Psychology Career Paths

If you have a psychology degree, you may be able to find careers as a clinical psychologist, school psychologist, or psychological researcher. Clinical psychologists treat patients with mental issues concerns, whereas school psychologists assist students with educational difficulties. Psychological researchers conduct research on mental issues, addiction, and parenting.

Research psychologist 

Research psychologists conduct research on psychological topics such as mental illness, mind function, decision making, parenting skills, etc. They could work for a commercial company, a university, or the government. A Ph.D. in psychology is often required to work as a research psychologist.

 Organizational psychologist or Industrial

Their purpose is to help companies improve worker productivity and satisfaction by researching workplace issues such as stress management, team building, etc. 

Marriage/family therapist 

Marriage/family therapists help families adjust to changes such as divorce or the death of a loved one by providing counseling and therapy sessions that focus on solving problems together.


They are professional who specializes in the study of the mind and behavior. They may work in private practice, schools, government agencies, or research institutions. To become a psychologist, you will usually need a degree from an accredited college or university.

People with a master’s degree or a Ph.D. usually work as psychologists in clinics, schools, or industrial and organizational psychology departments, but there are opportunities for work in other research settings. Getting a master’s degree in an area related to clinical practice (such as counseling) is a great path.

Because of the responsibilities of visiting patients, the work might be stressful, and it may not pay well, but at the very least, you will be dealing with people. The job market for those with advanced degrees is excellent.

Forensic psychiatrist 

Forensic psychiatrists are responsible for diagnosing mental disorders in defendants who have been charged with crimes. They also provide psychiatric testimony in court cases involving criminal defendants. Forensic psychiatrists typically require a doctorate in psychiatry or another field such as neurology or neuropsychology.


A psychiatrist diagnoses patients and treats them with psychotropic medications. They also provide therapy and do some teaching.

Prescription of medicine requires training in addition to a doctoral degree for psychologists who practice in medical settings, and in psychiatric specialties such as geriatrics and addiction treatment.

Psychiatrists enjoy working in medical settings: the work is exciting and offers flexibility and high salaries. But there are downsides: demand for psychiatrists is declining, partly because of managed care practices that discourage long-term mental health care. Some graduate students who hope to get into this field wind up getting jobs doing other kinds of psychology research instead.

Social worker/mental health counselor/psychologist associate

Social workers provide counseling and support to individuals and families dealing with problems such as poverty, abuse, addiction, mental illness, or developmental disabilities. 

Mental health counselors provide brief psychological services to individuals who do not seek treatment from physicians or psychiatrists. 

Psychologist associates perform duties similar to those of clinical psychologists but without the required doctoral degree.

Although social work degree programs are not as common as they once were, there are still many people with a master’s degree in social work and other related areas. Most of them wind up working in schools and mental health clinics, but many also do research and direct services. 

Because there are many entry-level positions for social workers who have a master’s degree, many students choose this field over others. Schools and colleges hire social workers as counselors, and they are sometimes trained in research methods.

Teachers of all kinds have entered this field, but the most common occupation is preschool or elementary school teacher.  In any case, it is a good idea to work for about a year or two as an assistant teacher before going for your master’s degree to get your teaching license.  The job market for teachers with a master’s degree is good, especially in public schools, although there are fewer openings than there once were.

School psychologists

School psychologists generally have post-associate’s degrees and work in schools, with some also working in mental health clinics.  Their responsibilities include counseling, testing, and teaching. They can get their master’s degree after getting accredited through the American Psychologist Association (APA).

In some places, you might be able to get this kind of certificate for free by taking a course on online learning; but keep in mind that it might take a few years before you get your degree.

School psychologists may be able to find positions as medical records clerks, audiological technicians, or speech therapists. But school psychologists who want to do research in learning or memory can get a Ph.D.

Psychologists in public health

Psychologists working in public health come from all sorts of backgrounds, but they generally have master’s and Ph.D. degrees with some training in epidemiology and statistics if they plan to work as statisticians.

A distinction is made between epidemiologists who research causes and prevention of illness and those who study health’s social and behavioral aspects. People working in this area do a lot of work addressing problems such as substance abuse or malnutrition in the community. 

Like school psychologists, they are licensed by their state board of psychology; in some states, a master’s degree is necessary to become board certified.

Psychoanalysts should do a lot of training before they begin working; some training programs are available, but most people who want to work as psychologists begin their careers this way. A master’s degree is required, and psychoanalysts must have taken an internship first. 

Psychologists specializing in individual or couples therapy can often get a job in community mental health or at a school or clinic. There are also opportunities in hospitals and group homes if you have a Ph.D. or advanced degree. 

Schools that train counselors generally hire people with a master’s degree, but there can be openings without having a graduate degree, such as someone who has an associate’s degree (A.A.) Social workers and psychologists in social services are similar to those in school counseling, but their careers generally take them into public health or other fields that require advanced degrees and specialized training.

State licensing boards do not recognize master’s degrees from non-accredited schools or non-U.S.-based universities. Depending on the state, they can often only get licensed to practice as a social worker with a master’s degree, not a less prestigious bachelor’s degree.

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