Psychology as a Career
Dr. Iris Jackson, C. Psych.
Gilmour Psychological Services®
437 Gilmour St., Ottawa, ON, K2P 0R5
(613) 230-4709, ext. 24
There are many different types of psychologists.
For example, there are:
- Clinical Psychologists
- Educational Psychologists
- Industrial/Organizational Psychologists
- Forensic Psychologists
- Research Psychologists
- Academic Psychologists
They all have the following education and standards in common:
- An Honour B.A. in psychology…………4 years of university
- A Masters degree in psychology………2 years of university
- A Ph/D degree in a particular area of psychology..3 or more years of university
Total years of university: at least nine (9) years.
A Ph.D. is a scientific and scholarly degree, requiring original research written in a scholarly format.
A Ph.D. is the highest degree awarded by a university.
After the doctorate, the aspiring psychologist must complete a year’s postdoctoral work experience supervised by a senior psychologist. During that year, in addition to working in the field, the aspiring psychologist must write an exam on all areas of psychology (The Exam in the Professional Practice of Psychology, or E Triple P exam). He or she must also write a Jurisprudence Exam on the laws and ethics that govern the practice of psychology in Ontario. After successfully passing these written exams and toward the end of the supervised practice year, the candidate must sit for oral exams conducted by a panel of senior psychologists who are representatives of the regulatory body for psychology, The College of Psychologists of Ontario.
The process of becoming a psychologist is designed to ensure that psychologists have a good range of information, knowledge, skills and ethical awareness. It is a way of ensuring accountability so that the public can be protected from unscrupulous practitioners who might take advantage of them. Only professionals registered with the College of Psychologists are entitled to call themselves “psychologists” or use the terms, “psychological”, “psychology” or any derivative such as “psych.” People who do not have the credentials and are not registered with the College of Psychologists, and who use these terms, are breaking the law and are subject to fines and even jail time.
It is also true that only five health care providers are entitled by law to call themselves “Doctor” when offering health care services to the public. These are: Psychologists, Physicians, Dentists, Optometrists and Chiropractors.
Since 1993, people who have Masters degrees in psychology can be registered with the College of Psychologists as Psychological Associates, provided that their Bachelorate degrees and their Masters degrees are in psychology and they have had five (5) years of supervision by a psychologist or psychological associate. Masters level psychological providers must write the same exams listed above and sit for oral exams. They are not entitled to call themselves “Doctor”.
Psychologists’ fees are not covered by OHIP, but the fees are reimbursed, at least in part, by extended health care plans that most people have through their work. Psychologists who work in hospitals or school boards are on salary, paid for by the provincial government. However, in Ontario, many hospitals have cut back their psychological services. Also, In Ottawa, access to hospital-based psychologists is not automatic, but is at the discretion of the physician handling the case. That is not true in other parts of Ontario, where, in some hospitals, patients can request to see a psychologist directly.
Psychologists in private practice are paid directly by the client on a fee-for-service basis. The client is then reimbursed by his or her insurance company, or uses the receipt as a tax deduction. Thus, psychologists in private practice run their business more like a dentist than a physician. In private practice, psychologists’ incomes are comparable to other professions requiring similar lengths of time acquiring their education. For example, the average psychologist earns a similar amount of money to a lawyer. Most psychologists in private practice earn a lot more than family physicians or community-based psychiatrists do. This is due, in part, because OHIP fees, which pay physicians, have not kept up with the times, while private practice psychologists have been free to raise their fees appropriately over the years without government interference. However, salaried psychologists earn slightly less that salaried physicians in hospitals.
For further information, especially about clinical psychology, please use the links to Canadian Psychological Association, the College of Psychologists of Ontario, and the America Psychological Association, which can further expand your knowledge of this fascinating field.