People usually think of therapy or counseling as good jobs for psychology majors, but the reality is much more varied. The wide range of skills you’ll develop studying psychology apply to an even wider range of careers. Many college psychology majors find successful careers in fields as different as business management, marketing, or criminal justice.
Psychology focuses on the different kinds of human thinking and behavior, the relationships between them, and what the causes could be. As a psychology major, you will explore how varied and complex behavior can be. You will learn how to do research using statistics and the scientific method, and present your results clearly.
These experiences don’t just apply to psychology. You will explore just about everything humans do as part of your psychology degree. You’ll ask questions such as: How do we buy things? How do we learn? How we do interact socially? How do we grow? The skills you work with include all sorts of things, from ways to communicate well with different kinds of people to data analysis. These are versatile skills that employers are eager to have, which open up job opportunities across many fields.
Top Jobs for Psychology Majors
Jobs in Psychology
Although careers in psychology often require a master’s or doctoral degree, some entry-level jobs for psychology majors are available with a bachelor’s degree.
Psychiatric Technicians are responsible for many of the needs of mentally ill patients in clinical settings. They assist with rehabilitation programs, medication, monitoring, and general care. Psychometrists work under a licensed psychologist to administer and score tests. They can work with clients in clinical settings, or with students, job applicants, or employees. A bachelor’s degree will usually qualify you for either of these positions.
Marriage and Family Therapists (MFT) work with adults, children, couples, and even whole families. They focus on helping their clients deal with emotional and behavioral issues in their lives and relationships. Many marriage and family therapists are in private practice. Becoming an MFT requires a master’s degree, supervised post-degree hours, and licensing, but does not require a doctorate. Job growth is expected to be much higher than average over the next decade.
Clinical Psychologists diagnose and treat a wide range of mental and behavioral disorders. They can be general clinical psychologists, or focus on one of many specialties. This is the profession most people think of when they hear “I’m a psychology major.”
Like MFTs, Clinical Psychologists are state licensed. Becoming a Licensed Clinical Psychologist requires a doctoral degree (PhD or PsyD), supervised post-degree hours, and at least one licensing exam. In addition to private practice, they are qualified to work in health settings like hospitals and clinics, and to teach and do research in higher ed.
Experimental Psychologists conduct research, and often teach, at universities, non-profits, government agencies, and other research institutions. Like clinical psychologists, most have a doctoral (PhD) degree, but there are also opportunities for those with master’s degrees. This career path includes a very wide array of job types and specialties.
Psychiatrists are medical doctors who provide psychotherapy for patients with everything from behavior disorders to major mental illnesses. They often work with severely disturbed patients, because as MDs they can prescribe medication. Psychiatrists complete medical school, and then a 4 year psychiatry residency.
Applied Psychologists put psychology to work to analyze and find solutions for practical problems in everyday life. These are good jobs for psychology majors who prefer working in less therapeutic settings. Qualifications vary, and the job growth forecast is excellent.
- Forensic Psychologists work with the criminal justice system. They might determine if a suspect is capable to stand trial, or testify about questions of child custody or workplace discrimination. Another area that has come into focus recently involves encounters between police officers and people with mental health problems. Police departments are looking for techniques and training that officers can use to defuse these situations.
- Sports Psychologists combine the insights of psychology with biomechanics and nutrition so they can help athletes and teams reach their peak. They help players improve their mental “strength” and teams build better cohesion. They also help regular people get involved in sports and exercise for better health and well-being.
- Industrial and Organizational (I/O) Psychologists help companies become more productive. I/O psychology can be used to help improve hiring, employee productivity, management effectiveness, training, and company culture.
Jobs in Social Work & Community Services
Social workers and other community service staff provide critically needed help for vulnerable people. These jobs for psychology majors can also include working toward more structural solutions for social problems. Requirements vary, and the 10-year job growth forecast is much higher than average.
Substance Abuse Counselors work with clients addicted to alcohol and/or drugs. This is (unfortunately) one of the fastest growing careers in the United States. If helping people improve their lives is important to you, people in recovery desperately need what you have to offer. A bachelor’s degree is required, and some states also require certification or a license.
Health Educators do community outreach about both physical and mental health and wellbeing, often in underserved areas. Educators help clients understand their needs and options, and connect them to services. In addition to psychology, some background in nutrition and fitness, and a second language, can be very helpful.
Social Workers help people cope with life challenges and improve their well-being. The problems they are concerned with include poverty, abuse, addiction, unemployment, educational problems, disability, illness, child welfare, trauma and mental illness. They connect clients with the resources they need, and support them on an on-going basis. Clinical Social Workers, who have a master’s degree and supervised post-degree experience, can also provide individual counseling.
Jobs in Education
Education is a source of great jobs for psychology majors, because like psychology it revolves around helping people learn and grow. It’s not just that knowledge of psychology is very useful for anyone working with children and adolescents. Working in education satisfies the desire that gets many people interested in psychology in the first place – to help people on a very personal level.
School Counseling includes a range of jobs in education, at all levels. Some school counselors work with troubled children and their parents; others advise high school students about their careers and education.
Teachers make a huge impact in the lives of their students. A bachelor’s degree in psychology is excellent background for teaching. Human development and cognition are two areas in psychology which are particularly helpful. Most teaching jobs require a bachelor’s degree in any subject and a teaching license. In places with teacher shortages, including Nevada, teachers with just their bachelor’s degree can often get full-time teaching jobs while they finish their license requirements.
Educational Psychologists use the insights of psychology to find better ways to help students learn. They might focus on the best ways to help students with different strengths and learning styles, or new curriculum.
Jobs in Marketing and Business Management
Like psychology, business management and marketing require a keen sense of how to handle both people and data. Graduates can be surprised to discover how relevant their psychology major is to these jobs. Requirements vary, but many of these careers do not require an advanced degree.
Human Resources professionals are responsible for recruiting, hiring, and evaluating a company’s staff. A solid understanding of people and good interpersonal skills are as critical as being well organized. Recruiters call on both the human perspective of HR and the persuasive abilities of sales.
Management Analysts look at how the organization’s structure and processes help – or hinder – the results they want. They have to take into account how systems interact with the people who carry them out. Because statistics and analysis are so important, experience with experimental and cognitive psychology are especially useful.
Leadership Coaches help managers and teams build better working relationships, with resources from psychotherapy, business management, and social psychology. Leadership or Executive Coaches work with their clients on a personal or small group level to be more effective in the workplace. There are no degree requirements for this career, but certification programs are helpful.
User Experience (UX) and User Interface (UI) Designers make doing things with technology easier and more appealing. Their insight into human reactions, thinking, and desires is their secret weapon in computing. Experience with research and testing – with people – is another core skill from psychology programs which is very important in this field. If you have or want to add coding skills to your portfolio, this could be your niche.
Marketing Analysts look at why consumers make the choices they do. They help businesses use that understanding to increase sales. The importance of psychology is obvious! Especially in today’s data-driven online marketing, understanding how to design research and analyze data is also critical. The 10-year job growth forecast for marketing analysts is much faster than average, and a psychology major is an excellent start.
Public Relations specialists focus on the communication between their client, whether it’s a person or an organization, and the public. Their goal is to maintain a positive image for their client. Public Relations specialists rely heavily on the ideas of social psychology. They also need top-notch communication skills.
Advertising is all about persuasion. Psychology is all about understanding how people think. That understanding, and practice in listening openly and discerning what people really want, are all very helpful in many aspects of advertising.