Psychology is a field that, although stands on a clear foundation of behavioral and social sciences, opens the door to a variety of careers in many industries. From social work to working with human resources in businesses to testifying in legal cases, an online psychology degree is a choice that has many applications.
Careers in traditional psychology are growing in popularity in a society that is increasingly aware of the importance of developmental and mental health. Psychology is also gaining a presence in our schools, medical facilities, organizations, relationships, and everyday lives, so it comes as no surprise that more positions are predicted to become available in the coming years.
THE CAREER PATH
Those who choose careers in psychology are often looking for jobs that allows them to help others, through the study and observation of human behavior and interactions with one another.
Others may just be curious about the inner workings of the human psyche, and then realize that a psychology degree is a great foundation for several industries including business, media and marketing. Traditional psychology careers can include the following specializations:
- Clinical Psychology—Private, clinical appointments to help individuals develop coping skills for normal life stressors or more severe and/or traumatic conditions and situations
- Developmental Psychology—Studying developmental progress in children and the elderly
- School Psychology—Assessing the behavior of students and addressing their needs in respect to the educational environment
- Industrial Organizational Psychology—Assessing industries and organizations and using psychological practices to improve the quality of work and life of the employees and management
- Neuropsychology—Studying the impact and treatment of injuries, disorders, and diseases related to the brain
On average, these psychologists earn around $72,580 annually according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Many psychology careers—especially clinical, counseling, or therapy psychology programs—require both a master's degree and a supervised internship. Make sure you understand state and national standards for licensing if your goal is to work in counseling. To officially call yourself a psychologist or to open a private practice as a therapist in some states you may need to earn an online doctorate degree in the field, pass a state licensing exam, and complete up to two years of supervised work in a clinic or counseling center.
If you want to work as an assistant in clinical setting or in a field like substance abuse counseling, you may only need an associate or bachelor’s degree. If you choose a career like school psychology or industrial-organizational psychology, states may require additional licensing or more complex regulations.
ONLINE PSYCHOLOGY DEGREES
There is no more popular online degree major than psychology—except for business and management. Online psychology degrees are popular for two reasons. First, if you cannot decide what to major in, psychology has been the classic haven of indecisive students for generations. And for good reason. Psychology, the study of human behavior, is both interesting and great intellectual fodder for any future career that might involve people. Since all careers involve working with people, psych can be a highly flexible major in the work world.
Online psychology degree programs come in many flavors. Expect a classic psychology degree to include courses in general psychology, child psychology, abnormal psychology, the psychology of personality, statistics, research methodology, and experimental psychology. Related traditional liberal arts majors include the online social science degree, and the online sociology degree.
If you want to take an applied approach to psychology, many online bachelor degree programs focus on human services, counseling, or family studies. Any of these online psychology degrees can help you land a job inside counseling agencies. If you want to provide direct therapy to individuals and groups check out closely related majors, including counseling, human services, or social work.
Most schools offer the opportunity to adapt your education to focus on the topics that are related to your career goals, however some psychology specializations have significantly more school options than others. For example, you will likely see more schools with human services related psychology degrees.
Graduate programs at the master’s level and beyond is generally the best way to ensure you have the necessary education to be competitive in your chosen profession. If the field you want to pursue requires certifications beyond degrees, it may be advantageous to consider programs that have a high rate of licensure among their graduates.
The average online psychology degree costs $44,174. However, it is important to remember that the overall cost will depend on your desired subject and the requirements for further education and qualifications.
NON-PSYCHOLOGIST CAREER OPTIONS
There are many fields that that a psychology degree naturally applies to including those in the business and human services.
A psychology degree can be an effective tool in careers like marketing where the knowledge you gain about human behavior can help advertising campaigns be more effective. Marketing professionals also make a decent wage—for instance, a copywriter can make anywhere from $50,000 to $75,000 according to a report by the Creative Group, a staffing agency in the industry.
Marketing careers typically do not require any sort of licensing; however, certain certifications like those from the American Marketing Association may make you more attractive to employers. Also, it may behoove you to earn an MBA (Master in Business Administration) if you want to pursue high-level positions such as Chief Marketing Officer.
- Law & Criminal Justice
Law and criminal justice is another industry that seeks out those with online psychology degrees. Whether working with police in crime scene investigation or as a correctional officer, having knowledge of the human psyche can help you better succeed at your job. The U.S. Department of Labor lists the annual wage for criminal investigators as around $75,000 and $40,000 for an officer in corrections.
Most states require investigators and other criminal justice professionals to be licensed. Each state has different rules, so it would be a good idea to look at your state’s licensing board. Also, if your profession require you to carry a gun, you may need to earn additional certifications. The combination of a psychology major and a criminal justice minor or vice versa may be the best way to enter the criminal justice industry with the needed knowledge to truly excel.
- Human Services
The human services industry is an obvious option for those with a psychology degree as many of the professions in human services call upon counseling and therapy methodology to help those in need. A social worker earns on average $50,000 annually, whereas community services managers can earn more than $60,000 a year.
Counselors and social workers are required to have licenses to practice in most states, although what is needed to receive licensure varies greatly across state-lines. In addition, many states’ education requirements may differ for specific job titles. For instance, someone working as an addiction specialist may only need an associate degree. Community services managers do not need to be licensed.
If you want to pursue a career in human services, most psychology degrees have specialization options that pertain directly to this industry.