Psychologists

Unit Group 4151

Skill Type: Occupations in Social Science, Education, Government Service and Religion

Type of work

Psychologists assess and diagnose behavioural, emotional and cognitive disorders, counsel clients, provide therapy and research and apply theory relating to behaviour and mental processes. Psychologists help clients work toward the maintenance and enhancement of physical, intellectual, emotional, social and interpersonal functioning.

For the full and official description of this occupation according to the National Occupational Classification, visit the NOC site.

Examples of Occupational Titles

  • clinical psychologist
  • experimental psychologist
  • psychological associate
  • psychologist
  • research psychologist

Outlook

Job prospects in this occupation are good.

(Update: May 2015)

Over the past few years, the number of psychologists has risen sharply. This rise is primarily attributable to the public's much greater sensitivity to social needs: aging population, mental health, stress, personal growth, home support, dropping out of school, behavioural problems, pathological gambling, homelessness, violence, suicide, exclusion, etc. As this trend of sharp increase should be mitigated because of government cuts in the health and education sectors, it is expected that the number of psychologists will increase significantly over the coming years, but at a slower pace than it did in the past.

Sources of employment

Openings will arise mainly from the need to replace psychologists who will be retiring, but also from employment increase. The proportion of psychologists aged 55 and over in 2011 was clearly higher than that of all occupations (29% compared with 18%, according to National Household Survey data). Turnover is very low, although, with the appropriate training, experience in this occupation can lead to promotions to management positions and can open the way to positions in many occupations: family mediator (see 4153), college instructor (see 4131), university professor (see 4121), guidance counsellor (see 4143), employment counsellor (see 4213), management consultant (see 1122), specialist in human resources (see 1121), etc.

Labour pool

These openings will be accessible to people who meet the requirements of the Ordre des psychologues du Québec (see the Training section). Few positions will be filled by unemployed experienced psychologists, since there is virtually no unemployment in this occupation. e. Although the percentage of immigrants in this occupation in 2011 was lower than in all occupations (10% compared with 14%, according to National Household Survey data), positions are accessible to newcomers. This percentage could increase over the coming years, since the Ordre has teamed up with the University of Sherbrooke to implement a retraining program for candidates who earned their degrees abroad.

Despite a good employment growth rate, this occupation appears to be attracting more candidates than there are openings. In this regard, it should first be noted that the Bachelor's program in psychology has limited quotas. Consequently, a large number of people attracted by this occupation are unable to obtain university education. In addition, barely one-quarter of graduates with a Bachelor's in psychology subsequently earn a Master's or a PhD in psychology, even though this is mandatory to become a member of the Order and enter this profession. According to data from the provincial government Relance survey, the placement rate in related employment of graduates with Master's degree or with a PhD in psychology is very good, and their unemployment rate is low.

On the other hand, the situation is very different for the three-quarters of graduates with a Bachelor's in psychology who do not go on to obtain a Master's or a professional doctorate in psychology. The placement rate in related employment of those going straight onto the labour market is very low (less than half). Moreover, between 30% and 40% of those considering finding a job in their field end up in technical-level jobs (primarily community and social service worker positions, see 4212). Finally, a large number of them decide to continue their studies in other disciplines.

In 2006, the Office des professions du Québec increased from a master's degree to a professional doctorate the academic requirement for Ordre des psychologues du Québec membership. Consequently, universities no longer accept new master's students (except in research). Master's programs have been replaced with new professional doctorate programs. That change is reflected in data from the Relance survey. The number of master's graduates in psychology decreased 50% between 1999 and 2011. Inversely, the number of graduates in doctorate programs increased 150 % between 2003 and 2010.

The requirements of the order are reflected not only in the Relance survey but also in the National Household Survey data. Approximately 83% of psychologists had post-graduate credentials in 2011.

Industries

According to National Household Survey data, in 2011 approximately 71% of psychologists worked in the health care and social assistance sector, primarily in offices of psychologists (39%), but also in hospitals (15%) and local community service centres (CLSCs, 6%). Others worked in education services (22%), mostly in elementary and secondary schools (15%).

Demand for the services offered by psychologists seems to be much greater in Quebec than in the rest of Canada. In fact, in 2011 there were proportionally more than twice as many psychologists in Quebec as in the other provinces.

Trends

Trends in employment in this occupation depend on demand for the services provided by psychologists and government spending, but the influence of these factors depends on the area of intervention.

Health care and social assistance

In the health care and social assistance sector, demand for the services provided by psychologists is constantly growing. This increase stems from numerous factors: aging population, mental health, stress, personal growth, home support, pathological gambling, homelessness, violence, suicide, exclusion, etc. Even though these dynamics have mostly long been present in society, the public is increasingly sensitized to these issues and therefore demands more by way of concrete intervention.

Owing to government budget cutbacks, public institutions have been unable in the 1990s to hire psychologists in sufficient numbers to meet the growing demand. Thus, although employment increased to a certain extent in hospitals and somewhat more in local community service centres (CLSCs), growth was largely concentrated in private practice, where the number of psychologists increased 150% between 1991 and 2001, according to census data. The coverage of psychological care by many insurance companies has certainly contributed to this strong growth.

Growth has been more evenly distributed since the turn of the century, increases in government spending in the health care and social assistance sector have resulted in a higher growth than in the past in public institutions, according to data from census, National Household Survey and Ordre des psychologues du Québec. Future trends in that direction are uncertain due to government cutbacks announced in the health sector.

Education

Over the 90s, psychologists were hard hit by budget cutbacks in the education sector. In fact, since the number of teachers is usually established on the basis of student enrolment, educational institutions had to severely restrict hiring and even sometimes abolish positions in non-teaching occupations, such as this one. As a result of the serious problems experienced by young people in schools (eg, dropping out, difficulties with adjusting and learning, attention deficit, family breakdown, violence, and suicide), the Quebec Department of Education authorized thereafter the creation of additional positions in non-teaching occupations, including school psychologists. The number of psychologists employed by school boards increased by over 20% between 1999-2000 and 2010-2011, according to data from the Quebec Department of Education, Recreation and Sport (MELS) school board management indicators, still much less sharply than the other non-teaching occupations (over 100%).

The outlook for the next few years are uncertain. On one hand, growing concern about the school dropout rate and school performance is pushing up the demand for services for students with learning difficulties, such as potential dropouts, students in special programs, in special education or arriving in special classes for newcomers. On the other hand, the effects of this factor may be moderated or even canceled, because of government budget cuts announced in the education sector.

Interventions in industry

Interventions in industry, generally within the framework of employee assistance programs (EAP) are on the rise. But, owing to the relatively small number of psychologists in industry, this trend will have only a slight impact on overall employment trends in this occupation.

Other trends

Lastly, the passage in 2009 of Bill 21 on modernization of professional practices in mental health and human relations could have significantly benefited members of professional corporations, such as psychologists, social workers and educational counsellors, to the detriment of occupations not governed by the corporations, such as social and community workers, social service workers and special-education teachers, by limiting currently unregulated practices to corporation members. That said, the "Rapport des coprésidents de la Table d'analyse de la situation des techniciens œuvrant dans le domaine de la santé mentale et des relations humaines" (Report of the Co-Chairs of the table analysis of the situation of technicians working in the field of mental health and human relations) has observed only few situations where technicians were performing reserved acts. Moreover, those technicians can avail of the grandfathering clause and continue to make their interventions, thus avoiding a break in service. Accordingly, the adoption of Bill 21 should have little impact on these professions.

This Law is also designed to regulate the practice of psychotherapy. No regulations prevented a person from using the title of psychotherapist or practising psychotherapy. Since all the provisions of this Act are now in force, this legislation limits the title and practice of psychotherapy to members of some professional corporations and those who hold a psychotherapist's permit issued by the Ordre professionnel des psychologues du Québec. This change can only enhance employment in this occupation.

Considering all the trends, the number of psychologists should rise significantly over the next few years.

Employment characteristics

According to the census and National Household Survey data, women held about 75% of the jobs in this occupation in 2006, a significantly higher proportion than in 1991 (63%). The precarious job situation of a large number of members of this occupation is reflected in the data presented in the "Characteristics" section of the "Statistics". Thus, the average employment income figure ($55,099) concerns only the 48% of members of this occupation who worked full-time full-year in 2005. In contrast, the average employment income of those who did not work full-time full-year was $32,553. Reflecting the importance of private practice, in 2006 the proportion of self-employed workers was almost four times higher in this occupation (40%) than in the work force as a whole (11%).

Education and Training

To enter this occupation, it is necessary to be a member of theOrdre des psychologues du Québec. Indeed, membership in the Order is mandatory to use the title of psychologist, or a title, abbreviation or initials suggestive of professional standing. Ordre admission requirements are described on its website:

To become a member of the Order, it is usually necessary to:

  • hold a Master's degree or doctorate in psychology
  • pass a course on professional ethics offered or deemed equivalent by the Order
  • have appropriate knowledge of French

Applications for admission submitted by candidates holding psychology degrees from outside Quebec must be reviewed for equivalency by the Order.

Universities no longer accept new master's students (except in research). Master's programs have been replaced with new professional doctorate programs. During the transition, master's graduates will still be able to join the Ordre. In addition, the Ordre will continue to review training equivalence requests from candidates who studied outside Canada based on equivalence to a master's degree, not a doctorate.

The Ordre, in partnership with Université de Sherbrooke and the Department of Immigration and Cultural Communities, developed a master's program in clinical psychology aimed at making it easier for psychologists who have immigrated to Quebec to join the Ordre. See: http://www.usherbrooke.ca/programmes/?id=p576

The Order offers continuing education activities.

Useful References

Important Considerations

The number of psychologists should increase significantly over the next few years.

This occupation appears to be attracting more candidates than there are openings. who do not go on to obtain a Master's in psychology. The placement rate in related employment of graduates with a Bachelor's in psychology going straight onto the labour market is very low (less than half). However, the placement rate in related employment of graduates with Master's degree or with a PhD in psychology is very good, and their unemployment rate is low.

In 2006, the Office des professions du Québec increased from a master's degree to a professional doctorate the academic requirement for Ordre des psychologues du Québec membership.

Statistics 4151 - Psychologists

Main Labour Market Indicators

In the following table, indicators such as the growth rate, yearly variation in employment, yearly attrition and total annual requirements are forecasts generated by economists from Service Canada, Quebec region. The data source for employment is Statistics Canada’s Labour Force Survey. The volumes of unemployment insurance beneficiaries come from Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC)’s administrative data. All of the data are rounded.

  Unit Group 4151 All occupations
Employment, average 2011-2013 8,550 3,990,050
Employment Insurance claimants in 2013 5 80,700
Average Annual Growth Rate 2014-2018 1.2% 0.7%
Annual Employment Variation 2014-2018 100 26,500
Annual Attrition 2014-2018 250 74,300
Total Annual Needs 2014-2018 350 100,800

Employment Distribution

The data from the following employment distribution tables come from Statistics Canada’s 2011 National Household Survey (NHS).

  Unit Group 4151 All occupations
Employment by Gender
Males 25.5% 51.9%
Females 74.5% 48.1%
Employment by Age
15 - 24 years 0.7% 13.3%
25 - 44 years 45.6% 42.7%
45 - 64 years 47.3% 41.1%
65 years and over 6.4% 2.8%
Employment by Status
Full-time 69.5% 81.2%
Part-time 30.5% 18.8%
Employment by Annual Income
Full-time, full-year 43.0% 54.8%
Annual Average Income $62,800 $50,300
$0 - $19,999 3.3% 13.3%
$20,000 - $49,999 22.8% 48.0%
$50,000 and over 73.8% 38.8%
Employment by Highest Level of Schooling
Less than high-school 0.0% 12.1%
High-school 0.2% 20.3%
Post-secondary 5.2% 44.2%
Bachelors 94.5% 23.4%
Others Employment Distribution
Self-employment 35.4% 10.7%
Immigration 10.0% 13.7%
Employment by Region
Region Unit Group 4151 All occupations
Abitibi-Témiscamingue 1.6% 1.8%
Bas-Saint-Laurent 1.6% 2.3%
Capitale-Nationale 11.5% 9.4%
Centre-du-Québec 2.3% 2.9%
Chaudière-Appalaches 5.0% 5.5%
Côte-Nord / Nord-du-Québec 1.1% 1.6%
Estrie 4.2% 3.8%
Gaspésie–îles-de-la-Madeleine 0.4% 0.9%
Lanaudière 3.5% 6.1%
Laurentides 6.6% 7.3%
Laval 3.5% 5.2%
Mauricie 4.8% 3.0%
Montérégie 13.2% 19.2%
Montréal 33.3% 22.9%
Outaouais 3.7% 4.9%
Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean 3.8% 3.3%

Main Sectors of Employment

The data of the following table were prepared by economists from Service Canada, Quebec region. The data source is Statistics Canada’s 2011 National Household Survey (NHS).

Sector Unit Group 4151
Health Care and Social assistance 70.8%
- Ambulatory Health Care Services (Offices of Psychologists included) 47.3%
- Hospitals 14.8%
Educational Services 22.0%
- Elementary and Secondary Schools 14.9%