An Overview of Psychology Careers

What Can You Do With a Psychology Degree?

An Overview of Psychology Careers

Psychology is the study of the human mind and behavior, offering the chance to explore unanswered questions about the brain, such as how it functions under stress, how it learns language, how it remembers facts or how mental illness can affect the way it works. During your psychology degree you can choose to specialize in specific areas of psychology such as health, clinical, educational, research, occupational, counseling, neuro, sport and exercise, and forensic.

For advice on finding a graduate job, download our free guide on how to find a job after university. 

So, what can you do with a psychology degree?

There are many different options available to psychology degree holders, depending on your specializations and interests, such as:

Although many roles will be available to you with an undergraduate degree, some more highly specialized roles may require further study. Of the psychology careers which don’t require further study, training is usually available on the job to ensure you continue moving forward in your career.

Read on for some insight into the types of careers open to you with an undergraduate psychology degree (BA or BSc).

Typical psychology careers

With a psychology degree, you’re well placed to pursue careers in both arts and scientific fields, depending on your personal interests. There are many options within public and private healthcare, education, mental health support, social work, therapy and counseling. These roles may be advisory, research-led, treatment-led or therapeutic.

There are also a number of less typical roles for psychology graduates, including jobs in media and other creative industries. Overviews of these typical and not-so-typical careers with a psychology degree are outlined below.

Psychology careers in healthcare and therapy

Chartered psychologist

With further study and training you’ll be able to gain qualification as a chartered psychologist. Within this highly specialized role, you’ll work with people of all backgrounds, both patients and clients.

You’ll analyze behaviors, thoughts and emotions in order to better understand and advise on certain actions and/or psychological issues.

As a chartered psychologist, you’ll have the option to specialize in a number of areas, including occupational psychology, educational psychology, sport and mental health.

(Note: If you wish to become a psychiatrist – a doctor specializing in the diagnosis and treatment of mental health disorders – you will need to gain a medical degree.)


A psychotherapist will work with individuals, couples, groups or families, to help their clients overcome psychological issues, including emotional and relationship-related issues, stress and even addiction.

Depending on what you choose to specialize in during your degree, as well as your personal interests, you can choose to act as a psychotherapist using a number of approaches. These include cognitive behavioral methods, psychoanalytic and psychodynamic therapies, as well as art therapy, drama therapy, humanistic and integrative psychotherapy, hypno-psychotherapy and experiential therapy.

Social worker

A social worker is someone who works with people who are going through difficult periods in their lives; including groups such as children or the elderly, people with disabilities and victims of crime and abuse.

The role of a social worker is to safeguard these people from harm and provide support in order to allow people to improve their situations.

Social workers may work within schools, homes, hospitals or other public agencies and will tend to specialize in working with children and families or vulnerable adults.


As a counselor you’ll be involved in helping people come to better terms with their lives and experiences through exploration of feelings and emotions. You’ll work within a confidential setting and be expected to listen attentively to your clients.

Key traits of a counselor include the ability to listen, empathize, offer respect and patience, as well as to analyze the issues at play in order to enable the client to better cope with their situation and help support them in making choices.

psychotherapy, counseling is often a form of talking therapy and can encompass areas including marriage and family, health, abuse, rehabilitation, education, grief, mental health, career guidance and pediatrics.

Psychology careers in education

 Psychology graduates interested in the education sector have a number of different options.

As well as educational therapy, educational psychology and social work within education, psychology graduates may qualify as teachers, working in primary, secondary or tertiary level education.

They may instead work within social services to help support learning in the community at all ages, or within the prison sector to provide support for young offenders.

To become an educational psychologist, you will need the same qualifications as any psychologist (a master’s degree and further training). This is a role concerned with the development of young people in educational settings, with the aim of enhancing learning and dealing with social and emotional issues or learning difficulties.

To teach psychology, depending on the level you choose, you’ll need an additional teaching qualification. To enter careers in tertiary education (colleges and universities) you will ly need a further qualification, such as a master’s and/or PhD. Roles in higher education are ly to encompass both teaching and research (see below).

Psychology careers in research

Psychology careers in research may be based within research agencies, public and private organizations or in universities. University-based careers vary but tend to combine research and teaching.

Research careers within other sectors are even more wide-ranging but could mean contributing to governmental policy development or issues of importance for industry.

You could also work for a charity or other non-profit organization, perhaps conducting research to help resolve challenges such as speech impediments, brain damage, child development or the impact of legal and illegal drugs on psychological health.

Less typical careers with a psychology degree

As a psychology graduate at bachelor level, there are thousands of opportunities for you outside healthcare and educational roles if you know where to look.

This is due to the varied transferable skills you gain from your degree, as well as widespread recognition of the advantages of having psychological and analytical expertise.

In broad terms, psychology graduates can be found working in all sectors of society, including media, criminal justice and rehabilitation, advertising, business and management, sports, public agencies and the legal sector. Some less typical careers with a psychology degree are outlined below…

Media and advertising careers

It might not be an obvious choice for psychology graduates, but media careers are varied, with ample opportunities to apply the skills a psychology degree will hone.

Psychology graduates can impart valuable insights into human behavior, as well as offering the ability to analyze problems, listen attentively, give considered responses and act with empathy and reason.

Because of this, media roles within all departments including management, production, scheduling and writing are well within reach for psychology graduates.

Human resources and communications careers

Psychology is all about understanding people and how they think, making human resources and communications careers another good match. These roles, available in both the public and private sectors, encompass areas such as employee satisfaction, professional development, training, recruitment, PR, payroll and internal communications.

Business and management careers

Thanks to a keen sense of how to handle both data and people, business and management careers are another good option for psychology graduates.

Although further training and work experience are ly to be required before entering managerial roles, you could start out by pursuing careers within business consultancy, marketing, sales, advertising or business development, before working your way up the ladder.

A psychology degree may also provide a good basis for careers in IT, finance, the legal sector, government administration and market research.

‘What Can You Do With a Psychology Degree?’ is part of our ‘What Can You Do With…’ series. 

We have also covered art, biology, business, communications, computer science, English, engineering, fashion, history, geography, law, marketing, mathematics, performing arts, philosophy, politics, sociology, chemistry, economics and physics.

This article was originally published in January 2015. It was last updated in October 2019.

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Careers in Applied Psychology

An Overview of Psychology Careers

The field of psychology has contributed valuable information and services to  our society, with the ultimate goal of promoting human welfare. As we come to understand more about the way people think, feel, and behave, we are able to apply that knowledge to various aspects of everyday living.

Your decision to enter any given applied psychology setting will depend on your own interests, skills, and education choices.

Below is an overview of general applications of psychology, along with a few popular job titles (select job titles are linked to outside resources for more detailed information); the true number of careers related to or influenced by psychology is limitless.

As you consider how you will use your education, be sure to research your jobs of interest. Helpful, reliable information on careers within the US can be found at the Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook (available online at BLS.

gov/ooh/ ). The Occupational Information Network (commonly referred to as O*Net) allows users to assess their interests and browse detailed job descriptions.

 Other information also can be found on the websites of regional and national professional organizations.

Psychology in Education

With the introduction of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and later amendments, professionals in elementary and secondary education are required to attend to the needs of students with learning and behavioral difficulties (IDEA, 2013). As we gain new insights into how learning, memory, and language develop and function, we are better able to assist individuals of varied capacities.

Job Title Description Degrees & Licensure* Median Salary* Professional Association

School Psychologist

Assessment and interventions for students and school staff

Master’s degree Ed.D., Psy. D. or Ph.D. licensure required in all states


National Association of School Psychologists

School/Career Counselor

Guide students and community members in exploring and obtaining careers

Master’s degree

licensure requirements vary


American School Counselor Association

Speech Pathologist

Assess and treat speech delays in children and adults

Master’s degree

licensure required in all states


American Speech-Language-Hearing Association

  • Cognitive Processes 50:830:360
  • Educational Psychology 50:830:301
  • Ethics in Psychology 50:830:318
  • Psychology of Adolescence 50:830:326
  • Psychology of Childhood 50:830:226
  • Education Program Courses
  • Linguistics Courses through the Department of English

Psychology in Social Services & Special Populations

The knowledge gained from a background in psychology provides understanding of human needs and abilities. This understanding can be a valuable tool in helping individuals to live healthy, fulfilled lives.

Even outside of traditional counseling roles, many people with an education in psychology will go on to pursue careers in social service settings.

Special populations may include children, those with developmental disabilities, and low income populations.

Job Title Description Degrees & Licensure* Median Annual Salary* Professional Association

Assistant Behavioral Analyst

Assess client functioning and implement behavioral interventions for children, adults, and disabled populations.

BA with additional credentialing or higher;

licensure varies by state



Behavioral Analysis Certification Board

Social Worker

Assist individuals in improving their overall functioning; may work with any number of populations

BA or above

Some positions may require additional education or LCSW licensure


National Association of Social Workers

Alcohol and Drug Counselor

Counsel and implement interventions for those with substance abuse disorders

Master’s degree or above;

CADC requirements vary


The Association for Addiction Professionals

  • Abnormal Psychology 50:830:340
  • Health Psychology 50:830:348
  • Introduction to Clinical Psychology 50:830:345
  • Psychology of Aging 50:830:328
  • Psychology of Marriage and the Family (50:830:206)
  • Psychology of Minority Groups (501:830:203)
  • Social Psychology 50:830:335
  • Courses in School of Social Work

Psychology in Business

Understanding people is an important aspect of business, from employee selection and productivity issues to finding the best ways to attract and keep customers.

Industrial/Organizational Psychologists were the largest group of research-oriented APA Member respondents in 2011 (APA, 2012).

The ability to understand this growing body of research and implement empirically-based interventions is invaluable to the success of businesses.

Psychology in the Justice System

Psychological science plays a large role in many areas of the justice system. From crime prevention and investigation to victim services, there are very practical applications of behavioral psychology. Especially important is an understanding of the psychological influences on criminal behavior and the effects of victimhood.  

Job Title Description Degrees & Licensure* Median Salary* Professional Association

Probation Officer

Assist criminal offenders in their effort to rejoin society or prevent future transgressions

Bachelor’s degree


American Probation and Parole Association

Forensic/ Criminal Psychologist

Provide insights to law enforcement; Testify in judicial proceedings; implement treatment and community interventions

Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology as well as a background in criminal justice or law



International Association for Correctional and Forensic Psychology

Psychology in Medicine

The relationship between the mind and body is well documented in research. Lifestyle interventions can be utilized to improve the outcomes of patients with various backgrounds and ailments. In addition to applied psychology settings, those with a bachelor’s degree in psychology may consider other more traditional medical careers such as nursing or graduate education in medicine.

Job Title Description Degrees & Licensure* Median Salary* Professional Association

Occupational Therapist

Assess the needs of those with impairments and plan interventions to improve functioning

Master’s degree in Occupational Therapy

Licensure required in all 50 states


The American Occupational Therapy Association

Therapeutic Recreation

Implement leisure activity interventions for those with disabilities, disease, or injury

Specialized Bachelor’s or Master’s degree


Psychology & Special Interests

It cannot be stressed enough that psychological principles can be applied to all aspects of human behavior. To demonstrate this, listed below are career paths that, while unique, are gaining greater interest and value.

Job Title Description Degrees & Licensure* Median Salary* Professional Association

Sports Psychologist

Assist athletes in developing coping strategies and motivation

Master’s  or Ph. D.

State licensure varies



Association for Applied Sport Psychology

Art Therapist

Lead therapy in which art is used as a means to self-expression and mental health

Master’s or Ph.D.

Special Certification

State licensure



American Art Therapy Association

Music Therapist

Utilizing music as a means of communication and coping

Specialized Bachelor’s or Master’s and Board Certification



American Music Therapy Association

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