Learn What You Can Do With a Psychology Degree
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Psychology Major Career Path 1: Professor Laraway

PsychologyMajor.org asked Professor Sean Laraway of (San Jose State University, America) a few questions having to do with his current career. His answers should provide some insight if you decide to take a similar path.

1. What position(s) do you work?

Assistant Professor of Psychology, San Jose State University

2. Did you major in psychology in college?

Yes.

3.What did you do with your degree?

Attended graduate school in Psychology, worked as a postdoctoral fellow in behavioral pharmacology, taught as a lecturer and then as an Assistant Professor in psychology. Did some consulting work in statistics and research methods.

4. What tips can you recommend for psychology majors?

Learn to write well. Learn to speak comfortably in front of groups. Learn as much about statistics and research methods as you can. Take every stats and methods class available. Get research experience, if possible. Get to know your professors. Gain as much relevant experience as you can without sacrificing your grades (e.g., complete an internship, volunteer at a mental health facility, work in an area related to psychology). Find some good mentors at your school or workplace and develop good working relationships with them. Attend professional conferences. Attend class. Study more. Read as much as possible. Exercise. Get more sleep. Try to present research at professional conferences. Treat your studies as you would your career. Don’t sacrifice schoolwork for anything else, including your part-time job. Find friends in your same major and build a support network. Figure out what you don’t want to do as a career. See a major adviser as soon as possible and meet with him/her often. Start thinking of your life after your bachelor’s degree: What do you want to do every day?

5. What worked for you and helped you succeed?

I tried to do the things listed in #4, although I didn’t always succeed

6. What were some pitfalls which you recommend to avoid?

Don’t think you have to get a doctorate to be successful with a psychology degree. There are plenty of rewarding jobs available with a bachelor’s or master’s degree. If you want to make a lot of money, don’t become a professor in psychology. If you want other rewards, such as teaching, working with students, flexible schedules, and a lot of independence in your daily work, then become a professor in psychology. Don’t think that good grades/GRE scores alone will get you into grad school. You will need other achievements (e.g., research or other relevant experience) and letters of recommendation from professors/supervisors who know you well, among other things. Don’t think that statistics/research methods are too hard for you to understand.

7. How is your day on average?

I enjoy my workdays. In an average day, I will teach, attend a meeting, meet with students, and work on research

8. What can students expect in salary if they take the same path?

Starting faculty members in the CSU can expect to earn about $50,000-$60,000 per year, depending on teaching experience, etc.