Psychology

What can you do with a bachelor’s in psychology? 5 careers

Psychology Degree Career Options 

Psychology is consistently one of the most popular college majors in the country. Yet there’s a common misconception that there aren’t many careers in psychology with a bachelor’s degree. This is because anyone who intends to become a practicing clinical psychologist must earn a doctoral degree.

Pursuing advanced education is relatively common in this field. According to the American Psychological Association (APA), about 25 percent of students with a bachelor’s degree in psychology go on to pursue a graduate degree in the field, while about 18 percent pursue more education in other subjects.

But this also means that 57 percent of those graduates do not continue in academia, as they are likely transitioning into the workforce after obtaining their bachelor’s degree. The APA notes that a bachelor’s in psychology equips students with many interdisciplinary skills that can be applied to positions from human resources to social work and more.

So, what can you do with a bachelor’s in psychology, exactly? It turns out there are more options than you might expect. Keep reading to learn about five potential career paths.

5 psychology bachelor’s degree jobs worth exploring

In a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology program, students examine psychological principles of human behavior. A high-quality program teaches critical thinking, research methodology, verbal and written communication, problem solving and how to apply psychology in numerous situations.

Psychology graduates walk away with skills that can be applied in many industries, including business, government, education and healthcare. To give you a better idea of what you can expect, we used real-time job analysis software to examine more than 85,000 postings for jobs with a bachelor’s in psychology.* The following roles were among the most common:

1. Mental health counselor

Mental health counselors treat clients with a variety of different conditions, including things like anxiety, depression, grief, low self-esteem, stress and suicidal impulses. In addition to providing emotional support, they may also counsel clients on relationship issues.

Mental health counselors may work with individuals, couples, families and other groups. Some specialize in certain populations, such as the elderly, college students or children. In addition to needing a bachelor’s degree in psychology or a related field, these professionals must obtain licensure after completing a period of supervised clinical work.

Key skills for this role that psychology graduates learn to develop:

  • Written communication
  • Inclusivity
  • Self-regulation

Considering a mental health profession?

Learn about degrees like psychology and counseling, then explore career options that fit your future.

2. Human resources specialist

Human resources (HR) specialists handle tasks related to employee relations, training, compensation and benefits. They’re involved in recruiting, screening, interviewing and hiring new employees while also helping to guide existing employees through all HR-related procedures and policies.

Professionals in this role perform basic administrative duties, such as creating and managing benefit plans, processing payroll and keeping employment records up to date. HR specialists are also tasked with ensuring every HR function is compliant with federal, state and local regulations. Qualified HR specialists must have a bachelor’s degree, and completing coursework in psychology is incredibly beneficial.

Key skills for this role that psychology graduates learn to develop:

  • Collaboration
  • Service orientation
  • Interpersonal skills 

3. Medical and health services manager

Also called healthcare executives, healthcare administrators and clinical managers, medical and health services managers handle planning, directing and coordinating healthcare services. This could mean managing an entire facility, a specific clinical area, a department or a medical practice for one or more physicians. They focus on improving efficiency and quality of services and ensuring the facility is compliant with all laws and regulations.

Medical and health services managers often collaborate with a range of different professionals in the healthcare setting. They may work closely with medical providers, patients and insurance agents. To land a position in this realm, candidates need at least a bachelor’s degree — and prior experience in healthcare is often desired. You may need a master’s degree depending on the role and type of facility. That said, studying psychology can also help you start honing the necessary abilities.

Key skills for this role that psychology graduates learn to develop:

  • Leadership
  • Management
  • Adaptability to new systems

4. Social worker

There’s some overlap between social work and psychology. Social workers dedicate their careers to helping people solve and cope with problems they encounter in their everyday lives. Their clients may be dealing with issues ranging from adopting a child to being diagnosed with a terminal illness. In addition to helping clients adjust to changes and challenges in their lives, social workers can be tasked with responding to crisis situations like child abuse or mental health emergencies.

These professionals will often advocate for their clients at the local, state and national levels. In practice, this might look like researching, referring and pressing for community resources such as food stamps, childcare and healthcare services to improve their clients’ well-being. Social workers with a bachelor’s degree will often work with groups, community organizations and policymakers to develop programs, services and policies. Note that employers may expect professionals with a bachelor’s degree in something other than social work, such as psychology, to complete additional education and training over time.

Key skills for this role that psychology graduates learn to develop:

  • Oral communication
  • Service orientation
  • Inclusivity

5. Correctional treatment specialist

Correctional treatment specialists — also known as case managers or correctional counselors — advise and develop rehabilitation plans for probationers and parolees to follow. They may evaluate inmates using questionnaires and psychological tests. Correctional treatment specialists also help develop release plans, which often include facilitating education and training programs to help improve probationers’ job skills.

When inmates become eligible for release, it’s often the case reports crafted by correctional treatment specialists that a parole board reviews. These professionals will then keep detailed written accounts of each parolee’s progress. They may also help connect released inmates and their families with counseling services, substance abuse and/or mental health treatment, adequate housing and job placements.

Candidates hoping to enter this field are often required to pass competency exams, drug testing and criminal background checks. Correctional treatment specialists also need a bachelor’s degree in psychology or a related field.

Key skills for this role that psychology graduates learn to develop:

  • Analytical thinking
  • Service orientation
  • Judgment and decision making

Which psychology degree jobs interest you?

What can you do with a bachelor’s degree in psychology if you don’t become a psychologist? As you can see, psychology majors can choose from a wide array of career prospects. The skills you develop in this program can pave the way for a number of different opportunities in a range of industries – it all comes down to where your passion and interest lies.

Now that you understand the variety of jobs you can get with a bachelor’s in psychology, it may be time to learn more about the next steps. For more information, check out UMass Global’s Bachelor of Arts in Psychology program.

 

*Source: Burning-glass.com (analysis of 85,828 job postings open to candidates with a bachelor’s degree in psychology, Jan. 01, 2021 - Dec. 31, 2021)

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