What Can You Do With an Associate Degree in Psychology?

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What Can You Do With an Associate Degree in Psychology?

Are you ready to discover your college program?

Do you have a passion for analyzing the world through the lens of psychology, but you don't want to spend a decade in school to become a licensed therapist? You can still make a meaningful impact in individuals' lives. People with associate degrees in psychology find jobs in many settings, including in healthcare, social services, and business.

In this article, we give you ideas for what you can do with an associate degree in psychology. Then, we cover continuing education paths you might consider pursuing after completing your two-year degree.

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What Careers Can You Do With an Associate Degree in Psychology?

Not all jobs within psychology require an advanced degree. Many employers look for candidates with associate degrees in psychology for entry-level positions. These roles can turn into career paths or can help you decide whether or not you want to return to school.

Social Services Assistant

Social services assistants support social workers and mental health professionals in their work. They help navigate administrative processes to ensure clients receive the care they need. This includes helping to determine a client's program eligibility, meeting court responsibilities, and keeping records. If becoming a counselor or social worker in the future interests you, this role will give you an inside look into the life of a mental health professional.

You can seek employment in this position with just a high school diploma, but many employers now prefer to hire workers with 1-2 years of education beyond high school. An associate degree in human services, behavioral science, or psychology perfectly positions you to enter this profession.

Social Services Assistant
Lowest 10% Median Annual Salary Highest 10% Projected Growth Rate (2020-2030)
$24,950 $35,960 $56,080 17%
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Psychiatric Technician

Psychiatric technicians care for people with disabilities and mental illnesses in hospitals, mental health facilities, and substance use centers. Their duties include administering medications, conducting therapeutic activities, helping patients bathe and eat, and monitoring patients' vital signs.

Psychiatric technicians see themselves as patient advocates and act as a liaison with the physician. They notify members of the interdisciplinary team of any unusual incidents. They also notify the team of changes in a patient's condition to determine when to adjust medications and treatment methods.

In most states, an associate degree in psychology qualifies you to become a psychiatric technician. However, a small handful of states require licensure. This typically includes a degree from an accredited psychiatric technician program and a passing score on your state licensing exam. Requirements are subject to change, so check with your state licensing boards to get the most current information.

Psychiatric Technician and Aid
Lowest 10% Median Annual Salary Highest 10% Projected Growth Rate (2020-2030)
$21,840 $33,140 $48,880 11%
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Police Officer or Detective

The recent backlash against police and push for reform has caused some police forces to struggle to keep officers and attract new ones. If you want to devote yourself to helping your community, consider starting a career in law enforcement.

On a typical day, entry-level police officers patrol neighborhoods, respond to calls, document incidents, and help resolve community issues. Police officers typically become eligible for promotion to detective after a few years on the job.

Detectives spend their time conducting interviews with survivors and witnesses of crimes, preparing reports, and serving as expert witnesses in court. Your background in psychology will help you mediate conflict, communicate to a diverse population, and think critically while holding onto a strong moral compass.

Most police departments hire applicants that are 21 years and over who hold either an associate degree or a certain number of college credits. Additionally, prospective officers must pass physical exams and a background check. Sometimes, candidates must also attend a police academy for further training. The length varies from 13-26 weeks depending on where you live.

Police Officer or Detective
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

Alternative Programs for Psychology Majors

After completing your associate degree in psychology, you may decide to pursue a four-year degree in the same subject or a different discipline altogether. Read a few examples of the various routes you can take with a foundation in psychology: one in business, one in science, and one in human services.

Business Degree - Market Research Analyst

Companies across industries seek employees with backgrounds in both psychology and business because they know these candidates make for versatile employees. An understanding of the principles of psychology is especially applicable in the realm of marketing, where human behavior is central to strategy.

With an associate degree in psychology, you can pursue a general four-year degree in business administration or marketing. These degrees share a significant amount of overlap but differ slightly. Business administration gives you a more holistic understanding of business, including finance and accounting. Marketing focuses more on branding, analyzing marketing case studies, and public relations.

Either degree sets you up well for the role of market research analyst. These professionals help clients better understand their demographic and create strategies for how to cater to them. They do so by conducting quantifiable research via focus groups and surveys.

Your understanding of business will help you with the technical aspects of the job, while your background in psychology will help you interpret your findings. You can find employment at large product and service companies with their own internal marketing departments, or work at a marketing or advertising agency.

Market Research Analyst
Lowest 10% Median Annual Salary Highest 10% Projected Growth Rate (2020-2030)
$35,380 $65,810 $127,410 22%
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Degree in Natural Science - Forensic Science Technician

If you like the idea of using your background in psychology to help law enforcement bring justice to survivors of crimes, consider a career in forensic science. Forensic science technicians collect and analyze evidence to understand how and why an event occurred and who was responsible. Their tasks include interpreting blood spatter, collecting fingerprints, and tracing substances in bodily fluids, just to name a few.

While much of the role involves laboratory science, a background in psychology helps technicians understand the motivation behind a crime and assist in criminal profiling.

You can apply your associate degree in psychology toward a bachelor's in the same subject or in chemistry, physics, or biology. With a four-year degree in one of these areas, law enforcement agencies and crime labs will consider you for technician positions. While you will receive on-the-job training, applicants familiar with using laboratory equipment will have a competitive edge.

Forensic Science Technician
Lowest 10% Median Annual Salary Highest 10% Projected Growth Rate (2020-2030)
$36,630 $60,590 $100,910 16%
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Human Services Degree - Certified Case Manager

When a health emergency occurs, navigating insurance and creating a recovery plan can be extremely stressful for patients. Case managers help make this process easier. Not to be confused with social workers, case managers focus more on coordinating services for patients, while social workers can provide actual care and therapy.

Case managers' tasks include communicating with healthcare teams and health insurance companies, establishing treatment goals, and helping patients set schedules and routines. They also maintain progress records and evaluate the efficacy of treatments and programs.

A bachelor's degree in social work, psychology, or another health or human services field can qualify you for employment in this field.

Case Manager
Lowest 10% Average Annual Salary Highest 10% Projected Growth Rate (2020-2030)
$31,000 $42,010 $74,000 Not available
Source: PayScale as of November 2021

Additional Resources for Psychology Students

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