Jobs and Career Info for a Masters in General Psychology Degree

Master's degrees in general psychology typically cover behavior, sociology, psychology and economics. Find out about the curricula of these programs, and learn about career options, job growth and salary info for general psychology graduates.

Essential Information

Those who graduate with a master's degree in general psychology are qualified to work as social workers or counselors. Within each field is the opportunity to specialize in a particular area, helping people to cope with issues such as substance abuse or marital and family challenges. While both professions involve counseling people, social work focuses on the person's environment as well.

Career Title Social Worker Counselor
Education Requirements Master's degree Master's degree
Other Requirements Licensure required Licensure required
Projected Job Growth* (2012-2022) 19% 12% (School and career counselors)
Median Salary* (2014) $59,100 $53,370 (Educational, guidance, school and vocational counselors)

*Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Social Worker Career Information

Social workers tend to work in a specific area, like child and family social work, school social work, medical and public health social work or substance abuse and mental health social work. While job duties vary, social workers in general help patients to cope with and resolve issues that are interfering with their everyday lives, such as drug or alcohol abuse, domestic conflicts or marital problems. Social workers also might help clients with physical disabilities or diseases, as well as those with social or financial problems, including unemployment or lack of adequate housing.

Education Requirements

While students with a degree in social work might be favored for social worker positions, many employers also accept applicants with a degree in psychology. Master's programs can prepare graduates for both entry-level and advanced positions in social work, and choosing a minor or specialization in social services, administration or social work can be particularly beneficial. Additionally, an internship in a position related to social work can help psychology students demonstrate their experience to prospective employers.

Licensure Information

In all 50 states, social workers need a license or certification to work. The majority of states require a minimum amount of supervised work experience, generally two years, to qualify for licensure.

Employment Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), career opportunities for social workers are expected to increase by 19% between 2012 and 2022, which is faster than the national average for all careers (www.bls.gov). The BLS also reported that as of May 2014, the average salary among all kinds of social workers was $59,100.

Counselor Career Information

Occupational settings and job titles for counselors vary greatly. Specializations include high school counselor, career counselor, family and marriage counselor, mental health counselor, substance abuse counselor and elementary school counselor. While job duties of each position vary, counselors in general work with patients to identify life or mental health problems and then assist them through support services, such as individual or group counseling sessions, advocacy or mediation.

Education Requirements

A master's degree is the minimum level of education needed to become a licensed counselor. A general psychology degree might be a good choice for a prospective counselor due to the mental health aspects of the counseling vocation. Psychology students who aspire to become counselors might benefit from a minor in a specialized field, such as marriage and family therapy, education or rehabilitation counseling. Additional training for new counselors typically is offered by employers.

Licensure and Certification Information

Licensure requirements vary by state and specialty area. Generally, counselors working for public schools must have state licensure, as must family and marriage therapists. Additionally, the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC) offers several voluntary credentials, including National Certified Counselor, National Certified School Counselor, Certified Clinical Medical Health Counselor and Master Addictions Counselor.

Employment Outlook

The BLS expects a 12% increase in employment for school and career counselors between 2012 and 2022. This statistic is about the same as the national average for all occupations. Educational, guidance and career counselors earned an average income of $53,370 per year as of 2014.

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