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What to Do With a Degree in Psychology

Alternative Careers


Psychology majors study human behavior. If you enjoy learning about the mind, how it works and why people act the way they do, earning a degree in this field of study could be the perfect choice for you.

But what will you do after you graduate from college? The obvious choice for some people is to apply to graduate school where they can earn a doctorate degree in psychology and become a psychologist. Not everyone wants to do that, however. For one thing, learning about human behavior as a student doesn't necessarily mean you will want to spend your career working with people in that capacity. Even if you decide you want to spend your career helping people deal with mental health issues, you may not want to spend at least five years studying to become a psychologist. Admission to graduate programs in psychology is very competitive, not to mention expensive.

Fortunately, there are many other options that will utilize your education. Some require that you earn an advanced degree and others do not. Let's take a look at some of them. Here are ten occupations in which you can utilize the skills you will acquire or have acquired as a psychology major.

Guidance Counselor

Guidance counselors help students with school-related issues, including course selection, academic difficulties and social skills. They work in elementary, middle and high schools. Counselors may identify problems and refer students and their families to resources both within and outside their schools. A master's degree in school counseling is required for this occupation. While applicants to graduate counseling programs don't need a degree in psychology, taking courses in this subject provides a good foundation. Psychology courses are even a prerequisite for admission to some programs.

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Teachers help students learn concepts in a variety of subjects. You will need a good understanding of how the human mind works in order to determine how to best reach your students. You will be able to call upon the training you received as a psychology major to notice when students are having academic problems and those that are not academic, including mental illness, substance abuse and conflicts at home. Teachers usually need a bachelor's degree in education but many choose to either major or minor in another subject as well. Psychology is a good choice. Some states also require teachers to have a master's degree.

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Human Resources Specialist

Human resources specialists help companies fill job openings by finding suitable candidates. They also help retain employees by resolving conflicts with co-workers and supervisors. An understanding of the human mind and behavior makes psychology majors especially well-suited for this occupation, as do their problem solving skills. You can also consider a dual major or a minor in business or human resources.

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Clinical Social Worker

Clinical social workers diagnose and treat clients who are struggling with emotional, behavioral and mental disorders. A master's degree in social work is required to practice as a clinician. You do not need a bachelor's degree in social work (BSW) to be admitted to a master's-level social work program. An undergraduate degree in psychology will provide you with a good background for this occupation.

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Marriage and Family Therapist

Marriage and family therapists work with families, couples and individuals who need professional help with disorders including anxiety, depression, addiction and obsessive-compulsive disorder. They take into account the effect family dynamics have on individuals' mental health. To work in this occupation you will need a master's degree in marriage and family therapy. While most programs don't require applicants to have a bachelor's degree in psychology, courses in this subject are often among the prerequisites. Additionally, by studying psychology as an undergraduate you will already have some of the skills needed to succeed in this career, for example the ability to convey information to others and good listening skills.

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Special Agent or Detective

Special agents and detectives examine evidence and interview victims, suspects and witnesses when crimes have taken place. They typically begin their careers by working as police officers. While a college degree isn't always required, many municipalities prefer to hire job candidates who have one, or at least some college coursework. As a psychology major you will bring a keen understanding of the workings of the human mind to this occupation. Your good communication skills will also help you do your job well.

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Market Research Analyst

Market research analysts help corporations and other organizations learn about consumers' preferences. They monitor trends, develop methods for collecting data and use statistical software to analyze it, and prepare written reports, charts and graphs to present their findings to their employers or clients. Courses in statistics and research design, which are part of an undergraduate psychology curriculum, provide those who major in this subject with some of the skills market research analysts need. In addition, psychology graduates have strong critical thinking skills, which you will need.

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Survey Researcher

Survey researchers design and conduct surveys in order to learn about people and their opinions. A psychology major's coursework in statistics and research design provides good training for people in this career as it does for market research analysts. Your critical thinking skills again will benefit you if you choose this occupation.

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Marketing Manager

Marketing managers are responsible for companies' marketing strategies. Along with their teams, including marketing research analysts and survey researchers, they determine who will buy their products and services and how much they will pay for them. Psychology majors usually have good problem solving, communication and interpersonal skills, which are all needed to succeed in this occupation.

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Sales Representative

Sales representatives, work for wholesalers and manufacturers, selling products. They contact current and new customers, demonstrate products to them and negotiate prices and service agreements. Sales representatives need to understand how people think and behave in order to decide how to sell products to them. Your training in psychology will serve you well.

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