Professional fields for psychologists

Graduates of the Institute of Psychology were interviewed about their professions in the framework of a survey. About a quarter of them work in clinical psychology/psychotherapy, followed by occupational and organizational psychology as well as research and teaching (67 % in total). The remaining 23 % are distributed over other areas, e.g. counselling centres or market research.


Short occupational profiles

Clinical psychology/psychotherapy

Employment opportunities for psychologists are wide and varied in this area: They range from work in inpatient or outpatient psychotherapy units to therapy work in their own practice or a group practice to psychological care of patients in general hospitals.

Occupational and organizational psychology

Psychology is playing a growing role in the business sector and public administration: Psychology-based services are in demand in all areas where people are employees, clients or target groups, whether when engaging new staff, team motivation, mediation or crisis intervention.

Research and teaching

In this area, psychologists are either employed directly at a university or an affiliated institute. Their academic work generally includes empirical surveys, teaching duties, presentation of own research results at scientific conferences and the publication of corresponding papers in scientific journals. For longer term employment at universities and universities of applied sciences, an above-average doctorate is required. Appointment as professor is almost always conditional on a postdoctoral lecturer qualification (habilitation). For a professorship at a university of applied sciences, candidates require at least five years’ professional practice in addition to their doctorate.

Family, parent and couple counselling, and schools

There are over 2,000 counselling centres throughout Germany. The psychologists in these centres, generally clinical psychology specialists, are responsible for counselling for adolescents and (young) adults as well as families and couples and in life crisis-related or social conflict situations.

Psychology in retail and consumer behaviour research

This area centres on the customer with his/her habits and expectations and ways to influence him/her. This includes, for example, compiling image studies, measuring customer satisfaction or the development of customer loyalty schemes.

Occupational health and safety

In this field, psychologists contribute to making work safer, minimizing health risks and avoiding stress. The focus here rests less on technical aspects than on questions related to employees’ performance limits, resilience, qualifications and suitability.

Psychology in occupational science (ergonomics)

The aim of this discipline is to make people’s work more comfortable with the aid of scientific methods. It covers topics such as usability of computer applications or design of teleworking jobs.

Media psychology

Media psychology investigates how people connect with media. Topics encompass the development of media literacy amongst children and adolescents or the effects and importance of mass media on and for individuals.

Neuropsychology

The job of neuropsychologists is to treat people who have suffered brain damage. They work in a team with physicians and therapists in other specialist fields.

Crisis, disaster and trauma psychology

Emergency care psychologists look after people following a psychological emergency, such as extreme stress or a traumatic experience. These can be people who have been involved in an accident or helpers such as firefighters who have to cope with what they have witnessed or experienced.

Police psychology

The police deploys psychologists in police training, e.g. stress management, leadership training etc.

Legal psychology

Courts very often consult psychologists, for example in the assessment of witnesses’ credibility or for help in judging whether a defendant is guilty, and request reports from them, for example in custody disputes. A more detailed description of professional fields for psychologists can be found on the website of the German Psychological Society (DGPs).