What is a Psychologist?
Psychologists study the human mind and human behaviour. As a discipline, psychology examines the questions, issues, and problems related to behaviour and mental health.
Psychologists may assess and diagnose behavioural, emotional, and cognitive disorders, provide counselling and therapy, and engage in research. According to the Canadian Psychological Association (CPA), psychologists work with individuals, groups, and communities.
Psychologists may also specialize in a variety of sub-specialties, including child psychology, cognitive psychology, education and school psychology, neuropsychology, sports psychology, or cognitive psychology.
Education and training
Generally, students can take four years to complete an undergraduate bachelor’s degree in psychology, another two years to complete a master’s degree, and four years to complete a Ph.D. Doctoral degrees in professional streams of psychology such as clinical neuropsychology, counselling, or clinical psychology all include a practicum and internship, additional courses, and examination requirements.
In some provinces, board interviews and oral examinations are also required. To practice psychology in these areas, a practitioner must be licensed. Licensure is beneficial to both the psychologist and their clients as it provides a rigorous and high standard of practice and also protects clients? interests.
The requirements for licensure vary across the country. For instance, currently in Alberta, Quebec, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, and the Northwest Territories those with a master’s degree can be licensed to practice as a psychologist.
In British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, and Nova Scotia a doctorate degree is required. For complete details please see the Canadian Psychological Association’s Provincial and Territorial licensing requirements.
There are over 30 universities that offer graduate training in Canada. The Canadian Psychological Association (CPA) has a document describing the various psychology graduate programs, including admission information, contacts, and grade requirements.
Athabasca University offers a guide outlining the steps required to becoming a psychologist, describing program entry, research options, online resources, and talking to a career advisor.
Where do psychologists work?
Clinical psychologists work in hospitals, correctional facilities, mental health and addiction centres, as well as private clinics as individual practitioners or as part of a larger group of health care providers, with school boards, and with various levels of government. Over 70 per cent of psychologists work in health care and social services while the rest work in education and public administration.
Psychologists actively conduct research in a variety of settings. Research psychologists investigate the physical, cognitive, emotional, or social aspects of human behaviour. Some psychologists work with human participants while others focus their attention on laboratory animals.
The different areas of research include addiction, depression, anxiety, phobias, brain injury, pain management, stress, anger, and the application of psychology factors to issues such as motivation, healthy workplaces, and preventing disease.
Salaries and demographic information
According to Service Canada, psychologists earn an average of $29.97 per hour in Canada.
Hourly wages (adapted from Living in Canada) for different cities are found below:
Average hourly wages (2004 – 2007) for psychologists across selected Canadian cities
In Alberta, part-time and full-time psychologists earned from $48,000 to over $100,000 per year. The average salary was over $78,000.
Women comprise 64 per cent of psychologists. The majority of psychologists (79 per cent) were 25 – 54 years of age, 12 per cent were older than 55, and 10 per cent were 24 or younger.
For more information regarding psychology, please visit the Canadian Psychological Association website.