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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
|Elementary and Secondary Schools||43,470|
|Offices of Other Health Practitioners||18,250|
|Individual and Family Services||7,120|
|Offices of Physicians||6,040|
|Outpatient Care Centers||5,840|
|Scientific Research and Development Services||230|
|Management, Scientific, and Technical Consulting Services||150|
|Colleges, Universities, and Professional Schools||60|
|State Government, excluding schools and hospitals||60|
|Management of Companies and Enterprises||40|
|Federal Executive Branch||8,010|
|Offices of Other Health Practitioners||1,520|
|Colleges, Universities, and Professional Schools||550|
|Outpatient Care Centers||470|
|General Medical and Surgical Hospitals||420|
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.
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.
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 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 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.
Career Resources for Psychology Students and Graduates
Those who pursue psychology careers are lifelong learners who are constantly getting more information to keep abreast of the field and improve their work performance. The following are some resources that psychology students and graduates alike can use.
This guide from the American Psychological Association provides information on several subsections of the field that professionals can pursue, as well as the jobs that can be obtained after completing different degree levels. In addition, different kinds of psychology professionals discuss their jobs.
This page from the American Psychological Association’s website includes resources about various topics for psychology professionals.
This site includes information on psychological conditions, news in the field, and podcasts and blogs that provide advice from psychology experts.
Readers can find information on numerous psychological terms on this page.
This page from Vanguard University’s website includes information on different psychology history topics, including prominent psychologists and theories.
This podcast, which is produced by Scientific American, includes information about the brain and behavior.
Hosted by Michael A. Britt, Ph.D., this podcast covers various psychology topics, including cognition, social psychology, and the ethics of the field.
In this podcast, host Todd Daniel, Ph.D., discusses the factors that shaped modern psychology, such as scientific, philosophical and cultural trends.
Interesting Careers in Psychological Science
On this page of the American Psychological Association’s site, psychologists in different types of jobs share their career stories.
The Pros & Cons of Being a Therapist
In this video, psychologist Kati Morton talks about her experiences in the field.