What Can I Do With a Psychology Degree?

by | 11 Jan, 2019 | Blog Articles, Psychology Articles

Students in line, wearing graduation cap

A degree in Psychology opens the door to many different opportunities, not all of which relate directly to the study of the mind.

In this blog post, we explore the different paths a Psychology degree can lead to, considering everything from different types of psychologist to a career in human resources.

Lecturer or Teacher

It might seem like a stereotypical graduate job, but that’s only because it’s one of the most popular! Year after year, students fall in love with the amazing subject matter of their degrees and want to impart their knowledge of and love for Psychology to the next generation of students. It truly is a wonderful and rewarding career to pursue!

Whether you are looking to teach at secondary school or lecture at your old university, a career in education will need more than just an undergraduate degree in Psychology.

For those aspiring to become a schoolteacher, you will need to complete a Postgraduate Certificate of Education (PGCE) after your Bachelor’s in Psychology, along with Initial Teacher Training (ITT). However, if you’re more vocationally minded, on-the-job training schemes such as Teach First are also an option after your undergraduate Psychology degree.

Once you’re in the door as a Psychology teacher, you can expect to be planning lessons for your students—in line with the national curriculum—and preparing them for exam and life success.

On the other hand, to become a lecturer, you will need to study Psychology to a PhD level or equivalent. You may also need to complete additional training, depending on the requirements of the university you go on to lecture at.

Lecturing itself is a varied and rewarding job and is well worth the investment for those interested in academia. Not only will you be wholly responsible for creating and delivering lectures, seminars, and tutorials to students, but you will likely also have the opportunity to conduct your own Psychology research within the university, which brings us onto our next career path…

Researcher

While most lecturers will also work part-time as researchers for the Psychology department of their university, if you find yourself aspiring to a more research-focused career, many private or public organisations and charities will be more than happy to offer you a career in their labs.

Psychology researchers work on projects and experiments to help expand our knowledge of how the mind works. This could be in any aspect of the field, including social, cognitive or developmental psychology, or neuroscience—wherever your interests lie.

The path to become a researcher is similar to that of a lecturer. After your undergraduate Psychology degree, you’ll need to complete a Master’s and a Doctorate in Psychology. Ideally, these should be research-focused degrees in an area relevant to the one you would like to work in later.

Educational Psychologist

For those of you who want to work within the educational environment but are looking for something a little different to lecturing or conducting research, this might be the perfect career.

Educational psychologists work with children and young people who are experiencing difficulties in school or during social activities. This could be because of learning difficulties, emotional challenges or social issues. They assess children’s needs and suggest and develop systems to support them in their education. This means educational psychologists also work with schools, teachers, and parents.

As with the other career paths listed so far, becoming an educational psychologist requires you to complete postgraduate training and be registered with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC).

This means you’ll need to complete a BPS accredited Master’s and Doctorate in Educational Psychology after your undergraduate degree (which also needs to be BPS accredited). Most Psychology degrees nowadays are accredited, but you may still want to check.

Before applying for jobs in this field, however, you should gain some experience in education, healthcare, and/or social work to bolster your application. For most people, this will take the form of care work or counselling volunteering, both of which make great choices for extracurricular activities you could take on while studying for your Bachelor’s in Psychology (only if you feel you have the time, of course).

Clinical Psychologist

While pursuing your work experience, you may find that you particularly enjoy working in a clinical environment or with vulnerable individuals. If that sounds like you, then this might be your ideal job!

Clinical psychologists work with clients who have various psychological conditions, including mental illnesses, neurological disorders, or learning disabilities. They work with individual children or adults, or even groups such as families or couples. Their role is to assess and monitor the needs of their clients, and then create treatment programmes for them and offer therapy.

To become a clinical psychologist, you’ll need to complete a Master’s and a Doctorate in Clinical Psychology after your undergraduate Psychology degree. As with many of the careers in this list, you’ll need approval from the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) to practice clinical psychology. 

Two women sitting across an office desk from a human resources employee

Occupational Psychologist

Perhaps you don’t enjoy the idea of a clinical or educational career, and would rather work in an office environment. Occupational psychologists work with businesses and organisations, either via a consulting agency or as an employee of that organisation. They tackle issues such as work culture, efficiency and employee satisfaction. By collaborating with human resources (HR), management and employees, occupational psychologists effect positive change within a professional setting.

Working in this area could involve a range of responsibilities, including designing work environments, being involved in selecting and assessing candidates for jobs, or providing coaching and guidance to employees.

Once again, you must be registered with the HCPC to work as an occupational psychologist. To do this, you will need to complete a BPS accredited Master’s in Occupational Psychology after your undergraduate Psychology degree. Then, you’ll also need to complete stage 2 of the BPS Qualification in Occupational Psychology. This is a doctoral qualification, during which you’ll work as a trainee occupational psychologist for at least two years.

Human Resources (HR)

Want something similar to occupational psychology, but working more closely with employees? Perhaps HR is right for you.

HR teams in larger firms will be responsible for recruiting the right candidate for a job, as well as making sure that staff performance and welfare is at its best. Essentially, it is all about the people in an organisation. This will involve working with many departments and managers across the company.

HR positions do not traditionally require a specific degree, although a Bachelor’s in Psychology can be a good way to get your foot in the door. For some more senior positions, you might need to also work towards a Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) accredited qualification. This can be completed at any time, even while you are working in an entry-level HR position. It’s a career path with nearly infinite freedom for progression, and it allows you to work for companies in lots of different fields.

Forensic Psychologist

The wildcard in our list, forensic psychologists work with the judicial and penal systems to assess and treat criminals. They’re responsible for examining the risk of a criminal re-offending, monitoring their mental health, developing appropriate treatments and rehabilitation programmes where appropriate.

Another aspect of working in forensic psychology is aiding criminal investigations. This involves creating a likely criminal profile and processing evidence from the crime scene. No two days are ever the same in forensic psychology, and it has become an increasingly popular career choice in recent years.

To become a forensic psychologist, you’ll need to complete a Master’s in Forensic Psychology after your BPS accredited undergraduate psychology degree. You’ll then need to complete stage 2 of the BPS Qualification in Forensic Psychology, which requires at least two years of practice while working as a trainee forensic psychologist.

This list is, of course, not definitive. Really, the answer to ‘what can I do with a psychology degree?’ is whatever you want to do! However, if you’d like some more guidance on career paths that might be suitable for a Psychology degree, take a look at the Prospects’ careers quiz options to find different career options based on your interests.

 

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