I have always had a difficult time with the question “What do you want to be when you grow up?” There are too many things that grab and hold my interest, for a little while at least. I have always known that I wanted to go to college, why I didn’t do so immediately after high school is a mystery to me but, I’m finally here and I intend to get every possible thing out of it that I can. I know it’s not necessary to decide on a specific degree tract freshman year but let’s face facts; I’m 30 years old with two unhealthy parents that need my help, and a niece and nephew that have been taken from their parents and placed in my care – in other words, there’s no time like the present to stop being wishy-washy about the future. That being said, I’ve set my mind on two very different degree tracts that not only hold my interest but that the job market predicts an increase in employment for those fields over the next several years.
Psychology is something that has interested me for a large part of my adult life. I remember taking one of those incredibly un-informative career planning quizzes in junior high school and the result being something along the lines of counseling. Fast forward 15 years and suddenly that subject is an appealing career choice. The psychology program at ISU is listed as one of the top degree tracts in the nation. The master’s degree can be for either counseling or psychology where the first focuses on individual practice and working with either groups of people, or individuals. This also pertains to school settings, behavioral facilities, and private practice. The second is more of an opening into the doctorate program and therefor a broader prospect for those who would prefer a larger variety of jobs to choose from.
Geology is a broad subject that holds a lot of fascination for me. I love to discover how and why things work the way they do, and geology is a truly appealing field of study. I grew up with enormous pine tree covered mountains in my back yard and every day I miss the smell of pitch and pine, the thousand or more different shades of greens and browns and the incredibly fresh and calming feel of nature all around. I think what appeals to me the most about studying how the earth works is that it is self-generating: destructive, creative, life-affirming and life-sustaining all at the same time. The degrees offered in geology at ISU tie in with engineering on several levels and, although engineering has never been a subject I considered on its own, there’s a lot of money pumped into the engineering program at ISU from the Idaho National Laboratory which provides many opportunities for students in that prospective field.
If I were to choose psychology I would want the doctorate. Not only would I be able to travel and participate in all sorts of studies and research programs, but I could focus on an area that I truly feel needs attention: Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I would want to focus on PTSD in children, and veterans. Children because they are the future and what possible future does this country, or this world, have if we do not invest in the well-being and future of our children? Veterans because they help secure the future and not enough is being done to help those returning from war transition back into society. Without the men and women who give themselves over to the whim and control of the government in defense of this country there would be no reason to invest in the future of our children, or ourselves.
There’s a specific tract in the field of geology that most interests me at ISU: Master of Science in Geology. I know that with Yellowstone so close and the INL even closer, there are countless job opportunities for someone with a degree in that area of study. Other employment avenues include working for oil companies to help engineer the best route for pipelines and drilling or, my personal favorite, the United States Geological Survey (USGS) which serves the nation by providing information on how the earth works, minimizing loss of life and property and managing other natural resources that enhance our quality of life. I want to study natural disasters; volcanoes, earthquakes, mudslides, etc. There is so much information that has been discovered just in the last few decades but not enough is known to help predict and prevent the loss of human lives. I am awestruck by the concept that something so destructive and annihilating (like a volcanic eruption) can produce some of the most fertile ground for reproduction. I want to help harness that potential.
Articles state that the field of ‘clinical psychology’ will rise by 22% or more between 2014 and 2020. This prediction is coupled with an increase in the median wage going from approximately $64,000 annually to $82,000 annually. That is an aspiring outlook for anyone already in that related field of work as well as encouraging for anyone, like myself, who is considering the idea of entering that line of work. It is not, however, an optimistic view on the collective mental health issues that plague this nation.
Geologists generally make between $70,000 and $95,000 annually. The salary is largely dependent upon the employer, for instance; a private oil and gas company is likely to pay in the six figure range annually for someone who has more experience than say a business owner who is building a new restaurant and wants to make sure the construction site doesn’t impact the natural surroundings in a negative, or illegal, way. The job growth outlook for geologists is increasing exponentially along with the need for energy, environmental protection, and responsible land and resource management. With a projected 16% increase in jobs between 2012 and 2022, which averages out to approximately 6000 more jobs by 2022, the potential for securing a job after graduation is high.
At the risk of sounding redundant, I think that both areas of study/work would challenge and excite me. Even with my abhorrence for most things math related, I honestly believe that the field of geology would be a fun and exciting career for me. And, though I realize that the possibility of driving myself crazy may not be a technical diagnosis, if I studied psychology perhaps I would notice the signs of psychosis early on and take preventative precautions. If only I could be a psychological geologist (or geological psychologist) when I grow up then this paper would be null and void.