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Career Options with a Bachelor's Degree in Psychology

Updated on December 29, 2012
Now what?
Now what? | Source

So, you took PSYC101 and were completely captivated by what you learned - about the brain, about conditioning, about human behavior in general. You're looking at yourself and others in a whole new way. You want to learn more. This would be a good time to get a realistic view of what the future holds for a graduate with a BA or BS in Psychology.

Psychology Researcher, Practitioner, or Educator

The first thing you'll learn when talking to a career counselor is that a Bachelor's Degree in Psychology does not make you a psychologist. That requires passing the GRE, and years of additional education to obtain a Ph.D. (researcher), a Psy.D. (practitioner), or Ed.D. (educator).

What Do I Get with an Undergraduate Degree in Psychology?

The American Psychological Association (APA) has created a list of 10 goals and outcomes that describe the knowledge, skills, and abilities developed within the psychology major and enhanced by the psychology major.

Undergraduate Psychology Learning Goals and Outcomes

Knowledge, Skills, and Values Consistent with the Science and Application of Psychology
Knowledge, Skills, and Values Consistent with a Liberal Arts Education That Are Further Developed in Psychology
Knowlege base of psychology - students will demonstrate familiarity with the major concepts, theoretical perspectives, empirical findings, and historical trends in psychology
Information and technology literacy - students will demonstrate information competence and the ability to use computers and other technology for many purposes
Research methods in psychology - students will understand and apply basic research methods in psychology, including research design, data analysis,and interpretation.
Communication skills - students will be able to communicate effectively in a variety of formats.
Critical thinking skills in psychology - students will respect and use critical and creative thinking, skeptical inquiry, and, when possible the scientific approach to solve problems related to behavior and mental processes.
Sociocultural and international awareness - students will recognize, understand, and respect the complexity of sociocultural and international diversity.
Application of psychology - students will understand and apply psychological principles to personal, social, and organizational issues.
Personal development - students will develop insight into their own and others' behavior and mental process and apply effective strategies for self-management and self-improvement.
Values in psychology - students will be able to weigh evidence, tolerate ambiguity, act ethically, and reflect other values that are underpinnings of psychology as a discipline.
Career planning and development - students will emerge from the major with realistic ideas about how to implement their psychological knowledge, skills, and values in occupational pursuits in a variety of settings.
Many Psychology Majors Become Managers.
Many Psychology Majors Become Managers. | Source
Community Health Assistant
Community Health Assistant | Source

So, How Can I Implement this Knowledge in an Occupational Setting?

In other words, what kind of job can I expect to get with a Bachelor's Degree in Psychology?

Fortunately, a Psychology degree is considered one of the top 4 recession-proof degrees.

Laurence Shatkin, Ph.D., author of many books on education including "The 10 Best College Majors for Your Personality" writes:

"Psych majors go into fields such as public relations, advertising, and management because they understand something about the way people's minds tick. Also, they learn statistics and that kind of analytical ability is very useful in managerial jobs."

According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), psychology bachelor's degree grads recently saw their average starting salary increase 23.8 percent to $40,069. Check out the NACE website for a ton of current occupation and salary information.

Jobs available to Psychology BA or BS graduates are seemingly endless. The range of fields actually chosen by graduates run the gamut from research and development, public affairs, social services, human resources, administrative, management, clerical, health and health education, biological and computer sciences, and more. An excellent resource for gaining current statistics and salaries for every imaginable job category is the Occupational Network (O*NET).

Samples of Psychology Degree Career Paths and Incomes:

  • Market Research Analyst: $66,850, up 28 percent
  • Probation Officer: $51,240, up 19 percent

Finding the Job

You probably know how important networking is when looking for your desired job. Join any available psych fraternities on campus, become best buds with your college career counselor and your Psychology Department Head, become a common fixture in your psych department where you can rub elbows with people who know about companies who have contacted them for interns or new hires.

Also, check out the APA's article: How to find a job with an undergraduate degree in psychology. And, in the Career section of the APA site, you can actually look for a job and post your resume.

A Bachelor's Degree in Psychology

Although you won't technically be a psychologist, a psychology degree is a great choice in our economy and offers a huge range of job options. Best of luck in finding the career that is perfect for you.


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    • Torrs13 profile image

      Tori Canonge 

      4 years ago from North Carolina

      Good information! I have found that there are many routes available for people who pursue a bachelor's degree in psychology. Some of the professions can be a little tougher to get into, so it may be helpful for students to have an internship in the field they would like to work in after graduation. Also, choosing a minor to complement the major and enhance further skills, such as business or marketing for someone who wants to be a market research analyst, would be beneficial.

    • LucyLiu12 profile imageAUTHOR

      Robin Young 

      6 years ago from Boise

      Hi! I truly wish I could help you with this, but I'm just nearing my BS in Psychology. I think your best best would be to have a significant one-on-one with your department head, describe exactly your career direction, and they can help you decide which courses to take and even which school(s) have the best programs to fit your clinical psychologist goal. Best of luck to you. I admire your determination.

    • jeugenejohn profile image


      6 years ago from Kerala

      An informative article indeed, Lucy Liu. You did mention about Ph.d and Psy.D in Psychology. Can you tell me the main difference between both. Also, to be a clinical psychologist what path of education do I need to take after bachelors degree. Once again, thanks for the wonderful article.


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