How to Become a Social Psychologist

Social psychologists study how a person’s behavior and mental life is shaped by social interactions with individuals and groups, and work to improve these interactions. Areas of interest include group behavior, conformity, social perception, aggression, and prejudice. As noted by the American Psychological Association, social psychologists work in a number of different settings, including academic institutions, advertising firms, businesses, and government agencies. In these settings they may teach and conduct research, study consumer attitudes, or help problems in organization and management.

What degree is required to become a social psychologist?

According to the Social Psychology Network, most social psychologists pursue a Ph.D., especially those looking to become a professor at a college or university. In some cases an employer will accept a master’s degree, so degree requirements will vary by job and employer. Schools may offer a master’s degree in social psychology that can lead to a doctorate, or they may offer social psychology as a specialization within a master’s or doctorate degree in psychology.

p>Board certification is common in psychology to show commitment to and expertise in a field of specialization. Graduates of a social psychology degree online who intend to work in academia likely won’t see a need for such certification, while social psychologists who plan on conducting research in the field may benefit from these credentials or require them to practice. The American Board of Professional Psychology and the Behavior Analyst Certification Board are two organizations that offer credentials in specialty areas of psychology.

How long does it take to become a social psychologist?

Graduate degrees in social psychology are awarded at the master’s and doctorate levels. How long it takes students to complete an online social psychology degree depends on their prior education, whether they attend full time or part time, and if there are any prerequisite courses they must take prior to starting. Master’s degrees in psychology can take from 18 months to two years to complete, while doctorate degrees require four to six years of study. Some schools may offer a dual degree program in which students can earn a bachelor’s and master’s in psychology in five years.

In addition to a degree, a license is usually required to practice the profession. Licensing laws vary by state and the type of position, so it’s important to know the requirements of the state you wish to work in. Those looking to enter academia upon completing a doctorate degree likely will not need a license.

What is a social psychologist’s salary?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) does not provide salary information for social psychologists, though it does provide information for the profession as a whole. According to the BLS, psychologists earned anywhere from less than $39,200 to more than $111,810 in May 2010. The median annual wage at that time was $68,640. How much a social psychologist makes depends on his or her education and experience, location of the job, the employer, or the size of their clientele.