Top Jobs for Psychology Majors

Career Options for Psych Majors

Guidance Counselor with students
••• Steve Debenport / Vetta / Getty Images

Are you a psychology major exploring job options? Your career path will depend on your interests and skills, but a psych major can use the skills 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 which draw upon the psychology major.

Top 10 Jobs for Psychology Majors

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 which serve school counselors well.

Psychology graduates are well positioned to complete a master's degree in student personnel or a related field 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.

Human Resources (HR) or personnel workers recruit and train staff, counsel employees, 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 which serve them well on the recruiting side of HR.

The communication skills and finesse with people which psych majors tend to possess help them 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: Human Resources Salaries

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 which 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.

Psychology graduates acquire knowledge in areas like motivation, personality and industrial/organizational psychology which can help them to supervise and motivate staff.  Their interpersonal and communication skills can enable them to interview, train and evaluate staff.  Problem-solving abilities can help them to analyze performance issues and develop strategies to improve productivity.

Most mid to large size 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 the keyword "management trainee" and search by the same phrase to see some examples.

Salary Information: Top 10 Management Jobs

The insight, which psychology majors have into consumer motivations and preferences, can help salespeople to frame their product/service pitches with the right angles.  Interpersonal skills help to put customers at ease, and verbal skills help psych majors to convey clear messages about products or services.

Psychology majors qualify for sales positions and sales training programs directly out of college.  Chances of landing a first job in sales are enhanced by some business coursework, psych projects related to business, and internships in a business setting.  Many sales employers recruit through colleges so be sure to inquire about options through your campus career office.

Fundraisers need some of the same savvy with people that is required by salespeople.  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 take on-campus positions with the development and alumni office such as annual fund caller to demonstrate their fundraising acumen.  Also, consider coordinating campus fundraising campaigns for local charities or student organizations.

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 to understand how preferences for and attachments to products are formed by consumers.  The interviewing skills, which psych majors develop while working with subjects for human studies, help them to 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.

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.  Psych 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 repair a corporate image.

Psych 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.

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 psychiatric professionals.  Interpersonal and communication skills help psych majors to 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 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.

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 to presenting cases and influencing judges, jurors, and opposing attorneys.  Since many cases are resolved outside the courtroom, reading the mindset of the opposition and negotiating skills are essential for trial lawyers.

Psych majors will benefit from taking some law courses as an undergrad to test their interest in and aptitude for legal analysis.

Psychology Major Skills
Here's a list of the skills that employers seek when hiring Psychology majors. Skills vary by job, so also review these skills lists for a variety of different occupations. Highlight the skills you acquired during your studies, internships, and jobs held during college in your cover letters, resume and job applications.

A - C

  • Abstracting General Principles from Examples
  • Active Listening
  • Adaptability
  • Administering Standardized Assessments
  • Adopting Multiple Perspectives
  • Analytical
  • Analyzing Jobs
  • Applying Theories to Real World Situations
  • Appreciating Individual Difference
  • Caring
  • Coding Data
  • Conducting Interviews
  • Conducting Statistical Analyses
  • Constructing Valid Arguments
  • Creating Charts and Graphs
  • Creativity
  • Critical Thinking

D - L

  • Designing Research Projects
  • Designing Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Detail Orientation
  • Empathy
  • Evaluating Indicators of Mental Illness 
  • Explaining Complex Concepts
  • Facilitating Group Discussions
  • Gathering Information from Multiple Sources
  • Independence
  • Interpersonal
  • Interpreting Data
  • Investigative 
  • Knowing One's Strengths and Weaknesses
  • Leadership
  • Leading Meetings
  • Logical Reasoning

M - P

  • Managing Stress
  • Marketing
  • Mediating Disagreements
  • Microsoft Excel
  • Microsoft Word
  • Modifying Behavior
  • Note Taking
  • Noticing Recurring Patterns
  • Noticing Signs of Conflict
  • Organizational
  • Persistence
  • Persuasive Communication
  • Planning Projects
  • PowerPoint
  • Pragmatism
  • Predicting Outcomes
  • Presentation
  • Prioritizing
  • Problem Solving

R - Z

  • Reading Complex Material
  • Research
  • Resolving Conflicts
  • SAS
  • Social Perceptiveness
  • SPSS
  • Study
  • Systematically Observing Behavior
  • Systematizing
  • Teamwork
  • Testing Hypotheses
  • Time Management
  • Understanding an Audience
  • Verbal Communication
  • Writing Concisely
  • Writing Essays
  • Writing Precisely
  • Writing Scientific Reports

Additional Job Options
Information on the best jobs for college students and graduates in a variety of career fields.