How to Become a Consumer Psychologist

Individuals who graduate from an accredited psychology degree program can become a consumer psychologist. This field of psychology is a specialty area that studies how people’s thoughts, beliefs, feelings, and perceptions have an influence on the way that they buy and relate to goods and services. One formal definition of consumer psychology is that it studies individuals, groups, or organizations and the processes that they use in order to select, secure, use, and dispose of products, services, experiences, and/or ideas to satisfy their needs, along with the impact that these processes will have on both the consumer and society. This area is oftentimes considered to be a sub-specialty of industrial-organizational psychology.

What degree is required to become a consumer psychologist?

Many entry-level jobs in consumer psychology will require that an individual complete at least a bachelor’s degree in psychology. The positions that may be found at this level include the planning of, conducting, and interpreting the results of market research campaigns. Those who intend on pursuing more advanced positions in consumer psychology will typically need to complete a master’s degree in psychology or a doctorate degree that focuses on an area related to consumer psychology.

Many who earn a doctoral degree do so through accredited institutions that offer programs in industrial-organizational psychology. Practicing psychologists also need a license or certification. According to the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology, those who wish to gain licensure for the practice of psychology must meet several requirements set by all states. These include obtaining a Ph.D. or Psy.D. from an accredited university, completing supervised work for a period of time by a licensed psychologist, obtaining a qualifying score on the EPPP, and passing an oral exam that is conducted by a state board.

How long does it take to become a consumer psychologist?

Becoming a consumer psychologist will require the completion of one’s doctoral degree in psychology. While the educational requirements may take between four and seven years to complete, the exact time frame will depend upon whether a student attends their scholastic program on a full-time or a part-time basis. In addition, there could also be another time factor that is involved with the completion of the individual’s dissertation, as well as a period of time that must be spent fulfilling clinical and/or internship requirements. With the vast access to the Internet, today there are also many online psychology programs that may help in fulfilling a student’s degree requirements in a more convenient manner. These programs could help an individual to obtain their degree in psychology faster, as the time allotted for course work and study may be more flexible. This can be especially beneficial to those who have work and/or family obligations to tend to while they are also completing their consumer psychology degree requirements.

Also factoring into the time it takes to become a consumer psychologist is the period for licensure. This is because after completing the supervised work requirements, an individual pursuing a career as a consumer psychologist may need to obtain a license to practice. This can be done by passing the Examination for Professional Practice of Psychology (EPPP), a 175-question exam. In addition, most states will require the passing of a separate oral exam prior to qualifying an individual for licensure. It is often necessary to obtain letters from other professionals in the field that speak to the individual’s ability to practice.

What is a consumer psychologist’s salary?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual wage for psychologists overall as of May 2010 was $68,640. However, because the median annual wage for industrial-organizational psychologists was more than $87,000 at that time, consumer psychologists can earn an income that is well above the overall overage for psychologists. A large number of consumer psychologists work for scientific, management, and technical consulting firms.