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It’s true that, in order to work as a psychologist, a master’s or doctorate degree is typically required. However, a bachelor’s degree in psychology can still function as a valuable starting point for a number of career paths. These career paths may or may not be in the field of psychology; the skills acquired from a bachelor’s in psychology can be applied to a wide range of promising fields.
The majority of students with a bachelor’s degree in psychology go on to work in human or social services. Some typical jobs in this field of work are: career counselor, psychiatric technician, rehabilitation specialist, and case manager. These jobs all require skills which a bachelor’s degree in psychology provides, such as the ability to evaluate the needs of a client, to keep accurate and organized records, to express empathy and compassion, and to work towards the best interests of your client.
A bachelor’s degree in psychology provides training in a number of skills which can be applied to many occupations and disciplines. As you search for a job, it would be helpful to make a list of these skills which potential employers may find attractive. For example, throughout your schooling you have most likely done a good deal of academic writing and research. This skill would make you a viable candidate for many positions, such as business manager, library assistant, probation officer, and many others. Take inventory of your strengths, and consider how they might be of value in a range of occupations.
Interestingly, about three quarters of students who earn a bachelor’s degree in psychology do not pursue a graduate degree in psychology. In fact, only about a quarter of psychology undergraduates actually end up working in psychology, or a closely related field. Notwithstanding, psychology undergraduates can become some of the most successful professionals.
The following are just a few of the common career paths for individuals who complete a bachelor’s degree in psychology.
There is a common misconception floating around in our collective consciousness. It states that a bachelor’s degree in psychology by itself is practically useless; a bachelor’s degree in psychology is only useful as a prerequisite for a master’s or doctorate degree in psychology. This simply isn’t true. It is correct that a bachelor’s degree in psychology can be a great stepping stone toward a graduate degree, but it can be applied to several other career paths than psychology. In fact, it’s estimated that 40% of psychology majors go on to study at law school or business school. However, a bachelor’s degree in psychology can certainly carry some value of its own.
Bachelor’s degrees in psychology are versatile. They can be applied to a large number of disciplines, and students with bachelor’s degrees in psychology go on to work in a variety of professions. The most common occupations which employ individuals with these particular degrees include: upper- and middle-management/administration, sales, social work, labor-relations, real estate, insurance, and marketing.
Undergraduate psychology degrees can certainly be useful in unrelated fields, but if you hope to become a licensed psychologist, you’ll need to pursue a graduate degree in psychology (a Ph.D or Psy.D). As far as undergraduate degrees go, psychology is one of the most commonly pursued options at colleges and universities worldwide, which is why job opportunities for those with only a bachelor’s degree are more limited within the field of psychology. In fact, less than 25% of those with a bachelor’s degree in psychology find jobs related to their major.
Despite this competitive job market, there are ways to optimize your degree’s potential, as well as your own employ ability. As you work your way through your degree, consider which classes will provide useful skills which you can use to market yourself to employers. Any classes which strengthen your understanding of human behavior and decision-making, your writing and communication skills, and your organizational skills will be of particular value further down the road.
Once you graduate, seek out those jobs who need employees with your particular skill set. These skills will include: writing skills, critical thinking, one-on-one and small group communication, knowledge regarding individual and group behavior, and creative thinking.