Entry-Level Job Options for Psychology Majors

What can you do with a bachelor’s degree in psychology? this title, the actual answer is complicated

Entry-Level Job Options for Psychology Majors

Your psychology major = A range of opportunities. By R. Eric Landrum, PhD

Stop me if you have already heard this one. Psychology is one of the most popular undergraduate majors in the U.S.

; in the last year the data are available (2014-2015), 117,557 bachelor’s degrees in psychology were awarded.

Said another way, in the past nine years, 1 million individuals received psychology baccalaureates (National Center for Education Statistics, 2017).

Asking the question “what can you do with a bachelor’s degree in psychology?” is a very relevant question to a lot of people.

Allow me to assure you from the start that if someone tells you the answer to that question is “nothing,” that answer is patently false.

About 25 percent of psychology baccalaureates go to graduate school in psychology, about 18 percent go on for more education but not in psychology, and 57 percent are workforce graduates (Lin, Christidis & Stamm, 2017).

If no one was getting a job with a bachelor’s degree in psychology, that tidbit of information would have made the news by now and I suspect the popularity of the major (as evidenced by annual number of graduates) would decrease substantially.

But a quick, short answer, such as “nothing,” is a blurb and a sound bite — easy to understand yet meaningless.

The actual answer is much more complicated and nuanced, and it goes this — the psychology bachelor’s degree qualifies a person for a large number of jobs, but the degree does not uniquely qualify a person for any particular job.


First, let’s start with the large number of jobs part. Below you can see the Holy Grail list of potential jobs with a bachelor’s degree in psychology. I don’t know where this list started, perhaps with Marky Lloyd and/or Drew Appleby, curated over time by Paul Hettich and/or Jane Halonen, but it seems now that I am the curator of “the list.” 

Activities DirectorLabor Relations Manager
Admissions EvaluatorLoan Officer
Advertising Sales RepresentativeManagement Analyst
Alumni DirectorMarket Research Analyst
Animal TrainerOccupational Analyst
Benefits ManagerPatient Resources Reimbursement Agent
Career/Employment CounselorPersonnel Recruiter
Career Information SpecialistPolice Officer
CaseworkerPolygraph Examiner
Child Development SpecialistPreschool Teacher
Child Welfare/Placement CaseworkerProbation/Parole Officer
Claims SupervisorProject Evaluator
CoachPsychiatric Aide/Attendant
Community Organization WorkerPsychiatric Technician
Community WorkerPsychological Stress Evaluator
Computer ProgrammerPsychosocial Rehabilitation Specialist (PSR)
Conservation OfficerPublic Relations Representative
Correctional Treatment SpecialistPurchasing Agent
Corrections OfficerReal Estate Agent
Criminal Investigator (I and other)Recreation Leader
Customer Service Representative SupervisorRecreation Supervisor
Data Base AdministratorResearch Assistant
Data Base Design AnalystRetail Salesperson
Department ManagerSales Clerk
Disability Policy WorkerSocial Services Aide
Disability Case ManagerSubstance Abuse Counselor
Employee Health Maintenance Program SpecialistSystems Analyst
Employee Relations SpecialistTechnical Writer
Employment CounselorVeterans Contact Representative
Employment InterviewerVeterans Counselor
Financial Aid CounselorVictims’ Advocate
Fund RaiserVocational Training Teacher
Health Care Facility AdministratorVolunteer Coordinator
Human Resource AdvisorWriter
Information Specialist
Job Analyst

To say that a bachelor’s degree in psychology prepares you for no job is simply ludicrous.

But let’s think about the more nuanced part — a bachelor’s degree in psychology does not exclusively entitle a person to any of the jobs in this list. Using O*NET from the U.S.

Department of Labor (2017) for the following bulleted data, allow me to explain what I mean by psychology’s lack of exclusivity.

  • For a job animal trainer, the vast majority of individuals with this job have a high school diploma (or less) as their highest educational attainment. So a bachelor’s degree (in any field) is not necessarily a prerequisite requirement.
  • In order to be a claims supervisor (claims examiner) for an insurance company, nearly 70 percent of those individuals have a bachelor’s degree. This type of position can be filled by individuals from many different majors.
  • To serve as a corrections officer, 89 percent of individuals in this career have a high school diploma or equivalent. Psychology majors can do well in this area, but as you can probably understand, so do criminal justice majors, sociology majors, and others.
  • Thirty percent of labor relations specialists hold bachelor’s degrees, and 25 percent hold master’s degrees — a psychology major could certainly attain this job, but will sometimes be competing with others with higher educational attainment.
  • Technical writers typically require some college (35 percent associate’s degree and 33 percent bachelor’s degree), but as you can imagine, a psychology major competing for this position would also be competing with individuals who were English majors in college.

It is my hope that these examples illustrate the nuance and complexity of discussing career options for psychology workforce graduates. There are many, many job possibilities, but there is also much competition awaiting in the workplace due to the lack of exclusivity.

Psychology majors, no matter what the career trajectory, need to be thinking about, cultivating and honing their skill sets; in that regard, I highly encourage you to review the works of Miller and Carducci (2015) and Strohmetz et al. (2015).

Do not be passive about your future, hoping that it «all comes out in the wash» — be forcefully empowered to be your own best ally and advocate for a satisfying and successful future.


Lin, L., Christidis, P., & Stamm, K. (2017, October). The path to becoming a psychologist.Monitor on Psychology, 48(9), 17.

Miller, M.J., & Carducci, B.J. (2015). Student perceptions of knowledge, skills, ad abilities desired by potential employers of psychology majors. Scholarship of Teaching and Learning in Psychology, 1, 38-47.  doi:10.1037/stl0000015.

National Center for Education Statistics. (2017). Degrees in psychology conferred by postsecondary institutions, by level of degree and sex of student: Selected years, 1945-50 through 2014-15 [Table 325.80]. Retrieved from https://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d16/tables/dt16_325.80.asp?current=yes.

Strohmetz, D.B., Dolinsky, B, Jhangiani, R.S., Posey, D.C., Hardin, E.E., Shyu, V., & Klein, E. (2015). The skillsful major: Psychology curricula in the 21st century. Scholarship of Teaching and Learning in Psychology, 1, 200-207.  doi:10.1037/stl0000037.

U.S. Department of Labor. (2017). O*NET Online. Retrieved from https://www.onetonline.org/.

About the author

R. Eric Landrum is a professor of psychology at Boise State University, receiving his PhD in cognitive psychology from Southern Illinois University-Carbondale. His research interests center on the educational conditions that best facilitate student success as well as the use of scholarship of teaching and learning strategies to advance the efforts of scientist-educators.

He has over 400 professional presentations at conferences and published over 25 books/book chapters, and has published over 75 professional articles in scholarly, peer-reviewed journals. He has worked with over 300 undergraduate research assistants and taught over 13,000 students in 25 years at Boise State.

During Summer 2008, he led an American Psychological Association working group at the National Conference for Undergraduate Education in Psychology studying the desired results of an undergraduate psychology education. During the October 2014 Educational Leadership Conference in Washington, D.C.

, Eric was presented with a Presidential Citation from then APA President Nadine Kaslow for his outstanding contributions to the teaching of psychology. He is a member of APA, a fellow in APA’s Div. 2 (Society for the Teaching of Psychology or STP), served as STP secretary (2009-2011).

During 2014, Eric served as president of the Society for the Teaching of Psychology; for 2016-2017, he served as president of the Rocky Mountain Psychological Association; and Eric is currently president of Psi Chi, the International Honor Society in Psychology.

More resources [+]

Источник: https://www.apa.org/ed/precollege/psn/2018/01/bachelors-degree

Career Ideas for Psychology Majors

Entry-Level Job Options for Psychology Majors

As a psychology major, you’ve studied the science of the mind, brain, and behavior.

From the synapses that fire in our brains to the greater patterns of human development and interaction, psychologists learn the inner workings of the mind and the ways in which they contribute to greater social phenomena.

You might have focused on topics such as how the brain works, human life develops, counseling and social psychology, mental disorders, and how we acquire new knowledge and memories. In short, you’ve learned what makes us tick as human, and therefore social, beings.

Entry Level Job Guide for Psychology Majors

via Wikimedia Commons

  1. About the Psychology Major
  2. Skills Developed in the Psychology Major
  3. Related Valuable Job Skills for Psychology Majors
  4. Entry Level Jobs Well-Suited for Psychology Majors
  5. Other Possible Career Paths for Psychology Majors
  6. Things a Psychology Major Should Learn and Do
  7. Other Areas You May Be Interested In
  8. External Resources

About the Psychology Major

Of the 1,650,014 bachelor’s degrees awarded in the 2009-2010 academic year, psychology degrees made up 97,216 or 5.89% of them. The percentage of degrees awarded is down slightly from 5.99% in the 1999-2000 academic year, but the number of psychology degrees has increased from 74,191 in 1999-2000 thanks to the overall number of degrees awarded (Source).

Many psychology programs provide opportunities to specialize within the major, in areas such as cognitive, social, cultural, and developmental psychology, psychopathology, and neuroscience.

Skills Developed in the Psychology Major

While potential employers might not be interested in how well you can recite Freud’s repressive hypothesis, they do care about the skill set you’ve developed as a psychology major and how you can apply your knowledge of human mind and behavior outside of the classroom.

As a social science, psychology is often both quantitative and qualitative, and as such those that study psychology are well equipped in tasks that require research and data analysis. Most psychology majors require courses in research methods and statistics.

As a psychology major you’ve learned a variety of research methods and how to implement them ethically, as well as how to analyze the data that is derived from experiments.

These skills are valuable not only in jobs involving intensive research but also in any other industry with big data, especially if you know SPSS or R.

You’ve ly had to write a fair number of reports and papers as a psychology major, and you probably had to present a few of them as well. All of this work has paid off in honing your literacy in speaking and writing. Strong communication skills are essential for every job, from making the first impression to representing your company well.

As a psychology major you’ve studied individuals and groups as subjects, and have worked with individuals and groups on projects.

Almost every job involves working on a team at least occasionally, with some requiring teamwork on a daily basis, and your experience working in a group environment gives you a distinct advantage in understand others as coworkers as well as human beings, contributing to interpersonal skills that will ly outshine your classmates who have been buddied up with computer monitors for the past four years.

In observing human behavior in the real world and transferring your findings to paper, the process of conducting a psychological experiment is wise one of conducting critical analysis, extracting meaningful findings from observations and data. This ability to find correlations and trends is extremely valuable in many different job markets.

Depending on your experiences and other interests, you may have acquired additional skills in your psychology major that can help bolster your experience and prepare you for an entry-level job.

Completing a senior thesis or research project requires seeing a project of several months through from beginning to end. This probably involved setting deadlines and achievable goals, reporting on your progress, and holding yourself accountable. All of these skills are valuable job skills in any industry.

If you’re interested in the neuroscience side of psychology, you might be interested in other careers related to

Entry Level Jobs Well-Suited for Psychology Majors

You need to go to graduate school if you want to become a psychologist, but there are a wide variety of jobs well-suited for psychology majors with a bachelor’s degree.

via Flickr User Alan Cleaver

Human Resources
Median Pay: $43,000
Just about every company in every industry has a human resources department, and these positions are great for psychology majors, especially those interested in work psychology.

Human resources deals with organizing the employees of a workplace, from recruiting to making sure everything is done legally.

In an HR position, you’ll apply the interpersonal, interviewing, and speaking skills you’ve developed, and your ability to train new employees may just prove invaluable to a company looking for a new HR representative.

Median Pay: $49,000
Having a degree in psychology doesn’t mean that you just research psychology. With a bachelor’s degree you can work at many labs as a lab assistant or associate.

If you’re interested in neuroscience or quantitative psychology, you can create even more opportunities.

Your time designing and conducting experiments of your own, analyzing the findings, interviewing your subjects, and programming the data all translate efficiently to a position in the field of research

Casework and Counseling
Median Pay: $52,000
One of the quintessential jobs for psychology majors, working in casework and (in some cases) counseling is something you can do with a bachelor’s degree.

A few options include working in the nonprofit sector lending a hand to the less fortunate, substance abuse casework, and crisis centers. All of these tap into your ability to research, interview, speak, and write.

Things a Psychology Major Should Learn & Do

If you aren’t already good with a statistical analysis program such as SPSS or R, get good with one. Knowing how to manipulate data is extremely valuable in the workplace, particularly in research and other quantitative industries.

You might already know Microsoft Word from writing papers, but knowing how to use the rest of the Office suite (especially Excel and its data-manipulating techniques) can give you a big leg up.

External Resources

Источник: http://www.onedayonejob.com/majors/psychology/

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