A remote job is something you can do from anywhere. It is the ultimate freedom when it comes to your workplace, allowing you to work from anywhere.
You can be a remote worker for a company, as a freelancer or independent contractor, or become an entrepreneur.
Check out Forbe’s Top 100 companies offering remote positions in 2017!
Each month, we will highlight different remote jobs to give you an idea of what is possible as a remote worker. These jobs will be in a variety of fields – being a digital nomad isn’t just for techies.
This Month’s Remote Job: Psychologist
Featured Remote Worker: Melissa Parks
The Psychology Business
Providing therapy as a psychologist isn´t a job that someone would usually consider to be “remote” or “location independent.” Psychologists typically provide individual, couples, family or group therapy to people who are physically present in their office. However, an increasing number of psychologists are choosing to trade in the traditional model of therapy and opt for video therapy instead.
For some psychologists, this means having a mix of in-person and face-to-face sessions. This is so that travel, mild illness, or busy schedules don’t prevent clients from having regular sessions. For others, it’s a great way to reach clients who live in remote areas and may not have access to a psychologist, or at least not one that specializes in a certain issue or speaks their language.
For psychologists, such as Melissa, who see all of their clients via video, this job can be completely remote. However, face-to-face contact can be good for networking with potential referral partners, such as fellow expats, digital nomads, entrepreneurs, or other professionals who might work with people who are searching for a therapist. Old fashioned word of mouth is still the best referral source in this profession.
Originally from Seattle, Washington, USA and moved to Madrid, Spain when she was 24 to have a “gap year” as an English teacher and experience life in another country. She’d known for many years that she ultimately wanted to a be psychologist, so when she moved to Spain she wanted to make sure she was still involved in the world of psychology in some way.
She found a professor doing research on an area that was of particular interest to her (eating disorders and body image) at the Universidad Autonoma de Madrid. She started off editing the English of her research articles, but she ultimately ended up getting trained to conduct clinical interviews and lead parent support groups with her team. After 2 years in Spain, she decided to commit to doing her master’s and PhD in Clinical and Health Psychology at this same university. While completing her PhD, she also had her undergraduate education recognized in Spain so she could become licensed as a psychologist there. This allowed her to start working with expats, intercultural couples and third culture kids, who were seeking an English speaking therapist.
When she started her website, Intentional Expat, people in towns (both inside and outside of Spain) who didn’t have access to an English speaking psychologist started contacting her asking if she provided online therapy. She started with a few online clients this way and then, when she relocated to Amsterdam last year, the majority of my clients in Spain wanted to continue therapy with her online rather than search for a new therapist.
Since then, increasingly more people have reached out to her from different parts of the globe, either through her website or Facebook page. At the start of 2017, she realized that she could actually make a career out of being an entirely online psychologist.
Her current clients are expats, digital nomads or busy professionals who are looking for a psychologist to help support them with concerns that relate to having a global lifestyle (culture shock, repatriation, making a decision to move, etc.) or more general mental health topics like anxiety, depression, self-esteem, or disordered eating. Her work is geared towards empowering individuals around the world to own their story and live their best life possible.
This year she has seen clients from Seattle, Spain, Portugal, Belgium and Israel. The only things that hold her back are making sure she has a good WiFi connection, a private space, and that her client’s schedules work with the time difference.
The option of being a “location independent psychologist” wasn’t ever presented to me while going to school. I like to say that it was an opportunity that found me instead of one I went searching for.
More about the job:
An online psychologist needs to follow the same educational and licensing requirements as a psychologist with a traditional offline practice. They need to have the appropriate education in order to be licensed or registered, which varies widely from country to country (and in the U.S.A., even from state to state). You’ll most likely need a master’s or doctorate degree which include a structured clinical training program that ensures you’ll have the necessary experience to be able to work with clients who have a variety of different mental health concerns.
Although Melissa is a citizen of the U.S.A., she has been registered as a psychologist in the countries where I was currently a resident (Spain and now the Netherlands).
Since it’s a fairly regulated field, I highly encourage anyone considering training as a mental health professional (whether they want to work online or offline), to think about what country they’d like to be a resident of in the future as this may determine the specific education and training that’s required of them.
However, for individuals who are interested in human behaviour and helping others, who are creative, have strong communication skills, a high degree of empathy, and don’t mind being life-long learners, it can be a really rewarding career path.
This is Melissa’s full-time job and she is her own boss. However, there are also psychologists who work for larger companies that provide online therapy. The salary really depends on where you’re located and what your fees are. For example, according to a survey by the American Psychological Association, clinical psychologist who are in private practice who have less than ten years of experience earn an average of $73,000/year. However, in Spain, the average salary for a psychologist is 35,000 euros (approx. $41,600). As you can see, it really varies! Also, since most psychologist’s salaries are dependent on the number of clients they see each week, their income can fluctuate throughout the year.
I love knowing I’m able to help clients who might not otherwise be able to receive therapy in English, or who appreciate having a therapist who understands the specific challenges that go along with having a global lifestyle. On a personal level I also love that I can bring my office with me when I travel or when I’m visiting my family.
Melissa’s “Typical Day” as a Remote Psychologist
On an average day, I wake up around 7:30 or 8 am. I like to start my day with yoga and/or meditation, as well as some journaling. I usually have a few clients around 9 or 10 am who are either in similar time zones and don’t work mornings, or live farther to the east in Asia or Australia/New Zealand and are having a session once they’re finished with work.
After this, I’ll spend a few hours doing either psychologist-specific stuff like planning future client sessions and learning more about topics related to mental health, well-being, and therapy, or more generic entrepreneur things such as billing/accounting, responding to emails, marketing, writing or recording content for my blog or social media accounts, and networking (both online and offline). Whenever possible, I try to do this non-client stuff at a café so I can get out of my house or I’ll take breaks to go on a long walk along the waterfront and listen to a marketing or business related podcast. I also use this time to work on new projects.
In the afternoon/evening, I’ll see 2-3 more clients who are either getting off work in Europe or just waking up in North/South America. I use Toggl to track my time to make sure I’m not working more than 8 hours during the day so this also means that I might take a break in the middle of the day to run errands, grab a coffee with a friend or take a “siesta.” ☺
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What to be featured on Wanderdolls for Remote Job of the Month? Send me a message! Or comment below 🙂