There are many careers both within and outside psychology in which workers benefit from having an educational background in this field.
Additionally, with dozens of degree programs in psychology, like clinical psychology, sports psychology, addictions counseling, school psychology, and I/O psychology, just to name a few, students that pursue a psychology degree can specialize their studies according to their specific interests.
Jobs With a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology
A bachelor’s degree in psychology typically requires four years of study. Upon completing an undergraduate degree program, students are prepared for a wide range of entry-level positions, including, but not limited to, the following.
Substance Abuse Counseling
What is it? Substance abuse counseling seeks to educate and rehabilitate individuals that struggle with abusing substances like alcohol or narcotics.
What is the purpose? The overarching objective of substance abuse counseling is to help people stop the cycle of addiction. This is done using many different pathways, including individual and group therapy, skills development, behavior modification, and treating underlying issues that can lead to addiction, like anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, or depression. For example, a substance abuse counselor might explore a client’s social anxiety with them in individual therapy, offer insights into why the anxiety developed, and devise healthy strategies for managing anxiety.
Social or Community Services Management
What is it? Social and community services management positions entail organizing programs that benefit the mental health functioning of specific groups and communities. Managing social and community services requires strong organizational skills, interpersonal communication skills, empathy, and problem-solving skills, among others. Likewise, much research is involved in this career field both in terms of developing sound programs as well as analyzing the effectiveness of those programs in benefitting the target groups.
What is the purpose? Social and community-based programs are devised to provide direct assistance to groups or communities to address specific problems. For example, to help reduce the number of armed forces veterans that are homeless, a social and community manager might research, develop, and implement an outreach program that pairs homeless veterans with job training. In other words, the purpose of this work – regardless of the specific group or community involved – is to enhance the overall well-being of vulnerable populations.
What is it? Case management is essentially coordination of care for a client. Case managers assess a client’s life situation, make a plan for improving that situation, help the client make connections with mental health providers, employment, social services, and so forth, and advocate on behalf of the client to receive the services they need.
What is the purpose? Often, people that need help overcoming life’s circumstances simply don’t know where to begin or how to find help. Case managers relieve some of that burden by acting as advocates for their clients. Case managers develop treatment plans for individuals and families, offer assistance in the form of coordinating with service providers to provide care. They also monitor their client’s progress towards attaining agreed-upon goals. For example, a case manager working with a young, single mother might help her find affordable daycare, arrange job training or educational services, and put her in contact with a local charity that can provide meal assistance on a monthly basis.
Jobs With a Master’s Degree in Psychology
A master’s degree in psychology requires an additional 2-3 years of schooling (or more, in some cases) after a bachelor’s degree is conferred. Having a minimum of a master’s degree in psychology opens up more career opportunities, particularly those in advanced fields. Note that doctoral degrees are available for each of the careers in this section as well.
What is it? I/O psychology, or industrial-organizational psychology, revolves around the study of human behavior in a work setting. Specifically, I/O psychologists study the performance of individual workers, their satisfaction with their job, group dynamics and performance in the work setting, and health and safety issues in the workplace.
What is the purpose? By studying workplace attitudes, performance, behaviors, and so forth, I/O psychologists are able to make recommendations for improving the workplace. This is done by devising streamlined hiring practices, enhancing training programs, improving communication between workers and management, and making changes in the work environment that improve workers’ well-being. For example, an I/O psychologist might recommend that a company provide on-site daycare services to lessen the financial stress on its workers, which could, in turn, improve their on-the-job performance.
What is it? Sports psychology applies the study of psychological principles to athletics. It is a highly interdisciplinary career that requires training in kinesiology, physiology, and biomechanics, among others. While many sports psychologists work directly with clients (i.e., professional athletes, team coaches, and fitness professionals), others work in the research sector to explore how one’s psychological state or well-being influences their ability to perform on the field.
What is the purpose? Sports psychologists are often tasked with treating common mental health issues among athletes. For example, a sports psychologist might devise an anxiety-reduction regimen for a professional baseball pitcher that gets anxious when he pitches in games. As another example, a sports psychologist might develop strategies that coaches can utilize to improve team camaraderie and team dynamics, which could lead to improved team performance on the field of play.
What is it? School psychology is the study and application of psychological principles to improve learning. In that regard, school psychology is a blend of educational psychology, child psychology, developmental psychology, and other disciplines. This interdisciplinary approach empowers school psychologists to effect positive change in the behavior of learners, improve their learning abilities, and enhance their educational performance.
What is the purpose? School psychologists are tasked with supporting the learning process of students of all intellectual abilities. In some cases, this might involve working with students that have cognitive delays, behavioral issues, or developmental disorders that require a different approach to teaching and learning. For example, a school psychologist might work with a special needs student, their parents or guardians, and their special education teachers to devise attainable learning objectives for helping the child learn how to be more independent.
Jobs With a Doctorate in Psychology
To complete a doctorate in psychology, one will likely spend 3-5 years of additional high-level study upon the completion of a master’s degree. A doctorate is the highest level of education in psychology. Note that the careers listed below can, in some cases, be pursued with just a master’s degree, but that the additional experience and training of a doctoral program is highly beneficial.
What is it? Counseling psychology seeks to help people overcome difficulties in their lives – socially, emotionally, at work or school, and so forth – through therapeutic techniques. “Therapy,” as most people envision it, is just one tool used by counseling psychologists to help effect change in their clients’ lives. Additionally, counseling psychology employs diagnosis of mental disorders, crisis intervention strategies, educational programs, trauma management, and psychological assessment (among many other tools) to address a wide range of psychological problems.
What is the purpose? The purpose of counseling psychology is to help clients address and overcome problems that harm their functioning. For example, a counseling psychologist might provide individual therapy to a client whose depression prevents them from forming meaningful relationships with others. As another example, a counseling psychologist might help a client who is agoraphobic work through the underlying cause of their agoraphobia and learn healthy strategies for managing the stress and anxiety of being in public spaces.
Marriage and Family Therapist
What is it? As the job title states, a marriage and family therapist specializes in treating mental health and emotional issues that adversely affect marriage and family relationships. This type of therapy is brief and solution-focused, with very clear and attainable therapeutic goals for everyone involved.
What is the purpose? Marriage and family therapy approaches the treatment of mental health issues from a systemic perspective. That is, an individual’s problems can influence the behavior of the family unit, and, likewise, dysfunction in the family unit can impact how each individual behaves, feels, and functions. As a result, the purpose of a marriage and family therapist is to evaluate the relationships in which a person is embedded, help clients identify their maladaptive behaviors, and devise strategies for improving functioning both individually and within the family.
What is it? Business psychology is closely related to I/O psychology in that its focus is on the functioning of a company, corporation, or another business entity. Business psychology is also closely related to human resources. It has a greater interest in the dynamics of the workplace rather than financial or legal considerations that occupy much of a human resources manager’s time.
What is the purpose? Business psychology was developed to address common problems in the workplace – inefficiency and poor job satisfaction among them – by making systemic changes to the work environment. For example, a business psychologist might create a questionnaire for a company’s employees that seeks to identify what motivates them to work harder. The results of that questionnaire would be shared with company stakeholders as a first step in developing a plan to motivate workers to be more productive and efficient.
The jobs listed above are just a small sampling of the career paths you can take with a bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, or a doctorate in psychology. If you’re considering a career in this field, it’s best to continue your research, explore different jobs in psychology, and learn what educational requirements there are for your desired career.
BA Social Studies Education | University of Wyoming
MS Counseling | University of Wyoming
BS Information Technology | University of Massachusetts
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