What Can You Do With a Psychology Degree?
Psychology, which focuses on human behavior and mental processes, is the fifth most popular major in the U.S. When you study psychology at the undergraduate level, you can learn essential skills such as understanding human relationships, critical thinking, empathy and effective communication. But what can you do with a bachelor’s degree in psychology?
A bachelor’s degree in psychology opens up many career options for graduates. Most graduates with this degree work in fields other than mental healthcare, according to the American Psychological Association (APA). People often assume that this degree leads to a career as a mental health care provider, but many other job opportunities are available.
A degree in psychology can lead to careers in education, law enforcement or STEM fields, for instance. So, how can a bachelor’s in psychology prepare you for rewarding positions in other non-healthcare career paths?
What is a Psychology Degree?
Psychology is the study of the human mind and its behaviors. Psychologists are interested in how people develop and change over time and interact with their surroundings. The field is growing quickly, and psychologists work in many different settings, such as schools, hospitals, clinics, businesses and universities.
Psychology students learn to think critically, evaluate arguments, and communicate effectively. These skills are essential for making informed decisions in all aspects of life and attractive to employers post-graduation. If you’re interested in a degree in psychology, you’ll take classes in research methods, statistics and core areas of the field, such as biopsychology, clinical psychology, cognition, development, health psychology, learning and social psychology. So, what can you do with a bachelor’s degree in psychology?
The degree can prepare you for careers in human resources, law enforcement, market analytics, case worker, recruiter, teacher, sales consultant and more. For instance, some psychology degree holders become researchers who better understand the human mind through scientific study. You can even enter the technology industry and pursue user experience design for software applications. You can design how users interact with technology based on human behavioral research, data analysis, and market research.
What connects all of these opportunities? The understanding of how people behave and how it relates to your job. A caseworker must listen to every family situation, communicate with empathy and determine how to proceed based on a family’s history of behavior, for example — in every one of these career opportunities, listening to and studying people’s behaviors and the ‘why’ behind them is vital to do your job better.
What Jobs Can You Get With a Psychology Degree?
Numerous career opportunities are available in psychology for those interested in working with individuals, teams or organizations. Many Furman graduates have secured employment at organizations like Children’s Hospital of Boston, the U.S. National Parks Service, Pfizer Inc., Windstream Communications, the South Carolina Department of Social Services, the Centers for Disease Control and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. See below what career paths you can take in different industries.
Clinical and Counseling Psychology
- Clinical psychologist
- School counselor
- Marriage and family therapist
- Child development specialist
- Psychological stress evaluator
Industrial and Organizational Psychology
- Human resources manager
- People & culture officer
- Workplace diversity and inclusion coordinator
- Marketing research director
- Employee relations specialist
Education and Research
- Research assistant
- Admissions evaluator
- Vocational training teacher
- Preschool teacher
- Employment Counselor
Social Work and Community Support
- Case worker
- Substance abuse counselor
- Disability policy worker
- Adoption counselor
- Veterans counselor
Criminal Justice and Forensic Psychology
- Victims’ advocate
- Expert witness
- Probation or parole officer
- Criminal investigator
- Polygraph examiner
Master’s Education and Specializations in Psychology
A bachelor’s degree in psychology can provide a strong foundation for various career paths. However, some graduates may choose to pursue advanced degrees.
At Furman University, nearly half of the psychology graduates opt for graduate school after completing their undergraduate studies. Every fall, as part of the Psychology Professional Development Series, Furman hosts an informative graduate school info session to provide students with comprehensive information about applying for admission to graduate school in Psychology.
Before deciding to pursue an advanced degree, it’s essential to consider the cost. Building skills and gaining work experience by entering the workforce can help you clarify your career goals. It’s worth noting that each state has its own requirements for psychologist licensure, so researching the requirements for the state you plan to work in is crucial when deciding whether to pursue a master’s or doctorate.
Advanced Degrees in Psychology
- Master’s degree: If you’re considering advancing your career, a master’s degree may be the key to unlocking new opportunities and increasing your overall salary. With a master’s degree in clinical psychology, you could work as a therapist or counselor. In contrast, a master’s in counseling could qualify you for a role as a school or college counselor. Remember that different degrees offer different pathways, so choosing the one that aligns with your career goals is essential.
- Doctorate (Ph.D. or Psy.D.): With a doctoral degree in psychology, you can work in clinical practice, teaching or research. As a research psychologist, you can teach more about the human mind and develop new treatments for mental health issues. You can also choose to become a consultant psychologist, a human resources psychologist, or a university professor. While a Ph.D. is the traditional choice for those who want to become researchers, a Psy.D. may be a better fit for those who want to work as psychology clinicians.
Specializations in Psychology
Within psychology, there are several specializations that can help you chart your career path once you graduate. When thinking about internships and hands-on learning opportunities, focus on your specialization for more targeted learning.
- Clinical Psychology. Clinical psychology specializes in evaluating, diagnosing, and managing mental health disorders — psychologists that you’re most familiar with. Clinical psychologists work with children, adults and couples in hospitals, clinics, schools and private practices. You need a doctoral degree to specialize in clinical psychology, which takes up to seven years to complete coursework. To become a licensed clinical psychologist, you must complete a postdoctoral fellowship after your doctoral degree. These fellowships last up to two years, providing specialized training in neuropsychology or adult and child psychology.
- Forensic Psychology. Forensic psychology is a specialized field of psychology that applies psychological theories and principles to the legal system. Forensic psychologists work with various clients, including criminal defendants, victims of crime, and witnesses. As a forensic psychologist, you will evaluate criminal defendants, victims of crime, and witnesses, give expert testimony in court, and research crime and criminal behavior. Some forensic psychologists work in prisons, providing assessment and treatment, while others have private practices or work in law firms.
- Sports Psychology. Sports psychologists help athletes of all levels, from young to professionals, deal with anxiety, stress, and pressure during their athletic careers. To become licensed, you must earn a sports psychology doctoral degree and complete a postdoctoral fellowship. Sports psychologists can also assist athletes in transitioning from their athletic careers to other careers.
Psychology Careers Beyond the Traditional Paths
Employing your psychology degree in education encompasses more than just teaching at a university. You can also consider a career in Applied Behavioral Analysis Therapy, which uses a scientific approach to modify behaviors based on external factors. Some ABA therapists work with clients with autism spectrum disorder or other developmental disabilities. A degree in psychology provides an understanding of human development and behavior, which is helpful for Applied Behavioral Analysis therapists to comprehend their client’s needs and create personalized interventions for each individual. You can also apply it as a mental health counselor in a special needs institution.
You can consider employee wellness and human resources if you’re looking for an alternative career path. A degree in psychology can be useful in assessing and modifying work environments to enhance employee performance and establish a positive work culture, mainly if you work in human resources. You can use your excellent communication and interpersonal skills to build connections with employees and provide a supportive environment when required.
Whether working in corporate wellness or setting up a culture book at a startup, your psychology degree can help you positively impact the workplace, as emotional intelligence can be the key to success.
Furman Alumni Have Found Careers as...
- Marriage/family therapist
- Commercial relationship manager
- Senior developer analyst
- Human factors engineer
- Licensed clinical psychologist
- Special agent
- Grant writer and project manager
- Occupational therapist
- Vice president of community relations
- Human resources specialist
- Speech and language pathologist
Find the Right Psychology Field for You
The field of psychology presents a wide range of career opportunities and specializations. Hopefully, after reading this, you’re not still wondering, “What can I do with a bachelor’s degree in psychology?” With a bachelor’s degree in psychology, many career paths are available, from marketing and UX design to more conventional options such as clinical psychology. Psychology also opens doors to a variety of other avenues, such as forensic psychology or human resources-focused psychology.
Psychology equips you with a toolkit for comprehending people and their behavior, allowing you to help people or even work in businesses to improve them. When hiring, employers consistently seek emotional intelligence, problem solving, critical thinking and a broad skill set. As a psychology major at Furman, you’ll acquire these skills and a detailed understanding of human behavior — all attributes that appeal to future employers and prestigious graduate study programs.
Experience The Furman Advantage
At Furman, we are here every step of the way when you’re asking those hard questions like “What can I do with a bachelor’s degree in psychology?” and we help prepare you for the future. You can earn your B.A. in psychology or B.S. in psychology at Furman with dedicated professors, hands-on learning opportunities, and individualized access to faculty, thanks to small-class sizes. Visit our beautiful campus to learn more.
The views and opinions expressed in the Furman Blog are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Furman University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.