Careers in personality Psychology

February 3, 2021

Personality psychology is the study of how humans feel or think about their interactions with the world around them. The chart below compares different careers that involve personality psychology.

Personality Psychologist Mental Health Counselor Clinical Social Worker
Career Overview Personality psychologists study and treat personality issues in individuals and help organizations understand the human thought process. Mental health counselors diagnose and treat patients with personality and mental health issues. Clinical social workers help clients with personality and mental health disorders become active members of society.
Education Requirements Doctoral degree for clinical and counseling work as well as research positions Master's degree
Program Length 4 years of undergraduate education; about 2 additional years for a master's degree or 4-5 additional years for a doctoral degree 4 years of undergraduate education; 2 years of graduate school
Additional Training Internship during graduate school Supervised work or internship during graduate school
Certification and Licensing License required for clinical and counseling work; optional certifications available License required License required for clinical work; some states may offer exemptions if hired for government agencies
Experience Requirement Internship or residency and 1-2 years of post-graduate experience; continuing education required 2, 000-4, 000 hours of supervised work during graduate and post-graduate school; continuing education required Two years or 3, 000 hours of graduate or post-graduate supervised experience for clinical license; continuing education required
Job Outlook for 2012-2022 Fast as the average (11%) (for clinical and counseling psychologists)* Much faster than average (29%)* Faster than average (19%)*
Median Salary (2014) $68, 900 (for clinical and counseling psychologists)* $40, 850* $44, 200*

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Personality Psychologists

Many psychologists in the personality field work as researchers or as clinical and counseling psychologists. As a personality psychologist, you may strive to understand why people enjoy the company of certain people, why humans love or hate someone, what personalities men or women display, what makes people apathetic or willing to challenge themselves and what type of personality a business or person might want from another individual.

Your research can be applied to marketing strategies, environmental conservation programs, education curricula and more. You can also work in a clinical setting and help patients overcome personality disorders. Personality disorders can be genetically linked or the result of experience, such as abuse or family environment. Your work may involve listening to patients and designing treatment plans.


According to the BLS, clinical and counseling psychologists are required to hold a doctoral degree in psychology. Independent researchers need a doctorate as well, though some assistant research positions may accept a master's degree. Both master's and doctoral programs include research design courses. All states require clinical and counseling psychologists, as well as any independently practicing psychologists, to be licensed. You're eligible for licensure once you complete a doctoral program, an internship and 1-2 years of professional experience. You must also pass a licensing exam. Continuing education is typically required in order to maintain licensure.

  • A counseling services organization in Missouri sought a licensed psychologist to administer personality, intelligence and behavioral tests. Qualified candidates needed professional experience with both children and adults.
  • A Virginia state hospital needed a senior psychology associate with knowledge of personality theories, psychopathology and forensic evaluations for the hospital's psychiatric ward. The job involved evaluating and treating patients with severe mental disorders. The psychologist needed to hold a doctorate and be licensed for clinical work.
  • A Georgia veterans' facility needed a clinical psychologist to uncover the psychological conditions of veterans through personality assessments and intelligence evaluations. The psychologist would also plan treatment strategies and provide various types of therapy, including behavior modification, supportive therapy and family therapy, in both group and individual settings. At least three years of experience as a licensed psychologist was required.

Standing Out

If you're working in a clinical or counseling setting, certification through the American Board of Professional Psychology (ABPP) may help you stand out from the competition. These credentials are optional, but they can highlight your professional experience and assure employers and clients of your expertise. Although the ABPP does not offer a personality psychology certification, you can earn certification in general clinical psychology or in counseling psychology. Completion of a doctoral program, an internship and postdoctoral professional experience is required in order to qualify for certification exams.

Mental Health Counselors

Mental health counselors help clients with mental problems, including low self-esteem or depression. As a mental health counselor, you listen to patients and consider treatments, like cognitive or goals-based therapy. Mental health counselors work in a number of settings, including mental health practices, medical centers and private offices. You'll typically work full-time, and you may need to work irregular hours to accommodate clients' needs.

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Your personality and your brain | Scott Schwefel
Your personality and your brain | Scott Schwefel ...
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