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What Can You Do With a Psychology Degree?

What Can You Do With a Psychology Degree? main image

Psychology is the study of the human mind and behavior, offering the chance to explore unanswered questions about the brain, such as how it functions under stress, how it learns language, how it remembers facts or how mental illness can affect the way it works. During your psychology degree you can choose to specialize in specific areas of psychology such as health, clinical, educational, research, occupational, counseling, neuro, sport and exercise, and forensic.

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So, what can you do with a psychology degree?

There are many different options available to psychology degree holders, depending on your specializations and interests, such as:

Although many roles will be available to you with an undergraduate degree, some more highly specialized roles may require further study. Of the psychology careers which don’t require further study, training is usually available on the job to ensure you continue moving forward in your career.

Read on for some insight into the types of careers open to you with an undergraduate psychology degree (BA or BSc).

Typical psychology careers

With a psychology degree, you’re well placed to pursue careers in both arts and scientific fields, depending on your personal interests. There are many options within public and private healthcare, education, mental health support, social work, therapy and counseling. These roles may be advisory, research-led, treatment-led or therapeutic.

There are also a number of less typical roles for psychology graduates, including jobs in media and other creative industries. Overviews of these typical and not-so-typical careers with a psychology degree are outlined below.

Psychology careers in healthcare and therapy

Chartered psychologist

With further study and training you’ll be able to gain qualification as a chartered psychologist. Within this highly specialized role, you’ll work with people of all backgrounds, both patients and clients. You’ll analyze behaviors, thoughts and emotions in order to better understand and advise on certain actions and/or psychological issues. As a chartered psychologist, you’ll have the option to specialize in a number of areas, including occupational psychology, educational psychology, sport and mental health.

(Note: If you wish to become a psychiatrist – a doctor specializing in the diagnosis and treatment of mental health disorders – you will need to gain a medical degree.)

Psychotherapist

A psychotherapist will work with individuals, couples, groups or families, to help their clients overcome psychological issues, including emotional and relationship-related issues, stress and even addiction.

Depending on what you choose to specialize in during your degree, as well as your personal interests, you can choose to act as a psychotherapist using a number of approaches. These include cognitive behavioral methods, psychoanalytic and psychodynamic therapies, as well as art therapy, drama therapy, humanistic and integrative psychotherapy, hypno-psychotherapy and experiential therapy.

Social worker

A social worker is someone who works with people who are going through difficult periods in their lives; including groups such as children or the elderly, people with disabilities and victims of crime and abuse. The role of a social worker is to safeguard these people from harm and provide support in order to allow people to improve their situations. Social workers may work within schools, homes, hospitals or other public agencies and will tend to specialize in working with children and families or vulnerable adults.

Counselor

As a counselor you’ll be involved in helping people come to better terms with their lives and experiences through exploration of feelings and emotions. You’ll work within a confidential setting and be expected to listen attentively to your clients. Key traits of a counselor include the ability to listen, empathize, offer respect and patience, as well as to analyze the issues at play in order to enable the client to better cope with their situation and help support them in making choices. Like psychotherapy, counseling is often a form of talking therapy and can encompass areas including marriage and family, health, abuse, rehabilitation, education, grief, mental health, career guidance and pediatrics.

Psychology careers in education

 Psychology graduates interested in the education sector have a number of different options. As well as educational therapy, educational psychology and social work within education, psychology graduates may qualify as teachers, working in primary, secondary or tertiary level education. They may instead work within social services to help support learning in the community at all ages, or within the prison sector to provide support for young offenders.

To become an educational psychologist, you will need the same qualifications as any psychologist (a master’s degree and further training). This is a role concerned with the development of young people in educational settings, with the aim of enhancing learning and dealing with social and emotional issues or learning difficulties.

To teach psychology, depending on the level you choose, you’ll need an additional teaching qualification. To enter careers in tertiary education (colleges and universities) you will likely need a further qualification, such as a master’s and/or PhD. Roles in higher education are likely to encompass both teaching and research (see below).

Psychology careers in research

Psychology careers in research may be based within research agencies, public and private organizations or in universities. University-based careers vary but tend to combine research and teaching. Research careers within other sectors are even more wide-ranging but could mean contributing to governmental policy development or issues of importance for industry. You could also work for a charity or other non-profit organization, perhaps conducting research to help resolve challenges such as speech impediments, brain damage, child development or the impact of legal and illegal drugs on psychological health.

Less typical careers with a psychology degree

As a psychology graduate at bachelor level, there are thousands of opportunities for you outside healthcare and educational roles if you know where to look. This is due to the varied transferable skills you gain from your degree, as well as widespread recognition of the advantages of having psychological and analytical expertise. In broad terms, psychology graduates can be found working in all sectors of society, including media, criminal justice and rehabilitation, advertising, business and management, sports, public agencies and the legal sector. Some less typical careers with a psychology degree are outlined below…

Media and advertising careers

It might not be an obvious choice for psychology graduates, but media careers are varied, with ample opportunities to apply the skills a psychology degree will hone. Psychology graduates can impart valuable insights into human behavior, as well as offering the ability to analyze problems, listen attentively, give considered responses and act with empathy and reason. Because of this, media roles within all departments including management, production, scheduling and writing are well within reach for psychology graduates.

Human resources and communications careers

Psychology is all about understanding people and how they think, making human resources and communications careers another good match. These roles, available in both the public and private sectors, encompass areas such as employee satisfaction, professional development, training, recruitment, PR, payroll and internal communications.

Business and management careers

Thanks to a keen sense of how to handle both data and people, business and management careers are another good option for psychology graduates. Although further training and work experience are likely to be required before entering managerial roles, you could start out by pursuing careers within business consultancy, marketing, sales, advertising or business development, before working your way up the ladder.

A psychology degree may also provide a good basis for careers in IT, finance, the legal sector, government administration and market research.

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‘What Can You Do With a Psychology Degree?’ is part of our ‘What Can You Do With…’ series. 

We have also covered artbiologybusinesscommunicationscomputer scienceEnglishengineeringfashionhistorygeographylawmarketingmathematicsperforming artsphilosophypoliticssociologychemistryeconomics and physics.

This article was originally published in January 2015. It was last updated in October 2019.

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Laura Tucker's profile image
Written by Laura Tucker
Laura is a former staff writer for TopUniversities.com, providing advice and guidance for students on a range of topics helping them to choose where to study, get admitted and find funding and scholarships. A graduate of Queen Mary University of London, Laura also blogs about student life.

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What are the most outstanding differences between Social Psychology and Organisational Psychology? I say this because I've read the content of programs related to both of them and I find it in the professional practice almost the same.