The instinctive answer to the question of what to do with a psychology degree is, “Be a psychologist!” But in order to become a professional psychologist, you need a master’s or even a doctoral degree. So, if you only have a bachelor’s degree, what are your options in psychology? What are the psychology career professions? How about the job outlook in psychology?
Explore Your Psychology Career Options
The wonderful thing about a psychology degree is that it is much more flexible and adaptable than any other degree–in other words, your have options in psychology! After all, no matter what career path you are on, other people are sure to be involved—as customers, co-workers, employees, and bosses. A quality undergraduate education in psychology prepares you to be a good citizen and a critical thinker, and the skills and abilities that psychology majors acquire through their coursework and out-of-class experiences make them marketable for a wide variety of employment options. Even though the bachelor’s degree in psychology is not a professional degree, it is still a great way to become a well rounded, well-educated citizen and person—and who doesn’t want to hire a person like that? With a degree in psychology, career options abound.
Here are just a few of the professions that value those with a psychology degree:
- Human Services. Federal, state, and local governments as well as many non-profit organizations are eager to hire those with an undergraduate degree in psychology.
- Administration. Any administrative position in government or in other organizations can utilize those with a psychology degree. Throw in a business double major or minor, and any company will find you indispensable.
- Community Relations. This fascinating field covers a wide range of jobs—working as an advocate, an outreach coordinator, an event coordinator and more.
- Public Relations. As a public relations specialist, you’ll work with the media, write press releases and other materials, do research and fundraising, organize events and more.
- Advertising & Market Research. More and more Advertising Agencies are hiring those with a psychology background to help formulate advertising strategies.
- Teaching. If you also obtain a teaching certificate along with your degree, you can teach in both public and private schools.
- Retail and Sales. Every retail organization understands the power that a psychology degree can bring to their bottom line; these companies are always eager to hire those with a background in psychology!
Earn a Graduate Degree in Psychology
Just because your bachelor’s degree is in psychology doesn’t mean you have to earn a master’s in the same field for a successful career! You might be surprised to know that nearly 40% of those with a bachelor’s degree in psychology go on to law school, business school, or some other professional school. It shouldn’t seem so odd—if you are practicing law, having a degree that involves the study of the human brain and human behavior can only help. The same is true for business—since most businesses are providing services to humans, knowing how people think can make you a more effective businessperson. Having a degree in psychology can be an excellent foundation for any advanced degree you pursue.
If you do want to work as a psychologist, usually a doctoral degree is required. There are two doctoral degrees available in the field of psychology. Psychologists with a Ph.D. qualify for a wide range of teaching, research, clinical, and counseling positions in universities, elementary and secondary schools, private industry, and government. Psychologists with a Psy.D. (Doctor of Psychology) qualify mainly for clinical positions.
There are many other options in psychology. Those with a master’s degree in psychology can administer tests as psychological assistants. Under the supervision of doctoral level psychologists, they can conduct research in laboratories, conduct psychological evaluations, counsel patients, or perform administrative duties. They may teach in high schools or 2-year colleges or work as school psychologists or counselors, and they may also work as counselors in the field of addiction.
Looking Forward: Salary and Job Outlook for those with a Psychology Degree
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average starting salary for psychologists with a bachelor’s degree was about $20,600 in 1999; those with superior academic records could begin at $25,500. Moving beyond starting salaries, however, the Handbook reports that psych graduates with only a bachelor’s degree earn roughly $44,600 a year.
Those who work in management and senior-level administrative positions earn the most, at $58,000 per year, followed by those employed under the broad category of insurance, securities, real estate and business services who earn an average of $56,000. Social workers and administrative record clerks earn the least at close to $30,000 per year.
In other words, you can do anything you want to do with a psychology degree–the job outlook in psychology is very good. Alumni surveys of college undergraduates show that there are firemen, marketing directors, ministers, teachers, pilots and business executives working with their degrees in psychology. Additionally, psych majors are especially well positioned in the job market because they are trained to think critically and creatively and are skilled in communications.
Those with a psychology degree are incredibly versatile—they have the same skills that you’d need as a business executive, architect, librarian or social worker. There are not many jobs that require skills that psychology majors don’t have. The options in psychology are endless!