"What can I do with a degree in psychology?"
One of the most common myths about the psychology major is that you can't do anything with a Bachelor's degree in psychology. It is true that you cannot be a psychologist without pursuing a more advanced degree, but you do have many other options. In fact, with your undergraduate degree in psychology, as well as a well-planned use of electives, you can prepare yourself for a variety of career paths.
Typically we see psychology majors take one of five general paths after graduation:
Graduate school in psychology. Approximately 10-15% of undergraduates in psychology pursue a more advanced degree. Admission into graduate programs in psychology tends to be highly competitive. Often, graduate students entering these programs have taken time off to gain more work experience and assure themselves of their goals.
Graduate school in other fields. A number of psychology Bachelors apply for, and are admitted into, graduate study in a wide variety of other fields including law, medicine, and business. The psychology degree is a liberal arts degree which requires the study of math and science, as well as a broad range of electives. Thus, with the proper use of electives and a good academic record, you have a good chance of being admitted to these programs.
Paraprofessional human service jobs. Do you like working with people? Many recent graduates report holding jobs as mental health workers, counselors as residential treatment centers, workers at crisis centers, or in social service settings. You will make yourself more marketable for these jobs if you get some type of field placement experience while you are a student. These positions are often a great experience and/or a launching pad to other types of careers.
Jobs in non-psychology areas for which psychology is a good background. You like working with people, but you don't want to work in a care taking capacity. How about working in law enforcement, or with the personnel aspects of business, or as a religious counselor? Psychology could be a good background for these types of careers.
Entry into a variety of other, unrelated fields. This category encompasses the melting pot of psychology majors (and other undergraduate majors) who opt to find whatever job they can, or who enter careers suited to their individual skills and interests. A list of these sorts of jobs would fill many pages.
Other Thoughts to Consider The bachelors degree in psychology is not job training and does not pretend to be. Hopefully, our graduates have learned how to learn, which is a valuable skill to carry into the future. Often, it is a good idea to get additional work experience outside of school (e.g., internships in the summer or volunteer work). These experiences may make you more marketable initially, but knowing how to learn will carry you further down that path.
Virtually all psychology graduates, no matter what career paths they follow initially, tend to show upward mobility over time in the job market. But it is important to get in touch with your goals. Do you want to make a lot of money? Do you want to work with people or gain more education? These basic questions have implications for your choices of careers.
While you are in college, use your time wisely. Explore. Expose yourself to what is available to help you investigate your career options. As your career options become clearer, start doing some more planning. Set some potential goals for yourself and formulate steps to achieve them.
Draw on your different experiences as well as your degree to make yourself marketable. Make yourself a unique candidate.
As a CSU student, you have access to The Career Center. The Career Center is where you can get individualized assistance in your career planning. Drop-in hours are Monday - Friday from 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM (No appointment is necessary). The Career Center is located in the Lory Student Center Next to Sweet Sinsations. If you would like to set up an appointment please call 970.491.5707. Judy Brobst is the Career Center Liaison for the College of Natural Sciences. Services offered: Information on internship and volunteer experiences, resume development, choosing/changing majors, graduate school, on-line assessments, job search skills, etc.
Internet Resources on Education and Careers in Psychology
There are many resources and tips on career planning that may be found on the web. Here are a few links to get you started in your browsing...
LearnPsychology - After Graduation guide to non-Psych Jobs
Marky Lloyd's Careers in Psychology page http://www.psywww.com/careers/index.htm