What Can You Do With a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology?

| Nina Chamlou

What Can You Do With a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology?

Are you ready to discover your college program?

The ability to understand human relationships, think critically, empathize with others, and communicate well are just some of the skills you learn during your undergraduate studies in psychology. And employers are well aware of their value.

"Workers with high EQ [emotional intelligence] tend to make better decisions, maintain their cool under pressure and stress, deftly resolve conflicts, respond positively to constructive feedback, work well with others, and demonstrate leadership abilities," Jack Kelly, CEO of Compliance Search Group, wrote in an article for Forbes.

If you're approaching college graduation, you may be wondering, "What can I do with a bachelor's in psychology?" Whether you plan to enter the job market immediately or you are open to further higher education, a number of paths are open to you.

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How to Become a Psychologist

Many people associate the study of psychology with therapy. But only a small fraction of students who pursue psychology in their undergraduate studies decide to take this path. In most states, to become a clinical psychologist, you need a bachelor's degree, a doctoral degree, plus 1-2 years of training and licensing.

What Else Can You Do With a Bachelor's in Psychology?

A bachelor's degree in psychology primes you for different career paths in various industries. Note that this is not an exhaustive list. You may find other ways to leverage your psychology degree to your advantage.

Marketing

Psychology majors are well-suited for careers in marketing. The courses you take in your undergraduate studies, such as social psychology, human behavior, research design, and U.S. Bureau of Labor Statisticss, directly apply to many roles within the umbrella of marketing.

Creative roles in advertising benefit from an understanding of the culture, such as common or popular attitudes or beliefs. Roles in market research require knowledge of how to conduct research and interpret findings. Roles in sales require a high level of empathy and good listening skills for success.

Advertising, Promotions, and Marketing Manager
Lowest 10% Median Annual Salary Highest 10% Projected Growth Rate (2020-2030)
$68,940 $141,490 $208,000 10%
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Journalism or Public Relations

You don't need to study English or journalism to become a writer. In fact, a knowledge base in psychology can work to your advantage. Your ability to interpret case studies and research can give you the analytical skills necessary for reporting on complex topics. And a high level of empathy can make you a better interviewer. Not to mention, the many academic papers you wrote during your undergraduate studies count toward your writing experience.

Psychology majors are also typically diplomatic and good communicators, a crucial attribute of public relations (PR) specialists. In PR, you need strong networking skills and the ability to maintain positive relationships with journalists, managers, and clients.

Journalist
Lowest 10% Median Annual Salary Highest 10% Projected Growth Rate (2020-2030)
$25,510 $49,300 $127,370 6%
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Public Relations Specialist
Lowest 10% Median Annual Salary Highest 10% Projected Growth Rate (2020-2030)
$35,350 $62,810 $118,210 11%
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Government Worker

The government needs employees who understand psychology for various positions. The Federal Bureau of Investigation hires psychology majors as special agents and forensic psychologists. Police precincts hire them as officers because of their skills in mediating and de-escalating situations.

Psychology majors also make great parole officers, helping parolees find employment and deal with substance misuse.

Special Agent
Lowest 10% Average Annual Salary Highest 10% Projected Growth Rate (2020-2030)
$41,000 $65,940 $118,000 Not available
Source: Payscale as of October 2021
Forensic Psychologist
Lowest 10% Average Annual Salary Highest 10% Projected Growth Rate (2020-2030)
$39,000 $71,950 $100,000 Not available
Source: Payscale as of October 2021
Police Officer
Lowest 10% Median Annual Salary Highest 10% Projected Growth Rate (2020-2030)
$39,130 $67,290 $113,860 7%
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Probation Officer and Correctional Treatment Specialist
Lowest 10% Median Annual Salary Highest 10% Projected Growth Rate (2020-2030)
$36,990 $55,690 $98,510 4%
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

UX Designer

UX designers make products and services more intuitive, enjoyable, and streamlined for users — often in a digital environment, like a business's website or app. As a UX designer, you find connections between data and design. For example, you may notice that people are visiting a client's website but leave quickly. UX designers discover why and adjust the design to increase users' curiosity about the product or service.

An understanding of psychology fits well with this profession. Concepts like memory limitation, cognitive load, and the psychology of colors all make for a better designer. You may consider getting a certificate specific to UX design or attend a bootcamp to make yourself a more competitive candidate. These programs are fairly short, ranging from 10 weeks to six months.

UX Designer
Lowest 10% Average Annual Salary Highest 10% Projected Growth Rate (2020-2030)
$51,000 $74,870 $109,000 Not available
Source: Payscale as of October 2021

Human Resources

Human resources (HR) professionals hire job applicants, manage them during their time at an organization, and let employees go when necessary, among other tasks. While some colleges and universities offer a major in HR, some do not.

Many students study psychology with the intention of pursuing a career in HR. Concepts learned during your psychology studies, like the reward system and motivational factors, contribute to forming more effective, empathetic HR managers.

Human Resources Specialist
Lowest 10% Median Annual Salary Highest 10% Projected Growth Rate (2020-2030)
$37,710 $63,490 $109,350 10%
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Alternative Graduate Programs for Psychology Majors

In 2017, about 3.5 million people in the U.S. held a bachelor's degree in psychology. Of those, 14% also held graduate degrees in psychology. However, about 30% held graduate degrees in other fields, such as education, health, and social services, according to the American Psychological Association.

While you can certainly enter the workforce with an undergraduate degree in psychology, pursuing a master's degree can give you a more specialized skill set and boost your income potential. Here are some alternative graduate programs for psychology majors.

Counseling

If you're looking for a way to help individuals reach their goals in a one-on-one context, but you don't want to pursue a doctoral degree to become a clinical psychologist, consider a career in counseling. You can specialize in different areas, including mental health, school, career, grief, marriage, and substance use counseling.

An undergraduate degree in psychology can prepare you for graduate school programs in counseling. All types of counselors will be in high demand in coming years.

School and Career Counselor
Lowest 10% Median Annual Salary Highest 10% Projected Growth Rate (2020-2030)
$35,620 $58,120 $97,910 11%
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselor
Lowest 10% Median Annual Salary Highest 10% Projected Growth Rate (2020-2030)
$30,590 $47,660 $78,700 23%
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Marriage and Family Therapist
Lowest 10% Median Annual Salary Highest 10% Projected Growth Rate (2020-2030)
$33,140 $51,340 $92,930 16%
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Law

You might think that law and psychology don't share much in common. But they're actually quite connected. Psychologists seek to understand human behavior, while the law aims to regulate it.

If you hold a bachelor's degree in psychology, you qualify for admission to many law programs. The Law School Admission Test was once a universal requirement to qualify. But now, many reputable institutions, including Harvard and the University of Arizona, only require the Graduate Record Examinations.

Traditional law school typically takes three years to complete, although many institutions offer two-year fast-track programs. So, you could practice law in just a few years if you already have an undergraduate degree in psychology under your belt.

Lawyer
Lowest 10% Median Annual Salary Highest 10% Projected Growth Rate (2020-2030)
$61,490 $126,930 $208,000 9%
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Teaching

You don't need an undergraduate degree in education to become a school teacher. A liberal arts education provides an excellent background for teaching. But the theory and skills you gain by majoring in psychology, specifically, will help you be more empathetic toward students and model positive communication styles.

Not every state requires a master's degree to become a teacher. But even in states that do not, holding a master's degree is almost an unwritten rule for eligibility. It also qualifies you for a higher salary.

Look for master's degree programs in teaching or education. With teaching, you can specialize in a particular subject and gain expertise in effective teaching. An education degree also qualifies you to teach, but it equips you to influence change in school policies and curricula.

Kindergarten and Elementary School Teacher
Lowest 10% Median Annual Salary Highest 10% Projected Growth Rate (2020-2030)
$40,030 $60,660 $100,480 7%
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Middle School Teacher
Lowest 10% Median Annual Salary Highest 10% Projected Growth Rate (2020-2030)
$40,930 $60,810 $98,840 7%
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
High School Teacher
Lowest 10% Median Annual Salary Highest 10% Projected Growth Rate (2020-2030)
$41,330 $62,870 $102,130 8%
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Audiologist or Speech Language Pathologist

Psychology directly relates to the medical field, as mental health contributes to one's overall well-being. You don't need a degree in medicine or science to start a career in healthcare.

The need for audiologists and speech language pathologists will greatly increase in coming years. Demand for audiologists will increase 16% between 2020 and 2030, while demand for speech pathologists will increase 29% over the same period.

Audiologists identify, assess, and manage hearing disorders. Speech language pathologists treat people with communication and swallowing disorders. These two professionals sometimes work together. Both require graduate degrees, which typically take 2-3 years to complete.

Audiologist
Lowest 10% Median Annual Salary Highest 10% Projected Growth Rate (2020-2030)
$56,550 $81,030 $128,160 16%
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Speech Language Pathologist
Lowest 10% Median Annual Salary Highest 10% Projected Growth Rate (2020-2030)
$50,370 $80,480 $122,790 29%
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Public Administration

Graduate programs in public administration prepare students to carry out government policy. If you enjoy planning, organizing, and making improvements, you might consider a career in public administration.

To work in this area, you need a strong understanding of social psychology, communication, urban planning, and social science research methods. These skills help you to design, implement, and measure the impact of government programs.

Graduates with a master's degree in public policy can work for government agencies, nonprofits, or private policy groups. You can find work in different industries, such as healthcare, natural resources management, or social justice.

Your main duties will include conducting research, analyzing programs' performance and efficacy, and possibly managing other employees and projects.

Administrative Services and Facilities Manager
Lowest 10% Median Annual Salary Highest 10% Projected Growth Rate (2020-2030)
$56,080 $98,890 $169,930 9%
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Additional Resources for Psychology Students

Featured Image: Chaay_Tee / iStock / Getty Images Plus

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