Psychology Careers That Don’t Require a License

No License PsychNot all jobs in the field of psychology require a license. In fact, according to the American Psychological Association (APA), students of psychology frequently misunderstand when a license is needed and therefore mistakenly assume they need to acquire a license in order to be qualified for the jobs they desire. The good news is that there are many reputable and fulfilling professions available to those who choose to graduate with psychology degrees but don’t choose to get a license. These are just a few examples:

College and University Jobs: If you want to work in the Department of Psychology at a traditional institution and/or an online college program, chances are you will not need a license. The types of university jobs that typically don’t require a license include teaching, academic assessment, mentoring, tutoring and teacher’s assistant positions (TA). In other words, you do not need to be licensed (as a psychologist) to work in the academic furtherance of psychology as an academic discipline. This is not true, however, for school psychologists, who work with students about their personal psychological problems.

Positions in Government Agencies: There are various federal, state and county institutions that hire employees with degrees in psychology who are not necessarily licensed to practice. For example, crisis intervention units, psychiatric wards, mental health programs, drug and alcohol programs, victim’s rights agencies, youthful offender facilities and services related to eldercare are a few of the state programs which unlicensed psychology degree-holders. To be clear, these are not counseling positions, which would require a license to practice. The position may require another degree such as nursing to perform certain tasks (i.e. a psychiatric nurse) or a certificate of completion (of certain job-related courses); but jobs like a small group leader in a youth facility would not require a license or additional degree.

John Robert Greer graduated from the University of California at Santa Barbara with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology. The summer following graduation, he applied for a job at a youthful offender facility. He quickly learned that he did not need to go back to school to do that which he loved;

“I am a much better worker than I am a student. I wanted to understand human behavior—that’s why I picked psychology as my major in college. When I started this job I was shocked at how much influence I could have with young men, you know, helping them get their attitudes in check and helping them to get their lives on track. I have been here five years now and I’m totally happy.”

Non-Profits: There are numerous not-for-profit companies which offer help and assistance of a psychological nature. But these particular services are not ones which require a license. Some examples include suicide hot lines, shelters for the homeless and abused, battered wife services, food for the destitute programs, cancer support services, afterschool assistance for the working poor and various drug and alcohol-related programs.

In the early 1990s in the state of Colorado, Madeline Stowe graduated with a Bachelor’s in Psychology. She desperately wanted to be employed in a career which helped people with their problems, but she didn’t necessarily want to return to school for her master’s degree.

 “Before I graduated with my bachelor’s degree I looked at what jobs might be available for me with my B.A. in Psychology. I applied for a job at the suicide hotline service in the area. I had to start out as a volunteer, so I worked during the day to support myself. I refused to give up though, and after a year I was hired to work full-time in an administrative capacity. Over the years, I have received numerous promotions. I don’t answer phones any longer, but I help the people who do.” 

Private Corporations: Corporations often hire those with degrees in psychology to assist in various programs involving building company morale, hiring strategies, development of incentive programs for employees and customer bases, structure interviewing processes and assist in the coordination of benefits-related activities.

Research Laboratories: Both government and private business employers hire those with psychology degrees to do research of various types. These positions can include compiling data; conducting ongoing studies of behaviors; reporting statistical findings; and projecting future behavior based on past studies. The types of jobs in this category can be as numerous and varied as the hiring institutions.

Ways to Determine If You Will Need a Psychology License

  • Contact state and national psychology organizations either by phone or online and request information about licensing requirements.
  • Speak with vocational counselors at the school or college which you either attend or have attended.
  • Inquire at various places of employment regarding jobs that interest you.
  • Call the state licensing board in the state where you live and speak with an advisor.
  • Survey job listings at the local employment agency, in the newspaper or become familiarized with online resources.

The benefit of doing your homework is that you will be able to find the shortest and most effective way to get from where you are today, to where you want to be tomorrow. Exhaust all of your resources and digest as much information as possible. Your ideal career in psychology is waiting for you to discover, uncover and apply.

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