Are you the type of person who’s always trying to figure out why people do the things they do? Maybe you’ve been called “too sensitive,” or “an over-thinker” by others who don’t share your passion for processing emotions and digging deep.
All of these traits and skills make you the perfect candidate for a dynamic career in human behavior and mental health. And a B.S. in Psychology is your launching pad.
Common Career Paths in Psychology
A bachelor’s degree in psychology provides the rock-solid foundation you’ll need if you plan to continue your education to pursue a master’s or doctoral degree. However, 55% of students who earn a bachelor’s degree in psychology choose not to pursue a graduate degree. For these students, there are still plenty of psychology-related careers to choose from.
This versatile degree can be beneficial in a variety of disciplines and professions. Here are 8 common career paths in psychology:
1) Social or Community Service Manager
If you have a heart for a particular demographic, such as children or the elderly, or feel called to support people going through specific challenges, such as homelessness or unemployment, consider this career path. Social and community service managers coordinate and oversee social service programs.
You find these positions in nonprofit organizations, private for-profit social service companies, and government agencies. A bachelor’s degree in psychology often qualifies you for this role, which has an expected employment growth rate of 18% between 2016 and 2026. Increases in the elderly population and a greater demand for substance abuse and mental health treatment are driving this demand. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports the median annual wage for social and community service managers was $69,600 in 2020.
2) Probation Officer/Correctional Treatment Specialist
If criminal justice gets your heart racing, use your psychology degree to help rehabilitate law offenders. You might counsel those in custody to prepare them for release. You could also work with offenders on probation or parole, assisting them with job training and accompanying them to court appearances.
A bachelor’s degree is the typical entry-level educational requirement for probation officers and correctional treatment specialists. The median annual wage for these positions was $55,690 in 2020, according to the BLS.
3) Training & Development Manager
As a training and development manager, you’ll be asked to manage staff, plan training programs and improve the knowledge-base and practical skills of your company’s employees.
According to the BLS, the median annual wage for training and development managers in 2020 was $115,640. And, while experience in training and development is necessary to pursue leadership and management roles, there is opportunity in the field—demand for the position is expected to grow by 10% over the next decade.
4) Substance Abuse Counselor
Most positions in this field require at least a bachelor’s degree to be involved in counseling clients for substance abuse. (Some positions ask for Licensed Professional Counselor, or LPC, which requires a relevant post-graduate degree and a supervised internship for licensure.) It depends on the employer and the range of your duties, but these counselors typically work with people in residential treatment centers, halfway houses, detox centers, and employee assistance programs (EAPs).
If you have personal experience with overcoming addictions, that may be seen as a positive by prospective employers and help you gain an advantage over other candidates. The BLS notes, “Counselors with personal experience overcoming alcohol or drug addictions are sometimes viewed as especially helpful and insightful to those seeking treatment.”
5) Peer Support Specialist
Your B.S. in psych coupled with a peer support certification and your own experience with a mental health condition that you’re OK talking about qualify you for this important role. If you’ve dealt with, for example, PTSD, depression, or bipolar disorder, you can act as a role model and source of essential support for others facing similar difficulties.
6) Hospice Counselor
Working with terminally ill patients and their loved ones as they face end-of-life issues can be incredibly fulfilling. Enrollments in hospice programs continue to rise, increasing more than seven times between 1990 and 2013. The number of hospice providers during that same period went from 1,600 to 5,800.
If being a source of support in this way speaks to you, consider getting your certification in thanatology from the Association for Death Education and Counseling. Your bachelor’s and a 60-hour program of study make you eligible to register for the exam.
Your undergrad psychology degree also satisfies the prerequisite required to enroll in one of the many certification programs offered by the American Academy of Grief Counseling. Specialized programs include Child & Adolescent Grief Counseling, Pet Loss Grief Counseling, and Christian Grief Counseling.
7) Sales Representative
Maybe you’re not as interested in counseling people as you are selling them things. Your psychology degree has equipped you with multiple skills needed for a successful career in both sales and marketing.
You’ve honed your interpersonal communication skills, you understand human behavior, and you know what motivates people. All of those things are essential to getting your product or services in front of the right people and persuading them to say “Yes, please” when you’re ready to close the deal.
No doubt you turned in a lot of heavily researched, high-quality writing during the years it took you to earn your bachelor’s degree in psychology. This has prepared you well for a number of writing careers, including copywriting, journalism, and technical writing.
If you’ve got a mind that thrives on complexity and the ability to break down a complicated concept into laymen’s terms, a career as a technical writer might be a great fit. It could involve preparing how-to guides, instruction manuals, and other supporting documents to communicate technical information more easily to end-users.
As high-tech and electronics industries continue to evolve and grow, technical writers will be increasingly in demand. The BLS cites the median annual wage for technical writers as $74,650 in 2020.
Ready to dive deeper into what makes humans tick? ACU Online’s Bachelor’s in Psychology degree program provides you with an in-depth understanding of human behavior. You’ll also learn history, theory, concepts, and skills in the application of psychology to industrial, clinical, and other settings. Whether you’re seeking immediate career paths in psychology or want a solid foundation for graduate school, a psychology undergraduate degree from ACU can lead you into a rewarding future.
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