Environmental Psychology Career Information

Environmental psychology investigates the connection between people and places, and it is an interdisciplinary field that uses research and methods from sociology, psychology, geography, architecture, cultural studies and design.

Basic Tasks

An environmental psychologist would investigate the role of place in the psychology of the people present in that place. They could work on investigating the role that space plays in human interaction, from patrons visiting a museum to concentrations of homeless in certain areas of a city. They would investigate spaces, take photographs, survey and interview people as they interact with a space. They will also use software, such as Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and mapping software, to determine how people interact in a place and their motivations for using specific spaces.

An environmental psychologist could work with the government at all levels, the military, law enforcement, non-profit and educational organizations when creating their models of people interacting with places, and share their results with these organizations.

Hours

Unless employed full time as a planner or design specialist, an environmental psychologist may work on a consultant basis. Their hours will also depend on the areas that they are studying: for example, an environmental psychologist who works in a school will keep school hours so she can conduct her studies while people are present within the school. If investigating night time activity in an area, the psychologist will have to conduct investigations at during the evening and into the night. Some of their work will depend on the pattern of human activity in the place they are investigating.

Salary

There are many different types of career path that an environmental psychologist can pursue. If they pursue psychology, the average annual salary for a psychologist is $86,000. If they become an urban planner, the average annual salary is $59,000. As a designer, the salary is $44,000 per year.

Different Types of Jobs

Careers in environmental psychology will depend very much on the experience that the person possesses when entering the field. Students who pursue this area of study come from advocacy and social activism backgrounds, some from architecture and urban planning

As a designer, an environmental psychologist would investigate how people interact with the physical environment. They may use their skills to consult for owners and operators of public spaces--such as malls, theme parks, museums, community spaces, etc.--to make the space more inviting, accessible, safe and enticing to users, as well as to generate certain emotions in patrons. They may also use their skills to work with vulnerable populations, such as children, the disabled and elderly, to make the spaces more accessible.

As an urban planner, the environmental psychologist would use computer software, such as GIS and mapping tools, to investigate and plan urban spaces. They will also use the tools of psychology and cultural studies, and conduct interviews and focus groups, as well as work with other planners and prepare research, deliver plans for using urban spaces and write policy.

If the environmental psychologist worked for a non-profit or an advocacy group, they would conduct research and studies, using interviews and mapping software, as well as drawings and photographs of architecture, to write plans, provide new research into the field, and advocate on behalf of their client group for improved spaces.