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By now, you probably know that to be a psychologist one must have a doctoral degree in psychology (PhD, PsyD, or, sometimes, an EdD). This is because the nature of the work that psychologists do requires much more extensive education and training than can be gained in four years of undergraduate course work. (For information about jobs that require more than a bachelor's degree, see the next section, "Master's- and Doctoral-level Careers in Psychology and Related Areas.")
Nonetheless, there are numerous entry-level jobs that are open to those with a bachelor's degree in psychology—although this often seems like the world's best-kept secret! For reasons noted above, you won't find an bachelor-degree level job for a "psychologist." This fact means that you will need to do some detective work to search out job options for psychology majors.
The types of entry-level jobs for which psychology majors are prepared are those that use skills cultivated in the psychology major. For many people this means "people skills" such as communicating with and relating to individuals from diverse backgrounds, as required for case workers, counselor's aides, and people in sales, marketing, personnel, and management positions.
For other students, the psychology degree provides analytical skills (for example, figuring out why a certain problem occurs and how to minimize or eliminate it), writing skills (for example, writing a logically developed report), and research skills (for example, using statistics, tables, and graphs to analyze problems and communicate relevant findings).
These skills can be used in a wide variety of work settings. Human services (counseling, social work), business, criminal justice (probation officer, corrections officer), health and recreation, and education are areas that come readily to mind. To get an idea of the wide variety of entry-level jobs that are open to psychology majors, see the list on this page: "Types of Entry-level Positions Obtained by Psychology Majors."
Once you have an idea of some specific job titles, you can learn a lot about these jobs by consulting the Occupational Outlook Handbook (OOH) (see "Books on Careers for Psychology Majors"). This government document published every two years is an excellent general reference on occupations.
The OOH provides job descriptions, education and training requirements for jobs, salaries, and employment outlooks for hundreds of jobs. It also describes resources for special groups such as youth, the disabled, veterans, women, and minorities. At the end of the section on each job, you'll find a list of places to obtain additional information. To get an idea of the wide-ranging information contained in the OOH job descriptions, you can review the description for "psychologists."
To use the OOH, go to the search panel on the OOH site and look up the title of "your" job. Keep in mind that you probably won't find the job listed with the exact title you're looking for; you'll need to be creative and keep and eye out for alternative job titles.
You should also read the section entitled "Related Occupations" that appears at the end of the material on each occupation. Another way to learn about careers in which you might be interested is to scan the OOH index, keeping an eye out for occupations that look promising to you.
After several years in an entry-level position, some individuals find that they want more challenges, more money, better personnel benefits, more independence, more status, and less stress (or a different type of stress!). One way to obtain these things is to go back to school.
To learn about psychology-related careers that require graduate degrees, go to the section, "Master's- and Doctoral-level Careers in Psychology and Related Areas." For information on the graduate programs that prepare you for these careers, go to the section, "Graduate School Options for Psychology Majors."
APA-style reference for this page:
Lloyd, M. A. and Dewey, R. A. (2016, November 20). Entry-level jobs for psychology majors. Retrieved from: http://www.psywww.com/careers/jobs.html.
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