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Job Opportunities with a Psychology Bachelor's Degree

Psychology majors share with liberal arts graduates valuable attitudes and work habits.  These include an appreciation of literacy, culture, and history and an approach to problems that is rational, analytic, systematic, and thorough. Psychology majors are as prepared, competent, and successful in obtaining satisfying careers as other liberal arts majors.

In addition, psychology majors may possess knowledge and abilities that may give them an advantage in certain job situations. For example, specific human relations skills acquired by many psychology majors include the ability to negotiate more harmonious work relationships, the recognition of personal problems affecting a worker's performance, familiarity with formal interviewing and psychological testing, and a knowledge of topics such as attitude change, social facilitation, stress management, infant development, and personnel selection.

Graduates who have majored in psychology may possess specific research and writing skills, such as the ability to construct surveys, operationalize and record behavioral observations, code and analyze data, write clear and concise proposals and reports, identify and solve problems, and employ scientific research methodology.

Relatively few recent graduates with a bachelor's degree in psychology are likely to find jobs in a primarily psychological setting. Although some psychology majors do find such jobs (e.g., behavior technician, psychological testing technician, drug abuse counselor, research assistant), opportunities for employment in psychology for the holder of a bachelor's degree are limited and advancement opportunities are restricted. The doctorate is the entry-level qualification to become a psychologist. In some states there is limited licensure with a master's degree, but not as a "psychologist."

Most graduates with bachelor’s degrees in psychology find jobs in areas outside of the field of psychology. Examples of job positions in which individuals with a bachelor’s degree in psychology may be strong candidates include teacher, management trainee, personnel trainee, research assistant, public relations and community representative, sales representative, child care worker, residential caregiver, correctional officer, advertising agent, marketing coordinator, and writer.

It is important to remember that there is no typical career path or "ideal job" for holders of the bachelor's degree in psychology. The psychology degree should be seen as a versatile preparation for many different types of careers. Like other liberal arts graduates, psychology majors may find jobs in many sectors of the economy. The good news is that at the present time, the fastest-growing occupations in the U.S. economy tend to be those that require relatively high levels of education and training, a trend that will put college graduates in an advantageous position.

Here are a few tips to consider when searching for a job with the bachelor's degree in psychology:

  • Visit the Career Center (Lightsey Center, Room 216).  Services provided include administration of standardized interest and personality inventories, career counseling, a career information center, employment information, experiential learning opportunities and internship placements, career workshops, on-campus recruiting services, and computerized career assistance. 
  • CISTERNonline is a good source of leads for part-time and full-time jobs.
  • Some students majoring in psychology may wish to develop a concentration of related elective courses or to establish a minor. Those oriented toward working in the business community might select elective courses in business and economics. Those interested in working for social service agencies might find several sociology courses useful. You should actively use your college years to think about your career interests, research the job market, sharpen your communication skills, and obtain relevant experiences.
  • Talk to Psychology faculty and advanced majors about career options for psychology majors.  Go to Psychology Club meetings, talk to people who work in the community in human service-related occupations, and work with local agencies as a volunteer.
  • You might also find the online Career Development eManual from the University of Waterloo to be helpful (be warned - it talks!).
  • Do you want to learn how to write a resume, cover letter, or prepare for an interview?  Take a look at the Career Center's excellent Help Guides, and check out related materials on Career One Stop's Resumes & Interviews page.