Psychologists assess, diagnose and treat psychological, emotional and behavioural disorders. They also research and apply theories relating to behaviour and mental processes.

Also Known As:Facilitator, Industrial Psychologist, Organizational Psychologist, Rehabilitation Services Practitioner, Research Psychologist, Research Scientist, Social Scientist, Therapist
NOC Number(s):4151
Minimum Education:6 years post-secondary education/training
Employment Outlook:Job openings: turnover plus new jobs due to above average growth in occupation in Alberta 2013-2017
Interests:S I M

Duties | Working Conditions | Personal Characteristics | Education | Related Legislation | Employment | Salary | Other Information | Related Occupations | Related School Subjects | Related Field of Study


Psychologists are concerned with the study and management of human behaviour. Since the field is so broad, they usually specialize in a particular area.

Clinical psychologists diagnose and treat emotional or adjustment problems in children, adults, families or groups. They assess and treat the psychological factors associated with physical health problems. They may use a variety of assessment methods to assess problems and to design, implement and evaluate treatment programs. Clinical psychologists may specialize further in:

  • adult or child clinical psychology
  • health psychology
  • forensic psychology
  • clinical neuropsychology.

Clinical psychologists spend much of their time in direct contact with clients and usually are employed in hospitals, clinics, mental health facilities, prisons or private practice.

Counselling psychologists provide individual, group or family counselling services, and spend the majority of their time in direct contact with clients. They may use a variety of assessment methods to provide consulting services to schools, social service agencies and businesses. Counselling psychologists may be employed in clinics, community agencies, schools or rehabilitation centres or in private practice.

School psychologists assess and treat children who have educational, vocational and emotional problems, or provide consulting services for schools on issues related to classroom management. School psychologists may be employed by school authorities or work in private practice.

Industrial or organizational psychologists develop solutions for problems in business and industry. For example, they may work in areas such as:

  • personnel selection and placement
  • training and development
  • organizational development and change
  • performance measurement and evaluation
  • quality of work life
  • consumer psychology
  • human factors psychology.

Although some large corporations employ industrial or organizational psychologists, most work as consultants.

Research or experimental psychologists conduct research in specific areas such as human development, psychopathology, social psychology, neuroscience, perception, motivation, emotion, learning, language or personality. Their research may involve observing and interviewing people to gain insight into behaviour, or working in laboratory settings where they focus on the relationships among factors and on human or animal behaviour. Research psychologists usually are employed by colleges and universities, government departments or private research agencies.

Working Conditions

Research psychologists spend most of their time in offices and research laboratories. Other types of psychologists may work in a variety of settings. Some routinely travel to several locations (for example, school to school).

Psychologists' hours of work vary depending on their circumstances and the needs of their customers. They may work regular office hours or do some evening and weekend work as well.

Personal Characteristics

Psychologists who work directly with people need the following characteristics:

  • a genuine interest in helping others
  • emotional maturity and stability
  • excellent communication skills
  • a willingness to keep learning new approaches
  • flexibility.

They should enjoy helping people, synthesizing information and developing innovative solutions to problems, and taking a methodical approach to reviewing literature and administering psychological tests.

Educational Requirements

In Alberta, the minimum education requirement for psychologists is a master's degree with the coursework required to become a Registered Psychologist. For example, it may be a Master of Arts (MA), Master of Counselling (MC), Master of Science (M.Sc.) or Master of Education (M.Ed.) degree as long as students take the courses required for registration. In most Canadian provinces and American states, the minimum requirement for registration is a doctoral degree (PhD, PsyD or EdD) in a relevant aspect of psychology. Most clinical psychologists have a doctoral degree in clinical psychology; those who work in specialized settings such as clinical neuropsychology may have further training.

In Alberta, the following institutions offer master's or doctoral degree programs in psychology:

  • Athabasca University offers a MC degree program with a specialization in counselling psychology.
  • City University, based in Seattle, Washington, offers a MA degree with a specialization in counselling psychology in Calgary and Edmonton.
  • Loma Linda University, based in California, offers a M.Sc. degree program in Marital and Family Therapy in Lacombe, Alberta.
  • The University of Alberta in Edmonton offers MA, M.Sc. and PhD degree programs in psychology, and M.Ed., Ed.D and PhD degree programs in educational psychology. 
  • The University of Calgary offers M.Sc. and PhD degree programs in clinical psychology and psychology, an MC, MSc. and PhD degree programs in counselling psychology, and M.Ed., M.Sc. and PhD degree programs in educational psychology.
  • The University of Lethbridge offers MA and M.Sc. degree programs in psychology, MC degree program in counselling psychology and a PhD program in Behaviour and Evolution.

The entrance requirement for a master's degree program in psychology usually is an acceptable average in a four year bachelor's degree program with a specialization in psychology (honours program preferred). In Alberta, the following institutions offer four year bachelor's degree programs with a major in psychology or educational psychology:

Entrance requirements for these programs vary but, in general, include a high school diploma with a competitive average in English Language Arts 30-1 and four other approved Grade 12 subjects (for example, Social Studies 30, Pure Math 30, Biology 30, Chemistry 30, a 30 level language other than English). Admission to Athabasca University is open to residents of Canada who are at least 16 years of age.

Post-secondary institutions throughout the province offer university transfer programs that allow students to apply up to two years of their college course work toward university Bachelor's degree programs. It is the student's responsibility to ensure that the courses they choose to take will be accepted for credit at the institution to which they wish to transfer.

For current information about programs, admission requirements and mature student admission policies, please check post-secondary calendars or websites.

Section revised August 2012

Related Legislation

Under Alberta's Health Professions Act and Psychologists Profession Regulation, registration with the College of Alberta Psychologists (CAP) is mandatory if you meet identified competency requirements and provide professional services directly to the public, teach the practice of the profession to members or students of the profession, or supervise registered members who provide services to the public. Registered members, who are authorized by the College, provide restricted activities specified in the Regulation. Only registered members may call themselves psychologists.

To find more information on the certification process see Psychologist Registration Process on the website.

Section revised June 2013

Employment and Advancement

Psychologists work in:

  • mental health clinics
  • correctional facilities
  • hospitals
  • private practices
  • rehabilitation centres
  • schools
  • business and industrial settings
  • post-secondary institutions.

Increasingly, psychologists are employed in program development and evaluation, community consultation and the administration of social services and mental health services provided by government and community agencies.

With experience or additional education, psychologists may move into administrative positions or teach psychology in post-secondary institutions.

In Alberta, 92 per cent of people employed as psychologists work in the following industries:

The employment outlook in this occupation will be influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • trends and events affecting overall employment (especially in the industries listed above)
  • location in Alberta
  • employment turnover (work opportunities generated by people leaving existing positions)
  • occupational growth (work opportunities resulting from the creation of new positions that never existed before)
  • size of the occupation.

Over 1,500 Albertans are employed in the Psychologists occupational group which is expected to have an annual above average growth of 3.8 per cent from 2013 to 2017 in Alberta. It is forecasted that about 57 new positions will be created each year in addition to job openings created by employment turnover.

Employment turnover is expected to increase as members of the baby boom generation retire over the next few years.

Section revised November 2013


According to the 2011 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey, Albertans in the Psychologists occupational group earned on average from $36.63 to $52.46 an hour. The mean wage for this group was $47.13 an hour.

For more detailed information, see WAGEinfo.

Section revised February 2012

Other Sources of Information

Post-secondary institution calendars and websites (see Educational Requirements above)

EDinfo website:

Canadian Psychological Association website:

College of Alberta Psychologists website:

Psychologists' Association of Alberta website:

Related Occupational Profiles
Addictions Counsellor
Career Development Professional
Child and Youth Care Worker
Creative Arts Therapists
Marriage and Family Counsellor
Mental Health Worker
Social Worker
Special Needs Teacher

Related High School Subjects
English Language Arts; Health, Recreation and Human Services (Human and Social Services); Mathematics; Science (Biology; and Chemistry); and Social Studies

Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
Education and Library Studies; Sciences; Social Sciences, Law and Religious Studies; and Social, Community and Protective Services

Produced October 2010
Top of Profile

For more information on career planning, occupations and educational programs, visit the Alberta Learning Information Service (ALIS) website at, call the Alberta Career Information Hotline toll-free at 1-800-661-3753 or 780-422-4266 in Edmonton or visit an Alberta Works Centre near you.

The information contained in this profile was current as of the dates shown. Salaries, employment outlook and educational programs may change. Please check the information before making any career decisions.

Government of Alberta, Human Services