Post Military Option: Online Psychology DegreeUpdated: November 3, 2020
An online degree in psychology is an excellent opportunity for veterans looking to pursue an education. Psychology is a good career option for veterans, and many colleges and universities have begun offering bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral programs that offer specialties in veteran or military psychology. Veterans are well-suited for careers in the psychology field, for several reasons:
- Veterans have excellent analytical skills, which are useful for helping determine why people behave in certain ways.
- Veterans are skilled at identifying and solving problems, and can help individuals identify and work through problems in their lives.
- Many veterans have a desire to help others, and there are many opportunities to do so within the field of psychology.
Psychology is the scientific study of behavior and the mind. There are four main goals of psychology: to describe, explain, change, and predict behavior and mental processes. Veterans who choose to enter the psychology field will learn about many different topics, including research, theory, statistics, sociology, anthropology, and how other social and life sciences impact the field of psychology as well as human behavior. There are many different fields within the discipline of psychology, including:
- Human development
- Cognitive processes
- Social behavior
How long does it take to obtain a psychology degree online?
There are several degrees that can lead to a career in psychology, all of which require different amounts of time to complete. These include:
- An associate degree: usually requires approximately 60 credit hours (one to two years) to earn. It serves as a stepping stone towards a four-year psychology degree, and includes general courses to help build the foundation for more in-depth psychology courses, such as those offered in a bachelor’s degree program.
- A bachelor’s in psychology: usually requires about 120 credit hours, or an additional 60 hours beyond an associate degree. These programs offer foundational psychology courses and prepare students for entry-level jobs in the field, or for graduate school.
- A master’s in psychology: usually takes between two and three years to complete, and allows graduates to work as counselors in some states, or as industrial-organizational psychologists.
- A doctorate in psychology: this degree is usually required to become clinically licensed. It can take between four and six years to earn.
One important component of choosing a psychology degree is finding a program that is accredited. The American Psychological Association provides accreditation to high-quality psychology degree programs. Graduating from an accredited program provides many benefits, including:
- A strong scientific and educational foundation in psychology
- Graduates may be more qualified for jobs in settings that require graduating from an accredited program
- An easier path to becoming licensed in states that require graduation from an accredited doctoral program
Psychology Job Opportunities for Veterans
While there are several options for earning a degree in psychology, many years of schooling are not necessarily required to enter the field. There are many entry-level career opportunities within the field of psychology. These include:
Psychometrist/clinician: Working under the supervision of a licensed psychologist, a clinician administers and scores psychological tests. They are not allowed to give clinical assessments or interpret test results. Psychometrists can work in a clinical setting administering clinical tests, or in an organizational setting administering tests to students, employees, or job applicants. To qualify, individuals must have graduated from a clinical psychology program and have knowledge about scoring and administering standardized tests.
Substance abuse counselor: Counselors work with clients addicted to alcohol and other drugs. Some states require a license or certification to work as a substance abuse counselor.
Psychiatric technician: Technicians work in a clinical setting, and report the mental and emotional health of patients to medical staff. They also assist with personal hygiene, administering medications, and rehabilitation programs for patients.
Human resource personnel: This career is geared towards an organizational setting instead of a clinical one. Main duties include assisting human resource managers in implementing strategies and policies within a company or organization. Additionally, personnel can assist with screening and recruiting applicants for open positions, and ensuring that employees maintain good work performance and professional behavior.
Psychology Careers That Require A Master’s Degree
For veterans who are interested in pursuing a psychology career at a higher level, there are additional job opportunities available for those with a master’s degree in the field:
Marriage and family therapist (MFT): This role requires a master’s degree, licensure, and many internship hours. MFTs usually work in hospitals with psychiatrists and social workers, or within their own private practices. MFTs focus on behavior change within couples and families.
Clinical psychologist: In addition to a master’s, clinical psychologists must be licensed before they are able to practice. They are allowed to provide psychotherapy and psychological assessments under a licensed clinical psychologist before becoming licensed themselves. Their main roles include improving the psychological well-being of patients and encouraging positive changes to mental health overall. Psychologists may work with clients with conditions such as depression, eating disorders, or schizophrenia.
Experimental psychologists: This degree helps prepare students for further graduate study, such as a Ph. D. Experimental psychologists may manage laboratories or assist with research. The main task for experimental psychologists is studying human behavior in different contexts by conducting research studies.
Another option is obtaining a master’s in applied psychology. This sector of the psychology field provides opportunities including:
Forensic psychologist: These practitioners work in psychology and criminal justice. They are designated by a court to serve as expert witnesses and evaluate whether defendants are competent to stand trial. They usually work with law enforcement, public defenders, or state attorneys.
Industrial and organizational psychologist: These individuals study behavior in the workplace, and aim to improve employees’ motivation and productivity.
School counselors: These individuals work in the educational setting and work to improve the mental welfare of students and school employees. School counselors mainly work with children who have problems either at home or at school.
The field of psychology is full of opportunities for veterans to use their skills and experience to help others.
Heather Maxey works at a non-profit that addresses military ineligibility. She is an Army spouse, and met her husband while working as a Health Educator at Fort Bragg.