What Can I Do with a Degree in Psychology?

A bachelor’s level degree in Psychology can lead you to a number of different career paths. Some use the degree as a jumping off point for their careers, some will go on to get a master’s degree, and others will pursue a doctorate. You can work in a variety of fields, from direct client services to management, policy making, and research.

Bachelor’s Graduates

Psychology students who stop at the bachelor’s degree level have a number of options open to them. Many will be able to find entry level positions at either a psychiatric clinic or residential care facility. Residential facilities can serve a number of different populations including homeless or at risk adults, developmentally delayed people of all ages, domestic violence victims, and children with emotional and behavioral difficulties. People with bachelor’s degrees may also get jobs as case managers, in which they make a treatment plan and monitor the progress of their clients.

Some bachelor’s graduates will pursue certifications, such as the ABA certification to work with autistic children and adults, or the NCAC for professionals who want to help people overcome addiction. These allow a greater specialization without requiring a higher degree.

Master’s Studies

Students who go on to get their master’s degree may get a degree in Psychology, Social Work, Clinical Social Work, or Community Organizing. A master’s in Psychology or Clinical Social Work will prepare students to work directly with the client population that they specialize in, while those with a general Social Work or Community Organizing degrees will generally work in non-profit or government organizations to ensure that their programs are effective for their targeted area.

Doctoral Candidates

Doctoral candidates may take a number of different paths. Those getting a Ph.D. in Psychology will go on to be researchers, licensed practitioners, and university teachers. Those with a Psy.D. in Psychology primarily focus on the clinical aspects instead of research. A Ph.D. in Social Work, on the other hand, focuses more heavily on policy making, either for non-profits or governmental agencies, research into these policies, and executive level work in social work organizations.

Many people with a Psychology degree will go on to law school and obtain their JD. These students may enter corporate law, but many more use their experience to defend vulnerable populations and may work in contract law for a non-profit, family law, refugee and immigration law, and human rights.

Area of Focus

Depending on their specializations in their master’s or doctorate program, psychology graduates can work in a number of different fields with a wide population. Some focus on family and children, offering marriage counseling and parenting help for challenging children. Others may get ABA certified and work to help autistic children and adults develop the skills they need to live independently. Others may work with people who have suffered trauma or a natural disaster, offering treatment for PTSD and other trauma related issues. Some find work in companies, developing employee moral and reducing burnout rates. Still others will work with clients suffering from addiction. There is a wide array of fields and choices available to individuals in this profession.

There are a wide variety of opportunities, educational programs, and specializations available to those in the psychology field. Talking with a student counselor and other professionals in the field may help you narrow down your choices and start on the career path you want.

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