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What Can You Do With a Psychology Degree?

by | Jan 27, 2021 | Student Life

Although psychology is one of the most popular majors at a university, a dreaded question that someone majoring in psychology frequently has to answer is “But, what can you do with a psychology degree?” 

The jobs available for psychology students have a wide variety of career paths in government agencies, criminal justice, healthcare, education, and mental health. Many undergraduate psychology students decided to go to graduates school to pursue further career opportunities. 

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment of psychologists follows an average job growth rate of 3 percent in the through 10 years. The median annual salary in May 2019 was $80,370.

Why Choose a Psychology Major in College

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Psychology degree holders have a variety of professions available to them. Not only can they do psychology-related fields, but they can also do many careers that are not solely directly related to psychology such as human resources, marketing, and business. This is because psychology focuses on learning about the human mind and human behavior.  

Getting a psychology major will allow you to find a career that is working with people and to make a difference in their lives. People who have a desire to help are perfect for a psychology major. Not only will you learn about others, but you will better understand yourself. 

What Skill Sets to Have to Get a Psychology Career

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These skills should be ones that psychology students already hold or want to learn while in education. 

At the basics, someone in the field of psychology has to have a high level of patience and empathy. They have problem-solving skills and have the ability to handle stress and intense situations.

Throughout high school, undergraduate degree, and graduate school, psychology students will develop strong written and oral communication skills. Then, they will gain a high level of knowledge in scientific methods and performing them.

How to Build Your Resume as a Psychology Student

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Overall, a psychology student should have a variety of experiences throughout their educational experience. 

It is essential to have a solid reference for graduate school and future career. A psychology student will want to have a psychology professor references. Specifically, a professor who conducts research. Not only is it important to have them as a reference, but continue to have them in your network and stay in touch. 

Within college and beyond, join organizations. Good organizations to join are American Educational Research Association, Association for Psychological Science, American Psychological Association (APA), and Psi Chi. 

Lastly, psychology students should volunteer with non-profit organizations such as  Big Brothers Big Sisters, Boys & Girls Club, American Red Cross, and United Way. Also, consider volunteering for local organizations, especially because they need more assistance.

What Types of Psychology Degrees Are There and What Careers To Get With Them?

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Associate’s Degree

An associate’s degree in psychology involves taking general education courses along with introductory coursework in psychology. These classes give a student a taste of what the information will be like. 

It lasts two years if courses are taken full-time, however, an associate’s degree is more flexible than other degrees. An associate’s degree can save money because they are significantly cheaper than going to a university. 

If you choose to go into a career after your associate’s degree, you can get jobs such as a psychiatric aide, human service assistant, correctional officer, law enforcement, and social work assistant.

Bachelor’s Degree

Within a bachelor’s degree, a psychology student takes courses that are more specific like abnormal psychology, organizational psychology, social psychology, clinical psychology, forensic psychology.

A bachelor’s degree takes four years to complete if a full-time student. A student chooses between getting a Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science. 

A Bachelor of Arts, or BA, is humanities and social science-focused. The general education courses will be in history, communications, and foreign language.

A Bachelor of Science, or BS, is natural sciences and math-based. The general education courses will be in statistics, biology, and chemistry.

A bachelor’s degree in psychology opens up many career options. Examples of careers are in behavioral counseling, social worker, community services manager, computer programmer, human resources, market research analyst, public relations specialist, career counselor, and educator.

About 25 percent of bachelor’s degree psychology graduates do go further on to gain a graduate degree in psychology. 

Master’s Degree

When gaining a master’s degree, a psychology student will conduct research, study theory, and utilize scientific methods learned as an undergraduate student. The length is two years if full-time.

During this time, psychology programs allow students to choose a concentration. 

Once completing the degree, it is required to have to take an exam or complete a thesis.

A master’s degree will open up careers that are a step under a doctoral degree such as counselors and therapists like school psychologists, industrial-organizational psychologists, police chiefs, investigators, engineering psychologists, and sports psychologists. 

Doctoral Degree

A doctoral degree takes about 5 years to attain. While a student will be taking courses, they will also complete a dissertation and gain hands-on experience. 

The degree can be either a Ph.D. or a Psy.D. Ph.D. prepares for academic or research positions. Psy.D. is for clinical practice.

Once getting a doctoral degree, and a license, a psychology student is an official psychologist like child psychologists, counseling psychologists, neuropsychologists, or psychometricians. A psychology doctoral graduate can also be a psychology higher-education professor.

Getting a Psychology License

Before getting a doctorate level career in psychology, you are required to get a state-issued license. Each state has its own requirements

In general, a student needs a doctorate from American Psychological Association approved program and clinical training. They require about 4,000 hours of supervised clinical training. 

After that, the student will take an exam. The requirements for the exam depend on what psychology specialization.

Further Resources for Psychology Majors

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American Academy of Clinical Psychology

American Academy of Clinical Psychology is a group of “professional psychologists who have joined together to promote high-quality services and advanced standards of practice, through encouraging ethical and science-based practice.” 

They offer a community of like-minded individuals and professional development.

American Psychological Association

APA is the biggest community of broad psychology professionals. There are 54 divisions, 44 sections, and 20 local chapters. Then, groups are divided by psychology interests and specializations. There is a variety of networking opportunities to allow for advancement in a psychology career.

National Association of School Psychologists

National Association of School Psychology, or NASP, “represents and supports the profession of school psychology by advancing practices to improve students’ learning, behavior, and mental health by maintaining essential standards for ethics and practice.” 

NASP has conventions, resources, and publications, professional development, community, research. The group founded their own method that they developed and it is now used in schools across the United States.

National Institute of Mental Health

National Institute of Mental Health, or NIMH, offers a variety of information on mental health professions. They have many brochures and fact sheets. But, NIMH also does leading research and clinical trials.

For more information on other majors and how to get internships, read Scholars’ other blogs and tune into the podcast, The Internship Show!

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Internships and early-career jobs are unlike any others. They are often accepted months, if not years, in advance of the start date leaving plenty of time for candidates to change their minds and decide to work elsewhere, costing your team time and money.

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