Competition is fierce in many careers, for example, lawyer, environmentalist, and yes, psychologist. One way around it is to choose an under-the-radar niche. Here are examples:
Alternatives to clinical psychology
A client yesterday came in saying she wanted to be a clinical psychologist, which is highly competitive. By the time, she walked out, we had discussed the following:
Military psychologist/profiler/hostage negotiator
Crime scene investigator
Mental hospital psychologist
Mental hospital administrator
Psychologist specializing in schizophrenia
Psychologist specializing in autism
Psychologist specializing in eating disorders
Psychologist working for a community mental health agency
Psychologist working for an HMO such as Kaiser
Marketer (whether of psychologically-oriented products or not)
Employee Assistance Psychologist
Marriage and family therapist
Child protective services social worker
Psychiatric social worker
Clinical social worker
Speech and language pathologist
Fundraiser for the a mental illness organization
Conference planner for a mental illness organization
Counselor at a residential program for teens with problems
College academic advisor
Engineering/User Interface Psychologist
Special educator teacher
Alternatives to teaching
A couple days ago a burned-out teacher came in. We explored these options:
Specialist teacher: computer, art, music
School district or county curriculum developer
Curriculum developer for a textbook company
Salesperson of educational materials to school districts
Manager at a teacher’s store
Activity director at an assisted-living facility
Activity director on a cruise ship
Director at a day care or preschool
Salesperson (good sales people of complex products do much teaching to individual prospects and groups.)
Trainer for corporations, nonprofits, or government
Administrator for the district, county, state, or federal education bureaucracy.
Administrator for the teacher’s union
Teaching in a school with a less challenging student population
Teaching in a private school, where there are fewer bureaucratic mandates.
College admissions officer.
Under-the-radar options for you
Now think of the career you’re interested in pursuing. What aspects of it most appeal? Is there a less competitive niche?
For example, if you’re thinking of being a doctor because you want to heal people, in addition to obvious alternatives such as nurse or physical therapist, how about massage therapist or body worker?
If you’re thinking of being a lawyer because you like to argue, how about preparing to be a lobbyist or politician?
If you’re thinking of being an environmentalist because you care to save the planet, how about a niche like smart-grid demand management or a less popular source of clean energy such as nuclear.
You don't need to come up with the alternatives yourself. Google is your friend: Try Googling terms like "careers for biology majors" or "artist careers."
The Bigger Picture
People tend to follow the crowd, whether in choosing careers, ideological positions, or what label to wear on their butt. It’s often wise to at least consider less popular options.
Marty Nemko’s bio is in Wikipedia.