Careers in Psychology

What Can You Do With a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology?

Answering this question is difficult. In some fields, a bachelor’s degree prepares you for a specific job or role within that field. For example, a bachelor’s degree in education prepares students for a job in teaching. However, in psychology, most jobs involving counseling, research, or administration (i.e., work as a psychologist) requires a graduate degree. Nationwide, psychology is a popular major, and the large majority of people who graduate with a bachelor’s degree in psychology do not go to graduate school. What do they do? Because the answer varies so widely, it is a difficult question. There are career possibilities in research or mental health with a bachelor’s degree. However, most psychology majors go into fields other than psychological research or mental health.

Outside of the field of psychology, job applicants must market themselves to a potential employer who may not immediately appreciate how someone with a bachelor’s degree in psychology would be a good choice to hire. Many jobs in which you might be interested and for which you would be qualified will not include mention of psychology. So, it is up to you to communicate to the potential employer the skills you developed as a psychology major, and how those skills relate to the job for which you are applying.

General Job Skills Possessed by Psychology Students

Students often do not realize some of the important skills they have acquired while pursuing a bachelor’s degree in psychology that are desired by potential employers. These skills include:

  • Critical thinking and analysis
  • Organization of tasks and information
  • Research skills
  • Data interpretation
  • Computer literacy
  • Leadership and managerial skills
  • Effective interpersonal communication
  • Small-group skills (team building, conflict management)
  • Sensitivity to individual differences
  • Crisis intervention (listening, referral)
  • Basic counseling skills with individuals and groups
  • Understanding of behavioral and emotional disorders

Careers Within Psychology

There are certain jobs in mental health or research that require a minimum of a bachelor’s degree, such as research assistant or case manager. Psychiatric wards and community mental health centers typically hire people with bachelor’s degrees to maintain day-to-day contacts with clients (typically those with severe mental disorders). Other mental health agencies may hire people with bachelor’s degrees to manage cases or to coordinate services. For example, an agency that relies on volunteers typically has a “volunteer coordinator,” a hired person who oversees and organizes the activities of the volunteers. Or, agencies such as Big Brothers/Big Sisters hires people with bachelor’s degrees to match children with partners and to follow up on those cases.

Note: Students are encouraged to check out Edens Library for additional resources on careers within psychology and related fields. One good resource is a book entitled, Career Paths in Psychology: Where Your Degree Can Take You (1997) by Robert J. Sternberg; the call number is BF76.C38 1997.

Careers Outside Psychology

Many Psychology majors go on to employment in areas outside of mental health or psychological research. It is difficult to describe the various roles psychology graduates play because they are so varied. The following is a (very) incomplete list of career fields for those with a bachelor’s degree in psychology who wish to pursue a career outside of psychology.

  • Teaching/Education
  • Public Relations
  • Business
  • Human Resources
  • Management/Administration
  • Advertising
  • Marketing/Market Research
  • Criminal Justice
  • Retail/Sales
  • Law
  • Medicine
  • Social Work
  • Public/Community Health
  • Advocacy

What Our Psychology Graduates Have Done

Many of our graduates have gone on to advanced training in psychology and related fields. Some of our graduates choose to begin working after completion of their bachelor’s degree. Here is a list of some of the advanced training programs for which our alumnae were accepted and the employment positions they hold.

Alumnae Advanced Training

Rehabilitation Counseling (M.A.) – USC School of Medicine

Counseling (M.A.) – Argosy University Atlanta

Marriage and Family Counseling (MMFT) – Converse College

Counseling (M.A.) – Webster University

Speech-Language Pathology (M.S.P.) – University of South Carolina

MSW – University of South Carolina

Nursing – University of South Carolina

Humanities and Social Thought (MA) – New York University

Higher Education and Student Affairs (M.Ed.) – University of South Carolina

Counseling (MA) – Trinity Washington University (DC)

Counseling (M.A.) –South University

Professional Counseling (M.A.) – South University

Human Development and Family Studies (Ph.D.), Penn State

Counselor Education (Ed.S.) – University of South Carolina

Nursing – East Tennessee State University

School Counseling (Ed.S.) – College of William and Mary

Rehabilitation Counseling (M.A.) – USC School of Medicine

Counseling (M.A.) – UNC Charlotte

Mental Health Counseling (M.A.) – Argosy University

Forensic Psychology (M.A.) – Marymount University, Virginia

Psy.D., Argosy University Atlanta

Community Counseling (M.A.) – Clark Atlanta University

Occupational Therapy (M.H.S.) –  Medical College of Georgia (Georgia Regents University)

Clinical Mental Health Counseling (M.Ed.) – Winthrop University

Nursing – MUSC

MSW –  University of Denver

Public Health (M.A.) –University of Texas Health Sciences Center

Sexology (Ph.D.) – Weidner University

Psychology (M.A.) – University of the Rockies

Forensic Psychology (M.A.) – George Washington University

Mental Health Counseling (M.S.) – Nova Southeastern U (Ft. Lauderdale)

Higher Education and Student Affairs (M.Ed.) – USC

Counseling (M.A.), Wake Forest University

Clinical Psychology (Ph.D.) – East Tennessee State University

 

Alumnae Employment

Youth counselor, Spectrum Youth and Family Services (Burlington, VT)

Psychology Faculty, Georgia Gwinnett College

Research assistant, Obesity Research Group, USC Psychology Department (Project PATH team)

Service Coordinator, Kershaw County (SC) Board of Disabilities and Special Needs

Behavior Intervention Specialist, No Child Left Behind Behavioral Health Care

Vocational Evaluator, NC Vocational Rehabilitation (Durham, NC)

Conference Coordinator, National Development Institute

Mental Health Counselor, Greenville, SC

Credentialing Coordinator, Practice Management Group LLC

Behavioral Health Coach, BCBS SC

Member Representative, BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina

Program Coordinator, Newberry Mental Health Clinic

Service Coordinator, Richland/Lexington Disabilities and Special Needs Board

Placement Manager, Youth Villages, Memphis, TN

Business Development Manager, goDCgo (Washington, DC)

Social Behavior Therapist, Aiken County School District 2

Trade Compliance Consultant, UPS Supply Chain Solutions

Operations Manager, Gay, Lesbian Bisexual, Transgender Community Center of Baltimore and Central Maryland

Career Coach, Columbia College

Insurance Agent, Bankers Life and Casualty Company

 

The Office of Teaching Resources in Psychology (OTRP) offers an online student guide to careers in the helping professions. The guide contains information about traditional careers in Psychology (such as clinical psychology and school psychology), but also careers in creative art therapy, health education/promotion, human resources, and recreational therapy, just to name a few.

Students who pursue a career after obtaining a bachelor’s degree in Psychology or a related field are encouraged to brush up on interviewing skills and prepare answers to questions like those available at this website:

Preparation of a resume is also necessary and can be accomplished at the Career Center.