What Can I Do with a Psychology Degree?

Understanding the nuances of human behavior is extremely valuable in the professional world, whether it’s developing a treatment plan for a patient, analyzing customer purchasing habits, or simply negotiating a business deal. That’s why earning a psychology degree can be the starting point for almost any type of career, not just those in the psychology field. Learn more about the broad career options for psychology graduates and see where a degree in psychology can take you.

Last Updated: 08/14/2020

What Jobs Can You Get with a Psychology Degree?

A degree in psychology can prepare students to work in a variety of fulfilling career fields, but the types of positions that graduates qualify for depend on the level of the degree they earn. For example, only those with doctoral degrees can work in the field as psychologists. Continue reading to see what jobs can be attained by people with psychology associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees.

What Can You Do with an Associate Degree in Psychology?

At the associate degree level, students become familiar with the principles and theories of psychology, which they can use to get an entry-level job or use as the foundation to earn a bachelor’s degree. After completing an associate degree, which takes about two years of full-time study, graduates can qualify for a variety of positions, including:

Psychiatric aides are responsible for assisting with the care of patients. Work activities may include restraining violent patients, serving meals, and helping people get dressed.

Median Salary
in 2018

$30,860

Job Growth
(2016 to 2026)

6%

Additional Requirements

On-the-job training, including lectures and workshops, are required before you can work with patients without supervision.

Social and human service assistants help assess the needs of patients and provide them with the medical, social services, and psychological help they need. In addition, they help patients with activities like eating and bathing.

Median Salary
in 2018

$33,750

Job Growth
(2016 to 2026)

16%

Additional Requirements

On-the-job training to learn case management. You may also be required to earn a state license and a CPR certification.

These workers provide assistance with day-to-day activities to people with disabilities, cognitive impairments, and chronic diseases. Their job duties may include doing patients’ laundry, dishes and grocery shopping, feeding and bathing them, and helping them get transportation to their doctor’s appointments.

Median Salary
in 2018

$24,060

Job Growth
(2016 to 2026)

41%

Additional Requirements

On-the-job training on how to provide daily personal care to patients.

Advertising sales agents communicate with businesses and individuals in order to sell ad space. This includes preparing media kits, creating sales presentations, and giving potential clients price estimates.

Median Salary
in 2018

$51,740

Job Growth
(2016 to 2026)

-4%

Additional Requirements

Typically none

These workers provide support to human resources managers by completing tasks such as posting job openings, collecting resumes, and maintaining personnel records like performance evaluations and the employment history of workers in an organization.

Median Salary
in 2018

$34,520

Job Growth
(2016 to 2026)

3%

Additional Requirements

On-the-job training to learn computer programs and clerical procedures.

What Can You Do with a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology?

A bachelor’s degree in psychology focuses on theories of the field and the scientific methods used to test and develop a psychological hypothesis. Students in these programs take courses in statistics, cognition and memory, social psychology and lifespan development, in addition to general education classes. The following are some examples of the jobs psychology bachelor’s degree holders can land.

Market research analysts use their knowledge of consumer behavior to determine what products people will buy and the price they would be likely to pay. Specific job duties include keeping abreast of sales trends, using statistical software to analyze data, and creating written reports of the information they gather.

Median Salary
in 2018

$63,120

Job Growth
(2016 to 2026)

23%

Additional Requirements

Professionals can elect to earn voluntary certification.

These professionals help parolees successfully re-enter the community by creating parole release plans. This involves tasks like reviewing the inmate’s history and supplying a report to the parole board.

Median Salary
in 2018

$53,020

Job Growth
(2016 to 2026)

6%

Additional Requirements

Completion of government training program and passing score on a certification exam.

When organizations need to train their employees, they depend on these professionals to plan and conduct this training. People in this position are responsible for assessing the training needs of an organization, crafting a plan that meets those needs, and creating materials that will be used during classes.

Median Salary
in 2018

$60,870

Job Growth
(2016 to 2026)

11%

Additional Requirements

Voluntary certifications are available.

These professionals recruit and onboard new employees at an organization. Specific job duties include working with the management at an organization to determine hiring needs, creating and posting job listings, interviewing candidates, and overseeing the training process.

Median Salary
in 2018

$60,880

Job Growth
(2016 to 2026)

7%

Additional Requirements

Voluntary certifications are available.

These professionals work to ensure that different types of events run smoothly by finding out from clients what the event is for, creating a budget, and choosing a venue. Also, they are responsible for coordinating the services that will be used, such as catering and transportation.

Median Salary
in 2018

$49,370

Job Growth
(2016 to 2026)

11%

Additional Requirements

Voluntary certifications are available.

These professionals help to ensure that research studies are conducted in the correct manner. In order to do this, research assistants recruit people to participate in a study, conduct background research on the study topic, and create control procedures that will be used throughout the study.

Median Salary
in 2018

$46,640

Job Growth
(2016 to 2026)

4%

Additional Requirements

Typically none

What Can You Do with a Master’s Degree in Psychology?

Master’s degrees in psychology generally take about two years to complete and during that time, students build on the knowledge they gained during their undergraduate studies in order to have a deeper understanding of human behavior and social science research. In addition to taking core classes, students are able to choose a specialization—like health, industrial/organizational, and clinical psychology—that will enhance their knowledge of a particular subject based on their career goals. The following are some of the careers that students can qualify for when earning a master’s psychology degree.

Median Salary
2018

$50,090

Job Growth Rate
(2016 to 2026)

23%

Additional
Requirements?

State licensure

People who are having problems in their familial relationships turn to these professionals in order to get advice on how to resolve conflict in a healthy way, manage their feelings about their loved ones, and make decisions about the future of their relationships.

Clinical Psychology Assistant

Median Salary
2018

N/A

Job Growth Rate
(2016 to 2026)

N/A

Additional
Requirements?

None typically

These workers provide support to clinical psychologists by performing patient intakes and assessments, answering questions from patients and their family members, and working with doctors to create treatment plans.

Median Salary
2018

$78,470

Job Growth Rate
(2016 to 2026)

15%

Additional
Requirements?

None typically

Community college teachers and adjunct professors oversee activities that go on in the classes they teach. These professionals create class curriculums, tests, and assignments, as well as give lectures and calculate grades.

Median Salary
2018

$57,700

Job Growth Rate
(2016 to 2026)

2%

Additional
Requirements?

Voluntary certifications are available

These workers help to collect data by creating surveys based on their own research on the topic being studied, working closely with the survey interviewers, and analyzing and reporting data collected. Also, they analyze how effective surveys were at eliciting information and make changes as needed.

What Can You Do with a Doctoral Degree in Psychology?

At the doctoral degree level, there is a heavy focus on psychology research, so whether students aspire to use their knowledge to teach the next generation of professionals or to provide patient care, they learn the methods that are used to conduct studies from start to finish. These degrees, which can take four to six years to finish depending on the program, also give students the opportunity to concentrate on a specific area of the field and become experts in the body of research that guides it. Here are a few career options for graduates of PsyD and PhD psychology programs.

Clinical psychologists use their knowledge and skills to help people with emotional, behavioral, and mental disorders. Their work includes providing diagnostic tests, creating a treatment plan, and prescribing appropriate medications.

Median Salary
in 2018

$76,990

Job Growth
(2016 to 2026)

14%

Additional Requirements

State license, including passing score on the EPPP Exam

Counseling psychologists work with patients to help them resolve problems they are having in their professional and personal lives. In order to do this, they assess the problems patients are having and create a treatment plan based on their individual strengths and weaknesses.

Median Salary
in 2018

$76,990

Job Growth
(2016 to 2026)

14%

Additional Requirements

State license, including passing score on the EPPP Exam

School psychologists help young children and adolescents with the challenges they have at school, such as problems that may affect their academic performance. These professionals may address behavioral and developmental disorders, as well as challenges like bullying.

Median Salary
in 2018

$76,990

Job Growth
(2016 to 2026)

14%

Additional Requirements

State license, including passing score on the EPPP Exam

Patients who have problems with cerebral functioning get treatment from neuropsychologists. These professionals assess patients’ language, memory, attention, and sensorimotor functioning, and then create a treatment plan to address their problems.

Median Salary
in 2018

$100,770

Job Growth
(2016 to 2026)

11%

Additional Requirements

State license, including passing score on the EPPP Exam

Forensic psychologists use their knowledge of human behavior in order to answer questions that arise in legal matters. These professionals may determine if someone is mentally fit to stand trial, help those who are suffering from trauma after being the victim of a crime, and testify in court.

Median Salary
in 2018

$100,770

Job Growth
(2016 to 2026)

11%

Additional Requirements

State license, including passing score on the EPPP Exam

Industrial/organizational psychologists use their expertise to help solve workplace problems related to issues like employee productivity, motivation, and morale. These professionals may provide training to help organizations meet their needs.

Median Salary
in 2018

$97,260

Job Growth
(2016 to 2026)

8%

Additional Requirements

State license, including passing score on the EPPP Exam

These professionals create a course curriculum and update it as needed, teach students during lectures, and grade tests and assignments. In addition, college professors may conduct research that is published in industry journals or presented at conferences.

Median Salary
in 2018

$78,470

Job Growth
(2016 to 2026)

15%

Additional Requirements

College professors who teach in a discipline where people are required to have a license are expected to have that same license.

Where Can I Work with a Psychology Degree?

Having a deep understanding of the human mind and how it works equips psychology graduates to work in a variety of settings, even outside of the healthcare field. For example, those who want to use their understanding of behavior to influence consumer purchases can work in the marketing and advertising fields, while people who want to help improve the workplace may decide to pursue jobs in human resources or industrial/organizational psychology at private business. In addition, people with psychology degrees may work for media companies, educational institutions, and government agencies. Also, those with an entrepreneurial spirit can use their education to begin their own consulting business.

Where Do Most Psychologists Work?

After earning their credentials, psychologists are able to provide care to people, groups and businesses facing mental, emotional, and organizational health challenges in a variety of settings. The following are some of the places where psychologists can find employment.

  • Substance abuse treatment centers
  • Violence-prevention programs
  • Community health organizations
  • Colleges and universities
  • Family health care centers

Source: American Psychological Association

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, here are the work settings where most psychologists work as of May 2018:

Clinical, Counseling and School Psychologists

Work SettingEmployment
Elementary and Secondary Schools43,470
Offices of Other Health Practitioners18,250
Individual and Family Services7,120
Offices of Physicians6,040
Outpatient Care Centers5,840

Industrial-Organizational Psychologists

Work SettingEmployment
Scientific Research and Development Services230
Management, Scientific, and Technical Consulting Services150
Colleges, Universities, and Professional Schools60
State Government, excluding schools and hospitals60
Management of Companies and Enterprises40

All Other Psychologists

Work SettingEmployment
Federal Executive Branch8,010
Offices of Other Health Practitioners1,520
Colleges, Universities, and Professional Schools550
Outpatient Care Centers470
General Medical and Surgical Hospitals420

Psychology Degrees as a Stepping Stone: Common Career Paths After Your Undergrad

Although psychology bachelor’s degrees are the starting point that many students use to train for a career in the field, they can also take students in several other professional directions. Since an understanding of human behavior is useful in any career path, students often begin their education with a psychology degree and then move on to other disciplines. The following are some examples of the areas that psychology graduates can move on to.

Lawyer

Attorneys can use their psychology background to be successful with negotiations, choose a jury during a trial, and examine witnesses during court proceedings. They are required to obtain a Juris Doctor (JD) degree and pass the state bar examination in order to practice law.

Teacher

Teachers must earn a teaching degree and a state license. Teachers who earned a psychology undergraduate degree can use their understanding of learning and lifespan development theory in order to find the best ways to work with students.

Psychiatrist and other Physicians

These professionals should have a doctoral-level degree and license. A psychology background can help them connect with patients effectively and display compassion when working with them.

Physical or Occupational Therapist

Physical and occupational therapists must earn at least a master’s degree in the respective area. Those with a psychology education can use their knowledge to better assist patients and more effectively communicate with their families.

Mental Health, Substance Abuse, or School Counselor

For these professionals, psychology knowledge is essential to help them address patients’ psychological and mental issues. They are required to have at least a master’s degree in counseling and earn state licensure.

Social Worker

Social workers assist people who are dealing with a crisis, so having a psychology education can help them understand the physical and mental health problems people may be struggling with. These professionals need a degree in social work and a license.

Criminal Investigator

Criminal investigators are expected to have a criminal justice degree. A background in psychology can give them a deep understanding of criminal behavior that they can use when interviewing suspects or collecting evidence.