Are you a psychology major exploring job options? Your career path will depend on your interests and skills, but as a psych major, you can use the skills you acquired in college in a variety of different types of jobs.
Psychology majors typically develop a keen understanding of human behavior, motivations, emotions, and thought patterns. Most psychology majors have strong verbal, writing, and presentation skills. They have the ability to read people and interact in effective and strategic ways.
Most colleges now take a scientific approach to psychology, so majors learn how to apply the scientific method to assess variables. They can use quantitative skills and software to analyze data.
Your individual skills, interests, and values should be the final determinants of what jobs are right for you, but here are some options to consider that draw upon the psychology major.
1. Guidance Counselor
Guidance counselors work with students, teachers, and families to help them plan their education and overcome any obstacles interfering with their learning. The psychology major provides a solid foundation in theories of learning, cognitive development, and motivation that serve school counselors well.
Psychology graduates are well positioned to complete a master's degree to qualify for these jobs. Guidance counselors need to complete certification requirements and a practicum in the school system to qualify. Check with your state's department of teacher certification for the exact requirements.
Salary Information and Job Outlook: School and career counselors earned a median annual wage of $57,040 in May 2019, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The BLS estimates that jobs for school and career counselors will grow by 8% through 2028, faster than the average for all occupations.
2. Human Resources Staff
Human resources (HR) staff recruit and train employees, counsel workers, negotiate contracts, mediate personnel conflicts, administer benefits programs, and set policies/standards for managing employees. Psychology majors who take coursework in industrial/organizational psychology at the undergraduate or graduate level gain insight into workplace dynamics. Psych majors develop interviewing skills and the ability to appraise the qualities of people who serve them well on the recruiting side of HR.
Psychology majors tend to possess the communication skills and finesse with people necessary to counsel employees, mediate conflicts, and negotiate contracts. HR staff are heavily involved with employee assessment, evaluation, and research where the psych major's knowledge of the scientific method can be quite useful.
Salary Information and Job Outlook: According to the BLS, the median annual wage for human resources specialists was $61,920 in May 2019. Employment of human resources specialists is projected to grow 5% through 2028, which is about as fast as the average for all occupations.
3. Social Worker
Psychology studies provide an excellent grounding for social workers in human behavior, social relations, addiction, personality disorder, and motivation. Many psych majors pursue graduate studies in social work to provide the professional training needed to intervene with clients in need. Psychology majors often enroll in clinical social work programs that prepare them to conduct therapy with clients in much less time than a Ph.D. in clinical or counseling psychology.
Psychology majors possess the interviewing skills critical for gathering information from clients and the sensitivity to emotions needed to establish a working rapport. Their analytical skills enable them to assess problems and come up with viable solutions. Strong communication skills allow psych majors to convey practical information and suggested remedies to clients.
Salary Information and Job Outlook: Social workers earned an average of $50,470, according to the BLS. The BLS estimates that jobs for social workers will grow by 11% through 2028, much faster than the average for all occupations.
4. Management Trainee
Psychology graduates acquire knowledge in areas like motivation, personality, and industrial/organizational psychology that can help them supervise and motivate staff as a management trainee. Their interpersonal and communication skills can enable them to interview, train, and evaluate staff. Problem-solving abilities can help them analyze performance issues and develop strategies to improve productivity.
Most mid- to large-sized companies have management training programs. They often recruit through colleges, so check with your career office for opportunities to interview on campus and through career fairs. Google "management trainee" and or search Indeed.com using the same phrase to see some examples.
Salary and Job Outlook Information: Glassdoor estimates that entry-level salaries for management trainees average about $50,976. The BLS expects management jobs opportunities to expand by about 7% through 2028, faster than the average rate of growth for all occupations.
The insight into consumer motivations and preferences that psychology majors possess can help salespeople frame their product/service pitches with the right angles. Interpersonal skills help put customers at ease, and verbal skills help psych majors convey clear messages about products or services.
Psychology majors qualify for sales positions and sales training programs directly out of college. To enhance your chances of landing a first job in sales, take some business coursework, complete psych projects related to business, and look for internships in a business setting. Many sales employers recruit through colleges, so be sure to inquire about options through your campus career office.
Salary Information and Job Outlook: Sales salaries vary greatly from industry to industry and by sales function. For example, the BLS reports that advertising salespersons earned a median annual salary of $53,310 in May 2019; wholesale sales representatives earned a median annual salary of $63,000; and securities salespeople earned a median annual salary of $62,270. The BLS expects sales jobs as a whole to show little or no change between 2018 and 2028.
Fundraisers, like salespeople, need to be savvy with people. Psych majors are often good readers of people and have a sense of when to ask for a donation. They have the interviewing skills to draw out the interests that prospective donors have related to their organization and the communication skills to explain to donors how their contributions would advance the mission of their charity.
Psychology majors should pursue on-campus positions (such as annual fund caller) in their college's development and alumni office to demonstrate their fundraising acumen. Also, consider coordinating campus fundraising campaigns for local charities or student organizations.
Salary Information and Job Outlook: The BLS estimated that fundraisers earned a median annual wage of $57,970 in May 2019. Jobs were projected to expand by 9% through 2028 – faster than the average for all occupations.
7. Market Research Analyst
Psychology majors are trained to conduct research in a scientific manner. They have the ability to design studies, gather and analyze data, and summarize their conclusions. Psych majors gain knowledge in motivation and social psychology, which helps them understand how preferences for and attachments to products are formed by consumers. Interviewing skills, which psych majors develop while working with subjects for human studies, can help them structure and carry out effective focus groups.
Psych majors who aspire to be market researchers should consider a minor in business or economics and choose psych projects with a business orientation. Complete internships related to marketing to further your chances of being hired for positions in the field.
Salary Information and Job Outlook: The BLS estimated that market research analysts earned a median annual salary of $63,790 in May 2019. Jobs are expected to grow by a much greater than average rate of 20% through 2028.
8. Public Relations Specialist
Public relations (PR) professionals need the psychology major's interpersonal skills to establish rapport with the media and convince them to publish stories about their organization or their client's organization. Psychology majors possess the interviewing skills used by PR professionals to gather information from staff to form the basis of press releases.
They have the writing skills necessary to compose compelling stories in order to convince editors and reporters to cover developments with their client. PR professionals often have to intervene to resolve emerging image issues with an organization. Psych majors have the knowledge of how attitudes are formed through social psychology and the problem-solving skills to devise effective strategies to build or repair a corporate image.
Psychology majors aiming for a career in PR should take on writing-intensive roles with student organizations, like the campus magazine/newspapers and complete writing-related internships. Experience organizing events on campus is also useful. Try to complete at least a few courses in business and marketing, as well.
Salary Information and Job Outlook: Public relations specialists earned a median annual salary of $61,150 in May 2019, according to the BLS. Further, the BLS estimates that jobs for public relations specialists will grow by 6% through 2028, about as fast as the average for all occupations.
9. Psychiatric Aide
A solid understanding of abnormal psychology, clinical psychology, and psychology of personality enable psychiatric aides to understand the conditions afflicting their patients and the instructions for care provided by psychiatrists. Interpersonal and communication skills help psych majors establish a rapport with patients and support treatment.
Psych majors who hope to work as psychiatric aides after graduation should volunteer to work with clients or patients with psychological issues. Students should complete internships in a clinical setting as they advance to their junior year. Working as a peer counselor is another way to gain related experience.
Most college grads use positions such as a mental health aide, psychiatric aide, or residential counselor as a short-term mechanism to gain clinical experience prior to graduate programs in counseling/clinical psych or social work.
Salary Information and Job Outlook: Psychiatric aides earned an average of $32,020, according to the BLS. The BLS estimates that jobs for psychiatric aides will grow by 12% through 2028, much faster than the average for all occupations.
Litigators draw heavily on social psychology when they are involved with appraising the suitability and attitudes of potential jurors. Knowledge of motivation is essential when analyzing crime scenarios and selecting witnesses. Verbal, presentation, and persuasive skills are essential in presenting cases and influencing judges, jurors, and opposing attorneys. Since many cases are resolved outside of the courtroom, it’s essential for lawyers to be able to read the mindset of the opposition and to have solid negotiating skills.
Psych majors will benefit from taking some undergraduate law courses prior to law school to test their interest in and aptitude for legal analysis.
Salary Information and Job Outlook: The BLS estimates that the median annual salary for attorneys in May 2019 was $122,960. Jobs are expected to grow by 6%, about as fast as the average for all occupations.