The world of psychology is vast, with many potential career paths to choose from. That’s why many students choose to pursue an undergraduate psychology degree: it is a flexible, adaptable option that can be a stepping-stone toward graduate study or a valuable credential in its own right. Psychology coursework teaches skill sets that students can apply in a variety of work settings. Not only do students learn about human behavior and how people think, but they also study the scientific method and gain analytical skills for practical application in fields like business and marketing. Psychology students develop critical thinking and problem-solving competencies that make them well-rounded candidates for many occupations. Whether in the mental health and social services field or elsewhere, students can succeed in various roles through the pursuit of a psychology degree.
So, What Can You Do with a Psychology Degree?
Careers With a Bachelor’s Degree
Earning a bachelor’s degree in psychology gives students an understanding of human behavior, as well as honing skills related to research, writing, analysis, and more. Employers know that psychology graduates have many of the soft skills that make for successful professionals. The following are just some of the career options open to those who hold an undergraduate psychology degree.
- Psychiatric technician: A career as a psychiatric technician allows psychology graduates to directly apply their studies in their daily work. Psychiatric technicians work as part of a team of mental health professionals including psychiatrists, psychologists, and counselors. They work with populations like the elderly and those with mental disorders. Job responsibilities include observing patients, providing detailed reports, and administering therapeutic aid and, with special training administering previously prescribed medications.
- Community service manager: Community service managers are responsible for coordinating and managing service programs and organizations. They oversee a staff that provides various social services directly to the public. Their job responsibilities are closely related to the fields of social work and psychology. Work settings include non-profit organizations, government agencies, and private companies.
- Human resources specialist: This career allows psychology graduates to use what they know about human behavior and thought processes to create meaningful company cultures. Human resources specialists are usually responsible for recruiting new hires and interviewing candidates. They also train existing employees. Their main goal is to “understand and communicate with employees meaningfully while improving the quality of the work environment,” according to career site Psychology Degree 411.
- Intake coordinator: These professionals are responsible for admission and registration for incoming patients at health care facilities. They administer basic mental health questionnaires and interview scales, which may be part of the assessment process for intensive outpatient services or inpatient hospitalization. In this capacity, intake coordinators play a vital role in the successful delivery of mental health care. Intake coordinators may also be responsible for clerical duties like paperwork and data entry, according to PayScale.
Specialization Fields With a Graduate Degree
After completing a bachelor’s degree, many students decide to continue their education with a master’s or doctoral degree as a way to focus on a particular area of psychology. In terms of careers after graduate study, there are many specialties to choose from. Positions range from those in human services or health care organizations to licensed practice and teaching at the college level. The specializations below are some of the paths available. Education and licensure requirements vary by state, field, and position.
- Clinical psychology: This specialization focuses on assisting patients who are seeking treatment for mental disorders. Clinical psychologists work in hospitals, counseling centers, private practices, and more. They are responsible for performing evaluations to determine diagnosis or the appropriate treatment, as well as working collaboratively with physicians to develop care plans. Clinical psychologists can work with groups, families, or individuals.
- Counseling psychology: By helping clients with interpersonal problems, counseling psychologists may utilize group sessions and one-on-one conversations. According to the Society of Counseling Psychology, these professionals pay close attention to emotional, social, vocational, educational, health-related, developmental, and organizational concerns. They aim to help people improve their well-being throughout their lives. Interventions can be either short- or long-term, depending on the nature and severity of the challenges patients experience.
- Research psychology: These specialists research behavioral patterns like motivation, learning, memory, sensory processes, and the effects of factors like genetics and drug abuse on behavior. Research psychologists work in research centers, for government organizations, for non-profit organizations, and in academic settings.
- Industrial-organizational psychology: Using research to improve productivity and satisfaction in the workplace, industrial-organizational psychology is one of the fastest-growing specializations in the field. These professionals use applicant training, screening, and research related to management and marketing in order to increase worker productivity and performance. They may work on a contract basis or be employed by firms that specialize in workplace innovation.
Less Typical Psychology Careers
While the career paths we’ve covered thus far focus on opportunities that directly align with psychology skill sets, there are many options outside of traditional roles. Because an education in psychology provides so many transferable skills, degree holders find work in all sectors and industries.
- Media and advertising: Careers in media and advertising give psychology graduates the chance to apply their insight into human behavior. They utilize the strong communication skills they’ve developed. One potential career example is public relations specialist. These professionals create and maintain a positive public image for clients. Responsibilities might include writing press releases, arranging media appearances, and responding to inquiries. PR specialists might coach clients on how to build a positive relationship with consumers. Studying social psychology is particularly helpful in this role because of its focus on community interactions and interpersonal relationships.
- Business and management: Careers in business and management are ideal for psychology degree holders due to skills related to data analysis and human behavior. Market research analysts, for example, utilize consumer psychology in order to understand how organizations can reach their target audiences and increase profits. These professionals design research studies and analyze data about buying habits and marketing strategies. Market research analysts work for corporations, businesses, non-profits, and many other entities.
Outlook and More
The psychology field is growing, with employment for life, physical, and social science occupations expected to grow 7 percent through 2024. This amounts to about 97,600 new jobs, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) says. And overall employment of psychologists is expected to grow 19 percent during the same time frame, though specific employment numbers vary by occupation. There is high demand for psychological services in schools, hospitals, mental health centers, and social services agencies.
The BLS offers the following insights: “Candidates with a doctoral or education specialist degree and post-doctoral work experience will have the best job opportunities in clinical, counseling, or school psychology positions. Candidates with a master’s degree will face competition for most positions, and many of them will find jobs with alternate titles … Most graduates with a bachelor’s degree in psychology may find work in other fields” or in the field of psychology as assistants or aides.
Students who pursue psychology degrees can expect to find meaningful employment in a wide variety of occupations and industries after graduation. Lesley University’s online bachelor’s degree in psychology gives students a deep understanding of relevant concepts and approaches in the field. Whether you choose to pursue graduate study or use what you learn in the workplace, this program can prepare you to reach your career goals.