Psychology is one of the most popular majors at many colleges and universities throughout the United States. Despite the popularity, it also has a reputation for being a major that will require years of graduate study just to find a job. While a master’s or doctoral degree is a must for those planning to pursue a career in professional psychology or counseling, there are a number of excellent entry-level positions in the field. This allows the student the ability to work while either pursuing graduate studies or consider their next move.
Related resource: Ranking Top 20 Up and Coming Bachelor’s Degree Programs in Psychology
Some of the Top Entry-Level Psychology Positions Include:
A Research Assistant is a great position for those students who plan to further their studies in the field of psychology (or a related field). Many graduate programs in psychology see those with research experience as a significant plus. Because graduate psychology programs are strongly based in research, having significant experience in this area makes you a more attractive candidate for graduate programs. By working in the field of research, you will also gain the important skills of research planning, implementation, data analysis, and report writing.
Human resources personnel are often responsible for dealing with hiring. However, there is much more to human resources than finding the right people. It’s also about keeping the right employees and about implementing policies that make the work environment more conducive to productivity.
This is no small feat, according to an article in the Harvard Business Review. Many human resources professionals face an uphill battle when it comes to finding the right employees and keeping them motivated. While there is no easy fix to some of the challenges faced by corporate bosses, those who have an understanding of psychology, particularly organizational psychology, may have a leg-up when it comes time to solve human resources challenges. In this respect, the psychology-trained human resources professional may be a little like the salesperson who understands psychology. The best human resources managers know that to keep good employees they must regularly sell those employees on the benefits of the job at hand. Human resources professionals enjoy a comfortable salary. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), these professionals make $29.77 an hour or $62,920 a year. The demand for the job is expected to grow at 5 percent until the year 2028.
Another excellent entry-level position is a psychiatric technician. These technicians work in medical or mental health facilities as a part of a team. They are responsible for providing therapeutic care to patients, including observing behavior, administering treatment or medications, listening to patient concerns, and aiding in the process of entering a facility or being discharged. This is a position that fits well regardless of whether you plan to pursue graduate training.
Excelling in sports requires more than an ability to run a mile in less than a minute or to score the winning free-throw. It requires a certain amount of mental toughness, an ability to push through towards a goal, even when going gets difficult.
However, some athletes, though talented physically, have mental and emotional blocks that prevent them from excelling. For them, there is the sports psychologist. This professional works with athletes to help them create coping skills and to developing decision-making capabilities. In turn, these skills help the athlete get back on track.
Those who plan to earn their master’s or doctoral degree, as well as those who will use their bachelor’s degree as a terminal degree can fill the position of a rehabilitation specialist. These specialists work in substance abuse and other rehabilitation facilities and work directly with patients to provide care. They make observations, provide care, administer medications as needed, and provide support services as prescribed by a doctor. They are an important part of the rehabilitation process.
Salaries vary for rehabilitation specialists, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In the lowest percentile, they make $11.45 per hour. In the highest percentile, they earn $30.67 per hour. The median hourly wage for these workers is around $17.00 per hour. Almost 110,000 people work in this career field in the United States.
Human Services Caseworker
Throughout the country, there are thousands of positions available as caseworkers and managers in various human services facilities and agencies. Human services caseworkers manage cases, services, and patients to ensure that they receive the assistance and services needed. This can include regular meetings with patients, appointment scheduling, meeting with other members of a team of caregivers and management, and scheduling of services. These caseworkers are a very important part of a mental health care team.
Marketing and Advertising
Here’s a truth that many advertising and marketing geniuses know instinctively: People buy based on emotion and then find facts to justify their emotional purchases. That, according to Copyblogger, is one of the truisms of selling. Sales and marketing professionals who understand this peculiar aspect of human nature know how to use principles of psychology to make sales and acquire long-term customers.
That’s why students of psychology have an advantage over other sales and marketing professionals. They know why people buy. This puts them in a position to create sales and marketing campaigns that appeal to people’s emotions and to their need to back up their emotional purchases with logic.
The final career on this list is a career counselor. These are highly skilled professionals who help individuals make choices about their optimal career. They help guide students towards programs of study and career options. They may also work with those already in the field who are looking to change their career. They use a large number of resources to help those in need to find a career that suits their needs.
According to Very Well Mind, career counselors have the opportunity to work in a variety of different settings. Often they’re found in high school or college career services offices. These counselors meet with students to help them choose a major. Later in the student’s academic career, the counselor will be there to provide advice on finding a job. Job counselors can also make suggestions about how to make the transition from being a student to being a working professional.
A few career counselors may work with special needs adults, helping them to find suitable employment. They may also connect these job seekers with job training programs or work with them to develop interviewing skills.
Still other job and career counselors may find themselves in state or private employment agencies, helping people to write resumes after a job loss or to file for unemployment. These counselors also know about training programs for people who wish to change careers.
Students in psychology degree programs write a lot over the course of their studies. Their studies require them to think deeply about human nature and then to write articulately about what they’ve learned. In this respect, the study of psychology becomes an excellent way to prepare for a career in writing.
This is true regardless of the type of writing the person pursues. Here’s an example. Writing for magazines or TV news shows requires an understanding of research and factual reporting. A psychology major’s training taught hm or her how to look at facts, to make connections between the facts and to communicate those findings in writing and orally. Given the fact that the average reporter does all of these activities each day, it’s no wonder that some psychology majors consider a career in journalism.
As for the person who wants to be a fiction writer, the study of psychology is helpful there, too. After all, psychology students spend years thinking deeply about what motivates people to do what they do. Knowing about what makes people tick allows a writer to create realistic, yet compelling characters, which is the stuff that best-selling books are made of.
However, these jobs only represent a small glimpse into the world of writing jobs. These days, there are technical writers, public relations specialists, screen and play writers, bloggers and white paper authors. According to Payscale, writers earn between $31,000 and $83,000 a year. $50,000 per year is the average.
Educational Psychologists and Curriculum Designer
Some branches of psychology, like cognitive psychology, study how people’s brains work and how they learn. For the psychology major who loves teaching and learning, a degree in psychology, with an emphasis in educational psychology, could lead to a career in education. This degree track is particularly useful for those who want to go into the field of instructional design, educational technology or curriculum development.
These branches of education support the creation of educational materials. This knowledge allows the educational psychologist to work with special needs kids if they wish or to create training materials for adult learners in a corporate setting. Additionally, a degree in educational psychology coupled with studies in video game development allows the psychology major to create educational video games and other fun learning tools.
People who develop training and curricula can expect to earn around $61,000 a year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Currently, almost 29,000 people work as educational designers or curriculum developers.
Group Home Life Assistant
Developmentally disabled teens and adults often live in group-home settings that allow them to learn life skills. These homes are staffed by people who have been trained in psychology. These professionals teach those in their care how to cook and clean, how to take part in community events, and how to develop job skills.
The group home life assistant may also administer medications and take their clients on outings to do errands. The purpose of this job is to teach self-reliance and life skills to the people who live in the group home.
An article in Chron reports that entry-level group home workers make almost $22,000 a year. The highest-paid among them earn almost $30,000 a year. Salaries for these positions depend on where in the United States the worker finds a job. People who work these jobs in Connecticut, Alaska, Vermont and Rhode Island make the most money.
School Counselor’s Assistant
School counselors provide an emotional and academic rudder to students from elementary school to high school. These professionals work with students to develop educational goals after high school or to deal with personal issues.
While many school counselors have master’s degrees, those who wish to have careers in the field can get their feet wet by becoming school counseling assistants. Earning an associate or bachelor’s degree in educational psychology or a related field can help land a job.
These professionals help keep student files organized. They also set up appointments with families, students and teachers. Counseling assistants might also assist students who wish to transfer from one class to another. Finally, people who work these jobs may also jot down notes during meetings between families and the school.
Real Estate Agent
Real estate sales are a very specific branch of sales in that they require the salesperson to convince people to pay large sums of money for an item that they won’t pay off for about 30 years. This is no small feat.
Doing the job well not only requires an in-depth understanding of real estate law but also psychology. Knowing what people look for when buying a home is extremely useful. Once again, it’s good to be reminded that people purchase items for emotional reasons and then find facts to back up their emotional purchase.
Here’s what this means. Of course, everyone needs a place to live. However, if the process of buying a home were only about securing shelter from a storm, it is unlikely that there would be many luxury homebuyers. Buying a home is really about security and prestige and creating memories with family and friends. The real estate agent who also has training in psychology knows how to tap into these feelings to get people to buy a home, possibly even an expensive one even if it may not seem logical to do so.
Salaries for real estate agents vary, with those making the least brining home about $66,687 per year, while those who make the most earn almost $91,000 per year, according to Zip Recruiter. Real estate agents in New York make the most, while Realtors in North Carolina earn the least.
College Admissions Counselor
Deciding which college to attend and which major to select count as some of the biggest decisions soon-to-be high school grads will face. Often, it’s the college admissions counselor who guides these students as they make their way through the college application process.
Understanding how incoming students feel, what their fears and concerns are, and more importantly, what their goals are can help the counselor provide better guidance for students. Training in psychology can help in this regard. It’s possible to get a job as an admissions counselor with a bachelor’s degree, making it a viable and often lucrative entry-level job for the psychology major.
According to Salary.com, entry-level college admissions counselors make almost $32,000 a year. They can earn up to $60,000 per year, though the average is around $42,742 per annum.
Art therapy careers combine training in studio art with coursework in psychology. In the job setting, the art therapist uses his or her training to teach people how to use art materials to grapple with often complex issues, like PTSD, cancer, or job loss. Art therapists guide their clients through the art-making process. They then help their clients interpret their own art and to find meaning and strength from their art creation.
Entry-level art therapists work in a number of different work environments. Some feel called to work in correctional facilities, while others choose to work in hospitals. Still others set up shop in educational institutions or nursing homes.
Naturally, some of these practitioners also set up their own art therapy practice. They see clients in a private office setting.
It’s also important to note that most art therapists are practicing artists themselves. They have found therapeutic benefit in creating art and continue to create art for personal and public display.
Aside from having skills in art and psychology, the most effective art therapists possess compassion, creativity, and relationship-building skills, according to The Balance Careers.
Career prospects for art therapists look promising. Most earn between $30,000 and $80,000 a year. Mid-career art therapists earn about $45,000 a year.
Parole officers help ex-convicts acclimate back into life after incarceration. Many of the people that the parole officer works with have experienced a number of challenges and even traumas in life, which caused them to make poor choices. The parole officer can help these people turn their lives around and make better choices in the future.
On any given day, a parole officer may try to find housing for a newly-paroled prisoner. The parole officer may also work on related paperwork or help those in his or her charge find employment. Finally, the parole officer is expected to monitor ex-convicts after they’re released. Some ex-convicts may suffer from issues surrounding addiction and substance abuse. The parole officer checks in with the people he or she is working with to ensure that they’re attending meetings that address these addictions.
It’s a challenging job at times. That’s why training in psychology is so useful. The law enforcement professional who understand criminal behavior and thought is better equipped to help those in his or her charge. While working as a parole officer may not be the first job that comes to mind for a psychology major, it can certainly be one of the most logical applications for the degree all things considered.
According to Payscale, entry-level parole officers make $33,000 a year. Those in the highest income brackets bring home about $78,000 per year. On average, a parole officer can expect to earn about $43,000 per year.
Final Words About Entry-Level Psychology Jobs
The workings of the human mind have fascinated people for thousands of years. As the course of human history has unfolded, people have wondered why humans do the things they do. Why did early humans paint on cave walls? Why did famous historic figures start wars or make treaties for them? Why did one person go into a life of crime, while another person with a similar background go on to become a great humanitarian?
The study of psychology has sought to address these questions, and those who study psychology have placed themselves in an enviable position. Once they hit the job market, they are in a better position to understand customer behavior, to get along with their colleagues and to track down even the cleverest of criminals.
Additionally, entry-level jobs for psychology graduates cover a broad range of career fields from law enforcement to art therapy to sales. In other words, it’s a very flexible degree that provides a foundation for a number of different kinds of careers as this list shows. This is particularly true if the degree holder takes on a double major. Training in psychology, coupled with training in subjects, like art or game development, law enforcement or sales, creates a well-rounded employee who’s ready to tackle even the most complex jobs.
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Finally, it’s important to note that the jobs on this list are only a fraction of the jobs that a psychology degree trains people for, and these jobs are entry-level at that. People who go on to get advanced degrees can parlay their psychology education to move into careers in forensic psychology, art direction, school counseling, group home management, and sports marketing to name but a few.