be found working in business, industry, nonprofit and academic settings.
The breadth of your expertise will include understanding how workplace protocols and design influence human performance. Your work may involve identifying training needs, optimizing work efficiency and formulating and implementing training programs. But you may also focus on the external goals of the company, which include identifying and assessing marketing strategies, consumer preferences and customer satisfaction.
Master’s Prepared Practitioners in Marriage and Family Therapy
Marriage and family therapy focuses on the unique issues within the family. This subset of psychology is rather broad, encompassing issues related to communication theory, family assessment, legal and ethical issues and models of family functioning, among others.
Marriage and family psychologists and psychological associates look at a variety of factors related to the family unit, such as cognitive, behavioral, developmental and sociocultural influences.
As a psychological associate in marriage and family therapy, your work will be focused on a wide array of issues involving the family unit, including family relationships, parenting, caregiver issues, the burdens and challenges associated with the work-family dynamic and communication difficulties between parents and children.
Master’s Prepared Practitioners in School Psychology
School psychologists work in public and private pre-K and K-12 settings and universities to help students succeed not just academically, but also socially, emotionally and behaviorally. They also work with families, teachers, school administrators, social workers and guidance counselors to create strong environments where learning can thrive.
As a school psychologist, you will work with students to improve their problem-solving skills and coping skills, develop positive peer relationships and address their emotional and behavioral needs.
In many states, you can work independently as a school psychologist with a master’s degree in school psychology and a state license.
Careers in Sports Psychology for Master’s Prepared Practitioners
Sports in America is a massive business, so it’s no surprise that the field of sports psychology continues to experience impressive growth. Take a look at highly successful athletes and you’ll likely notice that their mental fortitude is often as impressive as their athleticism.
As a master’s educated psychological assistant in sports psychology, your work will be focused on identifying and applying psychological principles to improve and enhance athletic performance. You will therefore work alongside athletes to help them overcome the mental/emotional roadblocks that impede their performance. You may help athletes overcome trauma or anxiety associated with past events (sports or otherwise) and increase their confidence, drive and intensity, or you may help them better communicate with their teammates.
Sports psychologists and psychological assistants often practice outside of the sphere of sports to help everyone from actors to surgeons gain the confidence and overcome mental and emotional issues that affect their ability to perform.
Careers in Neuropsychology for Master’s Educated Psychological Associates
Neuropsychology—which encompasses brain science and cognitive psychology—explores how individuals learn, process and store information. As a neuropsychological associate, you will study how people process thoughts and assess their capacity for learning new things and retaining information. There are many subfields within neuropsychology, so it is common for neuropsychologists and neuropsychological associates to focus their work on certain populations, specific health issues or disabilities.
For example, as a neuropsychological assistant, you may work with infants and toddlers in the area of developmental issues, or you may work with older adults in the area of dementia and other cognitive diseases.
Outside of the clinical setting, most neuropsychologists work in academia or government or in private research institutes.