Cognitive psychologists study the internal psychological processes that influence human behavior. This includes understanding how people form, store and use memories, how people perceive information in the world around them, how information is processed, and how language develops.
If these things sound interesting, then you may be interested in a career in the field of cognitive psychology. In order to better understand what professionals working in this field do, let us first learn more about cognitive psychology itself.
Cognitive psychology is concerned with how people obtain, process, and store information. The main interest areas of cognitive psychology include language, attention, memory, decision-making and problem solving.
Cognitive psychology has many practical applications. For example, cognitive principles are often used to create educational materials and software designs.
Cognitive psychologists work in many fields. Many cognitive psychologists conduct applied research or basic research on the human thought process. Cognitive psychologists often work in colleges and universities, government agencies, companies, and private consulting.
Common professional titles include university lecturers, human factors consultants, industrial organization managers, and usability experts.
Cognitive Psychology Work
Some cognitive psychologists may work in the clinical field, while others choose to work in other environments, such as education, business, government, and research. Some career opportunities that cognitive psychologists may pursue include:
Some cognitive psychologists may work in healthcare and mental health treatment settings. Cognitive psychologists may work in hospitals and mental health clinics to help people with cognitive problems.
They may treat the following people:
- Have memory loss, dementia, or Alzheimer’s disease
- Have experienced traumatic brain injury
- Suffer from conditions that may benefit from cognitive therapy
- Have sensory or perception problems
- Have language or speech impairment
Cognitive psychologists also work in research environments to learn more about mental processes. Many people engaged in research also teach in a university environment. They conduct research and publish research to promote our collective understanding of different disciplines in the field of cognitive psychology.
Other cognitive psychologists are employed by private companies to conduct research, develop products, and formulate marketing strategies. Some psychologists may be employed directly by the company, while other psychologists may be employed on the basis of consultation.
Cognitive psychologists’ salaries and salaries vary by degree, position, and experience. According to data from the US Department of Labor, the average salary of psychologists in industrial organizations in 2015 was US$97,260, and the median annual salary of psychologists was generally US$79,010.
Most cognitive psychologists are employed by colleges and universities for teaching and research work. In the 2015 salary survey of the American Psychological Association (APA), the median salary of university faculty and staff was $62,000.
The needs for cognitive psychologists also vary. There has also been significant growth in other fields such as human-computer interaction, software development, and organizational psychology.
According to data from the US Department of Labor, the employment of organizational psychologists is expected to increase by 13% between 2018 and 2028.
Although graduates with a bachelor’s degree can get some entry-level opportunities, most occupations in cognitive psychology require a master’s degree or doctorate. People who work in the applied field can usually find a job with a master’s degree. These application areas include human factors and industrial organization psychology, which are expected to be developed in the future.
Pros and cons
As with any career, you should carefully consider the many potential benefits and possible disadvantages before choosing a career in cognitive psychology. Spend some time researching your options before deciding whether it suits your personality, goals, and needs.
- Cognitive psychologists can help find solutions to real-world problems
- Obtaining self-employment opportunities through consulting work
- Diversified career paths (ie, private sector, consulting, government, education)
- Most teaching and research positions require a PhD in cognitive psychology
- Research can be tedious and can lead to burnout
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If you are interested in the field of cognitive psychology, it is a good idea to start planning your education and career plans as early as possible. Think about the type of work you want to do and where you want to work. There are big differences in the field of cognitive psychology, so you need to carefully adjust your educational path in order to achieve your career goals.