Psychology is a very general science relating to our understanding of the human mind and how it works. There are countless different areas of study in this field, all focusing on various aspects of our minds and the ways we interact with others. Some careers in psychology can be had with just a bachelor’s degree, while others require a PhD and potentially even more specialized training after that.
If you’re thinking about studying psychology and are curious about some of the job opportunities that will be available to you, here are the top 6 careers in psychology for college graduates:
Thanks to its glorification through television and movies, forensic psychology is one of the hottest careers out there right now.
Forensic psychology is the intertwined relationship between psychology and criminal justice. In most cases you will be working with criminals and the court system to determine competency, suggest recommended sentencing terms and deciding whether individuals are likely to re-offend after their release. A common day could be spent meeting with subjects in a mental health facility, detention center or even in the courtroom. The starting pay may not be extremely high, but the increases can be substantial as you venture further into your career. Depending on your position and the level of education that you have achieved, pay ranges from a starting point of around $40,000 to over $100,000 per year.
When most people think of careers in psychology, they likely think of sitting in an office or lab meeting with clients or conducting research. The image of working for a large Fortune 500 company rarely is the first thought that pops into their minds, but in reality, this is exactly where to find some of the best paying jobs in the psychology field. Industrial psychologists average nearly $100,000 per year and focus on solving workplace issues. Based on your background in psychology, you will spend your days developing training and employee programs, as well as utilizing your skills to identify the applicants best suited for specific positions or job openings.
Over the past decade, more than ever, career counselors have been in high demand. To be successful in this field you do not necessarily need an advanced psychology degree, but instead must have a strong ability to work with others and help them determine the ideal path for their professional lives. Career counselors have traditionally been found in schools helping students mold their plans following graduation from high school or college, but today we’re seeing more and more instances of career counselors being used in the private sector as well. Some people choose to work as independent counselors meeting with clients who seek out their help, while others work within large companies to help mitigate the effects of downsizing on employees who have been let go. As a career counselor, you will primarily be focused on helping others determine the ideal career path for their lives, identify the goals that need to be achieved in order to successfully enter into the career of their choosing, and help keep them remain accountable for their progress along the way. The average salary for a career counselor is around $45,000.
Engineering psychology is the study of how we interact with technology and the steps that can be taken to improve those interactions. Engineering psychology is one of the numerous careers in psychology that is in demand in the corporate world. With an average salary that tops $100,000 per year, many large corporations hire engineering psychologists in order to improve their products or services. Common practice among engineering psychologists is to conduct research and focus groups with consumers to better understand how they interact with technology and develop design or interface changes that should be made in order to improve the customer’s experience and increase a business’ success in the marketplace through consumer perception.
Becoming a genetics counselor means that you not only need to have a thorough understanding of psychology, but also of the medical field. Genetics counselors earn, on average, around $70,000 a year through their research and work. Some of the more common tasks for a genetics counselor can be meeting with individuals to discuss particular genetic conditions and how they will affect their lives, the likelihood of developing problems later on in life and the potential for parents to pass genetic defects on to their offspring. You must be familiar with a wide range of different genetic conditions as well as with genetic testing and results.
Without a doubt, one of the most challenging careers in psychology to enter into is child psychiatry. Although a PhD in psychology is needed, along with eight years of training (just as with a medical doctor) following the schooling, the rewards are substantial. Not only can you be mentally rewarded from your efforts to help improve the lives of children, but the financial benefits are huge as well. The average child psychiatrist can earn $150,000 - $200,000 per year, with many that operate their own private practices easily earning $500,000 annually. As a child psychiatrist, most of your time will be spent working with children facing emotionally and mentally disturbing problems. In order to be effective in the field, you must be comfortable working with children that have been the victim of crimes such as sexual abuse and violence. While many people find this a challenging thing to deal with on a daily basis, others find the fact that they’re helping rebuild these children’s futures as one of the most rewarding things in their lives.
Regardless of whether you plan to go to school for four years, or for eight or more, there are a number of high-paying careers in the psychology field. Depending on your personal interests, you could work with educational institutions, private medical practices or even large multi-national companies. Long gone are the days where the public’s perception of careers in psychology is limited to clinic psychologists and the like. Today, there are a number of different job opportunities out there that a degree in psychology will prepare you for that are much more diverse than the common Sigmund Freud-based perception of the science that many people have.