Salary and Training for Experimental Psychologists

Psychologist Job Description, Career as a Psychologist, Salary, Employment

Salary and Training for Experimental Psychologists

Education and Training: Master's degree or doctorate

Salary: Median—$54,950 per year

Employment Outlook: Good

Definition and Nature of the Work

Psychologists are scientists who study behavior. Their work usually involves teaching, research, or social service in schools, clinics, government agencies, and private industry. About forty percent are in private practice.

To learn about behavior, they may conduct tests and laboratory experiments, record case histories, or take surveys.

Using their research, they develop theories to explain the reactions of people to their environment. They also use their knowledge to help emotionally or mentally disturbed people adjust to life.

Some psychologists work with medical and surgical patients who must cope with illness and injury.

Psychology is a broad field with several areas of specialization. In experimental psychology, for example, psychologists carry out research projects to develop theories about learning, motivation, and other aspects of behavior.

Developmental psychologists study the growth and change that takes place throughout life. They may concentrate on one particular stage of development, such as adolescence or old age.

Other specialties include educational psychology, comparative psychology, social psychology, and psychometrics.

Just as there are many areas of specialization, there are also many kinds of psychologists. The largest group is made up of clinical psychologists, who often provide individual, family, or group psychotherapy for people with emotional problems. Clinical psychologists help emotionally or mentally unstable people understand and cope with their problems.

They constitute the largest area of specialization within the field of psychology. (© Martha Tabor/Working Images Photographs. Reproduced by permission.)They may implement behavior modification programs. School psychologists work with teachers and parents to create supportive learning environments for all types of students.

They often give tests to identify gifted, handicapped, and emotionally disturbed students. Industrial and organizational psychologists study problems of motivation and morale in offices and factories. They may advise companies on personnel, management, or marketing methods.

Other kinds of psychologists include engineering psychologists, counseling psychologists, and environmental psychologists.

Education and Training Requirements

Competition for graduate programs in psychology is stiff. All applicants must have bachelor's degrees in psychology or related fields. Those who want to work as school psychologists must earn specialist degrees, which require three years of graduate study and a one-year internship.

Master's degrees may be sufficient in some areas. Clinical or counseling psychologists in private practice and those in teaching and research positions usually need doctorates, which require from five to seven years of graduate study. Clinical and counseling psychologists must spend at least a year in internships.

Un psychiatrists, psychologists are not physicians.

All states require that psychologists be certified or licensed to start private practices. Candidates for licenses usually need doctorates plus two years of experience.

The American Board of Professional Psychology recognizes professional achievement by awarding specialty certification in areas such as clinical, counseling, school, and industrial and organizational psychology.

Candidates for certification must have doctorates, five years of experience, and professional endorsements.

Getting the Job

Job seekers can apply directly to agencies or get help from school placement offices. Professional associations can provide information about opening private practices. Professional journals, newspaper classified ads, and job banks on the Internet list openings for psychologists.

Advancement Possibilities and Employment Outlook

Advancement depends on many factors, including education, experience, and other personal qualities. Psychologists can expand their private practices or move into high-level jobs in research, teaching, counseling, or administration. Some psychologists advance by serving as consultants to government or industry or by writing about their special fields.

The employment of psychologists is expected to grow faster than the average for all occupations through 2014.

Job opportunities should increase slightly in health maintenance and preferred provider organizations, in nursing homes, and in alcohol and drug abuse programs.

More opportunities will arise in businesses, nonprofit organizations, and research firms, especially for psychologists who work as consultants. Companies will employ psychologists to design and analyze surveys and to help employees with personal problems.

Working Conditions

Working conditions vary widely. Psychologists in private practice usually have comfortable offices. Most work forty hours per week. However, their schedules vary according to the type of work and may include some evening and Saturday hours.

They spend additional time studying the latest developments in the field. Psychologists must be emotionally stable, intelligent, and able to communicate with a wide variety of people. Those involved in research must be suited for detailed work.

Earnings and Benefits

Salaries vary with education, experience, and type of work. In 2004 the median earnings of clinical, counseling, and school psychologists were $54,950 per year.

Benefits for salaried psychologists usually include paid holidays and vacations, health insurance, and retirement plans. Psychologists in private practice must provide their own benefits.


Experimental Psychologist Career Guide

Salary and Training for Experimental Psychologists

Experimental psychology, the study of behavior, brain function and the mind, is used by many different types of psychologists. Experimental psychology involves the evaluation of behavior by conducting controlled laboratory experiments to obtain information.

Studies are designed and research is conducted by applying the scientific method to learn about the behavior of humans and animals.

Experimental psychology seeks to answer questions why people behave the way they do, how the personality develops, and how our behavior shapes our experiences in life.

In order to find out the answers to these and other questions, researchers use the principles of experimental psychology to construct a hypothesis. The hypothesis states a testable prediction describing what the researcher thinks the study results will show.

Experimental psychologists then use experimentation to prove or disprove the hypothesis. These experiments employ the scientific method to test the hypothesis by asking an initial question, designing a study to find the answer and collecting pertinent data.

When the results are analyzed, conclusions are drawn and the results of the study are disseminated to others.

What Does an Experimental Psychologist Study?

Experimental psychology delves into topics how people pay attention, learn and remember, what motivates them, how they use their senses to perceive the world around them, and how emotions play a part in understanding. Experimental psychologists seek a correlation between two variables, a cause and effect relationship.

Researchers may conduct an experiment with two groups, with one group receiving a treatment, and the other group, the control group, receiving no treatment. Participants must be assigned to groups randomly.

Studies in experimental psychology must demonstrate reliability and validity. Reliability is consistency of results, where an experiment will get the same result when it is conducted again.

Validity refers to determining if the psychological experiment rally measures what we intend it to measure.

An example of what an experimental psychologist might study is finding out if it is really better to give than to receive. This study might set out to show that people are happier when giving money to others than when they spend money on themselves.

Another example of what an experimental psychologist might study would be to show that people are willing to spend more for a product they think has limited availability.

In other words, if a product is hard to find or will be around for only a short while, people may be willing to pay more.

What Does an Experimental Psychologist Provide?

Experimental psychologists provide information that can be used to improve many areas of society. The insights gained from scientific research are applied to teaching and learning in schools. Information that results from studies performed by experimental psychologists can also be used to create safer transportation systems subways, and create safer workplaces.

Knowing what motivates individuals and how they perceive the world around them can help to improve substance abuse treatment programs, keep offenders jail and contribute to at risk individuals becoming productive members of society. Experimental psychologists can provide information that promotes healthy child development by highlighting the way children understand their environment, learn about the world and react emotionally to family and others.

Experimental psychologists provide data from research to answer questions about human and animal behavior. They identify behavioral and emotional patterns to predict future behavior.

Experimental psychologists use the information they gather to increase understanding between groups and individuals. As they conduct studies, their body of work builds and contributes to more and more important conclusions.

In fact, some experimental psychologists spend their entire career devoted to finding the answer to a single complicated research question.

What is it to be an Experimental Psychologist?

Experimental psychologists work in a variety of settings. These research psychologists typically work a full-time schedule in research centers and universities.

They may also work for a governmental agency, or for a private corporation.

Experimental psychologists who work in an academic setting often publish their findings in professional journals and teach psychology courses to students.

Experimental psychologists often follow their own personal interests when designing studies. For example, some experimental psychologists are interested in cognition, how individuals acquire, process and store information.

They study issues relating to attention, language and memory, and they investigate how people make decisions and solve problems.

The conclusions they draw can be used to create educational curriculum or to design educational software.

What Degree Do You Need to be an Experimental Psychologist?

Most experimental psychologists need a doctoral degree in psychology, especially if they work at a university.

Coursework in experimental psychology teaches students how to design research studies and conduct empirical research by means of observation and experimentation.

Experimental psychology students are also taught to understand how to deal with ethical issues as they conduct their research.

A doctoral degree in experimental psychology is not necessary to work as an experimental psychologist. Other doctoral programs in psychology that offer training in experimental methodology include industrial – organizational psychology and human factors psychology.

Psychologists with a master’s degree can be employed as industrial-organizational psychologists. As psychological assistants, they can work in a research setting under the supervision of a doctoral psychologist.

Many master’s degree programs do not require a major in psychology at the undergraduate level, but most programs want to see the completion of courses in experimental psychology and statistics.

Psychologists are required to pass licensing exams or have certification in most states. To obtain a license, psychologists typically need hands-on training through supervised experience, a year-long internship or a residency program.

What Careers are Similar to Experimental Psychology?

Psychologist: A clinical psychologist diagnoses and treats mental and behavioral disorders, while health psychologists investigate how illness and wellness are affected by psychological factors. Neuropsychologists work with people who have sustained brain injuries. Psychologists generally need a doctoral degree and a license to practice. School psychologists need an Ed.S. degree.

Mental Health Counselors and Marriage and Family Therapists: Mental health counselors and marriage and family therapists help people with problems deal with family relationships and find strategies that will help them manage mental disorders and live a more fulfilling lifestyle. A master’s degree is required.

Market Research Analyst: A market research analyst helps corporations understand the products consumers are willing to buy and the price they are willing to pay. They study market conditions to determine the sales potential of a service or product. A bachelor’s degree is required.

School and Career Counselor: School and career counselors guide students in making career decisions and develop the social skills they need for success. A master’s degree is required.

Personality Psychologist: Personality psychologists are concerned with the relationship between an individual’s personality and how he or she gets along with others and adapts to external and internal stresses. Nobody’s life is completely stress-free, but some people adapt better than others.

Personality psychologists can help those whose everyday functioning has been adversely affected because of a personality disorder. Behavioral and cognitive therapy are two approaches which personality psychologists use that have been found to be effective. Personality psychologists can also help businesses implement more cost effective hiring and marketing strategies.

How Much Does an Experimental Psychologist Make?

According to the United States Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook, the median annual wage for an industrial-organizational psychologist in May, 2019 was $92,880. The median annual wage for all psychologists in May, 2019 was $101,790. The top ten percent earned over $132,070, while the lowest 10 percent earned under $45,380.

Employment for industrial-organizational psychologists is expected to increase by 13 percent from 2018 to 2028, which is a much faster rate than the average for all occupations. There is a growing trend to use industrial-organizational psychologists to provide advice for hiring, increasing productivity and improving the morale of employees.

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Experimental Psychologist Salary

Salary and Training for Experimental Psychologists

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The average pay for an Experimental Psychologist is $96,506 a year and $46 an hour in the United States. The average salary range for an Experimental Psychologist is between $67,742 and $119,777.

On average, a Doctorate Degree is the highest level of education for an Experimental Psychologist. This compensation analysis is salary survey data collected directly from employers and anonymous employees in the United States.

ERI’s compensation data are  salary surveys conducted and researched by ERI. Cost of labor data in the Assessor Series are actual housing sales data from commercially available sources, plus rental rates, gasoline prices, consumables, medical care premium costs, property taxes, effective income tax rates, etc.

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  • Plans and conducts experimental research studies involving motivation, thinking, attention, learning and memory, sensory and perceptual processes, effects of substance abuse, and genetic and neurological factors affecting behavior.
  • Plans, designs, conducts, and analyzes results of experiments to study problems in psychology.
  • Formulates hypotheses and experimental designs to investigate problems of perception, memory, learning, personality, and cognitive processes.
  • Requires advanced study in the field of psychology.

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The average pay for an Experimental Psychologist is $96,506 a year and $46 an hour in the United States. The average salary range for an Experimental Psychologist is between $67,742 and $119,777.

On average, a Doctorate Degree is the highest level of education for an Experimental Psychologist. This compensation analysis is salary survey data collected directly from employers and anonymous employees in the United States.

ERI’s compensation data are  salary surveys conducted and researched by ERI. Cost of labor data in the Assessor Series are actual housing sales data from commercially available sources, plus rental rates, gasoline prices, consumables, medical care premium costs, property taxes, effective income tax rates, etc.

Data powered by ERI's Salary Assessor

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Job family: Psychologists, All Other

Job family population: 14,960

Estimated population of Experimental Psychologist jobs: 861

Rate of error: 8.1%

Experimental Psychology Careers

Salary and Training for Experimental Psychologists

As central as the mind is to our existence, we understand very little about how it works; however, each year, we learn more about it and how it functions.

The field of experimental psychology is the study of the human brain and cognitive processes, the factors and motives that influence personality and cause specific behaviors, the manner in which previous experiences help create current approaches to life, and the fundamental traits that comprise character.

Over time, observations and studies have provided a fairly clear picture of the brain and psyche. It is the latter, the psyche, the psychological structure unique to each person, which interests experimental psychologists.

These scientists build new theories based upon the data they receive from specific questions.

With enough information, psychologists can begin to explain and even predict human motivations and behavior, which deepens our understanding of humanity as a whole.

What Is Experimental Psychology?

Using the scientific method to collect data and to perform basic and applied research, experimental psychologists conduct a series of rigorous experiments.

The researchers ask a specific question, design an experiment to help answer that question, carry out the experiment on subjects, collect data, and draw conclusions from the acquired data.

Upon completion of their research, experimental psychologists publish their conclusions and submit them to the scientific community for peer review. Doing so gives other experimental psychologists the opportunity to help determine the results of the experiment and learn more about human behavior.

Sponsored Psychology Degree

Depending on the specific interests of the individual experimental psychologist, the investigations can encompass a wide range of topics.

Some experimental psychologists, for instance, may assess why their subjects engage in unhealthy behaviors such as smoking, drinking, overeating, or indulging in toxic relationships.

Others seek to understand the correlation between thought and behavior, while others study the source of habits, beliefs, passions, and more.

By learning more about human behavior, researchers can impart knowledge that can help both clinical psychologists and medical practitioners formulate the best mental health recommendations for patients.

What Does an Experimental Psychologist Do?

The vast majority of experimental psychologists design and conduct experiments with the intent of increasing the current body of knowledge related to the human brain and psyche.

Some, however, perform psychological experiments on animals.

In both cases, the ultimate objective is to understand some aspect of cognition, memory, learning, emotion, attention, sensation, or another facet of mental function.

The mind is a complex entity, which means that experimental psychologists must use a comprehensive method of approaches and tools to learn its inner workings. At a fundamental level, though, all experiments share certain premises upon which the scientists base their data.

First, psychologists must conduct experiments on a large enough sample size to enable them to be able to draw meaningful conclusions. Secondly, they try to ensure random sampling among the group of test subjects to produce results that are applicable to the general population.

However, some procedures intentionally allow the subjects to self-select, such as those performed at colleges that request student participation in studies.

At the conclusion of their investigation, experimental psychologists use a variety of methods to interpret the resulting data. Some adopt a numbers-based approach, while others closely examine the qualitative results.

The psychologists examine the relationship between the independent variable – what each person brings to the experiment itself – and the dependent variable, which changes a subject’s background, experiences, and character traits.

Some psychologists attempt to answer their hypotheses based upon a review of previously published studies, while others observe their subjects in their natural environments, even though the ability to observe without changing subjects is questioned by many experts in the field. While the job may require an array of different skills, most experimental psychologists have certain duties in common. On a daily basis, experimental psychologists typically perform the following activities:

  • Design and conduct scientific experiments
  • Collect and analyze information
  • Follow rigorous scientific procedures to ensure experimental data is not corrupted by bias
  • Look for patterns that will help illuminate an understanding of human behavior
  • Research the correlation between thoughts and behaviors
  • Solve problems and explore theoretical questions
  • Publish data and studies to share findings with others
  • Work with clients to further understand mental and emotional disorders
  • Identify common traits or trends applicable to the populace as a whole

With this considerable variety in responsibilities, an experimental psychologist can work in diverse environments, and their areas of specialization can vary widely.

Typical Work Environment & Areas of Specialization

Experimental psychologists are distinct from clinical psychologists in that their primary purpose is not to work with those who need psychological assistance, except when they are conducting research to help broaden their understanding of specific behavioral, emotional, social, or mental patterns and disorders.

However, the experimental psychologist still works in many of the same settings as clinical psychologists.

If their chosen population for study, for instance, includes those in mental health institutions, the experimental psychologist may work in these organizations alongside clinical psychologists.

You can also find them at clinics, in hospitals, and at other health institutions, such as nursing homes, assisted living centers, or public health centers. Additionally, those studying the correlation between pharmaceuticals and human behaviors may work in pharmacies or drug treatment centers.

Some experimental psychologists focus on specific cohorts, such as children, teens, young adults, or the elderly.

Others may focus on patterns that arise from specific relationships, such as the relationship between parents and children, between spouses, or between caregivers and the elderly.

Thus, you may find an experimental psychologist in a school, retirement facility, or another age-specific institution. Others frequent the workplace to learn more about how people function at work and react to different environments.

Experimental psychologists who are interested in the legal system or in criminal justice can find career opportunities at police departments, crime labs, or government institutions. These psychologists may work to identify patterns among criminals and draw conclusions that can help lead to their capture and arrest.

A number of experimental psychologists confine their pursuits to academia, where they teach on a part-time basis and carry out scientific research during the remainder of their time.

That experimental psychologists can find employment on college campuses means a variety of opportunities exist for those still training in the discipline, since some sort of apprenticeship or clinical training is usually required to embark on a psychology career.

Experimental Psychologist: Salary & Job Outlook

Experimental psychologists (categorized by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) as psychologists, all other) as earned an average salary of $98,230 as of May 2019.

Because experimental psychologists are largely focused on research, some of the top employers (and their average salaries) include the federal government ($94,670), colleges, universities, and professional schools ($85,000), and management, scientific, and technical consulting companies ($115,360).

Experimental Psychologist: Jobs & Job Description

On an everyday basis, most experimental psychologists allocate a large portion of their day to working with the subjects of their analysis, explaining the parameters of the study, carrying out experiments, and debriefing subjects afterward.

In addition to conducting the tests, experimental psychologists also have to design them, collect the materials, garner support from students or colleagues, analyze the results, and compose scholarly papers for publication in peer review journals. Many also spend time writing grants to secure funding for future experimentation. Note that those who make a valid argument for research in the interests of public safety or positive mental health outcomes are more ly to receive funding.

With such a diverse range of duties, experimental psychologists need a wide variety of skills, personality traits, and knowledge types, including:

  • Thorough grasp of the scientific process
  • Comprehension of psychological theories and practices
  • Excellent observational, problem-solving, and communication skills
  • Ability to perform complex analysis
  • Patience and compassion for subjects
  • Ability to generate funding and support
  • Excellent sense of ethics
  • Passion for exploring theoretical questions

Experimental Psychology Degrees & Education

To become an experimental psychologist, candidates typically need, at minimum, a master’s degree.

Those with a bachelor’s degree may assist other researchers in designing and carrying out studies, but they rarely have the opportunity to publish or to helm the experiments themselves.

Earning a master’s degree provides more ownership over the process, while a Ph.D. — doctor of philosophy, the highest degree currently awarded in the field — positions candidates to assume a leadership role.

Before enrolling in a master’s program, students, of course, must first earn a bachelor’s degree.

If the earned degree was not in psychology or a related field, additional requirements must be completed at a post-baccalaureate level before the student can apply to a master’s program. Typically, a master’s degree is required to apply to a Ph.D.

program, although in some cases, joint master’s/doctoral programs allow the student to merge the degrees in a seamless manner, so bachelor’s degree candidates can apply.

Experimental psychologists are usually required to undergo a one-year internship with a practicing experimental psychologist before beginning their career.

They may intern at the university where they currently study, or, if the candidate is earning a fellowship, upon graduation.

While receiving certifications in specialized fields — for instance, certain diseases or populations — can increase the lihood of career opportunities, certification usually isn’t required.

However, a license is always required to practice experimental psychology. To learn more about getting your license, contact your state’s psychology board, which will oversee your licensing exam. If you don’t know how to find the board, contact a university psychology program, who can direct you to the appropriate governing body.

Read more about an online psychology degree.


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