What Can You Do with a Psychology Degree?

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What can you do with a psychology degree? The answer is many things. You may do a lot of things with a psychology degree.

 What Can You Do With A Psychology Degree

In this guide, we’ll explore what can be learned in a psychology program and the careers that can be pursued with a degree in psychology.

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What Can I Do with a Degree in Psychology?

psychologist listening to her patient

As a psychology student, you’ll study the human mind, how we behave, and how our brains work. You’ll examine how we learn, communicate, remember, and adapt.

With a degree in psychology, you may choose to advance the field through research or teaching or opt to work directly with clients, providing therapy or counseling services. But those aren’t the only options. Earning a psychology degree is worth it for many students. It can give you the opportunity to develop versatile skills that are valuable in a wide array of professions.

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A psychology program can teach you to think critically, how to gather and analyze data, and how to write and speak effectively. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), you could pursue entry-level jobs in social work, market research, survey research, or advertising, promotions, and marketing with a bachelor’s degree in psychology.

With a master’s degree in psychology, you may pursue work as a psychologist, counselor, or therapist. You may also pursue managerial roles in many corporations.

10 Things You Can Do with a Psychology Degree

A psych degree can be useful for pursuing a variety of careers. Here are 10 common career paths that graduates with psychology degrees pursue.

1. Psychologist

Psychologist and client in a session

This is the career most people think of when discussing what to do with a psychology degree. There are many different types of psychologists, including counseling, developmental, forensic, and school psychologists.

As a psychologist, you may help individual clients or conduct studies on behavior and brain function. Psychologists typically need a doctoral degree, but some positions may be open to those with a master’s degree. If you decide to work in a clinical practice, you will need a license.

2. School and Career Counselor

A School Counselor discussing with a student

School counselors help students achieve their education goals in preparation for their future careers, while helping them through personal struggles that they may have. They evaluate aptitude test scores, maintain records, report neglect or abuse, address social and behavioral issues, guide academic progress, and counsel individuals regarding college and career plans.

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Career counselors provide similar guidance. They help their clients evaluate their interests and skills and make decisions about their career paths. They may work with college students or with adults already in the workforce. Most school and career counselors have master’s degrees and are licensed.

3. Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorders, and Mental Health Counselor

Counselor and attendees in a Substance Abuse counseling session

If you’re interested in counseling adults, perhaps you would be interested in working with individuals who struggle with alcoholism, drug addiction, eating disorders, mental health issues, or behavioral disorders.

Substance abuse, behavioral disorders, and mental health counselors help identify clients’ problems and develop plans for recovery or modification. These types of counselors often work in hospitals, clinics, and prisons. Careers in this field typically require a master’s degree and a license.

4. Genetics Counselor

Counselor and couple discussing about genetic testing

This profession combines medical knowledge with counseling and support services. Genetic counselors work in healthcare settings to serve families and individuals who are undergoing genetic testing to identify their risks for certain disorders and diseases.

These counselors may help a patient determine what type of testing is needed, as well as help him or her interpret results and understand the medical and psychological implications of the test results. A master’s degree with some coursework or experience in genetics and counseling is typically necessary for this occupation.

5. Marriage and Family Therapist

Marriage Therapist and clients in session

If you’re a good listener and interested in relationships, you may wish to pursue a career as a marriage and family therapist.

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You would have an opportunity to help clients process life changes, communicate about their emotions, and develop skills to cope with difficult situations. In this role, you will likely work in private practice and coordinate with other patient treatment professionals. You will need a master’s degree or higher as well as a license to practice.

6. Social Worker

A Social Worker talking to an elderly

Social workers serve individuals, families, schools, the government, and healthcare facilities. Many work directly with patients, responding to crisis situations, helping people deal with life changes, and providing other support.

Some work with whole communities, advocating for policies and services needed for minorities, foster families, and so on. Because the field is so broad, the educational requirements are as well. Some social workers need only a bachelor’s degree. To be a clinical social worker, a master’s degree, work experience, and a license are needed.

7. Market Research Analyst

A group of Market Research Analysts working in the office

Market research analysts monitor trends and sales forecasts, evaluate consumer behavior by gathering and analyzing consumer data, and develop appropriate marketing strategies.

You can pursue a career in this profession with just a bachelor’s degree. If you’re drawn to the research side of things, though, you may need a master’s degree.

8. Survey Researcher

Survey Researcher working in his desk

Survey researchers design easy-to-understand surveys, anticipate sampling issues and margins of error, summarize data using tables or graphs, and then evaluate their findings.

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A bachelor’s degree may be enough to land some entry-level jobs, but many research positions require a master’s or even a PhD.

9. Advertising, Promotions, and Marketing Managers

Marketing Manager discussing reports to the team

Advertising, promotions, and marketing managers coordinate with department heads and work within budgets to develop campaigns, contests, pricing strategies, etc.

They establish the appropriate “look and feel” of websites or other promotional material and conduct studies to ensure their materials are reaching target audiences. They may work for large corporations, or advertising agencies, or be self-employed.

A bachelor’s degree is often enough to land a job in this arena, but you may also need to complete coursework or have other experience in advertising, marketing, promotions, or sales.

10. Training and Development Manager

Training and Development Manager with her team having a meeting

Training and development managers oversee the training and development of employees, create and implement strategic goals, and evaluate needs in order to improve morale.

They need to be able to think critically and communicate effectively, which are skills taught in psychology degree programs. This position typically requires education and experience. A bachelor’s degree may get you into a company, but some experience will likely be required before you can move into a management role.

Common Types of Psychologists

psychologist counseling a teen

Are you wondering what you should do with a psychology degree once you have it? It may be helpful to research different types of psychology and see if there is a branch that particularly appeals to you.

Here we’ve compiled some of the most common types of psychologists.

  • Clinical psychologists: People in this branch of psychology focus on providing diagnostic, counseling, and treatment services for people with mental health disorders. They may work with kids or adults and offer treatment in individual or group settings.
  • Counseling psychologists: While clinical psychologists typically specialize in diagnosable mental health disorders, counseling psychologists focus more on helping people with routine stress, everyday problems, relationship troubles, and life decisions. Some help clients develop educational plans or select career paths.
  • Forensic psychologists: Forensic psychologists may profile criminals, weigh in on cases in family court, serve as expert witnesses, or provide support for law enforcement personnel.
  • Industrial-organizational psychologists: These professionals apply psychology concepts in the workplace in order to improve employee engagement, increase productivity, and develop healthier office cultures. I-O psychologists may need only a master’s degree to get hired in this field.
  • School psychologists: Professional psychologists in school systems work with teachers and K-12 students to provide support for learning or behavioral issues. Getting a job in this field might require a post-master’s education specialist (EdS) program.

There are many other psychology specialties as well, so it is important to carefully explore your options before you decide where to attend school.

Psychology Careers and Salaries

Psychology Careers and Salaries

People who earn psychology degrees in college may be suited for a wide variety of careers, particularly ones that involve working with people. The job that’s right for you will depend on your level of education, your background, and your interests.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average yearly salary for life, physical, and social sciences is $74,330.

Careers Annual Median Salaries
Psychologists $85,330
Postsecondary Psychology Teachers $78,810
Social and Community Service Managers $74,240
Human Resources Specialists $64,240
School and Career Counselors and Advisors $60,140
Probation Officers and Correctional Treatment Specialists $59,860
Survey Researchers $59,740
Marriage and Family Therapists $49,880
Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors $49,710
Rehabilitation Counselors $39,990

Some of these jobs require at least a master’s degree and potentially a doctorate to obtain. Your specific salary will be dependent on a number of factors, including your experience, education, location, and employer.

How to Know If a Psychology Degree Is Right for Me

psychology student studying in library

Psychology majors are versatile degree programs, so you might be wondering whether this is the field of study for you. Considering the following questions may help you decide.

  • Am I good at listening? You don’t have to become a counselor if you major in psychology, but your school may require counseling classes for all psych students. To succeed in this area, it’s helpful to be an empathetic listener.
  • Am I interested in people? Psychology students study people and often work closely with others. If you’re going to commit to this field, then you’ll want to be someone who enjoys learning about different people.
  • Do I want to continue my education? While a graduate degree isn’t required for all psychology students, it is necessary for many counseling or research positions.
  • How do I feel about research? Psychology programs include research as a key component. If you’re going to choose this major, then you can expect you’ll need to participate in experiments, read studies, and write your own scientific reports.
  • Is my goal to make a difference? Psychology is a field that can allow you to contribute positively to individuals’ lives or to your community at large.
  • Would I prefer diverse career options? Some college degrees, such as those in nursing or teaching, prepare students for one specific career. Psychology, on the other hand, can open up many different career possibilities.

Learning more about psychology studies and professions can help you decide whether this major is for you.

Psychology Licensure and Certifications

psychologist searching for online certifications

Many psychology major careers require licensure. In particular, you’ll need licensure to practice independently as a clinical or counseling psychologist.

To begin, you likely need to earn an accredited PsyD or PhD in Psychology. As part of your training, you will need to engage in psychology work in a supervised setting. Many hours of clinical experience are required for licensure. You will also need to earn a passing score on the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP).

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Licensure is administered through state boards, and each state sets its own specific requirements. Before applying, it’s important to consult your board for the rules in your state.

Is Financial Aid Available?

financial aid for psychology degree students

If you need help paying for a psychology degree, you’ll be glad to know that many students get financial support from a variety of sources. They usually begin the process by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

Qualifying students can receive grants or loans through federal programs. The funding is based on financial need. There are often state programs that can help with tuition costs as well. Scholarships are a valuable addition to an aid package too. You may receive a mix of scholarships from your college and other organizations. Some employers also offer tuition benefits for their employees.

What Is a Psychology Major?

A psychology major is a college field of study that examines how people think and act and explores the research behind our understanding of thought and behavior.

A psychology degree program can provide you with the opportunity to explore how people grow and develop, interact with one another, make decisions, and learn new things. Research is an important topic in this major. You’ll likely be taken through the process of conducting experiments in this field and writing about their findings. A psychology program might also cover basic counseling skills.

What Do Psychology Majors Do?

therapist assessing a child

Psychology is a diverse field, and graduates do many different things. Some continue their education with the goal of being practicing psychologists or therapists.

Many others go straight into the workforce. They use their knowledge of human thought and behavior to inform their work in different fields, including business. Some work in human resources or market research. Sales is another line of work to consider.

Others become family services caseworkers or youth programming specialists in community organizations. Psychology training could also be useful for a job in a correctional facility, perhaps as a treatment specialist.

What Psychology Degree Jobs Can I Get?

counselor listening to his patient

Psychology majors often work with people. For example, they might look for work in the human or social services sectors.

After spending some time as a specialist or a caseworker, management roles might be available. Others choose to work in human resources departments. Their understanding of people’s desires and motivations can help workplaces run more smoothly. Many psychology majors choose to get more schooling.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, being a marriage therapist or an industrial-organizational psychologist usually requires a master’s degree. Working as a clinical or counseling psychologist calls for having a doctorate.

How Much Do Psychologists Make?

psychologist in her office

The Bureau of Labor Statistics says that the common salary range for psychologists is between $48,010 and $141,910. Government agencies and hospitals often offer some of the highest salaries.

Your income as a psychologist will depend on several factors, including your area of focus and the field you work in. For example, these are some median annual salaries for careers psychologists often pursue, according to the BLS:

  • Industrial-organizational psychologists: $139,280
  • School psychologists: $81,500
  • Community service managers: $74,240
  • Human resources specialists: $64,240
  • Counselors in outpatient substance abuse centers: $48,640
  • Social services assistants: $38,520

Since the careers that can be pursued with a degree in psychology are so varied, the salaries that can be earned are also just as varied.

Where Can You Work with a Psychology Degree?

Psychologist in a session with a patient

Online psychology degrees are extremely versatile. The programs are designed to teach you how the brain functions and how to think critically, collect and analyze data, and communicate effectively.

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Graduates often work in hospitals or clinics, in private practices, for large corporations or small businesses, in government, in schools, or in the non-profit sector. You may work directly with patients, manage other employees, or conduct research.

Can You Get a Psychology Degree Online?

Psychologist counseling a patient

Yes, an undergraduate or graduate degree in psychology may be earned entirely online at many schools. In fact, psychology is a popular degree to earn online because the material can usually be easily presented online.

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Psychology classes online cover the same information as traditional classes on campus. They are typically comprised of lectures, slideshows, and videos. Many online programs will work around your schedule, allowing you to maintain your personal and professional commitments.

How Long Does It Take to Get a Psychology Degree Online?

Many full-time students are able to earn a psychology bachelor’s degree within 4 years. That is considered the standard length of time for this program at colleges that use the two-semester system.

Online psychology programs may use different formats that can be completed more quickly. Some online colleges feature classes that are each 4 to 8 weeks long, and students can enroll in back-to-back classes throughout the year. With such an approach, a college degree may be attainable in 2.5 to 3.5 years. Part-time enrollment will extend your time in school. Transfer credits may shorten it.

What Degree Do You Need to Be a Psychologist?

psychologist doing online consultation

The first step to becoming a psychologist is earning a bachelor’s degree, and there are many jobs for psychology majors available to pursue with that level of training. If you want to be a practicing psychologist, though, then that’s not all you’ll need.

Most psychologists have doctoral degrees. That can be a Doctor of Psychology (PsyD) or a psychology PhD. If your goal is to be a school psychologist, then your training might look a little different. You might need a master’s degree followed by an Education Specialist (EdS) degree. A master’s degree may suffice for working as an industrial-organizational psychologist.

What’s the Difference Between a Psychologist vs. Psychiatrist?

If you’re interested in helping people with their mental health, you could become a psychologist or a psychiatrist.

Psychologists Psychiatrists
  • Professionals who specialize in human thought and behavior but are not medical doctors
  • Doctor of Psychology (PsyD) or a PhD
  • Gain supervised professional experience before becoming licensed
  • Allowed to prescribe medication under limited circumstances in some states
  • Medical doctors who specialize in neurochemistry and mental health
  • Doctor of Medicine (MD)
  • Complete medical residencies
  • Can prescribe medication

Psychiatrists typically earn higher salaries than psychologists.

What’s the Difference Between PsyD vs. PhD in Psychology Programs?

For your doctoral studies in psychology, there are two different degrees you can consider: a PsyD or a PhD.

Doctor of Psychology (PsyD) Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Psychology
  • Professional degree
  • Includes more practical skills training
  • May require a capstone project
  • Intended for those who want to be practitioners
  • Academic degree
  • Includes more research requirements
  • May require a dissertation
  • Intended for those who want to do research or work in academia

Both PsyD and PhD in Psychology programs can receive accreditation from the American Psychological Association (APA).

Is a Degree in Psychology Worth It?

psychologist with her teen patient

Yes, a degree in psychology is worth it for many students. This degree can help launch your career in many different professional areas, including human resources, sales, addiction recovery, and social services. A bachelor’s degree in psychology could also serve as your foundation for additional education.

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If you earn advanced degrees, you could potentially qualify to work as a professional psychologist. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that jobs for psychologists will grow at a 6% rate over the next few years. That’s in line with the national average for job growth. Demand is projected to be particularly high for clinical and counseling psychologists.

Getting Your Degree in Psychology Online

student getting her degree in psychology online

Psychology can be an interesting topic to study, and there are many potential careers with a psychology major. You may use your psychology education in the workforce right after graduation or continue your schooling for a career as a licensed psychologist.

Earning this degree online is often a great choice. You’ll have opportunities to take exciting classes and interact with professors from the comfort of your own home. If you’re ready to pursue a psychology career, you can start exploring accredited online colleges today.

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Elizabeth Abner
WRITTEN BY Elizabeth Abner

Elizabeth is pursuing a Doctor of Philosophy in Foreign Policy and earned her master's degree in business administration. For her undergraduate studies, she earned a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration with a concentration in international business. Elizabeth's research is focused on universities offering online degree programs.