Careers In Psychology For Psychology Majors

Medically reviewed by Julie Dodson, MA
Updated April 18, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team
iStock/Edwin Tan
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There are many different degrees available for those interested in psychology. Degrees exist for undergraduate and graduate studies. Job and career choice may depend on the psychology major or degree. Some psychology careers may be specialized and require specific criteria for working in that field. Depending on the major or degree, choices in psychology can vary widely, but specialization can make your skill set more unique.

Specialized fields in psychology include but are not limited to child psychology, educational psychology, experimental psychology, and organizational psychology. The wide variety of specialties is one of the reasons why psychology is one of the fastest-growing job niches. The American Psychological Association is a professional organization which represents psychology in the U.S.

In addition to the large variety of choices for specialty, there are also many areas in which a psychology degree can be helpful. These areas can include corrections, social work, schools, research, human resources, all types of businesses and companies, and writing.

A career in psychology can take many directions, and those directions may not initially sound like a career for psychology majors. For undergraduate psychology students, those with an associate’s degree, or those with a bachelor’s degree, career choices are limited to those that do not require a professional license, as licensed professional counseling positions require at least a Master’s Degree; and licensed psychologists must have completed a PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)degree in addition to spending a particular amount of time in the field interning and completing supervised clinical hours.

Entry-level psychology jobs can provide the experience necessary for getting the most out of an undergraduate degree. Salary can often be directly related to experience and taking an entry-level position can give that experience, but the pay might be lower. Graduate degrees may require residency or another type of job training experience, too; this can depend on the degree.

Choosing a career path with a degree in psychology can be a bit overwhelming, as there are a wide variety of careers available. It might be a good idea to explore all the options available before deciding on any one path. Different careers can require different levels of education, certification, and licensing, so it can be important to research career choices and plan your education accordingly. Experience on the job is another important requirement for many career choices. Two years is usually the minimum requirement for proving experience for most careers in psychology.

Psychology is the study of human behavior, which has a skill set that is in demand in many diverse fields. By helping to impart knowledge about cognitive processes and the human brain, a degree in psychology lends itself to marketing, management, teaching, and a slew of other areas where knowledge of human behavior can be an asset. The best way to make a career choice may be to research all areas where a degree in psychology could be useful.

Careers choices with an AA degree in psychology

An associate, or AA, degree in psychology can be very useful for many different career paths. The skills obtained with an AA degree can be applied in many occupational fields. The median salary for an AA degree in psychology is around $45,000. The salary can depend on years of experience, the cityin which you work, and the company that hired you.


Researching job opportunities to find the right pay and the perfect skill fit can be important. The pay rate is in part based on the city where one works. Some cities may have a higher average pay rate. The average salary is also affected by the number of people and the number of job opportunities. Another area one may want to research is companies hiring; some companies pay more than others.

Career choices for an AA degree

  • Human Resource and Development
  • Executive Assistant
  • Case Manager
  • Administrative Assistant
  • General Manager
  • Social Worker

Other career choices exist, but this list shows the most popular and typically best-paying choices.

Career choices with a bachelor's degree in psychology

A bachelor's in psychology is an undergraduate degree that provides the skills needed to work in a variety of occupations. A BA in psychology has a median salary of $50,000, but the pay can vary depending on the city, company, and years of experience. Like an AA degree, most individuals with a BA will begin their careers in an entry-level position, work for a few years to gain experience, then graduate to higher-paying roles.

When job searching, it can be a good idea to research the specific career in which you are interested. Research which cities have the best average pay and lowest competition for positions. Always research the company you are interested in working for. 

Career choices for BA degree

  • Human Resource Management/Director
  • Social Worker
  • Operations Manager
  • Executive Director
  • Executive Assistant
  • Marketing Manager
  • Program Manager for Non-Profit Organization

This list of career choices is not all the career choices available, but these may be the best-paying. Undergraduate degrees may bring a higher paycheck than associate degrees, but the degree is not the only thing needed, and work experience can be another important requirement for many career choices. 

Career choices with a master's degree in psychology

An MA in psychology provides a variety of options when it comes to career choice. With a master's degree in psychology, the median salary is $60,000. Going to graduate school and pursing your master’s degree in psychology might bring more options.

Career choices for a master's degree in psychology

  • Mental Health Therapist
  • Certified Behavior Analyst
  • Director of Operations
  • Clinical Director
  • Mental Health Clinician
  • Licensed Counselor
  • Research Analyst

This list of careers is not complete, as new areas and applications for psychology are often on the horizon. There are various other fields you can explore with a master’s degree; one example would be school psychology. School psychologists focus on development mechanisms and the promotion of healthy development in children and youth. If you choose to be a school psychologist, you will likely work directly with students, or work on improving the systems that service them.

The point is that the skill gained while working toward a master's degree in psychology can provide a strong base for many different careers. Some jobs are more specialized, while others require the basic skills learned while working toward a degree in psychology. Some specialized career choices may require a license or other certification to practice. Some examples that would require these certifications include licensed counselors, industrial organizational psychologists, and certified behavior analysts.

Career choices for a Ph.D. in psychology

A licensed psychologist may have many career choices from which to choose. The average or median pay for a licensed psychologist is around $90,000. A licensed psychologist must complete a residency or internship before a license is granted.

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After graduation, newly licensed psychologists may choose to look for an entry-level job or to open their own practices.

Choices for licensed psychologists

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Organizational Psychology
  • Industrial Psychology
  • Forensic Psychology
  • Developmental Psychology
  • Sports Psychology
  • Educational Psychology
  • Experimental Psychology
  • Cognitive Psychology
  • Counseling Psychology

The career choices in this list may be the most popular and can pay well. Some careers may have higher pay or satisfaction rates than others. For example, counseling psychologists make an average of $70,166 per year in the United States, while a clinical psychologist can have an average base salary of $111,314. Clinical psychologists also report high levels of job satisfaction, with 93% saying they were either somewhat or very satisfied with their occupation. This can be favorable when compared to the average satisfaction rating for other psychology careers. Forensic psychologists, for example, can have a considerably lower satisfaction rating.   

There are other choices available to psychology graduates with a Ph.D., such as research and even writing. Opening your own practice can be another great choice. With a Ph.D., specialties have likely already been explored, and for the most part, career choices may be wide open. 


Studying psychology can lead to an enormous array of different career options, and becoming a licensed therapist or counselor is only one of them.

Psychology can be a heavy topic to study, and many people who go into psychology-related fields chose to attend therapy themselves to help ease the burden or deal with their own mental health issues. For example, social workers, counselors, and even teachers, often take on a lot of the troubles of the people with whom they work, which can become difficult.

For those reasons, we suggest speaking to a certified counselor with BetterHelp. Not only can a licensed professional tell you about their journey and what experience and education may be necessary to have a successful psychology career, but they can also get to know you personally and help you work out your mental health difficulties.

Studies have shown that online therapy is as effective as its traditional, face-to-face counterpart. Other studies have demonstrated that online therapy is also more cost-effective, especially when considering hidden expenses like taking time off work to go to a session, finding childcare, or paying for transportation.

To learn more about BetterHelp, get started with this brief questionnaire to then be matched with a professional, certified therapist.

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