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Best Jobs for Psychology Majors in 2017

Best Non-Psychologist Jobs for Psychology MajorsA 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.

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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.

 Marketing Professional  Average salary: $73,720 (Management can make over $120,000)

Scientific analysis; creative thinking; understanding the thought process. All of these apply to a career in marketing and all of them will be acquired with a psychology degree. The art, (or science) of persuasion is a common topic in psychology programs, making a graduate of these classes a top candidate for marketing and advertising positions. There are many positions in the advertising industry, including marketing managers, research analysts, and advertising sales agent.

 Sales Representative  Average salary: $25,000 (Sales Engineers can make over $97,650)

While studying to obtain an online degree in psychology, students learn a wide range of skills, including communication, interpersonal, and organizational skills. Psychology students also learn about human emotion, mentality, and the thought process. All of this knowledge can be applied directly to a sales career, making it one of the top jobs with a bachelor’s in psychology. The Bureau of Labor Statistics lists a wide variety of careers under the umbrella of “sales occupations,” including advertising, insurance, retail, and real estate sales. According to their numbers, people in sales occupations have an average salary of roughly $25,000. While this is well below the national income average, there is good news. Sales engineers who sell technological products, as the highest earners, pulling in an average of $97,650, while cashiers are at the bottom, bringing in less than $20,000.

 Recruiter  Average salary: $29,000 – $73,000

Similar to a human resources specialist, a recruiter works specifically to recruit talent to an organization. Sometimes called “headhunters,” these professionals conduct many tasks that can range from being out on the streets finding candidates to reading resumes and cover letters. They may check references, return calls, or attend career day events hosted at schools. A recruiter will make anywhere from $29,000 to over $73,000. So while the lower-level recruiters may fall short of the national earnings average, elite recruiters can make a significant income.

 Public Relations Representative  Average salary$65,830

A public relations (PR) representative or coordinator is responsible for maintaining a positive public image for a business or organization. A day in PR could include writing press releases, meeting with employees to organize messaging, creating speeches for leaders, and tracking media coverage of the company. These duties encompass many of the skills learned through a psychology degree, making graduates with a bachelor’s degree in psychology a popular choice for these positions.

 Human Resources  Average salary: $58,000 (Managers can make over $104,440)

Almost every company or organization in the country needs a human resources professional. HR representatives are responsible for recruiting, hiring, and evaluating a company’s staff, and while organizational skills are imperative, you also need to be able to talk with people and make decision on whether or not they are a good fit for a company. This calls for a solid understanding of people, which you can gain from a psychology degree. By applying interviewing and personal skills, human resources have become an essential component for all successful large organizations.

 Career Counselor  Average salary: $53,336 

Also called a vocational counselor, a career counselor works with people to identify a career field that will make them happy while allowing them to make a comfortable income. In this field, which is one of the popular jobs for psychology majors, a person will look at someone’s work history, education, personality, and general interests to find a specific career that will keep them satisfied for years. Anyone interested in helping people achieve their long-term goals will enjoy this career.

 Laboratory Assistants  Average salary: $50,550

While psychology deals with a lot of emotional issues and often vague concepts, there is a core of science behind the practice. Psychology, like biology, physiology, and ecology, is, after all, a science. Therefore, scientific research is required, which calls for laboratory assistants. Depending on the type of experiments and surveys conducted, a lab assistant may need to be certified by state or occupational boards. If you are interested in a career as a lab assistant, it will help to gain real-world experience by participating and assisting with research experiments at local universities.

 Social Services Specialist  Average salary: $46,160

Whether they work for government agencies or non-profit organizations, social services specialist hold many responsibilities. This can include connecting individuals with psychological help, providing general counseling, or helping with case management. Many of the advanced positions in social services will require education beyond a bachelors degree in psychology.

 Corrections Officer  Average salary: $40,580

Challenging and difficult, the job of a corrections officer is certainly not for everyone. However, these jobs are available to people with high school degrees or the equivalent are are complemented perfectly by a psychology degree. The position, however, will require academy training upon being hired. In this job, you’ll need to know how to communicate and understand human emotions, making anyone with an education in psychology, as well as the right mentality, a viable candidate. While the position of corrections officer is only expected to grow by 4% over the next ten years, the average earnings for this job is $40,580, which is exceptional for a career that does not require a college degree. Like most positions, people with bachelor’s degrees have a better chance at higher earnings.

 Counselor  Average salary: $39,000

This is one of the most common jobs for psychology majors, as the interpersonal and analytical skills gained from a psychology education applies directly to many counseling tasks. Counselors can work for government agencies or the non-profit sector, helping with substance abuse cases, welfare initiatives, and outreach programs. Many counseling positions require a master’s degree, but not all. Substance abuse and behavioral counselors, for example, generally only need a bachelor’s degree. This position can earn roughly $39,000 a year and has an expected job growth at 22%, which is much faster than the average job growth.

 Child Care Worker  Average salary$20,000

If you are passionate about helping children, then a career as a child care worker could be perfect way to utilize your psychology degree. The basis of the job is watching children while parents are busy, but child care workers do much more, like helping children grow and develop through play and learning activities. Daycare centers often hire graduates of psychology programs to improve their facility and system. Because the minimum education for most child care workers is a high school diploma or equivalent, the position does not average a very high salary. The BLS says that child care workers make about $20,000 a year. However, with a psychology degree, you have a greater earning potential and you always have the option of becoming an entrepreneur and starting your own child day care center.


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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Related Resources

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Best Jobs for Psychology Master’s Graduates
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