After four long and painful years of reading Sigmund Freud, studying Oedipus Complexes and learning about how to manipulate consumers through advertising, you have finally received your bachelor’s degree.
You’re psyched, you want to be forever Jung, and you’re not a-Freud of the challenges that lay ahead (okay, we’re done with the psychology puns now). Like every other graduate, it is your time to find a career.
You might think that working in this field requires you to have a beard, speak with neurotics and ask about dreams. But there are numerous career paths to embark upon; some of them are psychology-related, and some of them are in a completely different ballpark. As long as you back up your BA with a strong acumen and knack, you can take your talents to a diverse array of industries.
No one will argue the fact that finding a career is a difficult thing to do, especially in today’s labour market. That said, here is a careers list of 10 occupations that may serve as a crucial aid to using your major to your advantage and successfully exit the university bubble.
1. Advertising Agent
Average salary: $49,680 / £39,000
There are three purposes of advertising:
- create brand awareness
- convey a message about your company
- encourage consumers to buy your goods or services.
Considering how the world is one giant billboard, it can be difficult for any business to garner the public’s attention.
This is where you come in. With your psychology degree, you can launch a series of advertising schemes that can seep into the average person’s consciousness or tap into their emotions to get intrigued by whatever the firm is selling.
You don’t need to suggest subliminal messaging. But there are plenty of tricks you can employ, like the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon, decoy pricing and anthropomorphism.
2. Childcare Worker
Average salary: $22,290 / £14,860
Before you have children, you view childcare workers – or anyone who works with children for that matter – as glorified babysitters. After you have children, though, your opinion about these professionals drastically changes. They’re outright heroes and saints – and everything in between!
Working in childcare is gruelling work, mainly because children have a hard time communicating their needs and wants. Moreover, it can be just as frustrating when you attempt to provide them guidance and they just do the opposite.
Does psychology work on children? If you have taken courses on child psychology, then you likely know some tips that can ease the pain of a childcare centre, such as an abundance of Vitamin N (no) and letting kids tell you their stories.
3. Psychiatric Technician
Average salary: $29,330 / £22,740
In this day and age, when the public is better aware of mental health, the demand for those with psychology-related backgrounds is high. One area that is only growing is that of a psychiatric technician.
This position entails caring and working with patients who have a mental illness or a developmental disability. Your job is to give them therapeutic care, whether it is inside of a psychiatric hospital or at a residential mental health facility. You can also be employed in traditional health care settings, such as a general hospital or a therapist’s office.
Average salary: $61,820 / £23,250
While many have been able to make a career off writing about psychology, being a psychology writer is something that should start as a supplement, passive career undertaking.
In other words, you should still seek out full-time employment, but you can complement your career with contributing to psychology publications, maintaining a blog or freelancing at book houses.
5. Social Worker
Average salary: $47,980 / £32,000
‘Social worker’ is a vague term because, as you soon realise, this is a jack-of-all-trades position. When you are employed as a social worker, you wear many hats, from administrator to therapist to clerk to driver. The main objective in these types of fields is to help those who cannot help themselves or, at the very least, give them a leg up.
The individual may have grown up in extreme poverty their entire lives, making normalcy and adulthood a distant dream. Or someone may be losing employment opportunities because of a mental disease. Or a person is on the cusp of losing their apartment because of a substance abuse problem. It’s your role to help them get through these trials and tribulations, and your major in psychology can be a useful tool.
Why? Your training can assist overcoming depression, easing the strain of bullying, enhancing recovery from traumatic injuries or helping families limit the effects of divorce.
6. Career Counsellor
Average salary: $55,410 / £26,500
What did you want to be when you were growing up? Did you always want to study the human mind at the tender age of six? If so, you should have watched more cartoons!
Many dispute the importance of career counsellors, especially when you hear the horror stories and reports of discouragement. How many successful people today were told by career counsellors that they were not equipped, suited or appropriate for a particular profession only to be proven wrong years later?
That said, career counsellors can be better described as career guides that serve as only one tool in your quest to determine a person’s career path. This professional will create a careers list, interview students, examine the data and provide advice for kids who are not sure what path to take.
7. Special Education Teacher
Average salary: $58,980 / £43,630
The number of special needs students is only ballooning, which means there is a greater demand for special education teachers. You cannot become a teacher as soon as you receive your four-year diploma, though, because you need to enrol in teacher’s college.
However, this should be something to think about when you’re thinking about careers with a psychology degree, since your area of expertise is perfectly suited for high needs children, whether physically or mentally.
8. Family Therapist
Average salary: $48,790 / £34,000
Every family is dysfunctional – just some more than others. That said, this dysfunction can cause real domestic strife, from verbal abuse to divorce to troubled youth. Some families may believe they are beyond disrepair, but with treatment, the Manson Family can turn into the Brady Bunch.
And it’s all because of you.
Every jurisdiction has its own rules and regulations to open a practice, but for the most part, this is how you become a family therapist:
- obtain a bachelor’s degree
- complete a master’s degree
- gain clinical experience
- pass the licensing exam.
You also have the option of continuing your education, which is highly recommended in all fields.
Average salary: $77,030 / £64,430
A graduate of psychology will inevitably flirt with the career path of psychiatry. This is one of the more fascinating and compelling aspects of the psychology profession. Unfortunately, many will be dissuaded because earning this title requires the same length of time and exhaustive tasks as becoming a doctor (and we all know how expensive this can be):
- obtaining a BA
- completing a medical degree
- completing residency
- obtaining clinical licensing
- gaining board certification.
Some may contend that these seem egregious and unnecessary, but you cannot change the system – only abide by it. So, if you’re unsure what to do with a psychology degree, you can resort to the default occupation: psychiatrist.
10. Substance Abuse Counsellor
Average salary: $43,300 / £28,500
Substance abuse is prevalent. It is estimated that more than 20 million Americans are addicted to some sort of illicit substance, and only a fraction of these individuals receive treatment. The results are deadly: 100 people die every day from drug overdoses, there are more than 5 million emergency room visits because of substance abuse, and nearly 7 million patients with a problem have a mental illness.
This is devastating. While you cannot eradicate the severity of this societal transgression, you can make a dent by working as a substance abuse counsellor.
A substance abuse counsellor is otherwise known as a mental health professional who assists patients struggling with addictions. Your main task is to personally work with these people and their families and treat these disorders. It is up to you what treatment plans to pursue, but your daily tasks also involve locating support groups, referring them to other sources and connecting them to services.
It can be trying at times, but it is a worthwhile career path. Why? Because you’re giving someone their life back.
Freud always said that the two most important things in life are the work you choose and sex. Who would argue with that concept?
Considering how society has shifted its priorities from working to live to living to work, you might as well select a career that you enjoy, not so much one that is a necessity. Psychology careers are one of the more fascinating jobs out there because you’re dealing primarily with the human mind, an entity as powerful and complex as the universe.
Whether you’re utilising your psychological knowledge for advertising schemes or you’re helping your fellow man, psychology is a rewarding area, as long as you locate a job as soon as you graduate.
What can you do with it? Hint: the answer does not lay in ink blots.
Join the conversation down below and let us know what psychology careers we missed!
Salary information is based on data compiled and published by various sources, including the National Careers Service, the Bureau of Labour Statistics and PayScale.