Research Psychologist Job Description: Salary, Duties, & More (2023)

Table Of Contents

  • Research Psychologist Job Duties
  • Research Psychologist Job Requirements
  • Research Psychologist Skills
  • Research Psychologist Work Environment
  • Research Psychologist Trends
  • How to Become a Research Psychologist
  • Advancement Prospects
  • Job Description Example

A research psychologist is a scientist who studies the human mind and behavior. They use a variety of methods to investigate topics like memory, intelligence, personality, emotions, etc.

Research psychologists often work in academia or for government agencies. Their job is to conduct research on these topics and publish their findings so that other scientists can build upon them.

Research Psychologist Job Duties

Research psychologists have a wide range of responsibilities, which can include:

  • Interviewing clients or patients to learn about their experiences with a particular illness or disorder
  • Conducting research on topics such as stress, drug abuse, or social behavior
  • Analyzing data and publishing findings in professional journals
  • Providing counseling services to individuals or groups on topics such as stress management or relationship building skills
  • Developing treatment plans based on research findings
  • Interpreting data collected by other researchers and providing feedback on the research methodology used in the study
  • Participating in clinical trials of new medications or treatments to determine their effectiveness
  • Conducting psychological assessments of individuals to determine eligibility for social services or other programs
  • Conducting research on topics such as stress, drug abuse, or social behavior

Research Psychologist Salary & Outlook

The salary of a psychologist can vary depending on their level of education, years of experience, and the type of work they do. Psychologists who work in private practice typically earn more than those who work for an organization or government agency.

  • Median Annual Salary: $105,000 ($50.48/hour)
  • Top 10% Annual Salary: $142,000 ($68.27/hour)

The employment of research psychologists is expected to grow slower than average over the next decade.

Research psychologists will be needed to conduct basic research in a variety of fields, such as neuroscience and social psychology. However, some research psychologist jobs may be lost to automation, because some psychological research can be done more quickly and cheaply with computer programs.

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Research Psychologist Job Requirements

A research psychologist typically needs to have the following qualifications:

Education: Research psychologists need a doctoral degree to work in this field. They typically earn a Ph.D. in psychology, although some earn a Psy.D. in clinical psychology.

Psychology students take courses in research methods, statistics, experimental design, research ethics and research design. They also complete a supervised internship in a research setting.

Training & Experience: Research psychologists receive most of their training through their education. They may also receive on-the-job training in their roles as research assistants or interns. During these periods, they learn how to complete research tasks and report their findings. They also learn how to use the computer programs and software necessary for research.

Certifications & Licenses: Research psychologists need to earn a license to practice. Each state has its own process for becoming licensed, though they typically require a doctorate degree, a certain number of hours of clinical experience and passing the Psych licensure exam.

Many research psychologists also earn a board certification in clinical psychology.

Research Psychologist Skills

Research psychologists need the following skills in order to be successful:

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Research design: Research design refers to the process by which a research psychologist creates a study. They use their research design skills to create experiments that are ethical, accurate and effective. They use research design to create research proposals that are compelling to potential funders.

Data analysis: Data analysis is the ability to interpret research data and draw conclusions from it. This is an important skill for research psychologists because they use data to make decisions about research methods and the results of experiments.

Ethics and confidentiality: As a research psychologist, you might work with confidential information about clients or patients. Therefore, it’s important to understand the ethical standards of your profession and how to maintain confidentiality. You might also work with sensitive data, so it’s important to understand how to handle this information appropriately.

Communication: Communication is the act of conveying information through speech, writing or other methods. As a research psychologist, you might need to communicate with clients, colleagues and research subjects. You might also need to communicate complex ideas through writing or presentations.

Teamwork: Teamwork is a crucial skill for research psychologists, as they often work with other professionals to conduct research. For example, they may work with a research team to design an experiment, observe the experiment and analyze the results. This is also true for when they work with clients, as they may collaborate with other professionals to help clients overcome their challenges.

Research Psychologist Work Environment

Research psychologists typically work in university settings, government agencies, or private businesses. They usually work full time and may have to work evenings and weekends to complete their research. They may also travel to attend conferences or to conduct research in other locations. Research psychologists typically work in well-lit, comfortable offices or laboratories. They may sometimes work in less than ideal conditions, such as in dusty old warehouses or in cramped, noisy hospital rooms. Despite these less-than-ideal working conditions, research psychologists generally find their work to be interesting and challenging.

Research Psychologist Trends

Here are three trends influencing how research psychologists work. Research psychologists will need to stay up-to-date on these developments to keep their skills relevant and maintain a competitive advantage in the workplace.

The Need for More Diversity in the Field

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The field of research psychology is becoming increasingly diverse, as more and more people from different backgrounds are entering the profession. This is a trend that will continue to grow as research psychologists become more important in the business world.

As research psychologists become more diverse, they will be able to bring new perspectives to their work. This will allow them to better understand the needs of their clients and produce research that is more relevant to their needs.

More Use of Technology in Research

Research psychologists are beginning to use technology in their work more often. This is due to the increasing popularity of online surveys and other forms of data collection.

By using technology in their research, research psychologists can collect data faster and more efficiently. They can also reach a wider range of participants, which can help them to get a more accurate picture of what is happening in the world.

Greater Focus on Ethics

As research psychologists focus more on ethics, they will need to develop a deeper understanding of how to protect the rights of study participants.

This trend is being driven by a number of factors, including the increased public scrutiny of research studies and the growing demand for transparency from institutions and funders. In order to meet these demands, research psychologists will need to develop skills in ethical review, informed consent, and data security.

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How to Become a Research Psychologist

A career as a research psychologist can be both rewarding and challenging. It’s important to consider what you want out of your career before embarking on this path. Do you want to work in academia, government, or private industry? Do you want to focus on clinical or research work?

No matter which direction you choose, it’s important to have a strong foundation in the basics of psychology. This includes courses in research methods, statistics, and experimental design. You should also develop skills in critical thinking, problem solving, and communication.

Advancement Prospects

Psychologists with a Ph.D. or Psy.D. can advance to top positions in their field. Some become independent consultants. Others work in private practice. Many teach at colleges and universities, conduct research, or serve as clinical psychologists in hospitals or other settings. Some psychologists work in industrial and organizational settings, where they help businesses select and train employees or design work-related programs.

Psychologists with a master’s degree can advance to top positions in their field. Some become independent consultants. Others work in private practice. Many teach at colleges and universities, conduct research, or serve as clinical psychologists in hospitals or other settings. Some psychologists work in industrial and organizational settings, where they help businesses select and train employees or design work-related programs.

Research Psychologist Job Description Example

At [CompanyX], we’re constantly striving to improve the human experience by developing new products and services that make life easier, better, and more enjoyable. To do this, we rely on the expertise of our research psychologists to help us understand the complexities of human behavior. We’re looking for a research psychologist with experience conducting experiments, analyzing data, and writing reports. The ideal candidate will have a strong understanding of human cognition, motivation, and emotion, and be able to apply this knowledge to real-world problems. He or she will be responsible for designing and conducting research studies, analyzing data, and writing reports that will be used to inform product development.

Duties & Responsibilities

  • Develop and conduct research studies in order to test hypotheses and expand on current knowledge of human behavior
  • Design research proposals and experiments, analyze data, and write reports detailing findings
  • Publish papers in academic journals and present at conferences
  • Teach undergraduate and graduate students
  • Serve on departmental committees
  • Advise doctoral students
  • Conduct clinical assessments and psychological testing
  • Provide therapy to individuals, couples, families, and groups
  • Consult with businesses, schools, and other organizations
  • Write grants to secure funding for research projects
  • Supervise research assistants and interns
  • Maintain professional licensure

Required Skills and Qualifications

  • Ph.D. in Psychology or related field
  • 5+ years experience conducting psychological research
  • Proven track record of publishing research in peer-reviewed journals
  • Strong understanding of research design, methodology, and statistical analysis
  • Ability to work independently and as part of a team
  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills

Preferred Skills and Qualifications

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  • Experience working with human subjects
  • Experience with grant writing and funding applications
  • Teaching experience at the college level
  • Proficiency in multiple languages


What are the duties of a research psychologist? ›

The duties of a research psychologist include coming up with hypotheses to test, developing research plans, creating experiments to test their ideas, analyzing the data derived from their experiments, and writing reports and papers explaining the results. They may travel to conferences to present findings.

What are 5 typical duties of a psychologist? ›

Psychologist Job Responsibilities:
  • Talks to individuals and fosters their positive mental health and personal growth.
  • Evaluates patients' needs and accommodates them accordingly.
  • Studies factors that affect human behavior.
  • Develops treatment plans.
  • Administers psychological tests and determines results.

What is a psychologist job description simple? ›

Psychologists seek to understand and explain thoughts, emotions, feelings, and behavior. They use techniques such as observation, assessment, and experimentation to develop theories about the beliefs and feelings that influence individuals.

What is the most common type of psychologist what are their responsibilities? ›

Clinical psychologist have training in the diagnosis, assessment, treatment and prevention of mental illnesses. This is the largest and most popular employment area in psychology. Clinical psychologists are employed in hospitals, mental health centers, and in private practice.

What are researchers responsibilities and duties? ›

Researchers' duties include analyzing data, gathering and comparing resources, ensuring facts, sharing findings with the whole research team, adhering to required methodologies, performing fieldwork as needed, and keeping critical information confidential.

What does a research psychologist do on a daily basis? ›

A research psychologist may conduct research on human behaviour and mental processes. For example, they may study the effects of social media on people's moods, or they may research how people learn.

What are the four main things psychologists do? ›

To sum up, the four major objectives of psychology are to describe, explain, predict, and change or control behaviors. These goals are the foundation of most theories and studies in an attempt to understand the cognitive, emotional, and behavioral processes that people face in their daily lives.

What are 4 qualities a psychologist should have? ›

Effective psychologists must have some degree of these common traits, which passionate students can cultivate over time.
  • Active Listeners. Communication is one of the most important skills a psychologist can possess. ...
  • Empathetic Professionals. ...
  • Ethical Individuals. ...
  • Patient Counselors. ...
  • Lifelong Learners.
Nov 25, 2019

What are the main roles and responsibilities of a positive psychologist? ›

Their primary responsibility is to maximize the good in their patients' lives. Positive psychologists may also conduct therapy with groups and families. The eventual goal of positive psychology is to end treatment after the patient has acquired the skills necessary to live a meaningful and joyful life.

What is the description of psychology? ›

Psychology is the scientific study of the mind and behavior. Psychologists are actively involved in studying and understanding mental processes, brain functions, and behavior.

Are therapists the same as psychologists? ›

The term therapist serves as an umbrella term for all professions within the area of psychotherapy, meaning that all psychologists can be referred to as therapists. However, all therapists are not psychologists.

What are the three core responsibilities of a psychologist? ›

Identify psychological, emotional, behavioral, or organizational issues and diagnose disorders. Research and identify behavioral or emotional patterns. Test for patterns that will help them better understand and predict behavior. Discuss the treatment of problems with clients.

What are the three main research tools of psychologists? ›

Three Main Types of Research in Psychology
  • Causal or Experimental Research.
  • Descriptive Research.
  • Relational or Correlational Research.
Apr 3, 2023

What is one ethical responsibility of a psychologist? ›

Psychologists have a responsibility to protect and promote these rights in all of their activities. This includes developing and following procedures for informed consent, protection of privacy and confidentiality, non-discrimination, fair treatment, and due process that are consistent with those rights.

What is the difference between a psychologist and a research psychologist? ›

Every practicing psychologist uses applied psychology. Also, research psychologist typically conduct their experiments in research laboratories with participants, while applied psychologist treat clients in clinics, mental health hospitals, social service agencies, schools, etc.

What duty do psychological researchers have regarding their research participants? ›

Researchers must ensure that those taking part in research will not be caused distress. They must be protected from physical and mental harm. This means you must not embarrass, frighten, offend or harm participants.


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