What Can You Do With a Psychology Degree? Job Roles in 2022
Psychology is a popular subject because it influences all areas of life, from education and health, to the economy and crime.
A Psychology degree is a great starting point for a career either as a professional psychologist, or in related fields such as healthcare, education, law enforcement and social work. There are also many commercial roles which can apply the skills gained during a Psychology degree.
It is common to see psychology graduates go on to graduate schemes/graduate roles across the private, charity/non-profit and public sectors too, depending on their interests.
A psychology degree is often deemed attractive to employers because it combines a scientific approach (analytical skills, objectivity, research skills) with skills in humanities (understanding human behavior, relationship building).
In this guide, we'll explore the types of career options and job opportunities that exist for graduates of Psychology courses.
Of course, should you enrol on a pre-university programme at Kings, such as A-levels or the Advanced Level Foundation, careers advice will form a crucial part of the support in finalising your university application.
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Many people enter undergraduate degrees with the goal of becoming a psychologist, and around a fifth of psychology graduates go on to become chartered psychologists. Becoming a chartered psychologist takes up to 5 years of further study and training, and supervised work experience placements and internships. Entry onto approved courses is extremely competitive – to be a successful applicant you’ll need six months to a year of work experience in a psychology-related role. You’ll also need to demonstrate dedication, academic excellence and a range of soft skills.
Within the profession there are a range of specialist areas of psychology that people choose to follow their a career path in, which include the following.
Clinical psychologists work with people of all ages on a wide range of psychological difficulties in mental and physical health. This can include anxiety, depression, psychosis, 'personality disorders', eating disorders, substance abuse, addictions, learning disabilities and family or relationship issues.
Clinical psychology takes place in some, or all, of the following settings:
- local clinics and health centres
- community mental health teams
- social services, schools and prisons
Child psychologists assess and treat children and adolescents. They help children cope with stresses like divorce, death, and family or school transitions. Their clientele may include children with a variety of developmental issues, from learning disabilities to severe mental illness.
Community psychologists specialise in helping communities such as migrant groups, and rural and remote communities. Their work involves carrying out community-focused psycho-social research to assess needs and inform public policy development.
Counselling psychologists work with their clients to improve their mental health and emotional wellbeing. They treat a wide range of mental health problems such as depression and anxiety, eating disorders, psychosis, bereavement, trauma and relationship issues.
Developmental psychology involves the study how people grow and adapt at different life stages. For example, babies who are not walking by a certain point in time (around 15-16 months) may be demonstrating a developmental delay or signs of more serious health problems. Developmental psychologists conduct research designed to help people reach their full potential.
Educational psychologists work with children and young people. Educational psychology aims to address the problems that can hinder their successful learning and participation in school and other activities.
Forensic psychology involves the application of psychological theory to criminal investigation to help understand psychological problems associated with criminal behaviour, and the treatment of those who have committed offences. Forensic psychologists play an important role in the criminal justice system.
Occupational psychology aims to increase the effectiveness of organisations/businesses and improve the job satisfaction of the people who work within them.
The speciality is broader in scope and less formalised than many areas of psychology and it touches on diverse fields, including ergonomics, personnel management and time management.
Occupational psychologists are also sometimes known as organizational psychologists.
Sports psychology and exercise psychology are two different specialisms, but they are often referred to jointly.
Sports psychologists work primarily with athletes, coaches and referees. Their work focuses on how psychology influences sport and how it can improve performance. Their aim is to prepare sports professionals for the demands of their job, such as competition and training. For example, a sports psychologist might help an athlete to successfully deal with the consequences of sustaining an injury.
Exercise psychologists, on the other hand, typically work with the general public to increase motivation and participation in exercise. The main impetus behind their work is health and wellbeing rather than performance.
2. Teach Psychology
Teaching is another popular route for Psychology graduates. Insights from psychology will help with other parts of your teacher training, such as understanding learning styles, behaviour management, and safeguarding young people.
To gain a teaching qualification you can either do a one-year PGCE course, or a take school-based training route. You can also do a primary or early years PGCE.
It's worth noting that Psychology degree holders are well equipped for a career in teaching, even if they don’t want to teach Psychology itself – an additional one-year conversion course will allow them to choose from a range of other subjects.
3. Become a Researcher
Even if you don’t want to be an academic, a career in research is an option for Psychology graduates. As well as direct knowledge of psychiatry topics, your Psychology degree develops strong research and analysis skills. Research doesn’t necessarily mean a master's degree – as a graduate, you can go straight into work as a research analyst.
All kinds of organisations, from major corporations to government departments, can benefit from employees who can undertake psychological research.
4. Work in Marketing, Advertising and PR
A degree in Psychology teaches those who undertake one with many of the desirable traits for the public relations and marketing industry of today, particularly given the focus on social media.
Marketing products successfully requires marketers to 'get inside the customer’s head', so it stands to reason that Psychology graduates are highly sought-after. They also need to coordinate with many other areas of the business, such as product management and web design, so well-developed communication skills for successful cross-departmental working are vital.
5. Work in HR (Human Resources)
Psychology and Human Resource Management is a common joint honours degree, which highlights that the two are closely interlinked. To work in HR you need a good understanding of people’s motivations and interactions. Your role could include hiring the right person to complement a team, managing personality clashes and mediating in workplace disputes.
While graduates from any discipline can move into HR, a Psychology degree will make you especially attractive to employers.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Below are some of the most commonly asked questions by those considering Psychology as a degree subject.
Q1. What skills can you learn from a Psychology degree?
Psychology is one of the best degrees for transferable skills and will equip you with many that will stand you in excellent stead as you embark on your career.
Many employers appreciate the scientific grounding, statistical know-how and critical thinking skills a Psychology graduate has gained. Below is an overview of these, and some of the other skills, that you can expect to gain throughout the course of a bachelor's degree in Psychology.
During a Psychology degree you will be required to think critically throughout, for example in in your essays and your practical reports/project (critical evaluation of previous work and your own work – identifying strengths and weaknesses of your study and how the weaknesses could be addressed). Part of critical thinking is looking at issues from several different points of view and you have lots of experience in doing this.
In your coursework undergraduate Psychology students will be required to make clear, structured arguments and support them with evidence, write with clarity and precision and to write concisely. As a result they will develop the ability to write both succinct reports and more creative, in-depth essays.
Skills in report writing is often cited by managers as something they would like their management trainees to have.
Applying logic and reason to non-quantifiable studies and theories is a key part of the analysis that’s required as part of a Psychology degree. By practising this regularly through your studies, you’ll develop strong reasoning skills.
A Psychology degree also develops oral communication skills, with students being required to work with peers to negotiate, plan and deliver group projects and to discuss issues in tutorial groups, and also in terms of oral presentation skills. Graduates will most likely have experienced giving oral presentations, supported by powerpoint slides, to a variety of audiences, including groups of over 100. They will also have had experience of giving more intimate presentations of research results to individuals or small groups.
Carrying out research is a key part of many careers and the ability to find, collate and draw conclusions from your research is a valuable one to employers. Luckily for Psychology students, this skill is also nurtured throughout the course of their degree.
The ability to logically assess a problem and then produce a solution is a valuable skill in the organisational world, and one which Psychology graduates are generally very good at. This skill is developed naturally throughout a Psychology degree as each assignment or task poses a particular problem or question to overcome.
While it might seem that psychology is a purely theoretical science, numeracy and statistics actually play a large role in many of the psychological theories. As you study, you’ll develop the ability to confidently organise and report on these figures and thus develop this extremely valuable transferable skill.
Whether you complete it full-time or part-time, A Psychology degree programme is a demanding course, requiring you to read textbooks, write assignments and interact with fellow classmates on a regular basis. The ability to stay on top of your workload, while also balancing other commitments, will allow you to develop your ability to prioritise and focus on the most appropriate task.
Q2. What are the pros and cons of being a psychologist?
As with any career, there are distinct advantages and disadvantages to being a psychologist. Below are just a few of each to consider before committing to an educational path that leads to this particular profession.
It can be highly rewarding helping people to overcome their challenges.
Many people throughout the world struggle with debilitating mental health disorders and disabilities. Psychologists help these individuals learn to cope better with their particular challenges and live their lives more successfully, so whilst being a psychologist can be stressful it times, it can also be very gratifying.
You can be generously remunerated.
Of course, money alone shouldn't necessarily be the primary motivation for becoming a psychologist, but earning a good living is an attractive benefit. In the UK, trainee clinical psychologists start at just over £30,000 in the NHS (National Health Service). After qualification, salaries within the NHS start at £40k, and consultant-level clinical psychologist roles typically range from £65k to £90k per year. Heads of psychology services may earn up to £108k.
Salaries in private hospitals and private practice vary, but this type of work can often be even more lucrative.
You can enjoy flexible working.
Although many psychologists work long hours, if you go on to set up your own practice, your schedule can become very flexible. With this flexibility comes the freedom to set your own hours and plenty of time to dedicate to your family and interests.
It offers the chance to meet a very diverse range of people.
As a psychologist you'll most likely work with clients from all walks of life, which is not only very stimulating, but also gives you the opportunity to continually develop your skillsets.
Dealing with clients can be stressful and emotionally draining.
The biggest reward of being a psychologist can also often be its biggest challenge – helping people to overcome and deal with their mental and emotional difficulties. Psychologists have to learn how to help their clients find effective and productive methods for dealing with their struggles without taking them on themselves.
Although flexible, work schedules can also be erratic.
Although an advantage of being a self-employed psychologist is that your schedule can be quite flexible, you do need to be able to offer input or appointments when your clients most need them — this can sometimes mean being on call, and often that evening sessions are required for any clients who work during the day.
With self employment comes plenty of admin.
All psychologists have paperwork to deal with, whether they are employed within an organisation or work for themselves. With self employment however, comes to additional task of processing and collecting payments, and of course booking client's appointments too.
It can take a while to get established as a self-employed psychologist
Finding new clients needs time and effort at the beginning, and is key to having a successful practice. Whilst established psychologists with their own practice often find it less of a challenge to find clients, at the start it can certainly take effort and while some psychologists enjoy the business development aspect of operating on a self-employed basis, others may rather focus exclusively on therapy work.
Q3. What are some careers in psychology?
There are many different Psychology careers available to Psychology graduates, depending on your specialties and specialization, such as:
- Social worker
- Educational psychologist
- HR manager
- Research roles
- >Media roles
We hope that this article has helped you understand more about the careers and graduate jobs that are open to those with a Psychology degree, and the skills that study in this area equips you with. You can find more detailed information about studying Psychology and related careers in the Subjects/Career Guides section of the Kings website.
You can also find detailed profiles of the top UK universities.
If you would like receive more detailed information about the Kings and our programmes, please get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.