Jobs for Psychology Majors

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Psychology majors have a wide range of job options. Psychology is one of the most popular undergraduate majors in the United States, but it is also an area of study that can create a lot of anxiety related to a student's future career opportunities. Psychology majors can clearly become psychologists or counselors with additional schooling, but the career path for someone with a bachelor's degree is less clear. Unlike business, nursing, and engineering majors, psychology majors will often get that confused question from parents and acquaintances: "What are you going to do with that degree?"

What Can You Do With a Psychology Degree?

  • Psychology majors develop broad and versatile skills in analysis, research, writing, and critical thinking.
  • Psychology can be excellent preparation for graduate school not just in psychology, but also in business, law, and medicine.
  • Psychology majors have strong career prospects, and they often find jobs in marketing, education, social work, and human resources.

Fortunately, because psychology focuses on human behavior, it has relevance in careers ranging from advertising to social work. Also, psychology majors are almost always housed within a liberal arts and sciences curriculum, so students will gain broad skills in writing, analysis, research, and critical thinking that are applicable to a broad range of jobs. More often than not, students with a bachelor's degree in psychology don't go on to focus specifically on psychology in their careers, Their training in psychology, however, can be a meaningful asset in numerous types of careers. Below are some of the many options.

Marketing and Advertising

Any company that sells something needs to come up with strategies for understanding their target audience and creating a marketing strategy that will engage that audience and drive sales. Psychology majors are well-suited for this work. They have skills in statistical analysis that can be important in the research phase of marketing, and they are also likely to have the type of social science expertise that is useful when creating opinion polls and working with focus groups.

Psychology majors can also play a valuable role on the team that develops advertisements. They will have a keen understanding of how the brain responds to different types of persuasion. An effective advertising team certainly needs creative people to create images and video, but an expert in human psychology is also essential.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, advertising and marketing are both areas with projected job growth that is higher than average, and median salaries tend to be $65,000 or higher depending on the type of position. Advertising and marketing managers have average salaries over $140,000 a year.

Social Work

Some colleges offer degrees specifically in social work, but those programs tend to be grounded heavily in psychology. It shouldn't be surprising, then, that many social workers earned their degrees in psychology. Social workers can work for many different types of employers including schools, hospitals, community development organizations, mental health clinics, or human service agencies. The work of social workers can be both challenging and rewarding as they help people deal with significant problems in their lives. Evening and weekend work is not unusual.

Many social workers have a bachelor's degree, but some positions will require a master's degree and supervised clinical experience. The field is projected to grow much faster than average in the coming decade. Median pay is close to $52,000 a year.

Teaching

A college's teaching certification curriculum almost always includes coursework in developmental psychology and child psychology, so psychology is a natural fit for those interested in pursuing a career in teaching. Junior high and high school teaching may require additional expertise in commonly taught secondary school subjects, but a psychology background will still be valuable.

The career outlook for elementary, middle school, and high school teachers is projected to grow at an average pace over the coming decade. Median salaries are over $60,000 for all levels of teaching. This is also true of special education teachers.

School and Career Counseling

Both school and career counseling rely on working with people, identifying their strengths, and helping them take the next step in their lives. Psychology majors develop skills that are ideally suited for these careers.

School counselors work with students to help them develop skills for academic and social success. At the high school level, they will often help students with guidance as they plan for college or careers. School counselors need to be able to assess the academic skill level and emotional maturity of students to be able to provide appropriate guidance.

Career counseling overlaps with school counseling at the high school level. Many career counselors work in colleges or private companies. Part of career counseling involves assessing a person's strengths, interests, and aptitude, often using tools like the Myers-Briggs Type Indicators or a skills inventory assessment. Such tools are grounded in ideas that will be familiar to psychology majors.

Note that some types of counseling jobs will require certification and/or a master's degree. The job outlook is excellent with greater than average growth in the coming decade. The median salary is over $58,000 a year.

Human Resources

Every company and organization with a significant number of employees will have an office of human resources. HR specialists can have a wide range of duties including recruiting new talent, interviewing potential employees, negotiating contracts, managing employee relations, handling professional training, and overseeing compensation and benefits. The skills required to succeed in an HR office are broad, and psychology majors have both the people and numerical skills needed to succeed in the field.

The job opportunities for human resource specialists is projected to grow faster than average in the coming decade. The median pay is over $63,000.

Psychiatry and Psychology

The most obvious career for psychology majors is as a psychiatrist, psychologist, or therapist. These professionals help people with emotional, behavioral, and mental disorders through psychotherapy, medications, and other treatment methods. Both psychiatrists and psychologists need to earn doctoral degrees. Psychologists often earn a PhD or PsyD, while psychiatrists receive more training in medicine and need to have an MD. Psychiatrists tend to work in health care settings whereas psychologists may work in schools, a healthcare system, or in private practice.

These career paths will require a minimum of four more years of schooling after earning a bachelor's degree. Psychologists have a median salary of $82,180 a year and psychiatrists often earn over $200,000 a year. Both fields are projected to have average growth in the coming decade.

A Final Word about Jobs and Psychology Majors

A psychology degree is extremely versatile. With a few supplemental courses, it can provide excellent preparation for medical school, business school, or law school. Psychology majors conduct studies and work with data in ways that prepare them for careers as analysts, and they understand human behavior in ways that can lead to careers in sales, fund raising, or corrections. Psychology majors go on to become teachers, technicians, and coaches. They find jobs at universities working in student affairs and alumni relations. Yes, some psychology majors go on to become psychologists, but a bachelor's degree can lead to a remarkable breadth of career paths.

Source: All salary and career outlook data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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Grove, Allen. "Jobs for Psychology Majors." ThoughtCo, Aug. 2, 2021, thoughtco.com/jobs-for-psychology-majors-5195361. Grove, Allen. (2021, August 2). Jobs for Psychology Majors. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/jobs-for-psychology-majors-5195361 Grove, Allen. "Jobs for Psychology Majors." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/jobs-for-psychology-majors-5195361 (accessed September 25, 2021).