Learn What You Can Do With a Psychology Degree

Archive for the ‘Frequenty Asked Questions’ Category

What is the role of Marriage Family Therapists?

Thursday, July 28th, 2011

Marriage family therapists (MFT) are trained healthcare professionals that resolve emotion and psychological issues related to marriages, families, elderly and children. They usually work in private practices of their own or under a hospital. Their duties include assessing patients behavior and improving them with the aid of therapy models. Here is an example of the many issues therapist work with on their day to day careers from http://www.camft.org

  • Emotional stress or anxiety
  • Child behavior problems
  • Feelings of loneliness, isolation
  • Depression
  • Moodiness
  • Sexual disturbances
  • Unexplained fatigue
  • Unusual eating patterns
  • Unexplained injuries to family members
  • Excessive alcohol or drug use
  • Family conflict or tension
  • Divorce or separationing lifestyles
  • Fear, anger or guilt
  • Grief or emotional pain

There are many models of therapy such as group (a form of psychotherapy), cognitive-behavioral and psycho-analytical therapy.

Group therapy involves resolving psychological/emotional issues in a group setting while cognitive-behavioral therapy focuses on specific behavior. For instance, one patient may come in one day and would like to erase their fear of spiders. Reinforcements techniques of conditioning would be used by the therapist on the patient to gradually reduce their fear. Psycho-analytical therapy is the most dominantly perceived view of psychology. You’ve probably seen it on mass media. The patient lays on a comfy couch while a psychologist/therapist with a note pad is scribbling down important details the patients shares. This was the therapy introduced by Sigmund Freud. Some psychologists/therapists still use this while other practitioners have moved to more modern approaches. There are may be many politics with each model of therapy but provide the therapist a great tool kit to facilitate behavior modification and  improve lives.

What does it take to become a marriage family therapist?

Before you even think of school ask yourself…

Do I enjoy working with others? Do I find joy in seeing others grow and control their lives? Am I patient and empathetic enough to listen to a client and aid them?

If you answered yes to all of the above questions then you may have a great future as an MFT. Before you begin you are required to attend a 4 year college intuition majoring in something related to your future career. It is suggested to major in psychology since it provides a great foundation for psychology graduate studies. If you major in something else graduate school may be hesitant to let you enroll. In order to get past that hurdle find the nearest behavioral center or suicide hotline to volunteer at. Put in a few hundred hours to show graduate school that you have the experience and interest. After your  undergraduate studies are completed you are required to obtain a masters (2 years) in counseling psychology from an accredited school.  After your masters is completed the Board of Behavioral Sciences (BBS) requires you to get 3,000 hours of supervised therapy. You may also be required to get therapy as a way to familiarize yourself with the field and get screened. Once your hours are completed you are required to test for a license to practice as a health care professional.

Check your state on the requirements since policies and laws can always change.

How much do marriage-family therapists make annually (a year)?

On average MFTs make $45,720 a year and can make up to $72,280. For more information on how much you can make in your state being a MFT visit:  http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes211013.htm


What are the pros and cons of an Online Psychology Degree?

Tuesday, July 26th, 2011

Online Psychology Degree: The Pros, the Cons and the Program Structures

An online Psychology degree provides the easiest route to a rewarding career in Psychology. Whether you are interested in studying the behaviors of man or how the buying patterns can help boost an industry, taking up a course in Psychology can take you a long way.

Different Online Degrees in Psychology

Just like the traditional campus-based programs, most online Psychology schools offer bachelor’s degree courses. These are programs that generally take four years to complete and which qualify the graduates to entry-level positions. The typical bachelor’s degree courses in Psychology that are available online include Human Development, Abnormal Psychology, Clinical Psychology and Community Psychology.

As flexible as ever, some online Psychology schools also offer special programs that only take a minimum of one year to complete. These are certificate programs and associate’s degrees.

Graduate courses in Psychology are also available as online programs. Aside from these advanced studies, bachelor degree holders may choose to take their specializations in areas such as Anthropology, Child Psychology, Sociology and Industrial Psychology.

The Advantages

The obvious advantage of taking an online Psychology class is that it provides flexible options to anyone who wants to pursue a career in this field. As long as a student has a computer and a reliable internet connection, he can easily earn a degree even from the comforts of his home and at his own pace. Thus, he saves a considerable amount of time and money which are supposed to be spent on transportation.

In a typical online psychology class, the students will have an access to the virtual classroom or the “learning portal”. From there, they will learn their respective curricula based on their availability. There’s no real pressure as to when you need to complete the course; a fact which makes it a choice program for working students. That being said, an online class in Psychology can be tailor-made to suit the needs of the students.

The Drawbacks

While the programs ensure flexibility on the part of the students, the fact that they are holding only virtual classes remains the number one concern in distance learning systems such as the online Psychology schools. The physical presence of the laboratory facilities, professors and co-learners is taken out of the context, thereby detaching the students from the unique learning experience based on personal interactions. Psychology is a field that is highly people-oriented and by adopting a whole new concept of virtual learning, the students are missing out on this one crucial aspect of education.

Aside from the limited class interactions, online degree programs are also struggling from accreditation issues. There are some online Psychology courses that fail to comply with the educational standards set by the governing bodies, which in turn make the graduates ineligible to sit down for the licensure exams. To check which programs are accredited visit: http://www.bbs.ca.gov. It is also advised to ask the school adviser the accreditation of the school you are requesting information.

Finally, the online Psychology courses may not be able to provide a job network that is as strong and as large as the campus-based program’s. This problem has a lot to do with the virtual communication that is taking place in an online class; the students are not personally known to the professors. On the other hand, in a campus-based degree, the personal interactions with the authority figures help the students in getting good endorsements to employers. A way around this involves doing an internship relevant to your program for increased experience and the ability to network. If your not sure how to get an internship visit: How to get an internship.

Maximizing the Potential of Your Online Psychology Education

Filling the gaps in the online program can help you get the best out of the said college education. If possible, get more educational resources to enhance your knowledge. It is a good thing that some online schools also provide hybrid programs, or those that offer both online and campus-based learning sessions. Internships would usually take place by the end of the online Psychology degree, so you must make the most of it.

If an online degree may be the slightest interest to you then request information from a school today. Its important to begin your research early so you future career is already mapped out.

How to select a School and Degree program for Post Undergraduate Psychology Majors

Wednesday, December 22nd, 2010

Research! Research! Do your homework on what schools you want to get into before you apply. What interests you about this school and its program? Have you visited your dream school? Have you spoken with students and faculty? Have you contacted students in the program you would like to enter? These are all questions you need to ask yourself and answer. Here are some other resources and ideas to think about when selecting a school:

  • Look into the school homepage and what they suggest when applying for their post graduate programs
  • Is the grad school you applying to accredited? Review schools on www.gradschool.com. This site will give you information about schools and psychology graduate programs.
  • What activities does the faculty engage in? Besides teaching is the faculty conducting research and publishing their studies?
  • Ask your professors what else they looked into when selecting their dream grad school
  • The American Psychological Association publishes a magazine for graduate students called gradPSYCH. The information can be found here: www.apa.org/gradpsych
  • Look at what opportunities and activities are available for graduate students. Does the campus have an active Psi Chi club? Are there career advising resources and mentoring?

6 Things a Psychology Major needs when applying for Graduate School

Monday, August 30th, 2010

The decision on attending graduate school rests solely on you. In order to first get in you need about six things done on your check list. The checklist is dependent on what school you want to go to. Since some schools may not require a GRE score you may need to check their program requirements. Make sure to do research and email professors with your questions. Usually these are the six things which most graduate schools ask for:

  • A grade point average of 3.0 or higher. This depends on what program you are trying to enter. Some schools want students with 3.5s and will still have low acceptance rates in PhD programs.
  • Graduate Record Examination (GRE) and a score which the college allows for entrance
  • Three to four recommendation letters from professors or anything which will have weight and value when determining your acceptance into graduate school. For instance if you have experience in the Behavior Center it would be wise to have a recommendation letter detailing the hours you were there and the tasks which you did.
  • Experience in the field you are interested in such as an internship or volunteer work
  • A statement of intent is required to detail why you desire to further your education and comments about fluctuations in earlier academic years. For instance, someone close to you may have passed away which caused a strain on your education. Its important to detail this since graduate schools will get to know you in this statement.
  • Lastly you need your undergrad transcript signed by your school to make the document official

Transitioning from Undergraduate school to finding a Career or to Graduate school?

Tuesday, July 6th, 2010

The decision to attend graduate depends on your desire for advanced training. If you do not desire to go that is alright since there are jobs you can get just with a bachelors in psychology. Some of the jobs out there are:

This list is provided by http://psych.hanover.edu/handbook/bachpsy2.html.


1. Community Relations Officer: works either for business or government in promoting good relations with the local community.
2. Affirmative Action Officer: works for recruitment and equal opportunities for minorities; employed by business, industries, schools and government.
3. Recreation Worker: plans and supervises community recreation facilities. (Increasing number of opportunities available for therapeutic recreation workers, often requiring course work in therapeutic recreation.)
4. Urban Planning Officer: deals with city planning, renewal.
5. Personnel Administrator: works with employee relations, selection, promotions, etc.
6. Advertising copywriter: researches audience and media, writes text of advertisements.
7. Media Buyer: researches product and audiences to select most effective media for advertising.
8. Health Educator: gives public information about health and disease.
9. Vocational Rehabilitation: counsels persons with handicaps and illnesses in preparation for new vocations (some states require an M.A. degree for this position).
10. Psychiatric Technician/Assistant: administers routine tests, helps with patients under supervision of psychiatrist.
11. Director of Volunteer Service: responsible for volunteers-recruits, supervises, trains, and evaluates volunteers.
12. Public Statistician: collects and interprets data on health and disease and community relations.
13. Customs Inspector: serves at international borders and airports in investigations and inquiries.
14. Probation and Parole Officer: persons with psychology backgrounds are often preferred for such positions, especially with adolescent parolees.
15. Newspaper Reporter: social science, psychological interest areas.
16. Technical Writer: researches and writes material dealing with social science and psychological knowledge for magazines, newspapers and journals.
17. Sales Representative: major publishers of psychological books often seek out undergraduates with psychology majors for these positions on college campuses.
18. Opinion Survey Researcher: does opinion polls and interprets results.
19. Daycare Center Supervisor: supervises and coordinates activities of preschool children with working parents.
20. Research Assistant: assists in the collection and analysis of data for major investigations. Positions usually available only in large hospitals, businesses, and government.
21. Laboratory Assistant: psychology background preferred for students working with animal behavior research, especially primate laboratories.
22. Scientific Instrument Salesperson: opportunities in sales and development for companies specializing in psychology apparatus.

(To know how much each of these careers make annually simply visit www.bls.com and type in the job title)

Are you returning to school? Perhaps it’s been a year or a couple years. When you decide to return you need to renew you old network from university/college. You can also try going back and taking a few classes to meet professors. In order to go to graduate school you may need recommendation letters. Having professors that can recommend you for graduate school has value when the board of admissions is looking at your file. In your statement of intent you can address your many years away from school and why you desired to return. When writing your paper you can detail the many experiences you’ve gone through and what you have learned from them. For instance, if you took care of an elder family member you can say the experience taught you about time management. When returning to school also consider if you need to take the Graduate Record Examination (GRE).

How to network like a Psychology Major

Tuesday, July 6th, 2010

Psychology majors are usually social individuals dedicated to understanding human and animal behavior. Networking helps present opportunities that you wouldn’t have likely had. We will be telling you a couple ways to social network.

Take advantage of the psychology classes you will be taking. Get to know your classmates and professors. Get their contact information. Email your professors when you have questions about class or graduate school. Classmates will come in handy when studying for tests and doing projects.

Find a mentor for psychology. This mentor can be anyone who has the psychology career which you desire. They may be a Psychiatric Technician, Psychologist, or college professor. Having a mentor can be beneficial when choosing classes and when it comes time for getting letters of recommendation.

Become a great listener. Instead of waiting for the person talking to stop so you can say something pay attention to the content leaving their lips. Take notes to what you find informational. Ask a question and stay quiet till that person has finished.

The career center on campus can help you network by helping you get the contacts of previous students who found work and participated in internships related to your field.

Talk to everyone around in your environment. It’s alright if you’re shy. In class just say “hello” and ask them what they think about class. On the street ask them how their day is.

Join clubs such as Psy Chi. Psy Chi is the International Honors Society for Psychology. This club hosts great events to educate students on the area of psychology and interested in graduate studies.

Interviewing individuals in the psychology field of work is another great way to get career insight. Shadowing is also recommended. When you network well you will meet individuals who you can later call and they will be able to give you details of what they do.

Just remember that friends, family, classmates, former co-workers, and neighbors are all on your hit list of social networking!

How to find Volunteer work in the Psychology Area

Sunday, July 4th, 2010

Volunteer work for psychology gives a great opportunity to learn about the field and also make a difference.

Places you may want to volunteer:
• AIDS Counseling hot-line
• Suicide Prevention hot-line
• Teenage Runaways
• Serve as a research assistant (check with your school)
• As a camp counselor that works with developmentally delayed kids and children who are emotionally troubled
• In patient and out patient behavioral centers

Check with your psychology department and professors. They may be getting a new grant from the state government which would allow them to do research and allow students to participate. If you are unable to find any resourceful information on volunteering in the psychology area check on the internet. Simply type the above keyword and your area. Call the organization in your area and ask them if you can do some volunteer work. They should be more than happy to provide you with hours of experience.

This experience can then be used as a recommendation letter which will show graduate schools your familiarity with the field.

How to get an Internship

Sunday, July 4th, 2010

Having an internship is a great way to teach you more about your career path. At the end of the internship you may want to continue your career path or go a different route. It can also distinguish you from other students when applying to graduate school.

Here are some helpful ways to find them:

  • Visit the homepages of Universities/colleges.  Check to see if the school provides internships. Email professors at those schools asking about internships. Once you find applications just fill them out and wait
  • Check out the career center on campus
  • Look into non-profit organizations and social services organizations such as the Young Women Resource Center and Domestic Violence Alternatives
  • Do you have a dream company which you would like to work for? Check their homepage and see if they have internships you could take. This will be a great stepping stone  of experience with that company
  • Mentoring students or becoming a teaching assistant can help you get an internship
  • Speak to students in your major and alumni.
  • Networking. Ask around Tweet and Facebook!

Selecting a psychology program which will benefit your goals

Thursday, July 1st, 2010

Does the department program match what you want to do? Look into the program. If your into clinical work it would benefit you to ask about different programs available. Go to the main site and look for the department office. Call that number and ask about the programs. You should be redirected to a link which can inform you on the programs.

What is the student-to-faculty ratio? It’s important to consider this since you want quality attention from your professors. Try to establish a friendship between you and your professors. Make sure they know your name. This will benefit you later in your undergrad when you apply to graduate school and need recommendation letters.

Does the faculty publish and do research? Knowing this can provide you opportunities for research. If the department lacks publishing and research then it may not be as current.

Does the psychology department have a psychology club and do activities to encourage psychology students to go to graduate school? Continue your research by asking students and professors.

The most prominent and highly respected psychology club on campuses is the International Honor Society of Psychology. They are known as Psy Chi for short and have informative website: www.psichi.org

How do you know what psychology professors to take?

Taking professors in general can be a gamble since their teaching techniques may or not may be effective to the way you learn. You can try asking around about quality professors or check out the website:


This handy website is the opinions of many students on professors. The site provides rating scales and comments about professors teaching styles. Checking this resource could potentially save you money when buying books. Previous students may have used an older cheaper version of the book which is similar to the current edition a professor is using to teach class. So make the effort to look your professors up since you will get an heads up on what to expect.

Applying to a University/College first time, Transferring, or Returning to College

It’s your senior year of high school. Graduation is probably a year or a few months away. You’ve decided to further your education by going to a University/College and have dream list written out. You’ve researched psychology programs and know where you want to go. The time now is to apply. Some things you may need when applying:

• A college application which can be found on the schools website
• A grade point average (gpa) of 2.5 – 4.0
• An appropriate score on a college entrance exam
• Taken the Scholastic Aptitude Test and Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT) or the American College Test (ACT) and have a required score.

To learn more and take the test check out: www.collegeboard.com or www.act.org

• Letters of recommendations which will detail your positive traits
• A letter about yourself which you can describe some philanthropy (volunteer work) you’ve done and other transferable skills you can detail

How will you pay for school?

Monday, June 21st, 2010

There are a few ways to get your self through college. One is by applying for loans. These loans will pay for all your university/college expenses. The only issue with loans is that many of them have high interest levels. They will also only give you a few months to start paying once you graduate. Many people have taken this route and are slowing paying their loans with payment plans. Another option is working and going to school. This option is harder but can be done with effective time management. Expect to be studying longer than the average 4 years it takes for a bachelors. It takes two years for a masters and three more for a PH.d. If you jump from bachelors to Ph.d program it will take 5-7 years of school. The last years will be all internships and accumulating hours before your set loose to work.

A great site to use in the United States for Federal Student Aid: www.fafsa.ed.gov.


This site will help you fill in tax and lifestyle information which will then access if you can receive free money from the government. If you’re an independent student who does not live with parents your more likely to get federal funding as opposed to living at home. If your parents make more than 100k then you will be unable to get free money. Your school may also require you to fill in the FAFSA application. So take a look at that link.

Funding Options

Paying for school is a very expensive investment. State schools in America cost 10-15k every year while private schools can go up to 20-30k a year. Internationally school may be cheaper. Do research so you can see the exact costs! You can also try looking into your school and see if they provide funding. Some schools will pay you to study. All you need to do is fill a prerequisite such as a grade point average or enter a program specific to your area of study.

You can also take the free money route and apply for scholarships/grants. Your acceptance to these awards are dependent on the their guideline. For more information on scholarships please sign up to our email list or visit the website www.fastweb.com

What areas of work are there for psychology majors once they graduate?

Monday, June 21st, 2010

Follow your interests. If you don’t focus on what you are truly interested in then there will be a lack of motivation once you are in the real world working. You can listen to family members and friends on what career to choose but at the end the decision is yours. This is something you want to spend lots of time doing. Money is a motivation when it comes to choosing a career but your interests are what will push you to wake up every morning for work. It won’t even feel like a push it will be a feeling of enthusiasm and excitement to start the day and see what you can accomplish.

  • Psychology of gender- studies gender development
  • Social- studies beliefs and how they are shaped
  • School- the development of students is studied pertaining to emotional and academic growth
  • Neuroscience- studies the nervous system
  • Health- studies weight loss, gain, stress, and smoking on the body
  • Forensic psychology- analyzes issues related to law enforcement
  • Industrial/organizational- studies the psychology of work and management
  • Gerontology/Developmental- studies concerns pertaining to aging
  • Counseling- studies behavior at work, school, and home
  • Clinical- treats mental and emotional problems at behavioral centers
  • Family- studies marital and family concerns
  • Rehabilitation- studies recovery from drug use and trauma
  • Quantitative- conducts research for universities/colleges, companies and government organizations
  • Environmental- studies the environment and the affect people have on it.

How much do psychology majors make after they graduate?

Monday, June 21st, 2010

Money is often a concern when getting a job in any career. What’s the salary annually? Will you be able to support yourself? Theses are all questions to figure out when getting into any field of work. Individuals with PhD’s in psychology and private practices can make up to 5 to 6 figures. Usually the more schooling received indicates more training and constitutes for a higher salary.

You may choose to major in psychology and then continue schooling in graduate school. Don’t continue graduate studies because you don’t know what else to do or it’s the next step. Do it because you are interested in advancing yourself academically/training and career wise in the field of psychology. When it comes to how much a career makes we are not the authority but this helpful site is:


The above link stands for the Bureau of Labor Statistics. According to the current statistics for Psychologists:

  • About 34 percent of psychologists are self-employed, mainly as private practitioners and independent consultants.
  • Employment growth will vary by specialty; for example, clinical, counseling, and school psychologists will have 11 percent growth; industrial-organizational psychologists, 26 percent growth; and 14 percent growth is expected for all other psychologists.
  • Acceptance to graduate psychology programs is highly competitive.
  • Job opportunities should be the best for those with a doctoral degree in a sub-field, such as health; those with a master’s degree will have good prospects in industrial-organization; bachelor’s degree holders will have limited prospects.


Median annual wages of clinical, counseling, and school psychologists were $64,140 in May 2008. The middle 50 of that percent earned between $48,700 and $82,800. The lowest 10 percent of workers earned less than $37,900, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $106,840. Median annual wages in the industries employing the largest numbers of clinical, counseling, and school psychologists were:

Offices of other health practitioners $68,400
Elementary and secondary schools 65,710
State government 63,710
Outpatient care centers 59,130
Individual and family services 57,44

Median annual wages of wage and salary industrial-organizational psychologists were $77,010 in May 2008. The middle 50 percent earned between $54,100 and $115,720. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $38,690, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $149,120.

If you would like to look up any career in the psychology field such as Marriage-Family Therapist simply type the title on the website and click search.

What kinds of classes do psychology majors take?

Monday, June 21st, 2010

Heres an example of a psychology planned schedule taken from San Jose State Univeristy, California. http://www.sjsu.edu/psych/

Year Semester 1 Semester 2
1 Engl 1A (GE Area A2)Psyc 1 (General Psychology) (GE Area D1)

2 Core GE classes (Area A1 and E)

Bio 21 (GE Area B2/3)

Kin class (PE)

Meet with a Psychology Advisor

16 units

Engl 1B (GE Area C3)Statistics 95 (GE Area B4)

core GE class (Area B1: ?Chem 30A?)

1 Core GE Classes (Area A3)

Kin class (PE)

Register for WST at the end of the semester

16 units

2 Psyc 30 (intro to psychobiology)Support course (?Chem 1B or 30B?)

2 Core GE Classes (Area C1 and C2)

Area F1-2-3 Class (part A)

Meet with a Psychology Advisor

Pass WST by the end of the semester

15 units

Psyc 102 (Child Psychology)Psyc 110 (Abnormal Psychology)

Psyc 154 (Social Psychology)

1 open elective or supporting course

Area F 1-2-3 Class (part B)

15 units

3 Psyc 100W (Writing course dealing with APA Format) (SJSU Studies area Z)Psyc 139 (psychology of personality)

1 Psyc Elective (LD or UD)

2 open electives (or supporting courses)

15 units

Psyc 120 (Advanced Research Method Designs)Psyc 129 (Neuroscience) or 160 (Clinical) or 170 Industrial/Organizational

2 classes from: Psyc 135 (cognition) or 155 (human learning) or 158 (perception)

SJSU Studies R course (e.g., Bio 101 or Phil 160)

File for Graduation

15 units

4 Psyc 117 (Test and Measures) (or Stat 115)Psyc 121 a, b, or c

1 Psychology Elective (UD)

1 SJSU Studies V Course (e.g., Phil 110)

1 open elective or supporting course

14 units

Psyc 190 (current issues in capstone) in c or 195 (honors seminar on psychology)Psyc 121 a, b, or c

1 SJSU Studies S Course

Stat 115 (or Psyc 117)

1 open elective or supporting course

14 units

As an undergraduate you will be taking general education courses. Some of them can be psychology such an introductory class or a statistics class.

Statistics is a class you are required to take to fulfill your major. In the past you may have learned about mean, mode, and median. This class will go further by teaching you about z, t tests, ANOVAs and using a graphing application for data. Knowing these forms of test can give a researcher a lot of information about a sample group. It also helps to see if the data was statistically significant.

You will also be taking some lecture courses and laboratory courses. The lectures will be a sit and learn type of class while the lab course will be hands on approach to learning. Laboratory assignments will have you conduct simple to advanced experiments on selected populations. For one laboratory assignment you maybe asked to form a group then pick a study to do. Your group partners and you will write a lab report using previous studies relating to the topic. Lab reports have a cover sheet, abstract, introduction, methods, results, discussion, and a references sheet. It’s important to take these statistic classes and an advanced research methods class since this information is heavily used when conducting experiments and if you want to go to graduate school it helps for prerequisites.

As you begin taking more psychology courses one or two classes in particular should interest you. This course should become your focus if you’d like to pursue it as a career. Psychology is a broad subject that can be applied to many areas of life. Here are some examples of careers.

  • Do you enjoy being around children? Then look into child psychology. You could one day work as a school psychologist.
  • Are you fascinated with drugs and the effect they have on the brain? Then look into Neuroscience. You could be in the lab doing experiments with rats comparing a drug and a placebo.
  • Do you have a mindset for business but want to apply psychology in that setting? Then look into industrial organizational psychology. You could be working in corporate setting making sure everyone is working to their highest potential.
  • Do you enjoy new experiences and have the empathy to work in a behavioral health center? Look into clinical psychology. You would be in an inpatient clinic helping individuals deal with the recent stress that has entered their lives.
  • Are you curious on testing things and seeing if it has a significant impact? Look into research in psychology.

What can you do with a major in psychology?

Monday, June 21st, 2010

Psychology is the study of human behavior, animal behavior, and their mental functions. It is considered a science, philosophy and art by those employed in the field of psychology. The main goal of psychology is to describe, explain, predict, and control behavior and mental processes. Successful psychology majors become critical thinkers, analytical, gain skills at evaluating information; they develop writing skills and high level research skills.

When deciding to major in psychology it is important to understand the many sub fields and specializations in psychology since it’s such a broad major. These areas of psychology include statistics, organization/industrial, clinical, neuroscience, cognitive, behavioral, social, developmental, and educational. There are many career options for an undergraduate psychology major to pursue.

Before you fully decide to become a psychology major you need to decide if it truly is an area you want to devote time into. If you enjoy helping individuals going through personal problems, listening to them, interviewing/testing, enjoy analyzing and collecting data, being social, creative, learning about human and animal behavior then psychology is a career path for you!

You may be in high school or just starting college as freshmen (first year) or sophomore (second year). Take an introductory class for psychology or take it in high school. It would also help to request information from universities providing psychology as bachelors, masters, ph.d. Its never too early to start your future.

If you are unsure what direction you should take career wise then understand that choosing a major can be difficult at times. Know that your goal is to do something you are interested,  enjoy doing, and providing value. Your career decisions should make you feel motivated and satisfied otherwise their just stress for a salary.

If psychology is interesting but not worthy as a major than you can also minor in it. You also have the option to double major. What’s important is figuring out a path of classes to take to further your progress at a bachelors degree. To gain more information on narrowing your choice talk to individuals that work the field you are interested in, school advisers, individuals already in college/university, and internet resources such as a university website or keep reading this website.

After graduating from a degree in Psychology, most fresh graduates are having a hard time finding a job that really suits them. According to surveys, many fresh graduates had the wrong idea that becoming a psychology major would just be their stepping stone towards higher education like having a Ph.D.

Most fresh graduates do not realize that there are many choices of careers from having a bachelor’s degree to as high as having a doctorate degree in psychology. Having a psychology degree provides a lot of job opportunities.


First, you can apply as a psychometrist or clinician. A clinician is someone who administers psychological testing and scores them. They work under a licensed psychologist and are not allowed to interpret test results or give clinical assessments. Psychometrists could work under the clinical setting wherein one has to administer clinical tests to patients or under the organizational setting wherein they administer tests to applicants, employees, and/ or students. To be qualified, you must be of course a graduate of Clinical Psychology and has extensive knowledge about administration and scoring of standardized tests. Salary ranges by state but you could expect an average base pay of around $ 10,000 to $20,000. This quotation is for less experienced psychometrists.

Substance abuse counselor

From having a bachelor’s degree in psychology, you could also try to be a substance abuse counselor. This is one of the fastest growing careers in the United States wherein one works with clients who are addicted to alcohol, cocaine, or any other illegal drugs. To be qualified, you have to be of firm and strong personality as patients are undergoing recovery and thus, suffer from withdrawal symptoms. Other state laws require certification or licensure to be a substance abuse counselor. The base pay of a substance abuse counselor ranges from $25,000 to $40.000 depending on the state and years of experience.

Psychiatric technician

In the clinical setting, another career you could opt to choose is being a psychiatric technician. Also look into certified nurse assistants (CNA) since these positions work in the same environment with less than a year of training. Psy Techs are in charge of the patient’s overall mental wellness by reporting the patient’s mental and emotional state to a medical staff. They assist in the personal hygiene, rehabilitation programs and administering of oral and injectable medications to mentally ill patients. This could be a physically demanding job but it offers a good average base pay of $22,000 to $47,000.

Human resource personnel

Another entry-level job of having a psychology degree is the human resource personnel position. This is for people who prefer the organizational setting over the clinical setting. The main task of human resource personnel is to assist the human resource manager in implementing policies and strategies throughout the company or organization. The human resource workforce is the backbone of a successful company because this group of individuals works together in screening and recruiting the best applicants. One of its main duties is to also maintain good performance and behavior of its employees. The base pay of human resource personnel on the entry level ranges from $10,000 to $30,000.

There is a wide range of career opportunities from having a psychology degree. The task of choosing one’s career could be overwhelming to some that’s why one needs a thorough and careful research of which career path to choose. You could start by knowing what your interests are and how you envision yourself working. However, if you decide to take your education one notch higher, there are more available careers to psychology graduates of a master’s degree.

Marriage and family therapist

A popular career in the clinical setting is becoming a marriage and family therapist (MFT). This requires masters in science or arts, licensure, and thousands of intern hours. They work in hospital settings sometimes beside psychiatrists and social workers while other times in their own private practices. Their focus is facilitating behavioral change in the marriage and family sphere. Their average pay ranges from $40,000 to $70,000.

Masters in clinical psychology

Second is a master’s degree in Clinical Psychology. You don’t need any further graduate study in Clinical Psychology but you need to be licensed before you could go to practice. However, under the supervision of a licensed clinical psychologist, you could already provide psychotherapy and psychological assessments. The main duty of a clinical psychologist involves improvement in the psychological well – being of the patients and make positive changes on overall mental health. He or she works along with other professionals to provide various forms of treatments. They work with clients of all ages with different mental illnesses like schizophrenia, behavior and eating disorders, neurological disorders and depression. For a starting career, expect a base pay of around $50,000 to $70,000.

Experimental psychologists

Third is a master’s degree in experimental psychology. This is a degree wherein students are being prepared for further graduate study.  One could be a laboratory manager, research assistant and part of a marketing research team. This is not a terminal degree. Meaning, students can focus on a specialty area like developmental, cognitive and social psychology.

The human behavior and mental processes are very complex that we need experimental psychologists to study it in different contexts. The main task of an experimental psychologist is to conduct a pilot study on a chosen field or subject before pushing through with the major study. Experimental psychologists work on different settings such as clinical, business, organizational and educational setting. For the least experienced, the base pay is around $30,000 to $75,000 depending on the sector of employment and location. Salary could go as high as $80,000 for those who are more experienced.

Of course, one needs an exceptional understanding of the different psychological research methods and has outstanding communication skills. An excellent writing skill is also important because this job also includes writing in academic journals and studies.

Lastly, one could consider having a master’s degree in applied psychology. Under applied psychology, students could find a career in forensic psychology, sports psychology and industrial and organizational psychology or prefer a teaching position instead. It is suggested by the U.S Department of Labor that there is higher opportunity for students in the applied psychology field because they could work directly on their specialty area.

Forensic psychologists

Forensic psychology works in between psychology and the criminal justice system. The forensic psychologist must understand the standards of the American justice system in order to be a credible witness. The court designates the forensic psychologist as an expert witness and is duly assigned to evaluate if the defendant is competent in standing trial. This is to prove the mental state of the defendant when the offense was done. The task of a forensic psychologist is to prove if the accused is sane or insane through psychological questioning and testing. A forensic psychologist is also expected to translate his or her psychological findings in legal terms. They provide treatment recommendations, evaluate the defendant’s risk in behavior, determine if the witness is credible and recommend months or years of sentencing.

Forensic psychologists usually work with the police force, law enforcement personnel, the State attorney, and public defenders. Salary varies in different states but usually averages from $45,000 to $75,000. Again, salary depends on years of experience.

Sports psychologist

In sports psychology, the sports psychologist is concerned on the effects of physical activity to the psychological health and performance of athletes. These psychologists work on the academic level and serve as consultants for sports teams. Sports psychologists work along with training coaches in developing rehabilitation and team building programs. They also provide counseling to athletes who undergo career transitions. The base pay of a sports psychologist usually averages from $40,000 to $70,000.

I-O psychologists

Industrial and organizational psychology on the other hand, involves studying behavior in the workplace. The industrial and organizational psychologist or I-O Psychologist is geared towards the improvement of each employee’s productivity and motivation. They develop trainings and assess employees to further enhance the company’s workforce.

One of the I-O psychologist’s main duties is to match personalities of employees in different job positions. For example, employee A has an outgoing personality and has high social building skills, the I-O psychologist matches employee A to a better fitting job within the company like in sales or marketing.

An I-O psychologist also exerts effort on resolving employment issues to ensure that there is balance within the workplace. Thus gives the company’s employees a sense of stability, responsibility and happiness in their positions. Happy workers yield happy results.

I-O psychologists could also work as a consultant for different companies. This increases earning potential to as high as $100,000.

School counselors

For those who prefer teaching or working in the educational setting, educational psychology, school psychology, and school counseling are the options to choose from. These positions are concerned on the overall mental welfare of the school’s employees and students.

School counselors work with troubled children, those with problems at home and in school. They help parents in addressing the concerns of the child. Base pay for a school counselor is around $50,000 annually. Earning potential could be increased with curriculum development.

Educational psychologists

Psychologists who develop learning materials and understand the aspects of human learning are called educational psychologists. They could for example enhance one’s reading skills through a developed or new technique. They also assess the effects of educational interventions to learning and development. Most educational psychologists focus on gifted children and those with disabilities. They study individual differences in terms of intelligence, creativity, motivation and cognitive style. This is a profession that also works at a strategic level to carry out research in improving a school’s educational policy. Their base pay is around $66,000 to $108,000 depending on the state and years of experience.

These are the common jobs offered in having a bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in psychology. While most opportunities offer high compensation, it is much more fulfilling that you earn, learn and help other people at the same time.

For further professional advancement, one could study for a Ph. D or Psy D. This is a major step that needs realization of one’s goals and commitment. It is a major achievement that is not for everyone. A GPA of 3.5 or higher increases your chance of being accepted. Since you will be investing in a lot of time and money, assess yourself of your abilities, and level of commitment before making a decision.


After completing medical school, a doctor of psychiatry specializes in the treatment of severely disturbed patients. Requirements on being a doctor of psychiatry differ from state to state. Others may only require a bachelor’s degree while some states need you to finish medical school before being qualified. Psychiatrists tend to be the most prestigious achievement among mental health professionals. Average base pay of a doctor of psychiatry ranges from $153,000 to $228,000.

Clinical psychologist

An average clinical psychologist’s salary ranges from $50,000 to $85,000. Expect your salary to be on the higher end since you already have your Psy. D.

The doctor of philosophy in psychology or Ph.D on the other hand is the higher level of expertise in doctors. It requires 3-6 years of study beyond bachelor’s degree and 2-4 years of study beyond master’s degree. There are many areas of specialization for a Ph. D graduate. Earnings will highly depend on the chosen field. Advanced level of health psychologists for example receives an annual pay of around $ 85,000.

So what are the advantages and disadvantages of having a bachelor’s, masters and doctorate degree in psychology?

Graduate schools require more time and needs a higher level of commitment in terms of work and intellectual energy. However, master’s degree gives a lot of choices in terms of changing career paths while having a Ph. D requires focus on a certain field. Master’s degree also allows specialization within a field and requires lesser time than Ph. D.

The world of psychology is very vast as it works on studying the human mind and behavior. There are thousands of psychology related jobs everywhere but these are the common positions that companies are looking for. It is without doubt that having a psychology degree is one of the best degrees that offer good salary and career satisfaction as well. Here are a few tips before choosing which career is best suited for you:

A psychology degree can be a rewarding and challenging career path. So before pursuing a career, it is best to know your interests and visualize yourself on what you want to become in the future. Make a thorough research of the position you will be applying for because every decision made will determine your career.

Here’s a nice list of careers one can venture in after getting a psychology degree.