Psychology is one of the most popular college majors, but exactly what can you do with a bachelor’s degree in psychology? Psychology is a relatively young field, but in recent years it has surged to become one of the most popular undergraduate majors on college campuses throughout the world. It is also one of the most popular online degrees.
If you are thinking about earning a bachelor’s degree in psychology (or you already have one), you might find yourself wondering exactly where you fit into the workforce. What exactly can you do with a psychology degree? What types of jobs are available?
Undergraduate degrees in psychology have gotten a bad rep over the last few years. Career websites often rank the degree on their yearly “worst paid” or “most underemployed” lists, and yet psychology remains one of the most popular majors on college campuses all over the world.
Simply put, psychology speaks to who we are as people. We all have that innate drive to understand ourselves and others. Why do other people do such strange things? Why do we sometimes do such strange things?
While some people turn to art, literature, poetry, or even medicine to help them better understand the human condition, psychology holds so many of the answers we seek to the questions about the human mind and behavior.
Are There Too Many Psychology Majors?
In a white paper title “Are There Too Many Psychology Majors?” chairs from psychology departments across the state of Florida tackled questions about the popularity and usefulness of a psychology degree.
“Parents sometimes fret when they hear their children are choosing psychology as a major when they enter college,” Jane Hanolen explained. “The fear derives from the assumption that, as graduates, they will not be able to find employment after graduation or that they will be trapped into having to pursue graduate training if they are going to be gainfully employed.”
So how much truth is there to this concern?
Hanolen suggests that these fears about the future employability are not entirely justified. The recent economic recession led to a national problem with unemployment, but a psychology major prepares students for a wide variety of entry-level positions in the workforce.
As psychology majors, students gain essential skills including:
- Critical thinking
- Project management
- Interpersonal communication
- Teamwork skills
- Adaptability to change
- An understanding of human behavior
- An understanding of scientific methods
These are all vital skills in any position, but they can be particularly useful in positions that involve working with other people, analyzing data, or managing groups.
The goal of this article is to help you get a better understanding of the options that are available for psychology majors. The job market today can be competitive and figuring out where your skills fit in can be a challenge. Adaptability is essential, since finding the job that is right for you might involve thinking outside of the box.
It can also involve being brave or even a little brash at times. In a shifting market, job-seekers need to be willing to look for different avenues and explore opportunities that they did not originally consider. If you graduated with the idea that you wanted to work as a case manager, only to find that the jobs in your area are scarce or pay less than you expected, it might pay to consider related positions that utilize similar skills but offer greater availability and advancement opportunities.
In this special section of the site, we will take an in-depth look at different jobs that require an undergraduate degree in psychology. All of these positions are actual jobs that have been listed in job classifieds all across the United States, and the job descriptions and pay ranges represent the typical skills, education, duties, and salaries that you can expect.
One important thing to note: things like job titles, educational requirements, and pay levels can vary dramatically from one location to the next. States often have specific laws regarding who can provide different levels of service. Jobs listed in urban areas often feature much higher salaries, but job-seekers should be aware that such locations also come with correspondingly higher living costs. While people make more in these areas, they also pay more for things like housing, food, and transportation than people typically do in more rural or suburban areas.
Career Options with a Bachelor’s in Psychology
While earning a graduate degree is required for many psychology jobs, the fact is that approximately 75% of students who earn a bachelor’s degree in psychology do not go to graduate school. According to one study, only around 25% of psychology undergraduates end up working in a field that is directly or closely related to their major.
So what do all of these psychology majors end up doing after they graduate?
It is important to remember that a psychology degree can be used in many careers. By carefully planning your future and being aware of the different opportunities that are out there, you can find a career that is perfectly suited to your educational background, skills, and personality. For more help determining which psychology career path is best for you, consider taking a career goals self-test that can help you determine which career path might be the best fit for you.
So what are the most commonly held careers for those with a bachelor’s degree in psychology? According to the College Majors Handbook, some of the top occupations that employ those with a bachelor’s psychology degree are:
- Top- and mid-level management and administration
- Social work
- Other management occupations
- Labor-relations, personnel, and training
- Administrative positions
- Real estate, business services, and insurance
At first glance, most of these careers seem like they have very little to do with psychology. The important thing to remember is that having a background in the science of the human mind and behavior can actually prepare you for a wide variety of careers.
Looking at this list, you might immediately realize that many of the top areas of employment for psychology majors actually have very little to do with psychology itself. So why are these careers so popular with people who have an undergraduate degree in psychology? It is because these jobs utilize many of the skills learned during a psychology education including interpersonal skills, communication skills, and human behavior knowledge.
A Few Psychology Career Options to Consider
While many psychology undergraduates ultimately end up working in a field that is not directly related to psychology, there are still a number of psychology-related entry-level career options that you should consider.
Many students graduating with a bachelor’s degree will work in some division of human or social services. Some common job titles in the area include:
- Case Management
- Career Counselor
- Rehabilitation Specialist
- Psychiatric Technician
What skills might come in handy when working in the social service field? Psychology majors possess the empathy, care, research skills, assessment skills, and client advocacy knowledge needed to succeed in these jobs.
In addition to social services, a bachelor’s in psychology can provide excellent training for many other types of jobs. Some of the most important things you have learned during your undergraduate years are interpersonal skills. Your understanding of the human mind and behavior make you a good candidate for jobs that require strong communication skills. Some examples of jobs in this area include those in sales, marketing, case management, and social services.
As an undergraduate, you have also done a considerable amount of research and writing. These skills would be useful in positions as a library assistant, probation officer, business manager, case worker, and many other related areas.
When searching for your first post-graduation job, be sure to consider all of the skills you have acquired during your time as a student.
Make a list of things you learned in various classes to help you assess your skills and talents in order to find a job best suited to your educational background and professional goals.
The Great Thing About a Psychology Degree – Flexibility
A bachelor’s degree in psychology is sometimes seen as a stepping stone toward a graduate degree. In fact, as many as 40 percent of psychology majors end up going on to business school, law school, or some other type of advanced degree program.
Looking at psychology undergraduate degrees as simply a step toward an advanced degree is often a mistake. Unfortunately, many mistakenly believe that in order to work in psychology or do anything with a psychology degree, you have to become a PhD-level psychologist.
One of the greatest advantages of a psychology degree, however, is in its adaptability. The key is to get out of the mindset of thinking that becoming a licensed clinical psychologist is your only career option. By learning more about some of the many opportunities out there, you’ll be in a better position to make the most of your bachelor’s in psychology – whether that means immediately entering the workforce or using your undergrad degree as a jumping off point to further studies.
Things You Can Do With a Psychology Degree
Here are just some of the many different things you can do with a bachelor’s in psychology. If you currently have a bachelor’s degree in psychology and are actively looking for work, you might want to consider using some of these titles in your job search.
- Animal Trainer
- Career Counselor
- Case Manager
- Child Care Worker
- College Admissions Counselor
- Financial Aid Counselor
- Psychosocial Rehabilitation Worker
- Psychiatric Technician
- Science Writer
- Technical Writer
- Writer / Editor
- Youth Counselor
This list will continue to grow as we add new career profiles to the website and we will also be adding a special section on careers you might want to consider if you have a graduate degree in psychology.