When I tell people I want to major in psychology, I often get weird looks and people telling me, do you expect to get a job with that? It’s a common misconception that psychology degrees are useless, but that’s far from the truth.
True, you can’t get a job in an area of psychology with only a bachelor’s degree. You can’t become a licensed psychologist unless you have graduate training plus additional hours of supervision, but the skills you gain as a psychology major translate well into many jobs, especially in entry-level positions.
Many students graduating with a bachelor’s degree will work in some division of human or social services. Some common job titles in the area include:
- Case Management
- Career Counselor
- Rehabilitation Specialist
- Psychiatric Technician
Some of the most important things you will learn during your undergraduate years are interpersonal skills. Your understanding of the human mind and behavior make you a good candidate for jobs that require strong communication skills. Some examples jobs in this area include those in sales, marketing, case management, and social services.
According to Charles Brewer, a psychology professor at Furman University, looking at psychology undergraduate degrees as simply a step toward an advanced degree is often a mistake. “A lot of people think that in order to do anything with a degree in psychology you must get a Ph.D and become a psychologist,” he explained in an article by CNN. “Most parents, even if they are professionals in their own right, don’t understand what opportunities are open to psych majors.” He also suggests that the biggest advantage of a bachelor’s degree in psychology is its adaptability.
A bachelor’s degree in psychology is sometimes seen as a stepping stone toward a graduate degree. Many psychology majors end up going on to business school, law school, or some other type of advanced degree program. Personally, I’m interested in majoring in psychology and then going to law school. The other option I’m considering is to continue with psychology to get my doctorate, and become a clinical psychologist. That’s the good thing about psychology; it’s so versatile. I can take those first four years of college to decide what I really want to do with my life, and still have so many options with that one major.
If psychology is what you really want to do, you should expect to go to college for more than four years. Students seeking a master’s degree in psychology often have successful careers as industrial-organizational psychologists or as psychological assistants when working under the direction of a doctoral psychologist in research, counseling, or clinical settings.
If you are considering pursuing a graduate degree, you might be wondering how long it takes to earn a Ph.D. in Psychology. Generally, a bachelors degree takes four years of study. While a masters degree requires an addition two to three years of study beyond the bachelors, a doctorate degree can take between four to six years of additional graduate study after earning a bachelors degree. A doctorate degree in psychology is required if you want to open your own private practice. In most cases you will need this level of degree if you want to teach and conduct research at the college or university level. After you’ve been admitted to a graduate program, it generally takes at least four years to earn a Ph.D. and another year to complete an internship. Once these requirements have been fulfilled, students can take state and national exams to become licensed to practice psychology in the state where they wish to work. The American Psychological Association accredits graduate programs in three areas: clinical, counseling and school psychology. If you are interested in going into one of these specialty areas, it is important to choose a school that has received accreditation through the APA.
However, the best thing you can do is enter your post-graduate education with a plan. You have to know that your education will lead you, and have a good career outlook.