While those with an undergraduate degree in psychology do not have all of the job options available as those master's or doctorate in psychology, there are many entry-level jobs for college graduates with a bachelor's degree. These career options might initially appear to have little to do with the field of psychology. However, an undergraduate education in psychology helps students develop skills that are important in a variety of careers.
Typical Career Options
Many students graduating with a bachelor's degree will work in some division of human or social services. Some common job titles in the area include:
- Case Management
- Career Counselor
- Rehabilitation Specialist
- Psychiatric Technician
Some important skills for those working in this area include the ability to assess client needs, keep thorough and accurate records, express care and empathy, and to act as an advocate for your client.
In addition to social services, a bachelor's in psychology can provide excellent training for many other types of jobs. Some of the most important things you have learned during your undergraduate years are interpersonal skills. Your understanding of the human mind and behavior make you a good candidate for jobs that require strong communication skills. Some examples jobs in this area include those in sales, marketing, case management, and social services.
As an undergraduate, you have also done a considerable amount of research and writing. This skill would be useful in many jobs such as a library assistant, probation officer, business manager, case worker, and many other related areas.
When searching for your first post-graduation job, be sure to consider all of the skills you have acquired during your time as a student. Make a list of things you learned in various classes to help you assess your skills and talents in order to find a job best suited to your educational background and professional goals.
Psychology Degrees are Flexible and Adaptable
A bachelor's degree in psychology is sometimes seen as a stepping stone toward a graduate degree. In fact, as many as 40 percent of psychology majors end up going on to business school, law school, or some other type of advanced degree program. However, there are many different types of career options for those with a bachelor's psychology degree.
According to Charles Brewer, a psychology professor at Furman University, looking at psychology undergraduate degrees as simply a step toward an advanced degree is often a mistake. "A lot of people think that in order to do anything with a degree in psychology you must get a Ph.D and become a psychologist," he explained in an article by CNN. "Most parents, even if they are professionals in their own right, don't understand what opportunities are open to psych majors." He also suggests that the biggest advantage of a bachelor's degree in psychology is its adaptability.
So what are the most commonly held careers for those with a bachelors degree in psychology? According to The College Majors Handbook, some of the top occupations that employ those with a bachelor's psychology degree are:
- Top- and mid-level management and administration
- Social work
- Other management occupations
- Labor-relations, personnel and training
- Administrative positions
- Real estate, business services and insurance
Making the Most of Your Psychology Degree
Psychology degrees are actually one of the most popular options at colleges and universities throughout the world. Most academic institutions offer either a Bachelor of Science (BS) or Bachelor of Arts (BA). If your goal is to become a licensed psychologist, then you will definitely need to continue your education at the graduate level in order to earn your Ph.D. or Psy.D. in psychology.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics suggests that job opportunities for bachelor's degree holders are limited. The College Majors Handbook reports that fewer than 25 percent of people with a bachelor's degree in psychology find work in jobs that are closely related to their college major. Instead, many find work in areas that are indirectly related such as social work or market research.
While the opportunities that are available to those with a bachelor's degree in psychology may be more limited, there are things that you can do to maximize your potential and get the most out of your psychology degree. During your undergraduate years, focus on taking courses that will help you later in the job market. Classes that increase your communication and writing skills, enhance your understanding of human behavior, and provide knowledge about organizational behavior can all be extremely useful later on during your job search.
As you enter the job market, consider jobs that require the skills you obtained during your psychology eduction. These abilities include:
- Critical thinking
- One-on-one and small group communication
- Effective written communication skills
- Understanding of individual human behavior
- Knowledge of group and organizational behavior
- Creative thinking skills
What Does the Future Hold for People With Bachelor's Degrees in Psychology?
Considering today's competitive job market, many students are probably very concerned about what they can expect to find once they graduate. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the job outlook for psychologists is expected to grow at an average rate over the next decade. The need for psychological services in hospitals schools, private businesses, social service agencies, and mental health centers is expected to drive this growth. However, it is important to note that the greatest opportunities will still be available to those with a doctorate degree.
"Opportunities directly related to psychology will be limited for bachelor's degree holders," says the Bureau of Labor Statistics in their Occupational Outlook Handbook. "Some may find jobs as assistants in rehabilitation centers or in other jobs involving data collection and analysis. Those who meet State certification requirements may become high school psychology teachers."
Take the Psychology Career Quiz to learn more about some of the careers that might interest you.
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