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There are work opportunities in several areas of the private and governmental sectors. As expected, the more advanced your degree is, the more potential to seek employment in different fields of psychology. However, most of the qualifications call for at least a master’s degree. And optimally, a Ph.D. in Psychology, or Psy.D.s (Doctor of Psychology).

Depending on your the level of your degree in psychology, there are jobs in the private, non-profit, public, and government sectors. Examples are in the corrections system, community health facilities, military, and federal agencies. This post will look at some of the job opportunities within government and its branches.

Veteran Affairs

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) employs the largest number of psychologists, partly due to their workforce initiative of 2012. At that time, the VA announced they would add 1,600 mental health professionals. The VA also has a Mental Health Hiring Initiative for 2018. They have committed to hiring 1,000 more Mental Health professionals, including psychiatrists and psychologists.

Job opportunities exist across the U.S. in any of the 700+ community-based outpatient clinics. This brings jobs and well-needed care closer to home for providers and veterans. Another way that brings therapy to remote areas, especially for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), is through a system of electronic communications. The VA’s calls this program Telemental Health.

Looking at the VA career site, you will see job postings nationally, which you can also search by State. One advantage of working for the VA is that you only need to be licensed in one state to work in all 50 states.

Armed Forces

The military is an employment opportunity for Psy.D. graduates who want to work with veterans and other military personnel. In contrast to the private sector, there are restrictions on how to work in any branch of the armed services. You could be eligible as a government contractor, recipient of a military scholarship, or by joining the military once you have a degree (preferably a doctorate) in psychology.

Each branch of the military employs professionals to care for personnel suffering from mental and emotional issues. Many of these related to the trauma associated with active-duty.

One position not requiring a doctorate is an Army Mental Health Specialist. These professionals treat soldiers suffering from a variety of mental disorders, both as inpatients and outpatients. In this role, you are not autonomous. You can expect to work with a team of mental health professionals.

The job entails 10 weeks of Basic Combat Training and 20 weeks of Advanced Individual Training, as well as practicing in-patient care. The good news is that you could earn substantial cash bonuses. You can check goarmy.com for more information. Also, visit Jobs in Demand to see what jobs qualify for an enlistment bonus.

In addition to the Army, there are Navy, Air Force, and Marine psychologists. All branches employ mental health professionals to treat a number of different mental and emotional problems of military personnel and their families.

The academic requirement for  Navy psychologists is a doctoral degree. You can earn your degree at traditional universities. However, many individuals pursuing a career as a navy psychology will apply to a naval or military school. Another option is to enroll in the clinical psychology Ph. D. program at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences. Tuition for this education is free for individuals on the condition that you commit to remain in the military for a specified time. 

County Positions

Counties with a Department of Mental Health and Human Services employ psychologists. In these county jobs, you are responsible for administering and interpreting different types of psychological testing instruments, in addition to providing individual, group, and family therapy. These positions typically require knowledge of abnormal, developmental, personality, and social psychology.

At the county level, you should be able to find a counseling job without the need for a doctoral degree. There are counties hiring those with a Master’s degree in Social Work. The Licensed Clinical Social Worker is the mental health-counseling branch of social work. It requires specialized training after graduating with a Master of Social Work (MSW) degree.

Department of Corrections or the Federal Bureau of Prisons

These agencies employ correctional/clinical psychologists. Correctional psychologists face the daunting task of providing mental health treatment for incarcerated individuals. The purpose of a correctional psychologist working in the prison systems is to rehabilitate inmates. This helps them cope with prison life and transition to the outside-world once released.

While correctional counselors can work with only a master’s degree and counseling license, correctional psychologists need a doctoral degree and be licensed by the state of employment.

The Bureau of Prisons mandates the completion of all the requirements for the doctoral degree (Ph.D. or equivalent) from an accredited school directly related to full professional work in psychology (i.e., Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology or Counseling Psychology).

Central Intelligence Agency

Even the CIA hires professionals with experience in different areas of psychology. They have minimum qualifications, some of these refer to degree, licensing, post-doctoral experience, skills pertaining to psychology, and specialty areas within the profession. You can find more details at this USAJOBS link.

Additional Resources:

What are the differences in an Online vs Campus Master’s Degree in Psychology?

What Are the Different Kinds of Psychology Degrees?

How can I use a Psychology degree in Criminal Justice?

Why should I consider a degree in Geropsychology?

What is a degree in Psychology?

How fast can I complete my Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology Online?