27 Good Jobs You Can Get With a Psychology Degree

xAre there many jobs you can get with a psychology degree? Yes. And they are probably more diverse than you think. After all, the human mind plays a starring role in most aspects of our lives. It shapes our behavior, which in turn shapes our world. And that makes psychology far more than just a fascinating area of science. It provides a way to see the reasons behind our actions, which lets us understand and improve upon those actions for the betterment of our individual selves, our families, our organizations, our communities, and our whole society.

So just imagine how useful it can be to have an educated understanding of the psychological mechanisms that cause people to act (or not act) in certain ways. Knowing how to apply that knowledge to real-world situations can be a big asset in nearly any career—not just within the field of psychology.

Even so, a lot of people still ask, "What can you do with a psychology major?" That's why it helps to have both a general idea of the career possibilities as well several specific examples. Looking at the bigger picture, it's apparent that people with backgrounds in psychology can do things such as:

  • Help people overcome personal obstacles and make better choices to improve their lives
  • Discover and promote healthier ways to live that help prevent mental illnesses and social problems
  • Find clues to almost any aspect of human behavior that might otherwise continue to be clouded in mystery
  • Help businesses or other organizations identify and implement new methods for improving productivity, raising morale, and attracting and retaining good employees
  • Contribute to public safety by using insights about human behavior within the criminal justice system
  • Help improve the educational system by discovering better ways to instruct, motivate, or test students based on how they learn and perceive the world
  • Discover new ways to inspire people to act for the benefit of their communities and the environment

Those are just a few reasons why a person might choose a psychology-related education. It's a field of study that can reveal a huge variety of potential career paths, not just those that require advanced credentials. In fact, in 2013, only about 45 percent of all psychology majors went on to earn an advanced graduate degree.* That's because this area of science applies to almost every sector of human endeavor.

So take a closer look at the programs offered by colleges for psychology. You might just discover that the type of job you're after doesn't necessarily require multiple years of school. Or you might discover a path that you haven't thought of before and feel inspired to pursue a whole new set of goals. The 27 career ideas below are spread across every level of post-secondary psychology education.

(Note: Yearly wage estimates are from May 2015.** And employment growth projections, where included, are for the period from 2014 to 2024.***)

What Can You Do With a Certificate, Diploma, or Associate's Degree in Psychology?

Believe it or not, two years or less of psychology-related training may be all you need to qualify for meaningful, rewarding, or growing occupations. From business to healthcare, multiple industries benefit from providing opportunities to people who've completed short programs or courses in psychology.

1. Addictions Counselor

Can you picture using your knowledge of psychology to help people recover from their problem behaviors or drug or alcohol addictions? Depending on the state you plan to work in, you may only need a diploma, certificate, or associate's degree to qualify for jobs as a substance abuse or behavioral disorder counselor within group or community-owned treatment facilities.

  • Average yearly pay—$42,920
  • Employment growth—22 percent

2. Psychiatric Technician

Begin your career by caring for mentally ill or developmentally disabled people who are receiving intensive therapy within psychiatric hospitals or similar facilities.

  • Average yearly pay—$36,280
  • Employment growth—Five percent

3. Social or Human Services Assistant

Ever wonder what it would be like to help disadvantaged members of your community obtain the support and services they need to make it through hard times? You typically only need a certificate or associate's degree to begin assisting social workers or similar professionals.

  • Average yearly pay—$33,190
  • Employment growth—11 percent

4. Sales Representative

Psychology courses can help you better understand why and how people make decisions, which can be a huge advantage when trying to sell them products or services.

  • Average yearly pay—$62,360 for sales reps of services; $66,790 for sales reps in wholesale and manufacturing; $89,170 for sales reps of technical and scientific products
  • Employment growth—Seven percent

5. Real Estate Agent

People are often greatly influenced by various psychological triggers when buying or selling real estate. So by combining your psychology training with courses in real estate and passing a licensing exam, you can begin a potentially lucrative career in this high-impact field.

  • Average yearly pay—$58,410
  • Employment growth—Three percent

What Can You Do With a Bachelor's in Psychology?

xAt this educational level, the options start to get even more plentiful and diverse. But you wouldn't be the first person to ask, "What can I do with a bachelor's in psychology?" Many people simply don't realize that a college degree in psychology can provide the benefit of adaptability. It's not only possible to pursue a graduate education in other fields, but also to find jobs with a bachelor's in psychology that may, at first, seem unrelated to this field.

6. Social Worker

Unless you wish to work in a clinical setting, you often only need a bachelor's degree to qualify for good jobs as a social worker. In fact, your psychology education could make you an attractive candidate for positions related to anything from helping children and families to assisting elderly or mentally ill people.

  • Average yearly pay—$46,610 for child, family, and school social workers; $47,190 for mental health and substance abuse social workers; $54,020 for healthcare social workers; $57,970 for all others
  • Employment growth—12 percent

7. Elementary, Middle School, or High School Teacher

Most teaching positions below the college level only require a bachelor's degree plus the completion of relatively short teacher-preparation training in order to earn state certification. But you may not even need to go that extra step since it is often only required for jobs in public schools. Some teachers in private schools don't have such certification. And a background in psychology can be a real asset when trying to motivate and instruct children or adolescents.

  • Average yearly pay—$57,730 for elementary school teachers; $58,760 for middle school teachers; $60,440 for high school teachers
  • Employment growth—Six percent for elementary, middle, and high school teachers

8. Social or Community Services Manager

Help direct and coordinate programs that provide services related to residential care, youth and family support, addiction rehabilitation, or other important areas of community or social support.

  • Average yearly pay—$69,430
  • Employment growth—10 percent

9. Parole or Probation Officer

Provide assistance to people who are re-entering the community after being released from prison. Or advise and supervise criminal offenders who've been sentenced to probation instead of being sent to prison. Your understanding of the psychological aspects of human behavior could play a big role in helping to prevent such people from committing additional crimes.

  • Average yearly pay—$54,080
  • Employment growth—Four percent

10. Marketing Specialist

Many of the most successful marketers are able to take advantage of psychological insights in order to analyze market conditions and find and attract new customers or clients. Market research analysts, in particular, frequently benefit from an education that combines courses related to both business and psychology.

  • Average yearly pay—$70,030
  • Employment growth—19 percent

11. Marketing, Promotion, or Advertising Manager

Knowing where to find potential clients or customers is only part of the challenge. Figuring out what those people want and how to generate excitement and interest in what a company or organization offers is a whole other matter. That's why a psychology background can pay real dividends in this area of business, especially for those who acquire enough marketing experience to gain leadership positions.

  • Average yearly pay—$113,610 for advertising and promotions managers; $140,660 for marketing managers
  • Employment growth—Nine percent

12. Public Relations Specialist

In order to succeed at their missions, organizations need to build awareness of what they offer and develop ways to generate and sustain favorable public perception. So it's no surprise that psychology majors often bring a lot of valuable insights to this field, especially when they also have a background in media or communications.

  • Average yearly pay—$65,830
  • Employment growth—Six percent

13. Sales Manager

With a bachelor's degree in psychology and some experience as a sales representative, it's possible to attain a truly prosperous position as a leader of a sales team.

  • Average yearly pay—$130,400
  • Employment growth—Five percent

14. Human Resources Specialist

Use psychological insights to help employers in the recruitment and screening of potential new hires or in the placement of existing employees.

  • Average yearly pay—$63,710
  • Employment growth—Five percent

15. Human Resources Manager

With enough experience in the human resources field, you can maximize the value of your psychology degree by becoming a professional who gets to oversee and coordinate an organization's recruiting, screening, and hiring practices. Your understanding of human actions can also enable you to become a vital link in the relationship between employees and management.

  • Average yearly pay—$117,080
  • Employment growth—Nine percent

16. Coach

Combined with a background in sports and recreation, your psychology education could provide the essential knowledge that enables you to coach athletes. Just imagine teaching and motivating people in a way that empowers them to achieve their peak performance.

  • Average yearly pay—$40,050
  • Employment growth—Six percent

What Can You Do With a Master's in Psychology?

xBy committing to an extra two or three years of school after earning your bachelor's degree, you can earn a graduate degree that opens up some of the most rewarding possibilities in the field of psychology. In some cases, you will also need to earn a license to practice in your state by meeting certain requirements such as passing a certification exam.

17. Industrial-Organizational Psychologist

This occupation represents one of the highest-paying psychology jobs in the U.S. That's because it involves using this area of science to help solve workplace challenges related to employee morale, productivity, recruiting, training, and other problems that can impact an organization's bottom line.

  • Average yearly pay—$92,320
  • Employment growth—19 percent

18. Marriage or Family Therapist

Help married couples or other people identify and understand the problems in their relationships and devise better ways to work toward resolving them.

  • Average yearly pay—$53,520
  • Employment growth—15 percent

19. Mental Health Counselor

Provide help to people who are struggling with mental or emotional problems as a professional who understands what it takes to overcome or cope with such challenges.

  • Average yearly pay—$45,080
  • Employment growth—20 percent

20. School or Career Counselor

Help elementary, middle school, high school, or college students find constructive ways to deal with social challenges and develop the skills necessary to succeed in their learning environments. Or assist career seekers with their decision-making process as it pertains to choosing suitable vocations or paths of training.

  • Average yearly pay—$56,490
  • Employment growth—Eight percent

21. Rehabilitation Counselor

Work with people who have physical or emotional disabilities as they strive to rise above the effects that their conditions have on important areas of their lives such as employment, personal relationships, or day-to-day living.

  • Average yearly pay—$38,040
  • Employment growth—Nine percent

What Can You Do With a Doctoral Degree in Psychology?

With an additional five to seven years of education after completing a bachelor's program, you can achieve the highest credentials in the psychology field, which consist of two main doctoral degree options. The first option is to earn a PhD in psychology, which is typically research-oriented. The other option is to earn a Doctor of Psychology (PsyD) degree, which is more focused on applying this science within clinical settings.

Either way, in order to become a psychologist, most states will require you to have a doctoral degree and meet other licensure requirements such as going through an internship and passing the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology.

The average annual pay for clinical, counseling and school psychologists was $76,040 in 2015. And for all other psychologists (excluding industrial-organizational psychologists), the average yearly pay was $93,050.**

The overall employment of psychologists is expected to grow by 19 percent in the decade from 2014 to 2024.***

22. Clinical Psychologist

Apply psychological expertise within a clinical setting by assessing, diagnosing, and treating people's emotional, behavioral, or mental problems. Many clinical psychologists choose to focus on specific specialties such as neuropsychology or types of people such as youth or the elderly.

23. Counseling Psychologist

Assist people in better understanding their problems, identifying their strengths, and finding methods and resources for managing or overcoming the challenges they face at work, at home, or within their communities.

24. Developmental Psychologist

Conduct important research related to how people's minds develop throughout their lives. Many psychologists in this branch of the field choose to specialize in studying mental development during a particular phase of life such as youth or old age.

25. School Psychologist

Utilize principles of psychology to suggest solutions to educational problems related to teaching strategies, student behavior and evaluation, administrative tactics, and other vital issues. Most psychologists in this part of the field have earned an Education Specialist (Ed.S.) degree and/or a doctoral degree in school psychology.

26. Forensic Psychologist

Contribute to the civil or criminal justice system by sharing psychological insights about various legal cases or investigations, including as an expert witness in court.

27. Social Psychologist

Perform research related to how and why people behave the ways they do when interacting with others, and suggest new approaches that might minimize or eliminate negative outcomes.

Make an Important Discovery About Your Future

You've explored many of the jobs you can get with a psychology degree. Now find out where you can get the training to start making it all happen. Enter your current zip code in the search tool below to find schools with psychology-related programs in your region right now!

* Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, The Economic Value of College Majors, website last accessed on October 8, 2015.

** Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, website last accessed on May 20, 2016.

*** Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, website last accessed on March 16, 2016.