What can I do with a psychology degree?

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The career opportunities are numerous for the psychology graduate. Typically, the prospects and financial rewards expand in accordance with the attainment of a Master’s or PhD. These opportunities vary from Career Counselling, for an undergraduate, to Industrial Psychology for the Master’s or doctorate graduate. Most importantly, when considering the captioned question, one has to assess the motivation behind the selection of psychology as a major in college/university. The Princeton Review has listed Psychology as the second most popular major behind Business Administration/Commerce. This popularity may be due to a personal interest in the subject or due to the intent  to proceed to a graduate program. The former choice should leave you with more valuable life skills upon graduation.  The latter choice will present you with the means to apply one of the many aspects of psychology to the real world.

Statistics have shown that fewer than 25% of graduates at the bachelor’s level work in the field of psychology. However, over 40% of bachelor’s psychology graduates work in for-profit businesses and industries. This encompasses the fields of sales, marketing, advertising, personnel, education, counselling, social work, and management. These fields require understanding and interacting with people, all of  which entails the art and science of psychology. Therefore, there is an assorted selection of employment possibilities for the  undergrad who wishes to leap directly into the  labor market.

If you are in the 40% group whose psych degree has translated into placement in the business world-this doesn’t mean your career path has been established. According to the Huffington Post in 2013, 80% of workers in their 20’s want to change careers. Again, your bachelor’s degree will reduce your chances of unemployment, provide job alternatives, and ensure a higher median income than high school alone. Thus, there are opportunities to switch careers from the business world to counselling or pursuing a master’s or doctorate degree in psychology.

As stated in the opening paragraph, the horizon broadens with a Master’s degree in psychology. As with any graduate program, the student will channel his/her studies towards a more specific program. Common Master’s Degree options are: Clinical, Experimental and Applied Psychology.

Clinical Psychology is often a terminal degree, meaning further study is not necessary. In  some states, these practice-based programs provide psychotherapy and psychological assessment under the supervision of a licensed clinical psychologist.

Experimental psychology focuses on research in areas such as cognitive psychology, human factors, development psychology or social psychology.

A Master’s in Applied Psychology involves industrial-organizational (I-O) and forensic psychology. I-O psychology is a diverse field with postions dealing with worker productivity, employee training and assessment as well as human resources. Forensic Psychology is an increasingly popular field partly due to the hit TV series, Criminal Minds, though this is a highly fictionalized depiction of this field. However, Forensic Psychologists do work with law enforcement and the judicial system. Most professionals in the forensic field have attained a doctorate and have the appropriate training and experience. They may, also, apply for board certification with the American Board of Forensic Psychology.

In conclusion, there are a myriad of employment opportunities available from the undergrad to doctorate level. A degree is psychology is a stepping stone into the for-profit and non-profit world, family counselling, motivational speaking or behavioral research. In addition, many employers offer college tuition payment to allow the advancement of your degree. There are also psychology internships offered in most major cities throughout the USA.

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