Skills Developed as a Psychology Major
Psychology is a science. That’s why it’s important to make sure you’re up-to-date with current research. Getting a degree in psychology provides you with the skills and knowledge to pursue a career in the field. Whether you’re interested in the practice itself or research, psychology requires a particular skill set:
What Skills Do Employers Look For?
Research: Both research-based and practical psychology careers require the ability to find, understand, and incorporate new information as it becomes available. Research-based careers rely on psychologists who can ensure that treatment methods and scientific understanding have been reliably tested and studied. Practical psychologists must stay up-to-date on current methods and practices through scientific journals and research papers. Often, psychologists attend conferences, lectures, and seminars to continue research after completing their studies.
Communication: Psychology involves working with others, including other professionals and clients. Communication skills are necessary to understand another person’s point of view and make sure they understand yours. It can also help psychologists develop specific and personalized care. For those interested in research and publication, communicating with other professionals is an integral part of participating in the scientific community.
Patience: Psychology and related fields require time and dedication. Whether it’s working long-term with patients to accomplish goals or studying and developing methodologies and practices, patience is important to the process. It may take a significant amount of time to implement new methods, successfully publish, or see improvement in patients.
Organization: Researchers collect and synthesize a lot of information, which requires an efficient organization method. As they compile, analyze, and report on their research, a crucial aspect of their jobs requires keeping their records organized. Additionally, they must keep track of patients, their needs, deadlines, and appointment times.
Problem-Solving: For those who pursue research, the ability to solve problems and figure out the best approach to their work. The knowledge developed and published by psychologists goes on to influence many different fields, so making sure that their work is as clear and correct as possible is paramount. Practical psychologists work closely with people in need, which makes the ability to solve problems quickly and smoothly incredibly important. Any career path that involves working with others or personal issues requires the ability to diffuse conflict and implement solutions.
Psychology degrees are incredibly versatile because the field of psychology helps you understand how other people think and behave. In fact, a 2019 Linkedin Study found that psychology was one of the top 10 most versatile majors. Beyond working as a psychologist or researcher, fields like advertising, law, human resources, and criminal justice require the knowledge and experience of psychologists.
A bachelor’s degree in psychology can pave the way to a wide range of careers, but your career path may depend on your level of higher education. Consider the following psychology careers grouped by degree level:
Annual Median Salary: $36,570
Job Outlook: 10-15%
Psychiatric technicians work with physicians or other health care practitioners to care for patients with mental/emotional challenges. They may assist with rehabilitation and treatment programs, such as helping with personal hygiene and administering medications. Psychiatric technicians monitor patients and report to medical staff.
Annual Median Salary: $37,610
Job Outlook: 15%
Social and human service assistants work in the fields of psychology, rehabilitation, and social work to help other providers support their patients and clients. They aid clients in applying for benefits and services, and they participate in programs that treat and prevent problems, such as substance abuse, dependent care, and disabilities.
Annual Median Salary: $47,940
Job Outlook: 10%
Recreational therapists work with recreation-based treatment programs for people with disabilities, injuries, or illnesses. They use tools — such as crafting, dance, sports, and community outings — to improve patients' physical health while allowing them to find motivation and comfort through socialization. Recreational therapists also use community resources to help patients lead healthy, fulfilling lives.
Annual Median Salary: $48,520
Job Outlook: 23%
Substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors provide treatment and support for their patients, who need help recovering from addiction, coping with stress, and improving their personal relationships. They may help clients re-establish themselves in the workforce and care for themselves at home.
Annual Median Salary: $78,780
Job Outlook: 10-15%
School psychologists work with students, teachers, and parents to foster development and encourage academic success. Often, school psychologists teach students and parents about topics like bullying, drug use, and behavioral challenges. They may also counsel students, provide a support system, and keep the administration up-to-date with current research.
Annual Median Salary: $105,310
Job Outlook: 1-5%
Industrial-organizational psychologists are qualified trainers, facilitators, assessors, and coaches. They may conduct research and work with HR departments, acting as consultants to increase employee productivity, develop screening procedures, and improve workplace quality. They may work in research or academia to evaluate methodologies and practices that interfere with an organization’s performance.
Annual Median Salary: $82,510
Job Outlook: 10-15%
Clinical psychologists use observation, testing, and communication to diagnose and treat mental and emotional disorders. They help patients understand their challenges and can provide individual or group counseling. Clinical psychologists also design behavior modification programs and consult with medical personnel to create individualized treatment plans.
Annual Median Salary: $50,390
Job Outlook: 12%
Social workers are knowledgeable about resources, such as food stamps, childcare, and health care, and their chief role is to assist their clients in accessing these resources. They respond to crisis situations, such as child abuse and mental health emergencies. Social workers also advocate for their clients. They can work on the local, state, and national levels.
Annual Median Salary: $102,900
Job Outlook: 1-5%
Clinical neuropsychologists diagnose patients with neurobehavioral problems and developmental disorders. They study issues, such as neurodegenerative disorders, traumatic brain injury, and learning disabilities. They also recommend treatment and evaluate neurosurgical procedures.
Types of Psychologists
The following psychologists are specialists in their niche field. Although there isn't individualized data for each career type listed, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) lumps all psychologists into a single category, with a job outlook of 8% — also the US average across occupations — and a median annual salary of $81,040.
Forensic psychologists dissect details, identify and interpret psychological clues, and study criminal behavior. They study crime scenes and evidence to develop a psychological profile for individuals. Their expertise can be used in the criminal justice system to help legal teams understand the psychological components of a criminal case. They may also evaluate defendants and witnesses to decide if they’re competent to stand trial, advise on jury selection, and give expert testimony on behavior.
Environmental psychologists work with nonprofits, government agencies, zoos, and parks to promote eco-friendly behaviors on an individual and societal scale. They also work to reverse the problems of pollution and loss of biodiversity by studying and influencing human behavior. Often, these psychologists work in urban planning, environmental design, and climate change initiatives.
Quantitative psychologists aim to improve research methods, explore statistical models, and identify new ways to use current methodologies in order to explore complex research questions. They also improve how questionnaires and servers are created. They are experts in statistics, research methodology, and aptitude tests — such as tests for personnel selection and psychological assessments.
Alternative Careers With a Psychology Degree
While a psychology degree is typically seen as a way to enter the field of psychology, it is also useful for careers in a variety of sectors, from marketing to advertising fields. There are numerous professions that require understanding how people think and behave. Here are a few jobs you can get with a bachelor's degree in psychology.
Annual Median Salary: $63,920
Job Outlook: 22%
Market research analysts collect data and information through interviews, questionnaires, and focus groups to understand their customers and increase potential sales. They use their psychology skills to understand their target consumers. Then, they develop advertising campaigns, sales plans, and promotions that will best accomplish the goals of their organizations.
Annual Median Salary: $62,290
Job Outlook: 10%
HR specialists recruit job applicants, monitor employee relations, and handle benefits. Because of how closely HR specialists work with applicants and employees, psychology skills are critical. People may be nervous or upset when they approach HR specialists for assistance, so knowing how to effectively communicate and help employees work through their problems is a substantial part of the job. Training new employees and solving conflicts requires a well-informed understanding of people.
Annual Median Salary: $78,060
Job Outlook: 12%
Technical writers work with computer engineers, software developers, and product developers to create instruction manuals, how-to guides, and other support documents for their products. Knowing how users and customers process information and interact with technical content helps organizations make sure they’re communicating clearly and effectively. A psychology degree provides research skills, an understanding of learning processes, and the writing skills to succeed in the field of technical writing.
Annual Median Salary: $126,300
Job Outlook: 10%
Advertising managers use psychology to develop marketing strategies for their organization's products or services. They may serve as liaisons between clients and agencies, which requires the ability to understand what people want and translate this need into a product or process. Advertising managers perform market research studies and analyze their findings to best approach customers and business opportunities.
Improving Your Job Prospects
Furthering your education gives you access to a wider range of jobs. While there are psychology degree jobs that only require a bachelor’s, most employers prefer a master’s or PhD. With graduate degrees, you can specialize in a specific field of psychology, such as environmental psychology or neuropsychology. Most psychologists interested in conducting research are expected to have a PhD in their chosen specialization.
While there are psychology degree jobs that only require a bachelor’s, most employers prefer a master’s or PhD.
Sometimes, individuals with a bachelor’s in psychology go on to pursue a master’s or PhD in a similar field, including social work, education, criminal justice, or medicine. Many graduate degrees expand on the knowledge you acquire during your bachelor’s and provide more education on specific careers.
Before you choose a graduate program, consider what career you’re interested in pursuing. Find a university with the specific program you want, and research the professors you’ll be learning from. With such a versatile field, it’s important to make sure you’re spending your time in a program that will help you achieve your personal goals.
So, Is a Psychology Degree Worth It?
Whether you’re looking to do research, help patients, affect policy or improve communities, a psychology degree is definitely worth it. As a field, psychology is always growing and evolving to better help people make sense of the world around them. A strong background in psychology offers the education and experience needed for professional success. Furthermore, a college degree in this science- and research-focused field can help you develop skills that are in strong demand as well as prepare you for a variety of careers.