Graduating college is one of the most exciting and nerve-wracking times of your life. It can feel like your undergraduate courses did not prepare you at all for the “real world,” and many find themselves lost and confused as to how their major can translate into a job, especially when they don’t want to go to graduate school.
Graduates with psychology degrees are often expected to pursue a career in counseling or psychiatry, but the reality is that there are many other options that don’t require graduate work.
In fact, almost 55 percent of people who receive a bachelor’s degree in psychology do not go on to higher education. Even more surprising, only 25 percent work directly in psych-related fields after graduation.
Here are the most popular areas to go into for people with a degree in psychology, according to LearnPsychology.org:
- Administration and management
- Sales, marketing and retail
- Social work
- Employment, labor-training and personnel services
- Insurance, securities, business or real-estate services
Just because you have a psychology degree doesn’t mean you have to pursue a career that directly relates to psychology. The key to finding a job you love is to look at the fundamental aspects of psychology that appeal to you, and see how they fit into other jobs.
The first step in doing this is to consider the skills your undergraduate courses have given you. Spending time in labs and writing papers cultivated a high attention to detail as well as research and critical thinking skills. You also gained communication skills from working with other people in group settings. Learning about how the brain works taught you a lot about yourself and how your own brain works, giving you a greater sense of self-awareness. Keeping these elemental skills in mind, you will find that you are highly qualified for a wide range of jobs.
One common area for psychology majors to enter is nonprofits and human services organizations. This field is especially rewarding for those who want to give back to their community or serve others in some type of way. Becoming a caseworker or advocate is challenging work, but understanding the principles of psychology can give you an advantage when it comes to understanding other people’s behavior. Not all employers require you to get certified, but it can help you in your career. In order to be successful in this field, you need to be compassionate, organized, and have strong communication skills.
Another avenue to consider is the private sector. There are plenty of jobs in marketing, customer service, and business administration. Marketing firms are looking for people who have strong writing and communication skills. Being able to work with others in a team and express creativity in an effective way is key.
Similarly, customer service jobs require a high level of communication and interpersonal skills. Patience, attentiveness, and an ability to intuit customers’ meanings and emotions are all key skills that will help you succeed in this field.
Business administration includes a wide variety of management positions. In order to succeed in this field, you should be highly motivated, organized, and able to stay calm in a high-stress environment.
For those interested in combining psychology with the legal field, forensic psychology could be an exciting opportunity. Forensic psychologists often deal with law enforcement and criminal justice cases. Because this is a competitive field, you will most likely need a masters or doctorate degree that specializes in forensic psychology. Once you have the necessary background in psychology, you will need strong research and critical thinking skills, as well as a strong understanding of mental health law and court room procedures. Forensic psychologists are often called into court to testify on a defendant’s mental health in a trial, so they must be able to remain calm under stressful situations.
The beauty of the psychology degree is that it teaches you so many crucial skills that can be applied in a wide variety of areas, even without pursuing a masters or doctorate degree.