Social Worker, Psychologist, or Psychiatrist: Which Mental Health Career (and Major) is Right for You?

There are many ways to become a mental health professional. This is your all-inclusive guide to the three most common.

Wednesday, April 8, 2020
2 min. read

Are you someone who loves helping others navigate their personal struggles? Are you as good a listener as you are a communicator? Do you thrive off making others feel well mentally and emotionally?

Do you know a career in the mental health field is the degree for you, but you just don’t know which one?

Keuka College can point you in the correct direction.

Keuka College offers unique options when it comes to finding the right career for you in the mental health realm.

Social Worker

What's a Social Worker?

Social workers provide guidance and support to those who need it most. Whether it be for an individual, a group, a family, or a community, social workers are often the support system that a person, or people, rely on to get through a difficult time.

Social workers provide therapeutic services to diverse clients, including those in the following populations: children/families, those living in poverty, partner violence, substance abuse/use, LGBT, aging, and many others. 

Some social work positions include school social worker, adoption social worker, hospital social worker, child welfare director, family counselor, marriage therapist, social service director, rehabilitation counselor, and others.

A Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) is able to work in private practice, and can ultimately earn the “R” designation from New York state, which requires insurance companies to reimburse for in-network psychotherapy services.

How Much Could I Earn?

You can earn as much as $90,000 per year in the state of New York as a social worker. That comes to about $43 an hour. Of course, every position is different and not all pay rates start or end at the same number.

How Can Keuka College Help?

The Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) accredited Bachelor of Social Work program at Keuka College hands you an organized, solid framework, preparing you for a future as a social worker. 

With knowledgeable faculty and small class sizes, you'll create a positive relationship with your professor and feel comfortable reaching out to them with questions or concerns. The Field Period® experiences and Field Practicum involved with the Social Work BSW program help sculpt you into the successful social worker you can become.

How Long Will it Take?

  • Four years in an undergraduate Bachelor of Social Work program will qualify you for a variety of employment opportunities in the field of human services.
  • One additional year in an Advanced Standing Master of Social Work program will qualify you for additional opportunities in fields such as mental health.


What's a Psychologist?

Psychology is the study of unique human behavior and the workings of the mind. Psychologists have a passion for discovering how diverse the mind is and using that knowledge to help support their clients. Science, research, statistics, and testing are all important parts of a psychologist’s career.

Some career fields psychologists enter include school counseling, family services, psychology, child protective services, and many others.

How Much Could I Earn?

Psychologists in the state of New York can earn around $127,000 per year. When looked at from an hourly rate, the median hourly rate for a psychologist in New York state is about $48 an hour. Of course, all salary rates vary.

How Can Keuka College Help?

Keuka College offers a Psychology degree program with unique concentrations you won’t find anywhere else. These concentrations give you the ability to customize your degree to focus on what you find most interesting in the field. 

The concentrations offered are mental health psychology, developmental disabilities, and forensic psychology. With these concentrations combined with knowledge gained from classwork and the Field Period® experiences, you'll have a concrete toolkit of skills when entering your graduate program.

How Long Will it Take?

  • Four years in an undergraduate Psychology program.
  • An additional four to seven years in a Psychology Ph.D. program, or an additional four to six years in a Psy.D. program.


What's a Psychiatrist?

Psychiatrists are medical doctors (MDs) who focus on the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of mental, emotional, and behavioral disorders. If you’re someone who likes searching for answers, learning more about the root of mental illness, supporting others, and creating reports and plans, psychiatry may be the perfect career path for you.

Psychiatrists work with many different medications. Some of the medications you would learn about and prescribe to patients are antidepressants, antipsychotic medications, sedatives, hypnotics, mood stabilizers, stimulants, and others.

How Much Could I Earn?

In the state of New York, psychiatrists can make as much as $208,000 per year – depending on their specific focus, experience, and position. That works out to more than $100 an hour. As always, salary rates can vary widely.

How Can Keuka College Help?

Biology is the study of the human body and mind. When you combine a Keuka College biology degree with a biomedical concentration, you build the skills and knowledge base necessary to feel confident walking into a psychiatry graduate program. The biomedical studies curriculum includes courses such as genetics, anatomy, evolution, and microbiology – all classes that will help tremendously in the psychiatry field.

How Long Will it Take?

  • Four years in an undergraduate program (typically Biology).
  • An additional four years of medical school, plus an additional four years in a psychiatry residency.