What Can You Do With a Doctorate in Psychology?

| Nina Chamlou

What Can You Do With a Doctorate in Psychology?

Are you ready to discover your college program?

Whether you have years of experience as a clinical psychologist or have recently earned your doctorate, you may be wondering, "What else can I do with a doctorate in psychology?"

According to Peggy Christidis, senior research officer at American Psychological Association's (APA) Center for Workforce Studies, "a psychology doctorate is extremely marketable because you develop valuable and transferable skills, such as writing, communicating, investigating and understanding behavior, which will serve you well in many different employment settings."

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How to Become a Psychologist

Among bachelor's degree-holders in psychology in the U.S., about 4% go on to earn a psychology doctoral or professional degree. Many do so with the intention of becoming clinical psychologists or therapists. To become a licensed clinical psychologist, you must earn a doctor of philosophy (Ph.D.) in psychology, complete supervised clinical hours, and pass the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology.

What Else Can You Do With a Doctorate in Psychology?

While practicing clinical psychology can be highly rewarding, you may decide to see less clients or transition careers entirely. We've highlighted some career paths that you can pursue with a doctorate in psychology.

These options can use your specialized knowledge and experience, but they offer a different day-to-day experience than providing one-on-one therapy.

Consulting

Some psychology Ph.D.-holders pivot to consulting. A consulting psychologist or clinical consultant uses their skills in research and client interface to help businesses, government organizations, and healthcare facilities improve and grow. Their suggestions rethink management practices, protocols, or other aspects of the business. Others focus on individual assessment and coaching.

To succeed, you must be comfortable with self-promotion, receiving rejection or criticism, networking among colleagues and business leaders, and asking your contacts for referrals.

There is no one track to becoming a consulting psychologist. These professionals learn through keeping up to date with business newspapers and magazines, attending conferences and workshops, and being mentored by other consultants. Some also join the APA's Society of Consulting Psychology.

Consulting Psychologist
Lowest 10% Average Annual Salary Highest 10% Projected Growth Rate (2020-2030)
$52,000 $82,420 $118,000 Data not available
Source: PayScale as of November 2021

Teaching

While teaching positions in universities are competitive, that shouldn't discourage you from pursuing a career in academia. The number of psychology majors has increased every year since the 1970s, generating a need for more professors.

Experts expect the number of postsecondary teaching positions to increase by 12% between 2020 and 2030, faster than the average growth rate for all occupations. Psychology, specifically, is among the top growing academic areas in full-time faculty positions, the APA writes.

You can seek employment at one of four major types of higher education institutions: doctoral universities, master's universities, baccalaureate colleges, and community colleges. As a newcomer, you'll have better luck at baccalaureate colleges and community colleges.

Tenure-track positions are the most sought after and the hardest to get because they are typically higher paying and guarantee job security. After being hired as a tenure-track professor, you become eligible for tenure after 5-6 years. At that point, a tenure committee evaluates your performance and determines your tenured status.

Most get hired on temporary contracts as adjuncts, instructors, or lecturers. Some positions like a lecturer can also be full time but with limited benefits. While universities may require research in addition to teaching, those on temporary contracts or working full time at a community college are typically not required to do so.

Postsecondary Teacher
Lowest 10% Median Annual Salary Highest 10% Projected Growth Rate (2020-2030)
$40,830 $80,560 $179,540 12%
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Medical and Health Services Managers

Medical and health services managers, sometimes called medical directors or clinical managers, coordinate all of the moving parts at health centers. At smaller facilities, they are usually in charge of the whole operation, while at large hospitals, they may just run one department.

Their main duties include recruiting and supervising staff, ensuring compliance with laws and regulations, monitoring budgets and spending, and communicating with members of the medical staff and department heads.

To succeed in this position, strong organizational and leadership skills are a must. An understanding of how healthcare systems work and business terms will also demonstrate your proficiency for this role to employers.

Employment in this area is projected to grow 32% from 2020 to 2030, much faster than the average for all occupations. In that time, 51,800 openings for medical and health services managers will become available.

Medical and Health Services Manager
Lowest 10% Median Annual Salary Highest 10% Projected Growth Rate (2020-2030)
$59,980 $104,280 $195,630 32%
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Additional Credentials

Getting additional credentials, like completing boot camps or certificate programs, can help you transition to a new career. Many don't require a major time commitment or financial investment, but they can give you the information and skills needed to enter a new role.

Certificate in Business Psychology

If you are interested in becoming a consultant, there is no requirement to get extra credentials or certifications. However, knowing business concepts and terms can give you a better understanding of your clients' problems. It can also give you more confidence as you prepare to take on this role.

Choosing which certificate to pursue depends on what problems you would like to help companies address as a consultant. Several colleges and universities offer online certifications in basic business knowledge and business psychology hybrid courses. These programs can range from six weeks to six months.

You might consider a certificate from the Project Management Institute, a respected organization in the business world. It is most known for its project management professional certification (PMP). The PMP requires a few years of experience in project management to qualify, but the organization also offers a range of entry-level credentials like organizational transformation and certified associate in project management.

These short programs will teach you the ins and outs of how companies organize and carry out major projects. It can enable you to more aptly advise organizations on how to optimize their business strategies.

Health Administration Certificate

With a Ph.D. in psychology, you are more than qualified to fulfill leadership roles in hospitals and healthcare centers. In fact, most employers will even hire bachelor's degree-holders for these roles. However, the majority prefer candidates with either an advanced degree or a track record in management. So, learning the fundamentals of hospital administration and government compliance can give you a leg up if you're interested in this area.

The Professional Association of Health Care Office Management (PAHCOM) offers a nationally accredited medical manager certification. The exam covers what PAHCOM refers to as the nine domains of medical practice administration, which include revenue management, risk management, human resources, and other areas in healthcare administration.

The Fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executive certification, offered by the American College of Healthcare Executives, is another well-respected certification in healthcare management. It is targeted toward those interested in finance, technology, and operations.

Additional Resources for Psychology Doctoral Students

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