Career Advice

The Best Jobs for Psychology Majors

By: Emily Totura
May 18, 2021 • 6 min read

The Best Jobs for Psychology Majors

You’ve probably heard before that psychology is one of the most popular undergraduate majors. However, even though many people study psychology, there are still misconceptions about what you can do after graduation. While you can start a career as a social worker, therapist, or other common jobs that people correlate to psychology, the skills you acquired in college can help you within many different industries. In this article, we’ll share with you the best jobs for psychology majors and other tips to help start your career.

woman in beige, gray, and red sweater holding silver tablet computer

Therapist

Therapists help a variety of clients work through their thoughts, emotions, and decisions. They help their clients to improve their mental health and happiness. Each therapist is different; however, they typically assess and help their clients through conversations as they develop a trust and understanding of each person they work with. There are many different types of therapists like marriage or family therapy.

The average salary for a therapist in the US is $33.75 per hour.

Behavior Analyst

Behavior analysts study and create plans to make improvements or change certain aspects of human behavior. Analysts can work in hospitals, schools, correctional facilities, government, and many more. Within this role, you could work with brain injury patients, psychiatry patients, children, and veterans.

The national average salary is $72,056 per year, according to Indeed.

woman in black blazer smiling

Forensic Psychologist

Forensic psychologists study the behavior of people who commit crimes to understand and answer questions about cases and document findings that can be used for future similar cases. These psychologists often work with local and federal law enforcement and can sometimes be hired by police force programs.

Indeed reports that the average salary is $50,178-$210,798 per year.

Correctional Psychologist

A correctional psychologist works with people, and their families, who were convicted of a crime. These psychologists primarily work in correctional facilities, such as jails and prisons. They also work with people who have been released from jail and are trying to adjust to a normal life.

The average salary is $64,947-$95,635 per year.

Guidance Counselor

If you pursue this career path, you’ll be able to work with students, teachers, and families to help them plan their education. This is a great career for psychology majors because you’ll know theories of learning and cognitive development. One setback to choosing this career path is that you will need to continue your education. The requirements depend on the state you are working in, and you’ll need to complete a master’s degree, complete any certification requirements, a practicum in a school.

Depending on your level of experience and education, along with the state you’re working in, the salary for guidance counselors varies. On average, school counselors make $12.58 per hour.

best jobs for psychology majors

Human Resources Staff

Human recourses staff, better known as HR, recruit, train, and counsel workers. They also help negotiate contacts, manage any personal conflicts that an employee might have, administer benefits programs, and create policies for an organization. This is a great job for psychology students that specifically studied industrial or organizational psychology, but all psych studies are welcomed at many companies!

Psychology majors typically have communication skills that are crucial to counseling, mediating, and helping other employees. Those in HR work with employee assessment, evaluation, and different kinds of research, and this is where a psych major can be very helpful to an organization.

Since HR offers a variety of different levels, pay varies. However, the national average salary for a Human Resources is $64,150.

Social Worker

Many psychology majors decide to continue their studies and become a social worker with a background in human behavior, social relations, and personality disorders. This entails graduate studies in social work. Many will enroll in clinical social work programs that will prepare them to work, which takes a lot less time than pursuing a Ph.D. in clinical or counseling psychology. This job is great for psychology majors because they have skills that allow them to interview clients to gather information while still being sensitive to emotions to create a rapport with their clients.

According to the BLS, social workers have an average salary of $51,760. The BLS also predicts that the available jobs for social workers will grow by 11% through 2028.

Management Trainee

Since psychology majors have knowledge in subjects like motivation, personality, and organizational psychology, this helps to help supervise and motivate employees. These skills are essential for any management trainee. Having interpersonal and communication skills allows you to interview, train, and evaluate employees. Having problem-solving skills also helps them analyze performance problems and create strategies to increase efficiency and productivity.

Many mid-and large-sized organizations have management training programs where they recruit college students, so if you’re interested in learning more, check out your college career center. You can also search on the internet on sites like LinkedIn to better understand what kind of roles and their requirements are available.

For an entry-level management trainee, the average salary is $41,595.

best jobs for psychology majors

Salesperson

You don’t need to have a background in business to pursue a career as a salesperson. Psychology students, in particular, have knowledge of consumer motivations that are extremely beneficial to the sales industry as it will effectively help them create a sales pitch that will cater to each client.

Interpersonal and verbal skills also help psych majors in this career to clearly communicate the product or services’ benefits. Most companies will require that their salespeople undergo a training program once they finish college. If you’re still finishing up school, you might want to consider taking a few business classes, conducting projects in your psych classes that relate to business, and looking for business-related internships to increase your chances of getting a job. Many employers looking for salespeople recruit through college campuses, so it’s beneficial to talk to a counselor at your career center if you are considering this career.

Salaries for salespeople differ depending on which industry you work in. The BLS reported that advertising salespeople make a median salary of $54,940, wholesale sales representatives earn a salary of $65,420, and securities salespeople earn $64,770. Keep in mind, salespeople also earn commissions and other potential bonuses.

Fundraiser

Fundraisers are similar to salespeople because they need to convince people to make donations. Psych majors make a great fit for this job because they know how to read people, especially those who could potentially donate.

The BLS stated that fundraisers earn a median annual salary of $59,610. However, this is predicted to grow by 9% by 2029. This rate is faster than many other jobs.

Market Research Analyst

Like being a salesperson, you don’t necessarily need a background in business to pursue a career as a market research analyst. Psychology students are taught how to conduct research, and because of this, they have the skills to design and conduct different studies, analyze data, and summarize and present findings. This is attractive to market research because psych majors have the knowledge to understand the different preferences of consumers and how they develop attitudes towards different products.

The BLS reported that market research analysts earn a median salary of $65,810, which is expected to grow by 20% by 2029.

best jobs for psychology majors

Public Relations Specialist

Interpersonal skills can help develop a rapport with various media platforms, which helps to publish different stories about an organization. The interviewing skilled that psych majors have are used by PR specialists to obtain information to create press releases. Psych majors also have writing skills which are important to make these stories compelling to catch the eyes of editors and reporters. One of the main roles of PR is to maintain and resolve issues that negatively affect the reputation of an organization. Psych majors understand how attitudes are formed by society to build reputations in organizations.

According to the BLS, PR professionals earn a median salary of $62,810.

Psychiatric Aid

The role of psychiatric aides is to assist patients struggling with mental health. They work as medical staff, helping with the daily needs of patients, whether it be educational, recreational, or helping them with examinations and treatments. Psych majors thrive in this career because they have a deep understanding of abnormal psychology and clinical psychology.

If you think this career would be a good fit for you, you should volunteer to work with patients with psychological problems upon graduation. If you’re still in school, you can complete an internship in clinical settings or work as a peer counselor. Many college graduates pursue this job short-term to gain clinical experience before graduate products in counseling or clinical psych/social work.

The BLS states that psychiatric aides receive an average salary of $33,140, and it is expected that jobs will grow by 12% by 2029.

Lawyer

If you’re willing to go back to school, litigators use social psychology when working with jurors. They need to know motivation when analyzing crimes and selecting different witnesses. It’s also crucial for them to have a strong verbal, presentation, and persuasive skills when presenting cases and when speaking and trying to convince judges, jurors, and opposing attorneys. It’s suggested that psych majors take some undergraduate law classes before completing the law school test.

While salaries vary, the BLS estimates that the median salary for attorneys is $126,930.

best jobs for psychology majors

Should you consider going to graduate school?

There’s no right or wrong answer to this question. But before you start looking at the different programs available, there are a few things that you should consider first. It isn’t advisable to explore different career paths while you’re continuing your education. If you’re unsure what you want to do, take a gap year to explore different career paths through experience. Not only will you be gaining skills to help figure out what you want to do, but it will also add valuable experience to add to your resume.

Finally, it’s also important to note that each state has different requirements for psychologist licensure, so you should do some research for the state you want to work in before deciding whether or not you want to go to school for your master’s or doctorate.

How to find a job

  • Start early if you’re still finishing your undergraduate studies. Take advantage of your academic advisor and professors to discuss your interests and possible career options.
  • Assess yourself to figure out what you want in your career. Since there are so many options to choose from, it will be a lot easier to narrow your search if you know what your passions and interests are. Ask yourself questions like, what traits describe me best? What working conditions do I need? What are my short-term and long-term goals?
  • Make connections wherever you can. Even if you meet someone with a different career than what you want, it never hurts to develop a rapport with them. These connections can give you advice, insight into how they got where they are currently, and they might even help you find a job. You should also develop and maintain relationships with professors. Not only can they offer you valuable advice, but you’ll most likely need references or recommendation letters in the future.
  • Don’t just use internet job postings to find a job because it’s limited. Many organizations don’t post job listings on these sites. To find more opportunities, look at newspapers (even if it seems antiquated), go directly to organizations’ websites, and network with people.
  • Use your college career center and other resources even when you’re done with your graduate studies. Campus career centers and alumni offices want to help you long-term. So, your relationship with them shouldn’t end once you receive your diploma. You can still attend job fairs and other events for current students and graduates.

Tips for finding the right job for you:

If you feel overwhelmed about picking a career, you aren’t the only one—all college graduates go through a similar panic. So, if you are uncertain and not ready to commit just yet, here are some tips on figuring out which path is best for you.

Keep reading

When you’re done with school. Even if you already received your diploma, your education shouldn’t stop there—whether you pursue a master’s degree or not. Not only will this help you stay up-to-date, but you can also explore more specialized areas that you’re interested in.

Find a mentor

That can offer guidance and advice as you navigate different options. This could be a professor, colleague, boss, or anyone with experience in the field you’re interested in. Look to job networks and alum portals to connect with a diverse range of professionals.

Understand the clinical facts

If you want to become a clinical psychologist. You’ll need a Ph.D. While a bachelor’s degree is a great starting point, there are limitations to what you can do. So, if you want to become an actual, practicing psychologist, you will need to go through more education.

best jobs for psychology majors

Become a people person

As a student, you spend a lot of time working in research, data, and history. Undergraduate psychology students focus on the theoretical level. So, while you’ll be able to handle clinical challenges objectively, you need to focus on the human aspect as well. This includes ethics, compassion, and empathy, which are important for any job within psychology. So, yes, studies and research are important, but the people you’ll be working with are the most important.

Your mental health matters

Pursuing a psychology degree and working in related fields is challenging. When you start to succeed in your career, it will most likely become even more challenging. Don’t worry! Instead, be aware and prepared for what’s to come. So, before you dive head into your career, make sure you take care of yourself and that you’re always your number one patient.

Remember, you don’t have to have it all figured out right after college—not many people do. Reach out to people in different industries, try out different jobs that you could see yourself thriving in for the long term. If it’s taking you longer than expected to find a job, that’s okay! Trust your gut and take advantage of what the journey brings you.

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