Psychology Career Opportunities

The increased awareness of acknowledging and treating mental health needs continues to create job opportunities for those in the field of psychology. In nearly all psychology jobs, you will tackle problems surrounding brain function and the way that it manifests in patterns of emotions and behavior. Whether you aspire to conduct this work with students, patients, or behind the scenes in a research lab, the right job is out there for you.

What Does Someone Do in a Psychology Career?

Depending on the area of psychology that you specialize in, there is a multitude of jobs and settings that you can work in. Psychologists work in hospitals, schools, private practices, research labs, and many other locations.

Some of the roles that you might fulfill in a psychology job are:

  • Therapist
  • Developmental psychologist
  • School psychologist
  • Guidance counselor
  • Social worker
  • Researcher
  • Professor
  • Industrial/organizational psychologist

While each of these roles is vastly different, the skills and knowledge needed to succeed in these positions is similar. Some of the skills psychologists need are:

  • Communicate and collaborate with colleagues, clients, and families
  • Problem-solving skills and approaches
  • Active listening and interpersonal skills
  • Strong foundation in numeracy, data, and statistics
  • Observational and assessment skills
  • Critical thinking and evaluation
  • Write reports, articles, and/or research papers
  • Supervise interns and other clinicians

Level of Education for Psychology Career

Regardless of the specific job that you pursue in psychology, you will need to obtain a minimum of a Bachelor’s degree in psychology. Your undergraduate coursework should provide you with a foundation in neurology, typical and atypical development, and statistics. With a bachelor’s degree, you may be able to enter a management role, work in human resources, or as part of a research team.

For most jobs in psychology, especially those that practice counseling, therapy, and intellectual and behavioral assessments, a master’s degree is necessary. This degree is often more specialized to the specific role within the field that you want to fulfill. For example, if you want to work in an educational setting, you will pursue a degree in school psychology. In addition to the coursework, your degree will almost certainly require you to complete a practicum to gain hands-on experience. Those wishing to practice in a clinical setting will also require licensure through the state in which they want to work.

Some positions in psychology require a doctorate. If you want to conduct research, open practice, or teach at the collegiate level, a doctoral degree will most likely be required. Similar to a master’s degree, the doctorate will be specific to the area of psychology in which you would like to work.

Psychology Career Outlook

The job opportunities and salaries within the field of psychology vary widely based on the position, degree required, and the geographic location of the job. For general psychology positions, the median salary is about $89,000 according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics []. This accounts for the range in salaries from entry-level positions requiring a bachelor’s degree through more specialized jobs that require a master’s or doctorate. 

Psychologists are needed in all states and in many different settings, but some states offer a higher number of available jobs and larger salaries. California, Alaska, and Illinois are the top three states for annual mean wages, while Florida, Illinois, and Texas are the top employers of psychologists.

Overall, the outlook for jobs in the field of psychology is very good. Positions are expected to increase at a comparable rate to other fields, allowing for growth and change within the field. This is an opportune time to begin searching for a new position in your psychology career.