The study of health psychology entails exploration of the underlying biological impulses and sociological conditions that drive human behavior. Health psychology researchers and practitioners must be adept at critical thinking, as well as various interpersonal and methodological skills. Professionals in this field often work in mental health or other medical environments where they treat individuals who have experienced trauma or suffer from chronic mental illnesses.
A health psychology certificate is an appropriate route for students who have graduated from master's programs in counseling or psychology. Health psychology programs prepare students for developing prevention program development, in addition to supporting families and individuals with general mental health issues.
Students who have earned a master’s degree in health psychology or closely related degree, frequently pursue the certificate as a means to enhance their knowledge and experience. Their drive to do so may stem from personal interest, a professional goal to better serve clients or to earn a higher salary.
In some instances, students seek the degree as a means to prepare themselves for entrance into a health psychology graduate program. Such individuals may use their progress in the certificate program to augment their study plan as they apply for the advanced degree.
Some grad students are interested in continuing their education with a doctorate in clinical psychology or health psychology, but want to test their desire before making a commitment. Doctoral studies are often funded by opportunities in research or assistant teaching. However, some students may realize that the extra time needed to obtain the degree is not necessary for their career goals.
Because the post-master’s certificate requires the completion of a master’s degree, an accomplishment that indicates a student has already met several admissions requirements, additional prerequisites are few.
- Master’s degree in clinical or counseling psychology from an accredited institution
- Strong GPA
- Faculty recommendation
At the post-master’s level, health psychology programs typically entail the completion of 12 credits, a combination of compulsory and elective courses. The certificate takes between six months and one year to complete, depending on the program and the individual. Core classes will cover various aspects of psychology, while elective opportunities include ‘Assessment and Treatment of Sleep Disturbance’, ‘Neuropsychological Assessment’, and ‘Foundations of Career Development and Counseling’. Many certificate programs culminate in the completion of an internship, while online programs may require a series of online workshops.
What's Next for Health Psychology Certificate Holders?
A student who earns a health psychology certificate online will typically encounter numerous career prospects, but many are contingent on specializations (if any) the student has achieved. Those who have taken courses in school counseling make great candidates for that profession. Graduates with a master’s in psychology, or counseling combined with a health psychology certificate, will find that the job market is growing in their favor.
According to the Bureau of Statistics (BLS), the employment outlook for mental health counselors and marriage and family therapists is reported as much faster than average for all occupations. In 2014, the median annual salary for counselors was $42,250. Psychologists, on the other hand, earned $70,700 per year; the number of jobs in this sector is growing faster than average as well.
Health psychology certificate holders may opt to continue onto doctorate level education in order to pursue careers in clinical psychology, child psychology, or health psychology. Doctoral graduates in these fields may work toward careers in higher education — as professors, adjunct faculty members, or researchers. Many, however, seek the doctorate in order to serve clients in clinical settings. Some graduates will later find it useful to earn additional certificates as a means to gain further expertise in their particular subject.