Best Jobs for Psychology Majors in 2017
A bachelor’s degree in psychology prepares you for a wide variety of jobs. You’ll have skills ranging from interpersonal communication to data analysis, so while the term “psychology” might seem limited, it’s actually one of the most unrestricted and expansive degrees a person can earn.
Jobs for psychology majors can be found in the scientific field, social services, and private sector. Skills from a psychology major include sales, research, management, and practically anything else you can imagine.
However, to take advantage of a psychology degree, you need to know how to sell your skills and emphasize your benefit to a company or organization. After graduation, there are also many options for continuing into a master’s degree and eventually even a doctorate. It’s a broad, exciting, and deeply-satisfying degree.
Skills Acquired from a Psychology Major
When you enroll for a bachelor's degree in psychology, you will be expected to complete classes that address numerous topics related to the human psyche. Most programs will start with general psychology classes, which introduce students to many of the concepts they will meet in advanced courses. Many programs will include a history of psychology, which will cover the most important thought-leaders in the field.
Depending on the program, students will complete classes related to statistics, experimental psychology, and physiology. Specific psychology sub-topics can include developmental, abnormal, and social psychology.
While it’s not usually seen as a mathematics-heavy program, psychology degrees do involve a lot of statistics and numbers. Anyone graduating with a degree in psychology will understand not only how to analyze and make use of data, but how to conduct proper research to generate this data in the first place. These skills apply not only to the scientific field, but also to the general market, including industries such as advertising and product development.
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At the end of these classes, psychology majors have a stronger understanding of the human mind, behavior patterns, and thought processes, which sets them up for success is a wide range of fields. You’ll create research methods, interpret data, and memorize theories. All of these tasks can be mentally draining, and you’ll need to be ready for these challenges before entering a psychology major.
Students who study in psychology degree programs have some of the most broadly-applicable skills in the market. They will learn critical thinking, oral and written communication, interpersonal skills, and problem solving. They will learn to analyze data and reach conclusions based on numbers, charts, and hard information. This makes a degree in psychology an excellent preparation for numerous job fields that are as diverse as the psychology classes themselves.
Best Jobs for Psychology Majors
The National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) reports that new psychology bachelor's degree graduates received job offers with salaries averaging $35,108 in 2015. The top 75th percentile were earned $40,000, while the bottom 25th percentile earned $27,500. This is about $15,000 less, on average, than business or liberal arts graduates.
Yikes! With the average cost of an online bachelor's degree in psychology coming in at $47,410, finding a well paying job isn't a luxury, it's mandatory.
For this list, we’re going to focus on jobs that primarily require, or are enhanced by, a bachelor’s degree in psychology. In general, you’ll find that any job title with the word “psychologist,” be it a behavioral psychologist, criminal psychologist, or clinical psychologist, will require a master’s degree or even a doctorate degree. That said, there is no reason why a bachelor's degree in psychology can’t be extremely beneficial to your career, earning you well above average.
Selling Your Skills as a Psychology Graduate
All the education, training, and skills in the world won’t land you a job unless you know how to sell yourself. For many careers and educations, it’s obvious how to sell your skills. You went to engineering school and now you want to be an engineer; you went to law school and now you’re ready to start as a lawyer. But what about selling your skills and finding jobs for psychology majors? It might seem tough, but the good news is that psychology majors have a wide range of skills that they can pitch to employers.
Start by understanding what the employer is looking for in the position. Because your skills will be so broad, you need to narrow down the list to a few simple and basic skills that apply to this position. For example, if it is a job as a sales representative, emphasize your interpersonal skills and discuss classes and projects that helped these skills. If the jobs is for lab assistant, emphasize your work in research projects, statistical analysis, and your strong understanding of the scientific process.
Unfortunately, you may also need to break the perception that psychology is an easy program for students who want a casual education. As you’ll discover in your psychology classes, the degree is far from easy; you’ll be challenged on a regular basis. Make sure that you discuss the challenges of a psychology degree, in detail if needed, to make that point clear. Talk about subjects that most people find challenging, such as statistics, neuroscience, and cognition. By emphasizing how difficult a psychology program was, you reiterate to employers that you are up for nearly any challenge!
Degrees that Compliment a Psychology Degree
Because the field of psychology, and the applicable jobs for psychology majors, are so broad, there is a seemingly limitless pairing of degrees and minors for psychology majors.
Many degrees and minors will obviously apply directly to a psychology degree. For example, human biology, criminal justice, or child development will seamlessly tie into psychology, further enhancing your skills in many ways. Degrees and minors focusing on numbers, such as statistics or mathematics will make you more hirable for positions in the research side of psychology.
Business-related degrees also complement a psychology major. These can include management, administration, or advertising degrees.
Essentially, the choice of complementary degree or minor will depend on the path you want to take after graduation. By choosing something that aligns with your future goals, you enhance your chance of success in your chosen field.
Continuing Your Psychology Education
As we discussed earlier, many psychology positions, including the vast majority of jobs where you can call yourself a “psychologist,” are only available to those with a graduate degree, either a master’s or doctorate. For this reason, it is very common for psychology majors to continue their education after earning their bachelor’s degree, often moving seamlessly from one program to the next.
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The median salary for a psychologist in the United States was $72,580 in May of 2015. This career area also boasts a much faster growth rate than average–a 19% increase is projected between 2014 to 2026.
Industrial organizational psychologists stand to earn the highest salaries with the median salary of $77,350. However, all types of psychologists working in government or hospital positions will make the most. Expect between $80,000 and $90,000. Those working one on one with clients will earn the least, although it's still not paltry by any means. In 2015, family services psychologists earned a median salary of $59,910.
While employers rarely care about your grade point average, it is important to maintain a strong GPA if you want to continue your education after a bachelor's degree in psychology.
If you do move to a graduate program, you’ll have plenty of options, and they usually become more narrow and focused. For example, someone with a bachelors in psychology could move into a program focusing on behavioral analysis, business psychology, educational or forensic psychology. Many psycholgists also go on to become high school or post secondary teachers.
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