Career Options with a PhD in Psychology

May 31, 2020

The social science of psychology offers a lot of variety in its areas of specialization, so those with a PhD in the field have several different careers available to them, depending on their personal areas of interest and focused study. Find out about some of the career options for those with a PhD in Psychology below.

Career Options for a PhD in Psychology

Job Title Median Salary (2019)* Job Growth (2018-2028)*
Engineering Psychologists $101,790 (psychologists, all other) 12% (psychologists, all other)
Clinical, Counseling and School Psychologists $78,200 15%
Psychology Teachers, Postsecondary $76,620 12%
Industrial-Organizational Psychologists $92,880 13%
Survey Researchers $59,170 1%

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Information for Psychology-Related Jobs Requiring a PhD

Engineering Psychologists

Engineering psychologists usually need a master's or doctorate in psychology with a concentration engineering psychology or human factors psychology. These programs prepare graduates for the extensive research involved in this career. Engineering psychologists study -- and then work to improve -- different technological systems and operations that humans interact with, including transportation systems and consumer electronics. They aim to make these systems more efficient, safer and more cost effective. Many of these psychologists focus in design and how cognitive psychology plays a role in these operations.

Clinical, Counseling and School Psychologists

Clinical, counseling and school psychologists typically need a doctoral degree and a license, and several schools have psychology doctoral programs offering students the choice to pursue one of these specializations. Clinical psychologists specialize in diagnosing psychological disorders and treating their patients through psychotherapy and/or medication. Counseling psychologists help patients work through a variety of life problems through counseling sessions. School psychologists work with students of different ages to address developmental or learning disorders and help them modify behavior to be more successful at school.

Postsecondary Psychology Teachers

Most postsecondary educators need a PhD, and those with a background in psychology may teach a variety of courses in the field. These teachers develop the curriculum for each course and are responsible for creating and grading any assignments and exams. Although it depends on the institution, most teachers at this level are required to conduct independent research for the institution, and psychology doctoral students usually have extensive opportunities to strengthen and apply research methods in the field. Postsecondary educators oversee graduate students and their research projects as well. Teachers may also be asked to help advise undergraduate students and serve on committees for the department.

Industrial-Organizational Psychologists

Industrial-organizational psychologists usually need a master's or doctorate degree in psychology. These professionals specialize in using psychology and their training in work motivation, leadership and adaptation to address problems and issues in the workplace. They may help provide training for employees and examine issues like productivity or employee morale to figure out where there are areas for improvement. Industrial-organizational psychologists often work closely with executives and training and development professionals.

Survey Researchers

Survey researchers usually need a master's or doctorate degree in survey research, the social sciences or other related fields. Those with a background in psychology may be able to apply psychological principles and their knowledge of human behavior as they develop survey questions to ensure that they create detailed and easily understood surveys for the public. Graduates of a PhD program in psychology are equipped with the necessary research methods and statistical analysis skills to collect survey data on a variety of topics and analyze the results. The results of these surveys may be used to address problems in many different fields and provide more information to management for decision-making processes.

Graduates with a PhD in Psychology can work as several different kinds of psychologists, as well as postsecondary educators or survey researchers. Most of these careers involve some kind of research and critical-thinking skills in addition to advanced knowledge of psychology theories and practices.

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