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Psychological Research Assistant
(Select a different psychology career)

What is this career?

A research assistant (RA) in psychology usually works under the direct supervision of a psychologist or other social scientist and aids with the collection and analysis of data needed for various research projects. The specific responsibilities of the RA vary according to the setting, the supervisor, the research project, and the RAís particular skill set. However, most RAs in psychology engage in similar tasks, such as data management and project coordination.

For instance, RAs conduct literature reviews for background information that supports a particular study. RAs also perform the necessary clerical tasks to keep a study organized. They may also conduct interviews and interventions with study participants. After some experience with these tasks, some RAs have the opportunity to participate in the design, implementation, evaluation, and publication of the findings of the study for which they are working.

RAs work in a variety of settings, including academic institutions and universities, hospitals, mental health facilities, and other nonprofit agencies, as well as for-profit corporations. Occasionally, such positions are funded by research grants. Research assistants and associates can earn a wide range in annual salary, starting at around $32,000.

Job Outlook

According to the U.S Department of Labor, employment in psychology is expected to grow 12 percent from 2008 to 2018, which is about as fast as the average for all occupations. However, itís important to note that bachelorís degree holders will have limited job prospects because of heavy competition.

Opportunities & Challenges

As an RA, you will likely see studies in all stages of development and you will receive hands on experience in several different aspects of research. Being a research assistant can pave the way for a life-long career as a researcher. Other students use post-baccalaureate RA positions as a way to gain research experience before applying to graduate school. If your writing skills are strong, you may have the opportunity to co-author a publication. Research assistant positions involve a great deal of work with data, so one should be willing to spend long hours in front of a computer.