Are Psychologists Happy in Their Jobs?

Psychologists are exposed to many stressors that could cause them to have a negative outlook on their careers. Dealing with long hours, extensive paperwork, and insurance companies can lead to burnout in the mental health field. Working with difficult clients and being privy to distressing information can also place psychologists at a high risk for work-related stress and job dissatisfaction. Although most of the existing research suggests that psychologists are relatively happy with their careers, Patricia A. Rupert, associate professor of psychology at Loyola University in Chicago, wanted to explore the nuances of job satisfaction among them.

Rupert assessed surveys from two groups of psychologists that were part of a larger survey. The first group of 129 psychologists reported high job satisfaction levels, while the second group, consisting of 102 psychologists, reported moderate satisfaction levels. Rupert’s goal was to analyze the factors that contributed to high satisfaction versus moderate satisfaction. She looked first at whether job satisfaction correlated with growth and income opportunities as well as working environments. Secondly, Rupert identified working hours, case load, therapeutic mode, administrative responsibilities, professional improvement strategies, and negative client interactions.

The review provided evidence that several variables contribute to career satisfaction for psychologists. Specifically, Rupert found that the majority of moderately satisfied psychologists had poor professional and personal life balances and felt little sense of control in their work environments. The most satisfied participants were those with a harmonious personal/professional structure and positive work experiences. In contrast to research that suggests high rates of burnout among mental health professionals as a result of the work stressors, this research demonstrates that there are multiple nuances that influence the overall job satisfaction of therapists and psychologists. “Our results provide encouraging evidence that, despite the many challenges providers face in this evolving health care environment, practicing psychologists, as a whole, remain very satisfied with their careers,” Rupert added.

Rupert, P. A., Miller, A. O., Hartman, E. R. T., Bryant, F. B. (2012). Predictors of career satisfaction among practicing psychologists. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1037/a0029420

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  • granger

    August 28th, 2012 at 11:30 AM

    I sure do hope that they are overall satisfied with their lives and careers!
    How on earth can we expect them when they may be unhappy in their own lives as well?
    Speaking from experience I would deem it very gard to help someone else with their own problems when I am facing similar issues in my own life. I don’t need the counseling of someone whose own personal life is falling apart. I have that part covered on my own.
    What I need is a professional who is confident in his or her ability to help me with my life crises that I may be encountering, who can offer me some peace and solace, as well as some real life solutions which can help me to improve my situation.
    And personally, I think that only someone who is content with their lives and their careers will be able to offer this to me.

  • steven

    March 9th, 2017 at 9:03 PM

    I just want to add I agree with you however, it is circumstantial. People that face issues in their lives are very capable of giving help, they know first hand what the problem is like (Psychologists are people, we ALL have problems, just not as severe as the patient). It depends if the psychologists is affected by their problem which they probably aren’t and are educated at performing their job.

  • ben

    August 28th, 2012 at 1:35 PM

    imagine having t listen to and work with so many problems that different people bring with must be overwhelming!I find myself struggling if someone goes on to tell me some of their problems,this kind of a profession would need someone with a lot of mental strength.and not just to hear people’s problems but to also work with them to fix those problems is a great task indeed!

  • TheresaT

    August 28th, 2012 at 3:30 PM

    I would have difficult time listening to people tell me over and over again their problems- I think that I would have to take a personal little time out every hour or so to remind myself how good my own life really was!

    I really think that most of them have to be pretty content with their professions otherwise they wouldn’t stay with the job, could they? This doesn’t seem like the kind of job you would hold onto just because it was a fairly easy gig. No, this is one that if you stay in it you really have to love what you do.

  • Ginger

    August 29th, 2012 at 3:06 PM

    Please say yes, please say yes, please tell me that as a whole they are just as happy as anyone else because this is what I have always wanted to go to school for and have actually started applying to schools for the spring semester but I don’t want to be miserable because of my job choice!

  • Douglas

    August 29th, 2012 at 5:52 PM

    As I see the results of this report, the ones that had moderate satisfaction did so because they could not really manage the profession-personal life balance well.That is not indicative of your profession but of you as an individual.

    So I think psychology is a fairly satisfying career and that should be good news to you,Ginger! All the best for your psychology in school!

  • t hawkins

    August 30th, 2012 at 1:00 AM

    how many of us are truly happy in our jobs?not many i would guess.but having a professional degree and a respectable job should be satisfying at least a little!there are many of us with no job now and things are not looking bright.job stress is not too big of a concern in these times of high unemployment if you ask me!

  • AnneRichard

    August 30th, 2012 at 4:27 AM

    Hi Ginger- I agree with Douglas! So much of what you get out of life is what you put into it.

    In this case, most of the time I have found that when people are content with their lives in general then they will be content in their careers too. Sometimes hardships arise, but that will happen even in the most perfect job setting because life is not necessarily perfect like we would hop. I think that if you are confident that this is the job path that you would like to take, then you should go all out. Best of luck to you as you continue your education and look to your bright professional future.

  • David Vexler

    September 10th, 2012 at 12:40 PM

    I think the majority of psychologists are happy in their work. Because to choose this career, I think this is a big step and they really know what they will be doing in the future. Some degrees in psychology is difficult to obtain and needs study much. This is a whole way …How they can not be happy if they coped with this way)) I wish to all be happy in their works.

  • Michael

    July 8th, 2015 at 4:59 PM

    I have been to three therapists and I dont know if they are happy or not. I have no way of knowing if this is all made up and they are just winging it until they figure it out or not. I have a feeling this is all bullshit. I wanted to become one but now it just seems like this is all made up. I don’t know what else to think. My therapist told me his wife is bipolar and she leaves him periodically. Another one I saw wasn’t married and is all about God. I just don’t know if this is real or not and it drives me crazy. It almost feels like the whole field is made up to get people that are week and need help to give you their money

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