50 BEST JOBS WITH A PSYCHOLOGY DEGREE
Psychology ranks among the top three majors at the undergraduate level, and with good reason. Psychology students can go on to have lucrative careers in a variety of fields, from clinical practice to business, education, sports, and more. Careers in psychology are highly competitive, which begs the question: what job can you get with a psychology degree?
The “best” psychology degree jobs are dependent on your passions and interests, as well as which degree you pursue. In some professions, you can get started with just an associate or bachelor’s degree, while others require a graduate degree or higher. So, what can you do with a psychology degree? Let’s run through some of your options.
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What Can You Do with a Psychology Degree?
Few fields are as far-reaching as psychology, which is excellent news for those wondering what to do with a psychology degree. This discipline requires mastery in a variety of topics, including sociology, behavioral research, medical science, and even legal issues.
Typically, you’ll need a doctoral degree in psychology in order to build a career as a clinically practicing psychologist, but a therapist can often hold a successful career in different fields with lesser (and less expensive!) degrees. Some examples include:
- Psychiatric nursing assistant or aide, which is attainable with an associate degree in psychology.
- School counselor, which you can often do with just a bachelor’s psychology degree.
- Substance abuse counselor, a career often open to those with a master’s degree in psychology.
These examples aren’t even the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the possible psychology degree jobs open to you. Let’s look at each degree option to answer the question of what job can you get with a psychology degree.
Best Jobs for Psychology Associate Degree Graduates
An associate psychology degree is an excellent option if you’re looking to get some entry-level experience while deciding what career you ultimately want to pursue, or before entering a higher degree program. Though most psychology jobs require at least a bachelor’s degree, there are several career options for students with an Associate of Arts (AA) or Associate of Science (AS) degree in psychology.
Here are a few ideas of what to do with a psychology degree at the associate level.
Behavioral Health Technician
You can often use your associate degree in psychology to start your career in mental health as a behavioral health technician. These professionals assist a larger team of medical and psychology practitioners to support patients with mental and emotional disorders.
Average salary: $38,080/year*
While full-fledged pharmacists must undergo extensive schooling, you can often begin work as a pharmacy technician with just an associate degree. This job allows you to prepare medications under the guidance and direction of the supervising pharmacist, as well as assist with the required recordkeeping for prescriptions and patient information.
Average salary: $36,450/year*
Community/Home Health Aide
As a home health or personal care aide, you’ll assist patients with chronic illnesses, disabilities, or other conditions, helping them with their daily living tasks. Often, you only need a high school diploma for entry into this position, but an associate degree in psychology will give you a stronger foundation and knowledge base to better support your clients. You might work in a patient’s home or at a group residential facility.
Average salary: $27,080/year*
When thinking of what job you can get with a psychology degree, an office manager might not come to mind—but it’s a position that requires a deep understanding of human behavior and an ability to successfully work with all types of personalities. There are several office management positions that you can find with an associate psychology degree, from bookkeeping/accounting clerks to administrative assistants.
Average salary: $31,110 - $47,520/year*
Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA)
A CNA is an excellent entry-level career with an associate psychology degree. As a nursing assistant or orderly, you’ll often work in a hospital, nursing home, or residential care facility, where you’ll help patients with several basic tasks and daily living necessities. This might include bathing and hygiene, meals, monitoring vital signs, and more.
Average salary: $30,830/year*
You don’t need a degree in criminal justice to work as a correctional officer—in fact, a psychology associate degree can offer a great foundation to work with prison inmates living in a mentally and emotionally distressing environment. Your education can help you understand inmates’ behavior and respond accordingly. You may be supervising group activities or rehab programs or be responsible for assessing and recommending activities or facilities that will improve inmates’ mental health.
Average salary: $47,440/year*
If you’re thinking about starting a career in education, becoming a teacher’s assistant is a great way to get your foot in the door before committing to a full four-year bachelor’s program. An associate degree in psychology can prepare you for the challenges and rewards of working with students of all ages. You’ll help your supervising teacher with everything from lesson planning to recordkeeping to supply maintenance, as well as helping students with their work and supervising them during group activities.
Average salary: $28,900/year*
Associate psychology degree holders can often find entry-level positions as research assistants, particularly in the different fields within the social sciences. A research assistant will help with such tasks as lab studies, surveys, publication preparation and more. This can also be a great way to get fieldwork experience before entering a bachelor’s or master’s degree program.
Average salary: $49,210/year*
A family advocate is a type of social service specialist that offers support, mediation, and education to families with children who are often in mentally or emotionally stressful situations. They may be exposed to substance abuse, mental illness, physical abuse, and other traumas, and your job is to advocate in their best interests. With an associate degree, your tasks may be more administrative (client intake, conducting interviews, coordinating resources, etc.), but this could be a good way to get experience in social work before moving into a bachelor’s program.
Average salary: $37,097/year (Payscale 2021 data)
A youth counselor is very similar to a family advocate, with a closer focus on providing one-on-one support to the children and adolescents in their care. As a youth counselor, you’ll offer mentorship and assistance to kids in your community that may be considered “at risk.” This could include helping with homework after school, supervising extra-curricular activities or social events, or being available for mental and emotional support whenever your client needs help. An associate degree in psychology is very desirable for this profession.
Average salary: $37,399/year (Payscale 2021 data)
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Best Jobs for Psychology Bachelor’s Degree Graduates
A bachelor’s degree in psychology is often the minimum educational requirement for many employers in the psychology and social work fields, making it a good option if you’re still trying to figure out what job you can get with a psychology degree. Becoming a psychologist or counselor is one of the most popular psychology degree jobs, there are many career paths you can pursue with a bachelor’s degree in psychology. In fact, the wide variety of options open to psychology degree holders may surprise you—only about one quarter of psychology undergraduates end up working in psychology or a closely-related field.
Other common psychology degree jobs for those with a BA or BS include roles in human and social services and education. If you’re wondering what to do with a psychology degree at the bachelor level, check out these ten popular careers.
As a social services or mental health case manager, you’ll do extensive interviewing and documentation for clients that pass through your doors. You’ll be responsible for evaluating and coordinating your client’s treatment support, including filing health insurance forms, scheduling and documenting medical appointments, and following up with your clients and their families on how treatment is progressing.
Average salary: $69,600/year*
Also sometimes called rehabilitation counselors, a rehabilitation specialist helps patients with behavioral, psychological, developmental, or other disabilities. You’ll assist them with tasks that will eventually lead to them being able to live independently, and you may also be responsible for coordinating their care plan between multiple medical and/or mental health professionals. Though a bachelor’s degree in rehabilitation counseling and/or disability studies is often accepted for an entry-level position, many rehab specialists go on to earn a master’s in psychology and become licensed rehab therapists.
Average salary: $37,530/year*
You can also use your bachelor’s in psychology to begin a career as a psychiatric technician. These professionals offer therapeutic support to patients with a variety of mental, emotional, and behavioral conditions or disabilities, typically under the supervision of a licensed psychiatrist. You may administer medications, lead patient groups in recreational activities, handle admissions and discharges, and assist with daily living tasks as required.
Average salary: $33,140/year*
Human Resources Manager
Working in Human Resources often requires much patience, empathy, and understanding of different personal behaviors and motivations. As such, it’s one of the top psychology degree jobs you can get with a bachelor’s degree. As an HR manager, you’re very much a jack of all trades. You’ll be responsible for coordinating your company’s personnel and administrative functions, including hiring and separation practices, company benefits, employee salaries, regulatory compliance, and mediation of any inter-office issues.
Average salary: $121,220/year*
Sometimes called an operations manager, a business administrator touches all aspects of a company’s day-to-day operations. As such, a psychology bachelor’s degree—particularly in business psychology—is of great benefit. You’ll have a deep understanding of human behavior as it pertains to business relationships, allowing you to make critical decisions that affect not only your company’s bottom line, but also your team’s morale and productivity. Your bachelor’s degree in psychology will apply to nearly every industry, giving you a wide berth to pursue your passions.
Average salary: $55,950/year (Payscale 2021 data)
School counselors can put their bachelor’s psychology degrees to good use by supporting students develop critical academic and social skills, as well as deal with the stressors of school and home life. Your empathy and listening skills will be put to excellent use as you guide students toward healthy adult lives and careers. You may also be called upon to serve as a support system in times of trauma, offering counseling to students, parents, and the community at large if need be.
Average salary: $58,120/year*
Marketing or Advertising Manager
Marketing and advertising are entirely dependent upon understanding how the human thought process motivates their purchasing habits. As such, it’s one of the most versatile (and lucrative) non-clinical psychology degree jobs out there. Your bachelor’s degree in psychology will help you understand what appeals to your customers, how to get them to purchase, and where to direct company resources for your next products. You can influence everything from advertising images and language to B2B elevator pitches and product lines.
Average salary: $141,490/year*
Forensic Science Technician
Forensic science technicians often benefit from a bachelor’s in psychology, especially if you’re assisting in forensic criminal profiling. You can often choose whether to specialize in crime scene analysis or laboratory work, which will influence what your day-to-day looks like. Either way, you’ll analyze evidence and use your psychology degree to help ascribe meaning and motivation to what the evidence tells you about the crime. Your bachelor’s in psychology can also be supplemented with studies in forensic science or natural sciences (such as chemistry or biology).
Average salary: $60,590/year*
Law Enforcement Officer
Law enforcement officers are meant to “serve and protect,” and as such, their entire job centers on dealing with the public at large. Having a solid psychology background can help you communicate and interact with many different characters that may cross your path, and possibly prevent situations from unreasonably escalating past a point of no return. In fact, having a psychology degree as a law enforcement officer makes you even more marketable to cities and agencies that are looking for ways to shift the paradigm of policing to one grounded much more deeply in understanding mental health interventions.
Average salary: $67,290/year*
Your BA in psychology can be put to good use as a career counselor, where you’ll help people make and execute career decisions that will impact other areas of their lives. From students deciding which path to take, to workers looking to transition to a new vocation, a career counselor works with individuals from all walks of life. You can also help with things like resume building, interview prep, and even networking.
Average salary: $46,606/year (Payscale 2021 data)
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Best Jobs for Psychology Master's Degree Graduates
Graduates with a master’s degree in psychology can work in a wide variety of sectors, including research, clinical therapy, business school systems, law enforcement, and public health agencies.
The number of available psychology degree jobs are much larger for those with a master’s degree versus a bachelor’s, though to practice as a clinical psychologist, you’ll still need to continue for your doctorate. However, a terminal master’s program that focuses on a designated specialty area offers a path to jobs in fields such as forensic psychology and mental health counseling.
So, what job can you get with a psychology degree at the master’s level? Here are some of your options.
Social Services Director
Being a social services director is a large responsibility, and your background in psychology will play a huge part in your ability to interact with clients, staff, lawmakers, and the public alike. You’ll be the link between your community and the programs they need access to. In addition to overseeing staff, you may perform admissions and evaluations, liaise between your organization and other agencies that provide support services, implement fundraising drives, and more. Earning a master’s in social work will prepare you to take on the complexities of this role.
Average salary: $57,117/year (Payscale 2021 data)
You can begin a career in applied behavior analysis (ABA) with a master’s degree in ABA, or in psychology with an emphasis in ABA, along with board certification. Often associated with treating autism patients, behavior analysts use their expertise in the science and psychology of human behavior to treat a variety of behavioral, social, or communication disorders. Their goal is often to understand how their patient interacts with the environment around them and implement changes that improve those daily interactions.
Average salary: $64,541/year (Payscale 2021 data)
Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse
A career as a psychiatric nurse requires a massive range of skill and expertise, including a deep understanding of human psychology and neurobiology. From intake and triage to case management and care coordination, you’ll truly be a jack of all trades for patients with mental health challenges. Depending on your master’s degree specialty, you may also be licensed to provide therapy, prescribe medications, issue referrals, and perform diagnostic procedures.
Average salary: $66,906/year (Payscale 2021 data)
Legal psychology is a subspecialty that focuses on the interplay of psychology and the legal system. You may work for your local prosecutor offering expert advice on trials, or you may work with a jury selection team to ensure that a jury’s makeup is balanced and unbiased. You might also evaluate witnesses or defendants or work with your local government to offer psychological expertise that informs new laws directed at social issues.
Average salary: $82,180/year*
When creating learning systems, educational programs, and curriculum, it’s critical to understand human thought processes and behaviors so that the materials and systems are effective. As an instructional design consultant, your background in psychology will help teachers, administrators, business leaders, programmers, and others to build materials and programs that efficiently teach their students, employees, or trainees. You’ll inform everything from developing manuals and guidebooks to conducting and interpreting user testing.
Average salary: $64,212/year (Payscale 2021 data)
Psychology professors take their hard-earned education and pass it on to new psychology students. You typically only need a master’s degree in psychology to get started as a professor teaching general psychology principles and theories. If you’re interested in diving into teaching a psychology specialty (or pursuing tenure), you’ll likely need to continue on to a doctorate.
Average salary: $89,960/year*
Mental Health Counselor
Depending on your state, you may be able to start a career as a mental health counselor with your master’s psychology degree (others will require a doctorate and state licensure to practice). As a mental health counselor, you’ll provide therapy services to individuals and families dealing with issues like addiction, emotional and behavioral disorders, and life stressors such as career changes or divorce.
Average salary: $47,660/year*
Combine your love for fitness and athletic performance with your expertise in human psychology. As a sports psychologist, you’ll help athletes tap into their optimal potential by training their minds with the same dedication as they’re training their bodies. You can get started with your master’s degree, depending on your state and employer, though most sports psychologists go on to earn their doctorate in psychology.
Average salary: $72,257/year (Payscale 2021 data)
Your master’s degree in psychology can open the door to several human-centric organizations, including childcare and centers and school systems. As a childcare director, you’ll provide leadership for your staff, help design your center’s programs and curriculum, and interact with students and parents in a variety of ways. Your understanding of communication skills and human thinking processes will be critical to helping your students succeed, as well as helping your staff effectively teach and support these young minds.
Average salary: $49,160/year*
Child Protection Specialist
In this role, you’ll do the important work of protecting and advocating for children suffering through abuse, trauma, or neglect. You’ll typically work with law enforcement and/or government agencies to assess risk factors and recommend action plans to place children in much healthier, safer circumstances. It’s incredibly helpful to have a master’s degree in social work to prepare you for this position, especially if you plan to enter any sort of clinical social work position.
Average salary: $51,760/year*
Additional Master’s Psychology Degree Jobs
- Executive coach
- Media psychologist
- Counselor aide or psychological associate
- Addictions psychologist
- Human service worker
- Hospital patient service representative
- Statistical assistant
- Community recreation worker
- State agency counselor
- Victim’s advocate
- Director of volunteer services
- Diversity manager
- Juvenile justice detention officer
- Correctional field officer, probation officer, or parole officer
- Employment counselor
- Special education teacher
- Marketing or advertising manager
- Media buyer
- Director of fundraising
- Child custody worker
- College admissions counselor
- Substance abuse counselor
- Human resources professional
- Judicial service coordinator
- Rehabilitation counselor
- Veteran’s counselor
- Sales representative
- Guidance counselor
- Army psychologist
- Family services worker
- Public information officer
- Rehabilitation adviser
- Geriatric care specialist
- Director of business development
- Pain psychologist
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Best Jobs for Psychology Doctorate/Ph.D. Degree Graduates
Although earning a master’s degree will give you more job opportunities, you can still be limited if you are interested in entering professional psychology, which is why a large percentage of psychology students continue to earn their doctorate. Most state licensing boards require a doctorate to practice any independent clinical work. Your doctorate and state license permit you to diagnose mental disorders, conduct research, administer evaluations, and teach at the university level. You can work within various settings, such as mental health clinics, government offices, hospitals, or choose to open a private practice, just to name a few possible choices.
Another benefit of your Ph.D. or Psy.D. in psychology—your salary prospects increase dramatically. For example, an Industrial/Organizational (I/O) psychologist with a master’s degree can expect a starting salary of around $38,750, while a Ph.D. would earn them $55,000 to start.
Let’s run through 10 of the best psychology degree jobs to answer the question of what job can you get with a psychology degree at the doctoral level.
- Clinical psychologist
- Private practice
- Engineering psychologist
- Industrial psychologist
- Administrative hospital psychologist
- Forensic psychologist
- School psychologist
- Researcher/Experimental psychologist
- University professor
- Applied psychologist
- Cognitive Psychologist
With your doctorate in psychology, you can practice as a state-licensed psychologist treating individuals with diagnosed mental illnesses and behavioral disorders. Your advanced training in psychotherapy allows you to assess and treat individuals with interventional tools alone or as part of a larger patient care team. You can tailor your Ph.D. or Psy.D. to a specific patient group, such as clinical child psychology, or go into a different doctorate field with a psychological specialty, such as a Doctor of Education (EdD) in clinical psychology.
Average salary: $82,180/year*
A psychiatrist differs from a psychologist in that they’re licensed to prescribe and administer medication and other medical interventions in addition to counseling and therapy services. As such, psychiatrists often treat patients with deeper clinical mental illnesses, such as schizophrenia or borderline personality disorder. In addition to your psychology degree, psychiatrists must also complete a full medical school program including a four-year residency.
Average salary: $217,100/year*
An Industrial/Organizational (I/O) psychologist uses the principles of psychology to inform the processes and flows of a business or other professional organization. By treating the organization as a holistic organism, an I/O psychologist applies solutions associated with human behavior to the entire system to increase efficiency, morale, and productivity. Look for a doctorate program specific to organizational psychology.
Average salary: $112,690/year*
Forensic psychologists use clinical psychology skills and theories to assess individuals associated with criminal investigations. They may be called as expert witnesses in trials, asked to evaluate participants in custody disputes, offer assessments of offenders regarding their mental capacity to stand trial, or help investigators build criminal profiles.
Average salary: $71,945/year (Payscale 2021 data)
Engineering psychology applies the understanding of human behavior and thought processes to the development of technology, systems, products, and environments in order to adjust these tools to meet society’s needs. Your doctorate psychology degree will typically involve specialties in usability engineering, human factors, or even human-computer interaction. Common on-the-job tasks involve surveying user needs and feedback or offering design input on accessibility needs for individuals with disabilities.
Average salary: $92,614 - $105,780/year (BLS; Psychologists, All Other)*
Different from a school counselor, a school psychologist is licensed to provide clinical therapy services to students, in addition to supporting their mental and emotional health in the face of academic stressors. School psychologists may create support and treatment plans, offer crisis and trauma support, and collaborate with staff, parents, and other medical professionals to support students’ well-being.
Average salary: $89,290/year*
As a research psychologist, you can delve deeper into areas of psychology that you’re most interested in to find new advancements in the understanding of human behavior. You’ll develop and test hypotheses in areas such as applied behavior analysis, brain cognition, individual perception, and others. You’ll be heavily involved in publishing and possibly even lecturing, depending on your role and workplace environment.
Average salary: $81,855/year (Payscale 2021 data)
Clinical neuropsychologists study the relationship between the human brain and cognitive behavior. Your goal is to understand how brain functionality informs human thought and action, especially as it pertains to diagnosing mental and behavioral disorders. To enter this role, you’ll need a psychology doctorate with a specialty in neuropsychology.
Average salary: $93,536/year (Payscale 2021 data)
Cognitive psychology is the science of the human brain’s internal processes—essentially, how humans think. As a cognitive psychologist, you’ll study brain processes like memory, perception, learning and problem-solving, and attention. This psychology specialty helps with the diagnosis and treatment of memory disorders like Alzheimer’s, as well as attention disorders like ADD/ADHD, and even the after-effects of brain trauma. Your doctorate program should involve courses specific to cognitive learning and neuroscience.
Average salary: $75,000/year (Payscale 2021 data)
You can begin your career as a college or university professor with just a master’s degree in psychology. However, earning a Ph.D. in this field gives you greater earning potential and tenure eligibility, as well as the opportunity to teach specific subjects that you’ve specialized in. You may also be able to participate in research, hold a distinguished lecturer position, or even sit as the chair of your department.
Average salary: $114,259 (APA 2018 data)
*US Bureau of Labor Statistics 2020 Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics salary figures reflect national data, not school-specific information. Conditions in your area may vary. Data accessed October 2021.
Start Your Psychology Career
No matter which psychology degree you’re interested in, there’s a career path for you. Psychology degree jobs range from working with athletes and children to businesspeople and medical patients and beyond. The best way to decide what piques your interest is to start your psychology program and explore the options at your disposal.
Check out the psychology programs in your state today.