What to Do With a Degree in Psychology

Alternative Careers

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Psychology majors study human behavior. If you enjoy learning about the mind, how it works, and why people act the way they do, earning a degree in this major could be the perfect choice for you. 

But what will you do after you graduate from college? The obvious choice for some people who get a degree in this field of study is to apply to graduate school where they can earn a doctorate (Ph.D. or Psy.D.) in psychology and become a psychologist. Not everyone wants to do that, however.

For one thing, learning about human behavior as a student doesn't necessarily mean you will want to spend your career working with people in that capacity. Even if you decide you do, in fact, want to spend your career helping people deal with mental health issues, you may not want to spend at least five years studying to become a psychologist. Admission to graduate programs in psychology is very competitive, and it is an expensive endeavor if you are accepted.

Fortunately, you can use your degree in psychology for many other careers. Some of them require that you earn an advanced degree and others do not. Let's take a look at several of them. Here are ten occupations and skills psychology majors have upon earning a bachelor's degree. Some of these occupations involve helping people who have a mental illness or an emotional disorder. Many of them just use your knowledge about human behavior to do other work.

School Counselor

Guidance counselors help students with school-related issues, including course selection, academic difficulties, and social skills. They work in elementary, middle, and high schools. Counselors may identify problems and refer students and their families to resources both within and outside their schools.

A master's degree in school counseling is required for this occupation. While applicants to graduate counseling programs don't need a bachelor's degree in psychology, taking courses in this subject provides a good foundation. Psychology coursework is even a prerequisite for admission to some programs.


Teachers instruct students in a variety of subjects. To reach children, it helps to have a good understanding of how the human mind works. The education you received as a psychology major will allow you to notice when students are having academic problems. It will also heighten your sensitivity to the presence of other issues, such as mental illness, substance abuse, and conflicts at home.

Teachers usually need a bachelor's degree in education, but many choose to either major or minor in another subject as well. Psychology is an excellent choice. Depending on where you live, you may have to earn a master's degree.

Human Resources Specialist

Human resources specialists help companies fill job openings with suitable candidates. They also help retain employees by resolving conflicts with coworkers and supervisors. An understanding of the human mind and behavior will make you especially well-suited for this occupation. Your problem-solving skills will also contribute to your success in human resources.

While you need a bachelor's degree for most jobs in this field, you have some flexibility regarding your area of study. You may want to get a bachelor's degree in human resources or business with a dual major or minor in psychology.

Clinical Social Worker

Clinical social workers diagnose and treat clients who are struggling with emotional, behavioral, and mental disorders. The connection between a background in psychology and this career couldn't be more clear.

A master's degree in social work is required to practice as a clinician, but you do not need a bachelor's degree in that major to be admitted to a master's level social work program. An undergraduate degree in psychology will provide great preparation. 

Marriage and Family Therapist

Marriage and family therapists work with families, couples, and individuals who need professional help with disorders including anxiety, depression, addiction, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. They take into account the effect family dynamics have on individuals' mental health.

You will need a master's degree in marriage and family therapy. While most programs don't require applicants to have a bachelor's degree in psychology, courses in this subject are often among the prerequisites. Additionally, by studying psychology as an undergraduate, you will already have some of the skills needed to succeed in this career, for example, the ability to convey information to others and good listening skills.

Special Agent or Detective

Special agents and detectives examine evidence and interview victims, suspects, and witnesses when crimes have taken place. They typically begin their careers by working as police officers.

While a college degree isn't always required for admission to the police academy, many municipalities prefer to hire job candidates who have one, or at least some college coursework. As a psychology major, you will bring a keen understanding of the workings of the human mind to this occupation. Your good interpersonal, listening, and verbal communication skills will also help you do your job well.

Market Research Analyst

Market research analysts help corporations and other organizations learn about consumers' preferences. They monitor trends and develop methods for collecting data. They use statistical software to analyze data and then prepare written reports, charts, and graphs to present their findings to their employers or clients.

A bachelor's degree is all you need to qualify for an entry-level job. Courses in statistics and research design, which are part of an undergraduate psychology curriculum, provide those who major in this subject with some of the skills market research analysts need. In addition, as someone who studied psychology, you understand people and have strong critical thinking skills, attributes market research analysts need.

Survey Researcher

Survey researchers design and conduct surveys to learn about people and their opinions. Many jobs require a master's degree that can be in a social science like psychology. You may be able to get an entry-level job with a bachelor's degree.

A psychology major's coursework in statistics and research design provides an excellent background for people in this career as it does for market research analysts. Your critical thinking skills again will benefit you if you choose this occupation. Your knowledge about human behavior puts you one step ahead of other people.

Marketing Manager

Marketing managers are responsible for companies' marketing strategies. Along with their teams, including marketing research analysts and survey researchers, they determine who will buy their products and services, and how much they will pay for them.

You only need a bachelor's degree to work in this field. Since majoring in psychology will give you good problem solving, communication, and interpersonal skills, as well as knowledge of statistics, it is a good choice. Supplementing it with either a minor or dual major in business, with some coursework in computer science, will round out your qualifications.

Sales Representative

Sales representatives work for wholesalers and manufacturers, selling products on their behalf. They contact current and new customers, demonstrate products to them, and negotiate prices and service agreements.

While you don't necessarily need a bachelor's degree unless you plan to sell scientific or technical products, having one can give you a competitive edge. A psychology degree would be a good choice. Sales representatives need to understand how people think and behave to decide how to sell products to them. Your training in psychology will serve you well.