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Career Information for a Degree in Psychology

Psychology is an expansive field of study that can lead to multiple careers. Continue reading for an overview of some educational requirements as well as the employment outlook and salary info related to some career options for graduates.

Individuals with a degree in psychology have many career options, and some they can consider include psychologist, social worker, mental health counselor, or probation officer. Options may require a master's or doctoral degree and license.

Essential Information

Psychology students study human mental states, behaviors, motivations, learning patterns and emotional development. Graduates of a degree program in psychology might use their education to find employment in career fields such as counseling, psychology or social work. Some lower-level careers, such as psychiatric technician and probation officer, might be obtained with a bachelor's degree. However, professions such as industrial psychologist and clinical psychologist require a master's degree or a doctoral degree, respectively. Social workers and mental health counselors also need at least a master's degree.

Career Titles Psychologists Social Workers Mental Health Counselors
Education Requirements Master's degree or doctorate Master of Social Work (MSW) Master's degree
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 19% for all psychologists 12% for all social workers 20% for mental health counselors
Median Annual Salary (May, 2015)* $70,580 for clinical, counseling and school psychologists; $77,350 for industrial-organizational psychologists $42,170 for mental health and substance abuse social workers; $42,350 for child, family and school social workers $41,880 for mental health counselors

Source: *United States Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Options

Several career options are available for those with a bachelor's degree in psychology. These positions include community relations officer, psychiatric technician and probation or parole officer. Some individuals use these careers to gain experience before moving on to other careers that have foundations in psychology studies, including licensed psychologist, social worker and mental health counselor.

Psychologist

Psychologists apply their knowledge to problems in organizations or with individuals. Many work as clinical psychologists, providing therapy and counseling to patients with emotional or mental difficulties. Clinical and most other psychologists must hold a doctoral degree, but industrial-organizational psychologists usually need only a master's degree, according to BLS.

Some clinical psychologists specialize in a particular group of clients, such as senior citizens, teenagers or minority groups. They may also work in conjunction with doctors in order to identify physical problems connected with mental health issues.

The BLS expects that job opportunities for all psychologists will grow at a rate of 19% for the years 2014-2024. The median annual wage for clinical, counseling and school psychologists in May, 2015 was $70,580, while industrial-organizational psychologists earned a median annual salary of $77,350.

Social Worker

Social workers help troubled or at-risk individuals solve personal and professional problems. Most social workers specialize in a specific area, such as domestic abuse, terminally ill clients, senior citizens or pregnant teenagers. Social workers usually need a degree in social work, according to the BLS, but a degree in psychology can qualify workers for entry-level positions or prepare them for graduate studies. The BLS estimates that all social workers will see a faster-than-average job growth of 12% for the years 2014-2024. The median annual income for a mental health or substance abuse social worker in May, 2015, according to the BLS, was $42,170. Child, family and school social workers earned a median of $42,350.

Mental Health Counselor

Counselors work to help people overcome and identify their problems. They may teach and perform research. Counselors are also concerned with environmental influences, such as upbringing and social surroundings. The educational requirements for this career include a master's degree in psychology, social work or counseling. The BLS reports that mental health counselors earned an annual median salary of $41,880 in May, 2015.

Opportunities Available with a Bachelor's Degree

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, or BLS, in May 2015 the median annual salaries for some psychology-based careers requiring bachelor's degrees were as follows:

  • Childcare workers, $20,320
  • Psychiatric technician, $31,140
  • Probation officers and correctional treatment specialists, $49,360

A degree in psychology focuses on how individuals learn and behave, their motivations, and typical and atypical development. This training helps prepare students for careers as psychologist, social worker, mental health counselor, childcare worker, psychiatric technician, or probation officer. Depending upon the chosen career, you may need a bachelor's, master's or doctoral degree, or a Master of Social Work degree. The BLS predicts strong job growth from 2014-2024 for psychologists, social workers and mental health counselors, with expected rates of 19%, 12% and 20% respectively.

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