Finding a career in psychology can be difficult. To land the most lucrative careers in psychology, you may have to commit to several years of schooling. Many interested in working directly in psychology earn at least a bachelor’s degree.
Below is a list based on three major factors (education, employment growth and pay) to help you find a job with a psychology degree. Read on and find the psychology career that’s right for you!
All statistics courtesy of The Bureau of Labor Statistics, unless otherwise indicated.
Psychiatric technicians assist in the therapeutic care of persons with mental illnesses and developmental disabilities. They observe patient behavior, lead therapeutic and recreational activities, administer medicines per doctors’ orders, monitor vital signs and restrain patients who become psychically violent. They may work in state, local and private hospitals, residential facilities or outpatient care centers.
Psychiatric technicians are required to have some higher education, although a bachelor’s degree is not always required. Typically, a post-secondary certificate is sufficient for entry into this field. Employment growth for psychiatric technicians is expected to be on par with the national average for all careers through 2020. The median annual salary for this position ranges from $23,000 to $31,000 depending on work setting. This is below the national average of $34,000 for all careers.
Mental health counselors help their patients meet the challenges of living with emotional disturbances and mental illness. They diagnose and treat disorders, such as anxiety and depression; discuss emotions and experiences with patients; help clients make decisions for their future and develop strategies to cope with difficult situations; coordinate treatment with other professionals; and help clients adjust their behavior. These professionals make work in private practice, outpatient mental health clinics, hospitals or mental health and substance abuse facilities.
Mental health counselors are required by law to have a master’s degree in psychology or a related field and be certified by the state in which they practice. They are not doctors, however, and therefore cannot prescribe medications. Employment growth for mental health counselors should be much higher than average through 2020; growth is projected at 37 percent. As of May 2010, the median average pay for mental health counselors was $39,710, slightly above the national average for all careers.
Behavioral disorder counselors work with clients who suffer from addiction, eating disorders or other behavioral problems. They evaluate clients’ mental and psychical health and aid in the development of treat goals and plans. Behavior disorder counselors teach families about addiction and behavior disorders to help build a support structure for clients. These professionals may work in outpatient clinics, resident facilities, private practice or hospitals.
Only a high school diploma or equivalent is required to become a behavioral disorder counselor. However, more education is always helpful. Those in private practice are required to have a master’s degree and be licensed. Job growth for behavioral disorder counselors is expected at 27 percent through 2020, much higher than the national average. As of May 2010, the median salary for these workers was $38,120, slightly above the national average.
Social and human services assistants provide additional support for people facing difficult life situations. They help other professionals, including social workers and psychologists, and help patients connect with helpful community resources. Social and human services assistants may work in tandem with private practice professionals, in residential or nursing facilities, in rehabilitation services or in hospitals.
The minimum requirement to become a social and human services assistant is a high school diploma; however, employers may prefer candidates with more advanced educations. Employment rates for these workers are expected to increase by 28 percent through 2020, which is much higher than the national average of 14 percent. The median hourly wage for social and human services assistants was $13.56 in May 2010, which was almost $3 short of the national average for that time period.
Marriage and family therapists work with individuals, couples and families to help build better relationships or repair damaged ones. They often address issues such as low self-esteem, stress and addiction. The majority of marriage and family therapists work in private practice, but they may also be employed by hospitals, outpatient centers, doctors’ offices or residential facilities.
At minimum, a master’s degree in counseling or a related field is required to become a marriage and family therapist. Job growth is expected to be remarkable high; the BLS projects 41 percent growth in the field through 2020. As of May 2010, the median salary for marriage and family therapists was $45,720, which is roughly $10,000 above the national average.
Industrial-organizational psychologists, or IO psychologists, practice a very specific type of psychology. They apply principles to the workplace to help boost employee morale, teach more effective managerial styles and bolster company productivity. They may work in private practice or for a firm. IO psychologists may even be directly employed for the company they provide services to.
In order to become an IO psychologist, you must hold at least a master’s degree and a state issued license or certificate. Job growth in this field is expected to be rapid through 2020 at a rate of 35 percent, which is more than twice the national average. As of May 2010, the median salary for IO psychologists was $87,330, which is over $50,000 more than the national average for all occupations.
Social and community service managers work with members of the community to identify and address public need for services. They design and oversee programs that meet those needs, as well as supervise staff and determine the effectiveness of programs. Social and community service managers are also responsible for budgeting raising funds for their programs.
A minimum of a bachelor’s degree in social work, urban studies or a related field is required. Most employers also require previous experience doing similar work. Growth is projected to be faster than average, increasing at a rate of 27 percent through 2020. While not the highest paying job on the list, the median salary for this position is well above the national average at $57,950.
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