A STUDENTíS GUIDE TO CAREERS IN THE HELPING PROFESSIONS

 

Melissa J. Himelein, University of North Carolina at Asheville (1999)

 

Overview

 

This document describes 15 helping professions both within and outside psychology. For each of the helping professions, information is provided on typical job duties, job outlook, potential earnings, required professional degrees, finding graduate programs, and graduate entrance requirements, and sources of additional information. The different professions are presented in alphabetical order (see Table of Contents below).

 

Table of Contents

 

Introduction....................................................................................

1. Clinical/Counseling Psychologist (Ph.D./Psy.D.)...........................

2. Clinical/Counseling Psychology: Psychological Associate (M.A)

3. College Student Development Professional.................................. ††††††††

4. Counselor (Community).................................................................... ††††††††

5. Counselor (School)............................................................................ ††††††††

6. Creative Arts Therapist (Art, Dance, Drama, & Music Therapists)†††††††

7. Health Education/Promotion Specialist.......................................... ††††††††

8. Human Resource Development Specialist..................................... ††††††††

9. Occupational Therapist..................................................................... ††††††††

10. Rehabilitation Counselor/Psychologist......................................... ††††††††

11. School Psychologist........................................................................ ††††††††

12. Speech Pathologist......................................................................... ††††††††

13. Social Worker.................................................................................. ††††††††

14. Special Education Teacher............................................................ ††††††††

15. Therapeutic Recreation Specialist/Recreational Therapist........ ††††††††

 

Copyright © 1999 Melissa J. Himelein. Distributed via OTRP Online by permission of the copyright owner. Please observe the following copyright policy regarding this work:


A STUDENTíS GUIDE TO CAREERS IN THE HELPING PROFESSIONS

 

INTRODUCTION

††††††††††† This manual describes 15 helping professions that undergraduate psychology majors interested in a service career might wish to consider.Each of these careers involves some amount of graduate training beyond the bachelorís degree, usually a masterís degree.Please do not interpret this to mean that in order to pursue a service career, graduate school is necessary.There are many bachelorís-level helping-oriented jobs, and most university career centers can provide interested students with information about and help in locating these.I am focusing here only on helping careers requiring postgraduate education because such information is harder to find.

 

GUIDE TO THE CAREER PROFILES

††††††††††† All of the 15 different career profiles in this manual are organized around the same 3 key issues (job description, training, and additional informational resources).Please take a minute to familiarize yourself with the specific categories of information and their source(s).

 

JOB DESCRIPTION

Overview and Typical Job Duties

††††††††††† This information is based on many sources: the Occupational Outlook Handbook; FOCUS and SIGI (both computerized career counseling and search programs); publications of the careerís national organization(s); graduate school literature; and assorted books and journal articles.

 

Job Outlook

††††††††††† In order to be consistent across professions, I generally ignored the potentially biased information on job outlook presented by a professionís accrediting body or organization.Instead, I consulted three national data bases:†††

 

††††††††††† 1. Occupational Outlook Handbook (OOH, 1994-1995 edition): Job outlook summaries for each profession.I adopted the OOH rating system, with jobs rated as growing ďmuch faster than averageĒ (increase of 41% or more); ďfaster than averageĒ (increase of 27-40%); and ďabout as fast as averageĒ (increase of 14 to 26%).None of the jobs included in this manual are expected to grow more slowly than average or decline in growth.

 

††††††††††† 2. Bureau of Labor Statistics (1998): Report on the 30 occupations with the fastest projected rate of growth, 1996-2006.I noted if a profession was on this list (BLS).

 

††††††††††† 3. Michigan State University Collegiate Employment Research Institute (1997): Estimated supply and demand for college graduates of 1997-1998.I followed MSUís five- category rating system, classifying jobs as high demand/limited supply (the ideal category from a studentís perspective); good demand/possible shortage; near balance/supply equals demand; adequate supply/some oversupply; and surplus/substantial oversupply (the worst category from a studentís perspective).

 

Potential Earnings

††††††††††† I first consulted the OOH for information and then checked FOCUS and individual professional organizations for supporting data.I included national averages for both starting and median salaries.Keep in mind the difference between these figures.Starting salaries are the earnings one can reasonably expect in oneís first job in the field, usually obtained soon after graduation.Median salaries represent the midpoint earnings level of all workers in a field, i.e., employees at all levels of experience.

 

TRAINING

Professional Degree Required

††††††††††† This section contains a description of the specific graduate training necessary to pursue each field at the entry level and an estimate of the time the degree takes to complete.

 

How to Find Programs

††††††††††† I included specific directions for obtaining a complete list of graduate programs in the field.Note that many professional organizations now include such a list on their Internet homepages.Developing Internet search skills is invaluable in seeking out career and graduate school information.

 

Entrance Requirements/Admissions

††††††††††† This section provides a list of courses prerequired for admission as well as other expectations for applicants.I also included information about the competitiveness of graduate programs, based on an examination of graduate school brochures as well as published information about the median GPA/GREs of entering classes.

 

FOR MORE INFORMATION

††††††††††† At the end of each career profile, I have listed helpful resources and addresses of relevant professional organizations (Print Materials/Organizations) as well as useful Internet addresses (Internet Resources).I also recommend the following references for general information about graduate school application and admission as well as helping careers:

 

Print Resources

††††††††††† American Psychological Association. (latest edition). Graduate study in psychology. Washington, D.C.: Author. (Published annually.)

††††††††††† Buskist, W., & Sherburne, T. R. (1996). Preparing for graduate study in psychology: 101 questions and answers. Needham Heights, MA: Allyn & Bacon.

††††††††††† Collison, B. B., & Garfield, N. J. (1990). Careers in counseling and human development. Alexandria, VA: American Association for Counseling and Development

††††††††††† Keith-Spiegel, P. (1991). The complete guide to graduate school admission: Psychology and related fields. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.

††††††††††† U. S. Department of Labor. (latest edition). Occupational outlook handbook. Washington, D.C.: U. S. Government Printing Office. (Published annually; available in the Career Library.)

 

Internet Resources

For general graduate school advice on the Internet:

††††††††††† http://www-personal.umich.edu/~danhorn/graduate.html

††††††††††† http://web.indstate.edu/psych/ch5.html

 

Petersoní guide to graduate schools, on the Internet: http://www.petersons.com/graduate/

†††††††††††

AUTHOR INFORMATION

Melissa J. Himelein, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Psychology

Department of Psychology #1960

UNC-Asheville, Asheville, NC 28804-8508

mhimelein@unca.edu

March, 1999

 

Notes: Please send me (e-mail or snail mail) your comments and ideas about this manual!I hope to update this project continually and would greatly value your suggestions.Especially useful would be any errors or omissions you find, updates I should include (e.g., changes in organization addresses, telephone numbers, or internet addresses), resources you find helpful, or additional helping careers you think should be added.

††††††††††† Please do not reprint the information contained here without appropriate crediting of the author and supporting institution.I wish you the best of luck with your helping career search!