Is a Psychology Degree Worth It? [2021 Guide]

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Is a psychology degree worth it? If you want to learn what shapes people’s thoughts and behaviors, then you’ll likely find psychology to be a fascinating topic that’s worth studying.

Is a Psychology Degree Worth It

The lessons you learn in a psychology program may translate to jobs in social services, criminal justice, education, business and other sectors. They can also prepare you for graduate studies in psychology or a related field.

Is a Psychology Degree Worth It?

psychologist listening to her patient

Yes, a psychology degree is worth it for many students. With an average salary of $80,370 and 3% job growth (Bureau of Labor Statistics), a degree in psychology can help you launch a career in this social science field.

Common psychology careers include psychologist, psychiatric technician, correctional treatment specialist, social worker, and human resources specialist. Perhaps you’re thinking about a psychology degree because you want a job as a therapist or a psychologist. A bachelor’s degree can provide a strong start for that career path.

Most therapy and counseling positions require a master’s degree, and being a psychologist depends on having a doctorate. Admissions committees for such programs may appreciate that your undergrad work was in the psychology field.

Don’t think, though, that you won’t be able to start helping people until you’ve completed graduate studies. There are many entry-level opportunities for those with a bachelor’s degree. For example, you could work alongside a licensed professional as a psychiatric technician or aide.

Some states allow people with a bachelor’s degree to become licensed as substance abuse counselors.

Psychology can also be a useful bachelor’s program for human and social service jobs. You might start as a social worker or an assistant. Being a social worker may require additional training, but your psychology degree can provide a good start.

Your background in psychology could also help you become a probation officer or a correctional treatment specialist who helps offenders get back on the right track.

Psychology can even be useful for launching a career in business. Knowing how people think and behave may help you negotiate contracts, settle disputes, sell products, communicate with investors, make loan decisions, raise funds or interview job candidates.

How to Decide Whether a Psychology Degree is Right for You

Psychologist with a group of people during group therapy

Psychology is an interesting topic, so many college students consider making it their major.

1. You want to help people.

Counseling is one of the most popular career paths for people who study psychology.

If your eventual goal is to get a doctorate and become a licensed psychologist, then a bachelor’s degree in psychology can be a smart way to start your college journey. Counseling or clinical psychologists work one-on-one with clients or run group therapy sessions.

Even if you don’t want to become a full-fledged psychologist, there are plenty of other ways to help people with a psychology degree.

You could get a job as a case manager or a program supervisor in human services. Other options include being a parole officer, an addiction counselor, or an assistant in a psychologist’s office.

2. You’re interested in human thought and behavior.

Psychologist giving advice to a couple

Psychology is a broad field, but each branch is united by the common themes of human thought and behavior. In a psychology program, you’ll study human development, behavioral theories, personality and cognition.

The more you know about psychology, the better you’ll understand yourself and others. This may help you improve at communicating clearly, building relationships and wielding influence.

These skills can help you be successful in the business world. Human resources directors, marketing professionals and salespeople can benefit from a good understanding of psychology.

For those who have their sights set on a PhD, it’s worth noting that being a psychologist won’t lock you into a counseling career. There are different types of psychologists, and many of these professionals use their advanced knowledge to benefit schools, private companies, or the criminal justice system.

3. You enjoy writing and research.

Research Assistant working on her laptop

Psychology is a scientific discipline, so most programs include a significant research component. You can expect to study others’ research and also learn how to perform your own research. There may be classes on statistical analysis as well.

Psychology majors also do a lot of writing during their time in school. This may include reports on the lab work that you conduct as well as critical responses to others’ studies. Honing your research and writing skills can serve you well after college. Your psychology degree could help you find work as a research assistant or a technical writer.

Top 5 Things You Can Do with a Psychology Degree

Psychology may be one of the most versatile degree programs out there because understanding thought and behavior can help you communicate with people in nearly any setting.

Whether you want to get advanced training or enter the workforce right away, there can be a psychology job out there for you.

1. Psychologist

Psychologist taking notes during therapy session

The first job that may come to mind when you hear about psychology degrees is that of a psychologist. Some psychologists specialize in clinical or counseling work.

Others use their psychology skills in different contexts. Industrial-organizational psychologists improve workplace practices. Forensic psychologists are involved with crime investigation. Getting a bachelor’s degree is just the first step to becoming a licensed psychologist. You’ll need to complete a doctoral program before licensure.

2. Psychiatric Technician

Psychiatric Technician comforting her teenage patient

You could get a job in a mental health or addiction facility as a psychiatric technician or aide. These roles would give you opportunities to work alongside mental health professionals and learn from their expertise.

Responsibilities as a psychiatric technician may include leading activities, administering medication, interacting with patients, assisting with basic needs and recording notes on clients’ behavior. To work as a technician, you may need to complete a certification program.

3. Correctional Treatment Specialist

Correctional Treatment Specialist having therapy session with a teenage girl

You can use your psychology background to help people move forward with their lives after a criminal conviction.

Meeting one-on-one with people who are on probation or parole, you’ll conduct tests and interviews to evaluate whether they have been rehabilitated. You may also run programs to help offenders get back on their feet. Similar jobs you could do with a psychology degree include parole officer and probation officer.

4. Social Worker

Social worker visiting an elderly patient

To help people who need extra support from community services, consider a job as a social worker. Although social work jobs are often available to people with psychology backgrounds, you may need to start as an assistant or undergo additional training.

If you find that social work is a good fit for you, consider becoming a licensed clinical social worker by getting a Master of Social Work (MSW).

5. Human Resources Specialist

Human Resources Specialist congratulating a newly hired employee

Because of their understanding of people and relationships, psychology students often find success in the business world. Human resources is a top field to consider. You might be good at interviewing candidates or settling disputes between coworkers.

Labor relations is a subspecialty of human resources that you might be particularly well-suited for. You’d serve as a liaison between a company and a union to negotiate contracts and resolve disagreements.

Psychology Degree Alternatives

Psychologist with a young patient

Although psychology is a versatile degree, it’s not the only course of study for those who want to help other people or explore human thought and behavior.

  1. Bachelor’s in Social Work. While psychology students may need extra training to be approved as a social worker, having a bachelor’s in this field may qualify you for certain jobs in this field more quickly.
  2. Bachelor’s in Sociology. In a sociology program, you’ll study human behavior, particularly in groups. This degree might prepare you for a career in social services, public relations, market research, or consumer advocacy.
  3. Bachelor’s in Counseling. For those who want to become marriage and family therapists or rehabilitation counselors, a counseling bachelor’s degree may provide the best foundation for the necessary master’s studies.

There is a good deal of overlap between these fields, so no matter which one you choose, you should have plenty of career options to explore.

Psychology Careers & Salaries

Psychology Careers & Salaries

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, psychologists earn an average annual salary of $80,370.

Careers Annual Median Salaries
Psychologists $80,370
Human Resources Specialists $61,920
Fundraisers $57,970
School and Career Counselors $57,040
Probation Officers and Correctional Treatment Specialists $54,290
Social Workers $50,470
Social Science Research Assistants $47,510
Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder and Mental Health Counselors $46,240
Social and Human Service Assistants $35,060
Psychiatric Technicians and Aides $32,020

Some of these jobs for psychology majors can be done with only a bachelor’s degree, but being a counselor or a psychologist usually requires earning a master’s degree or a doctorate.

What Can You Do With a Bachelors in Psychology?

Psychologist listening to a patient in her office

People with a psychology major work in a wide variety of roles. Some pursue master’s or doctoral degrees so they can work as industrial-organizational psychologists, school counselors, or clinical psychologists.

If those fields interest you, but you aren’t ready for a graduate degree just yet, you could work as a psychiatric aide or a social science research assistant. Similar lines of work include social worker, substance abuse counselor and correctional treatment specialist.

Some psychology graduates enter the business world. Your knowledge of human thought could help you in human resources, public relations, fundraising, banking, communications, or sales roles.

What Field of Psychology Makes the Most Money?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, psychologists earn a median annual salary of $80,370. This group includes clinical, counseling, developmental, forensic, industrial-organizational, rehabilitation, and school psychologists.

BLS statistics show that industrial-organizational psychology can be a particularly lucrative branch of this field. On average, I-O psychologists earn $92,880 annually. Clinical, counseling and school psychology jobs typically pay less. The average annual salary for this category is $78,200.

What Jobs Can You Get With a Psychology Degree?

HR Specialist shaking hands with an employee

There are a variety of career paths that are open to someone with a psychology degree. The most obvious path may involve becoming a counselor. Many counseling and therapy jobs require a master’s degree or a doctorate, but you might be able to work as a substance abuse or career counselor with your bachelor’s.

You could also work as an assistant to a licensed counselor. With a degree in psychology, you could also apply your psychology knowledge in business, education, criminal justice or scientific research. Some graduates do jobs like probation officer, labor relations specialist, fundraiser, youth mentor, social worker or activities director.

Is Psychology a Good Career?

As a psychologist, you may meet a variety of people and take on interesting challenges. There are many different jobs you can do in this field. Examples include forensic psychology, which may involve providing expert testimony in court, and clinical psychology, in which you’ll provide diagnosis and treatment for mental health issues.

You’ll have to continue your schooling after your undergraduate program, but the extra years of study may pay off in the end. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, psychologists earn an average of $80,370 per year.

Should I Get a Degree in Psychology?

Psychologist with her patient during a therapy

If your goal is to become a psychologist, then psychology is a smart undergrad major to pursue. That holds true whether you’re interested in counseling, rehabilitation or another psychology discipline.

Just remember that you’ll need to stick with school through the end of a doctoral program to really be called a psychologist. There are plenty of other things you could do with a psychology degree as well.

In fact, anywhere that interpersonal, research, writing or negotiating skills are needed, there may be a job for a psychology major.

Getting Your Bachelor’s in Psychology Degree Online

Bachelor’s in Psychology Degree student studying online

If you want to understand people better, then you may be thinking about majoring in psychology.

A degree in psychology is popular among students because it allows you to study an interesting topic while also providing knowledge that’s applicable in a wide variety of work settings.

Perhaps you want to be a counseling psychologist. Maybe you’d prefer to work in the business world as a recruiter or a communications specialist. You’ll have plenty of time to explore your many options during a psychology bachelor’s degree program. Check out accredited universities to learn more about your psychology opportunities.

James Chen
WRITTEN BY
James Chen