Health Psychologist Career Guide: Jobs & How to Become One

Health Psychologist


Health psychologists have an important role to play in promoting health and preventing illness. They are experts in the science of behavior and its influence on health, working in integrated healthcare settings to guide people toward healthier life choices. Health psychologists also conduct research to better understand how to help people manage illnesses and improve community health.

According to Jason Purnell, a leading health psychologist, prevention is key in addressing health issues in the community. By working with other healthcare professionals, health psychologists can help individuals and communities achieve optimal health outcomes.

Wellbeing psychologists use a variety of techniques to promote healthy behaviors. They may work with individuals or groups to develop personalized plans for improving their physical activity levels, nutrition habits, or stress management skills. They may also provide counseling or therapy services to help people cope with chronic illnesses or other health challenges.

What is Health Psychologist?

The Role of Health Psychologists in Promoting Good Health

Wellbeing psychologists are professionals who specialize in the study of how psychological science can be applied to promote and maintain good health, prevent illness, and treat physical and mental health problems. They work with individuals, groups, and communities to address the complex interplay between psychological, social, and environmental factors that influence health and well-being.

Clinical Health Psychologists: Working with Patients with Chronic Medical Conditions

Clinical health psychologists are trained to work with patients who have chronic medical conditions such as diabetes or cancer. They help these patients manage their symptoms and improve their quality of life. Clinical health psychologists use a variety of techniques such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) to help patients cope with their illness. CBT is a form of psychotherapy that focuses on changing negative thoughts and behaviors into positive ones. It has been shown to be effective in treating depression, anxiety, and other mental health conditions.

Public Health Settings: Developing Programs for Healthy Behaviors

Wellbeing psychologists also work in public health settings where they develop and implement programs to promote healthy behaviors and prevent disease in communities. These programs may include smoking cessation programs, weight loss programs, or stress management programs. Wellbeing psychologists collaborate with medical doctors and other healthcare professionals to provide integrated care that addresses both physical and mental health needs.

The Importance of Addressing Psychological Factors for Physical Health

Research has shown that psychological factors play an important role in physical health outcomes. For example, stress has been linked to increased risk for heart disease, stroke, and other chronic illnesses. Depression has also been linked to poor physical health outcomes such as decreased immune function.

In addition to addressing psychological factors for physical health outcomes, it is important for healthcare providers to address the social determinants of health such as access to healthcare services, education level, income level, housing stability etc., which can impact an individual’s overall wellbeing.

Health Psychology Salaries: Average Salary of a Health Psychologist

Average Salary of a Wellbeing psychologists

Salary is an important factor to consider when choosing a career path. It is no different for health psychologists, who are professionals that specialize in the intersection between psychology and healthcare. In this section, we will discuss the average salary of a Wellbeing psychologists, factors that affect their earnings, and job outlook.

Average Salary of a Health Psychologist

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average salary of a Wellbeing psychologists is around $78,200 per year. This figure can vary depending on several factors such as education level, years of experience, location, and industry. The top 10% of health psychologists earn more than $129,000 annually while the bottom 10% earn less than $43,500.

Factors Affecting Earnings

Education Level: Education plays a crucial role in determining how much a health psychologist earns. Those with higher levels of education tend to earn more than those with lower levels. For instance, individuals with doctoral degrees tend to earn more than those with master’s or bachelor’s degrees.

Years of Experience: Like most professions, experience matters in determining how much one earns as a health psychologist. Those who have been working in the field for several years tend to earn more than entry-level professionals.

Location: The location where one works can also influence their earnings as a health psychologist. Professionals working in metropolitan areas tend to earn more compared to those working in rural areas due to differences in cost-of-living expenses.

Industry: Health psychologists work in various industries such as research institutions, hospitals/clinics, government agencies and private practices. Those who work in research institutions and academia tend to have higher salaries compared to those working in clinical settings.

Job Outlook

The employment of health psychologists is projected to grow by 14 percent from 2018-2028 according to BLS data. This growth rate is faster than the average for all occupations. The demand for health psychologists is expected to increase as healthcare providers continue to recognize the importance of mental health in overall patient care.

Training and Educational Requirements for Health Psychologists

Completing a doctoral degree in professional psychology with a focus on health psychology is the first step to becoming a licensed health psychologist. The training and education requirements for health psychologists are rigorous, but they prepare practitioners to work with individuals, families, and communities to promote health and well-being through evidence-based interventions.

Doctoral Degree in Professional Psychology

To become a health psychologist, practitioners must complete a doctoral degree in professional psychology. This degree program typically takes 4-6 years to complete and includes coursework in areas such as biopsychology, psychopharmacology, and behavioral medicine. Students pursuing a degree in health psychology may also study research methods, statistics, and ethics in psychology.

During their doctoral program, students will complete supervised clinical experiences that provide them with hands-on training working with patients. These experiences may include practicum placements at hospitals or clinics where students can work alongside licensed psychologists.

Licensing Requirements

In addition to completing a PhD or PsyD program, aspiring health psychologists must meet licensing requirements in their state of practice. Licensing requirements vary by state but generally require candidates to pass an examination demonstrating their knowledge of psychology principles and ethics.

Once licensed, health psychologists can work independently or as part of interdisciplinary healthcare teams. They may work in hospitals or clinics providing direct patient care or conduct research aimed at improving our understanding of the psychological factors that contribute to physical illness.

Continuing Education

Health psychologists are required to participate in continuing education programs throughout their careers to maintain their licenses. Continuing education programs help ensure that practitioners stay up-to-date on the latest research findings and treatment approaches.

Continuing education can take many forms including attending conferences or workshops focused on specific topics related to health psychology. Practitioners may also participate in online courses or webinars designed specifically for continuing education purposes.

Licensure and Earnings: Should You See a Health Psychologist?

Licensure Requirements for Health Psychologists

Health psychologists are professionals who specialize in the psychological aspects of health and illness. They work with patients to help them cope with chronic illnesses, manage pain, and deal with mental health disorders. However, before you see a health psychologist, it’s important to understand the licensure requirements in your state.

To practice as a health psychologist, you must be licensed by your state’s licensing board. Licensure requirements vary by state but generally involve completing a doctoral degree in psychology from an accredited university or college. In addition to education, you must also complete supervised clinical experience and pass an examination.

The path to becoming a licensed health psychologist is long and requires significant investment of time and money. However, it ensures that only qualified professionals provide medical care to patients.

Earnings for Health Psychologists

If you’re considering a career as a health psychologist, it’s important to consider earnings potential. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual wage for psychologists was $80,370 as of May 2020.

However, earnings can vary depending on several factors such as location, experience level, and industry. For example, those who work in private practices tend to earn more than those who work in hospitals or other healthcare facilities.

Job Prospects for Health Psychologists

Job prospects for health psychologists are expected to grow by 3% from 2019 to 2029 according to BLS data. This growth rate is about as fast as the average for all occupations.

As healthcare continues to evolve and become more focused on preventative care and holistic approaches, demand for health psychologists is likely to increase. There may be opportunities for those interested in research or academia.

Should You See a Health Psychologist?

If you’re dealing with chronic illness or pain management issues or struggling with mental health disorders, a health psychologist may be able to help. They can provide medical care and support that complements traditional medical treatment.

However, it’s important to ensure that the health psychologist you see is licensed and qualified. This ensures that you receive quality care from a professional who has met rigorous education and training requirements.

Experience Policymaking from the Inside: APA Public Policy Fellowship Program

APA Public Policy Fellowship Program: A Unique Opportunity for Health Psychologists

Gain firsthand experience in policymaking through the APA Public Policy Fellowship Program. This program offers a unique opportunity for health psychologists to work on policy development and implementation in various government agencies and programs. As a fellow, you will have the chance to work on diverse policy issues, including mental health in the correctional system and healthcare access in rural areas like Kentucky State.

Deborah Tate, a health psychologist, used her fellowship to work on policy related to obesity prevention and treatment. Her experience shows how this program can help fellows gain valuable skills that they can use throughout their careers. The program also provides training in advocacy and communication skills to help fellows effectively engage with policymakers.

Training Opportunities

The APA Public Policy Fellowship Program provides training opportunities that are essential for health psychologists who want to pursue a career in policymaking. Fellows receive hands-on experience working with policymakers and other stakeholders. They also participate in seminars, workshops, and other training sessions designed to enhance their knowledge of public policy.

Fellows learn how to analyze policies, develop strategies for advocacy, communicate effectively with policymakers and stakeholders, and build coalitions around specific issues. These skills are crucial for anyone who wants to make an impact on public policy at any level of government.

Recognition by American Board of Professional Psychology

The American Board of Professional Psychology recognizes the fellowship program as a valuable experience towards board certification in the field of health psychology. This recognition is important because it demonstrates that the program meets high standards for professional development.

Board certification is essential for health psychologists who want to demonstrate their expertise and commitment to their profession. It is also an important credential when seeking employment or consulting opportunities.

Past fellows have worked on diverse policy issues during their time in the APA Public Policy Fellowship Program. For example:

  • One fellow worked with the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) on developing policies related to mental health in the correctional system. This work helped to improve the quality of care for inmates with mental health conditions.
  • Another fellow worked with the Kentucky State government on developing policies related to healthcare access in rural areas. This work helped to increase access to healthcare services for people living in remote and underserved areas.

These case studies demonstrate how the fellowship program can help fellows make a real difference in public policy. By working on specific issues, fellows can gain valuable experience and skills that they can use throughout their careers. Find more information about medical negligence compensation examples.

Key Takeaways on Health Psychologist

Role of Health Psychologists in Improving Health Outcomes

Health psychologists play a significant role in improving health outcomes by considering psychological factors that affect physical health. Research findings suggest that these professionals can help patients adopt healthy behaviors, such as increasing physical activity and addressing social factors that impact their health.

One of the key takeaways from the work of health psychologists is the importance of addressing both individual and systemic factors to promote overall health and well-being. In the work setting, health psychologists like Tate and McKune emphasize this point, highlighting how important it is to consider all aspects of a patient’s life when developing treatment plans.

For example, if a patient is struggling with obesity, simply telling them to exercise more may not be enough. Instead, a health psychologist would work with the patient to identify any underlying psychological or social factors that may be contributing to their weight gain. This could include things like stress eating or a lack of access to healthy food options. By addressing these underlying issues, a health psychologist can help patients make lasting changes that improve their overall health outcomes.

Improving Healthcare Systems through Psychological Care

In addition to working directly with patients, health psychologists can also improve healthcare systems by identifying ways to better integrate psychological care into medical settings. This is particularly important for young adults and women of color who may face unique challenges when it comes to accessing healthcare services.

Research has shown that young adults are less likely than other age groups to seek out medical care when they need it. This could be due in part to financial barriers or concerns about confidentiality. By integrating psychological care into medical settings, healthcare providers can create more welcoming environments for young adults and encourage them to seek out the care they need.

Similarly, women of color often face systemic barriers health psychologists can help improve health outcomes for women of color.


What is Health Psychology?

Health Psychology is a specialized field that focuses on the intersection of psychological and physical health. It involves the study of how psychological factors influence health, illness, and healthcare.

What do Health Psychologists do?

Health Psychologists work in various settings, including hospitals, clinics, research institutions, and private practices. They help individuals manage chronic illnesses, cope with stress and anxiety, change unhealthy behaviors, and promote healthy lifestyle habits.

What education and training do Health Psychologists need?

To become a Health Psychologist, one typically needs a doctoral degree in Psychology, with a specialization in Health Psychology. This involves completing coursework and research in health psychology, as well as supervised clinical experience.

What skills are important for Health Psychologists?

Health Psychologists need strong communication skills to work with patients, healthcare providers, and other professionals. They should also have strong analytical skills, research skills, and an understanding of biological, psychological, and social factors that influence health.

Final Thoughts on Health Psychologists

As we have seen, health psychology is a fascinating field that has the potential to make a significant impact on people’s lives. Whether you are interested in pursuing a career as a health psychologist or simply want to learn more about this exciting area of study, there are many issues worth considering.

One of the most important things to keep in mind is that health psychologists work with people who are dealing with a wide range of physical and mental health issues. This means that they must be skilled at developing effective treatment plans that address both the psychological and medical aspects of their patients’ conditions.

Another key consideration is the level of education and training required to become a licensed health psychologist. While it can take several years to complete all the necessary coursework and clinical experience, those who are passionate about helping others often find it to be an incredibly rewarding career path.

Of course, one cannot overlook the financial aspect when choosing any career path. The average salary for a health psychologist varies depending on factors such as location, employer, and level of experience. However, it is generally considered to be a well-paying profession with ample opportunities for growth and advancement.

Finally, for those interested in making an impact beyond individual patient care, there are also opportunities available in policymaking through programs such as the APA Public Policy Fellowship Program.


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