Today’s adult college students are busier than ever before. Many balance full time careers, family responsibilities and community obligations in addition to course work and exams. Online education is becoming a popular choice for adults choosing to return to college for a bachelor’s degree or for those who are seeking a career change. Online schools such as Capella University and Walden College, as well as traditional colleges with online degree options such as the Chicago School of Professional Psychology, offer students flexible schedules and degree options. Many students wonder if their online degrees will pay off in the long run though.
What Should One Look For in an Online Psychology Program?
An individual with a degree in psychology may have several degree options available. The type of career one is qualified for is dependent on several factors. The first major consideration is the type of degree earned. Those who have earned a doctorate in psychology are more likely to be qualified for jobs in clinical psychology, academia or research. Individuals with master’s degrees may be qualified to provide interventions to children who have developmental disabilities, work as a vocational counselor or teach psychology in a high school. Those with a bachelor’s degree in psychology will likely be qualified to work in the business field or non-profit organizations as a program manager, human resources professional or employee trainer.
The second major consideration is regarding the quality of the program. Online programs that are accredited by one of the nation’s highly regarded accreditation organizations are likely to be more reputable and have a stronger curriculum than programs that are not regionally accredited. Those programs that have additional accreditations from the American Psychological Association and CACREP are more likely to have a rigorous curriculum that can lead to eventual licensure as a practicing psychologist. One’s earning potential is higher if the degree earned is from an institution that holds regional accreditation as well as specialized accreditation from the APA or CACREP. If one wishes to seek licensure, the program should also offer practicum and internship opportunities.
What Salaries Can I Expect to Earn With My Degree?
Individuals with degrees in psychology may be qualified for careers in the mental health, non-profit, education and business fields. Those with a doctoral degree in psychology may be qualified for a position as an industrial-organizational psychologist. According to the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology, the typical starting salary for a doctoral-level practitioner is $55,000. The average salary is about $98,000. However, the top five percent of I-O psychologists make over $250,000 a year.
Other high-paying career options for those with psychology degrees include a engineering psychologist and a clinical psychologist. Engineering psychologists and clinical psychologists can expect to earn around $79,000 a year according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
For those with an undergraduate or master’s degree in psychology, seeking a career outside of the mental health field may be financially beneficial. Those with psychology degrees may be qualified for a position as a marketing manager, which has an average annual salary of over $110,000. Those with psychology degrees also often find careers as human resources managers, which have an average salary of $99,000 a year.
Those with an online degree in psychology have many of the same opportunities for pursuing a great career and earning a respectable salary. However, before applying to any online school, it is important to make sure the school holds regional accreditations. A school that is also accredited by the American Psychological Association and CACREP can drastically increase one’s earning potential as well, in addition to ensuring that the degree earned is respected by employers.