Should I Become A Psychologist Or A Social Worker?

"I have always been interested in becoming a psychologist. The thing is, I don’t think the schooling is something I can handle. I don’t have that kind of money or time. I want to get started working in a profession ASAP. But I definitely want to do something counseling related. Social work is counseling related. But I don’t know if the opportunities are as good. What should I do, become a social worker or a psychologist?"

asked by Mandy from Dover, DE

Both careers do involve counseling, and both can be very rewarding, but they are also quite different in many ways. In either case, you will have the chance to help improve the lives of your clients. Each has unique educational requirements as well as differences in terms of pay.

The shorter path through school is definitely for social work and not psychology. To go into psychology, you need a master’s degree at the very least. Many psychologists have doctoral degrees (and if you plan to become a psychiatrist and have the power to write prescriptions, you must have a doctoral degree).

If you are going into social work however, you will only need a four-year degree to get started. More opportunities may open up to you if you go on to get a master’s degree. The higher the level of your degree, the higher your pay grade is going to be in either of these fields. The salary you make will also depends on the setting where you work.

If you become a psychologist, you will be helping patients to work through their psychological problems. If you become a social worker, you might go one of two different routes. Some social workers help patients with mental and behavioral problems, as psychologists do, but others help with sociological issues. For example, they might help low income people to locate government services which can help them.

There is also a pay grade difference between the two occupations. If you become a social worker, the median annual pay is $42,480. That comes out to just over $20 an hour, which is not a large amount of money. If you become a psychologist and invest the extra time and money into your schooling, you are competing for a median annual wage of $68,640. Many psychologists make over $100,000 per year.

There is a lot more room for financial growth as a psychologist. Both fields are growing at a similar rate, but social work is growing slightly faster than psychology.

Nobody can decide for you whether it is better to become a social worker or a psychologist. It all depends on where you are at right now with your education and expenses, and where you hope to be in the future.

Either way, you will have a chance to help people. And you can always start out as a social worker and consider going into psychology later when you have more to spend on your education.

Career Spotlight: Social Worker

Social Worker

Social Worker

Social workers have complex jobs that involve a mixture of counseling and gathering resources to aid their clients. Social work is assistance granted to people in need of supportive and psychological [...]

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