Psychologists – Improving People’s Quality of Life

by Will Burchard

September 4, 2019

What do psychologists do? A psychologist’s work can be incredibly diverse. You might find psychologists creating a campaign to influence people to quit smoking, developing an app that helps people manage anxiety, or developing a new test that will identify behavioral or organizational issues early.

Broadly speaking, psychologists seek to understand and explain behavior, emotions, and thoughts. They gather information and evaluate behavior through observation, laboratory experiments, psychotherapy, psychoanalysis, surveys, and tests.

Psychologists possess a wide range of skills and practice in various areas.

Clinical psychologists evaluate, diagnose, and treat mental, behavioral, and emotional issues. They often treat individuals with more serious symptoms or disorders.

Counseling psychologists help people manage and understand problems at the workplace, home, or in their community. They usually work with people whose symptoms are less severe, such as those dealing with everyday stresses and adjusting to life’s ups and downs.

School psychologists counsel children, parents, teachers, and administrators on topics such as learning styles, behavior modification techniques, parenting skills, teaching strategies, and classroom management.

Growth Projected

In Oregon, there were 1,521 clinical, counseling, and school psychologists in 2017. Psychologists are employed in a wide range of settings, such as hospitals, mental health clinics, military, police departments, schools, universities, and private psychologists’ offices. 

About one-third of clinical, counseling, and school psychologists (516) in Oregon work in health care and social assistance, specifically in ambulatory health care services and hospitals. About one-quarter (379) work in educational services, in particular in elementary and secondary schools. 

Clinical, counseling, and school psychology is a high-paying occupation that will be in high demand over the next decade. According to the Oregon Employment Department’s employment projections, this occupation will add 1,293 jobs between 2017 and 2027 with 129 projected annual openings. This represents a 16.5 percent increase in employment over 10 years, higher than the 12.0 percent growth rate for all occupations in Oregon.

Demand for psychologists will be driven by a higher demand for psychological services in hospitals, mental health centers, and schools. Employment of clinical and counseling psychologists will continue to grow as the baby boom generation is aging. More psychological services will be provided to older populations that will seek help to deal with physical and mental changes associated with aging. Psychologists will also be needed for people with autism, veterans suffering from war trauma, and other survivors of trauma.

Demand for school psychologists will continue to grow due to an increased need for mental health services in schools and a heightened awareness of the connection between mental health and learning. Psychologists will be needed to work with students, particularly those with learning disabilities, special needs, and behavioral issues. In addition, school psychologists will be needed to study how factors both in school and outside of school influence students’ performance. Once aware of those factors, school staff can use them to improve education. Job opportunities may be limited in public schools and universities as employment of psychologists is often dependent on state and local budgets.


In 2019, wages for clinical, counseling, and school psychologists varied from a starting wage of $27.13 per hour to $74.02 at the higher end of the scale. The median hourly wage for this occupation is $43.61.
To gain employment as a psychologist, workers must obtain a master’s degree. Those with a doctoral degree have a competitive advantage in the labor market.

In Oregon, eighteen universities offer a bachelor’s degree in general psychology, school psychology, and developmental and child psychology; eight offer a master’s degree; and four offer a doctoral degree. Psychologists must also obtain a license from the Oregon Board of Psychologist Examiners. The board offers three types of licenses:

Psychologists seeking to work in schools must obtain a license from the Teacher Standards and Practices Commission.

Psychologists play an invaluable role in our society. They contribute to the well-being of our communities by helping people understand their behaviors and feelings and improve their quality of life. Their contribution is felt at every stage of a person’s life, from children where psychologists help them perform better at school to adults where they empower them to deal with life events and relationships.

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