Individuals who aspire to help people better understand themselves and their health should consider careers in psychology. Psychologists assist patients struggling with mental health and general life issues. While clients visit these professionals in private office settings, psychologists also work in nontraditional settings within organizations. For instance, corporate organizations require psychologists who can create performance assessments, identify ways to improve efficiency through talent management, and develop creative solutions for change management.
Data from the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) indicates that psychologists earn $79,010 on average; however, education and experience play a vital role in how much a psychologist can earn. This field also offers multiple specialization areas, which allow professionals to become experts in niche areas. Popular psychology careers include clinical psychology, psychiatry, neuropsychiatry, private counseling, or organizational psychology. BLS data also projects a 14% increase in demand for psychologists in general through 2026, so students in the field can anticipate generous job availability upon graduation.
Psychologists examine functions of human behavior and personality. Unlike other professions, psychology creates opportunities to work in multiple settings. Specific job responsibilities vary by specialty or industry. For instance, school psychologists work with adolescents in K-12 settings, while an industrial-organizational psychologist only works with adults in corporate settings. However, common responsibilities include research, developing assessments, conducting tests, collaborating with care teams, communicating with patients' families, or promoting safe environments.
While a psychologist can qualify for an entry-level position with a bachelor's degree, more technical and independent roles require an advanced degree. This role requires licensure, which varies by state, specialty, and education level.
Average Salary: $79,010
Job Outlook 2016-26: 14%
Students interested in a profession that focuses on improving the lives of underserved populations, social justice, and ethical practices should consider employment as social workers. This field offers employment to professionals with varying levels of education. However, the most lucrative opportunities require advanced degrees.
For instance, a professional with a bachelor's degree can qualify for generalist roles, while a candidate with a master's degree should qualify for both leadership and clinical roles. Duties include assessing clients, identifying resources, creating solutions for different crises, managing case records, and offering psychotherapy assistance. Pertinent skills include active listening, organization, emotional intelligence, tolerance, and critical thinking.
Average Salary: $49,470
Job Outlook 2016-26: 16%
Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselor
Substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors assist patients suffering from one or more disorders. Duties include evaluating a patient's current state of being, conducting tests, developing treatment plans, communicating with patients' families, and collaborating with care teams. These counselors may also need to create coping strategies or manage outreach programs.
Substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors often work in mental health or substance abuse centers, for family services, hospitals, or the government. While some employers will accept a candidate with a bachelor's degree, many positions require an applicant to hold an advanced degree.
Average Salary: $44,630
Job Outlook 2016-26: 23%
Marriage and Family Therapist
Marriage and family therapists assist couples struggling to resolve problems within their relationships. These counselors may also work with families struggling to cope with loss or other difficult situations. Despite the issue, these counselors handle intimate information regarding their clients' lives.
Daily responsibilities include developing a safe environment for patients to divulge information, guiding clients through their problems, providing community resources, and maintaining confidential documents. Most professionals work for private practices, family services, or outpatient care centers. To qualify, an applicant must hold a master's degree and a valid state license.
Average Salary: $50,090
Job Outlook 2016-26: 23%
Training and Development Specialist
Training and development specialists strive to improve organizational and individual performance in the workplace. These professionals create and administer programs that help employees perform daily tasks. Duties include developing surveys, conducting interviews, designing and evaluating training manuals, and collaborating with managers to identify additional training needs. At times, training and development specialists may need to develop strategies for resolving conflicts or administer disciplinary action to improve behavior.
Pertinent skills include effective communication, collaboration, problem-solving, and organization. Many professionals work in corporate, technical service, or healthcare settings. Most employers require a candidate to possess a bachelor's degree at minimum. These professionals often acquire certifications to create a competitive edge.
Average Salary: $60,870
Job Outlook 2016-26: 11%
Take the First Step in your Career and Explore a Bachelor's Degree in Psychology
Students considering careers in psychology must begin by earning a bachelor's degree, which explores pertinent foundational knowledge and skills required to move into any advanced specialty area. This field offers employment opportunities at all degree levels, which allows students to immediately begin acquiring professional experience. Professionals also receive access to transferable skills that can create nontraditional employment opportunities.
BLS data projects faster-than-average growth in this field, indicating that students can look to secure jobs upon graduation. While a bachelor's degree jumpstarts a psychology career, a student who chooses to earn a Ph.D. or Psy.D. can gain access to the best psychologist jobs, leadership opportunities, and the right to practice independently.
Already Completed Your Undergrad? Explore a Doctorate in Psychology Program
A professional who aims to qualify for the most lucrative psychologist jobs should consider earning a doctorate in psychology. At this level, professionals may also pursue careers in academia. To qualify for a Ph.D. or Psy.D. psychology program, each applicant needs to earn a master's degree from an accredited institution.