Students with an undergraduate degree in psychology can make use of their communication and interpersonal skills and understanding of human behavior to work in fields that focus on interacting with other people. Some of these fields include sales, marketing, human resources, and clinical positions, to name a few. Looking online for positions that include “psychology degree” as a possible qualification results in a staggering amount of jobs positions, which include positions such as Animal Trainer, Victim’s Advocate, and even Database Design Analyst.
Rather than list dozens of different positions you could go into, this article will focus on the several broad positions which employ psychology majors and which don’t require significant additional training or certification.
What jobs can I get with an undergraduate psychology degree?
As a psychology student, your undergraduate degree helps you develop communication skills, interpersonal skills, and an understanding of human behavior. These skills prepare you for nearly any position which primarily focuses on working with people.
As a sales representative, you’ll make use of your communication skills to connect with clients and utilize your interpersonal skills to develop robust relationships. On the average day, you’ll speak with clients to discuss their needs and work to find the best solution to satisfy those needs.
This position has a massive amount of variety depending on what industry you work in. Virtually every industry makes use of sales representatives. There are the obvious positions, such as selling paper from an office in a small town in Pennsylvania. There are also less obvious positions as well: you could work with a non-profit software firm that produces educational software and provides it to at-risk schools or perhaps you’ll find yourself connecting small coffee houses to a local coffee roaster. In the end, you’ll have a lot of choices.
The biggest benefit of working as a sales representative is the sheer variety of work you can do. Whether you work in the city or the country, for a for-profit or a non-profit, and regardless of the industry, a skilled sales representative can find a job.
If you’re interested in this position, consider taking courses that improve your communication or persuasive speaking skills. Even if you can’t find a course that will help, look for community groups that will help you practice speaking to strangers, like volunteering to canvas for a cause you strongly believe in.
While many clinical positions within psychology require a master’s or doctoral degree, there are some which are accessible to undergraduate students. These positions will make use of your knowledge of human behavior and your familiarity with clinical techniques and research. On the average day you may assist with group therapy sessions, manage case work, work with other technicians to meet the basic needs of patients, or organize research notes. These positions include case managers, mental health technicians, rehabilitation specialists, substance abuse counselors, clinicians, and social work assistants, to name a few. In short, these are positions that often work directly under the oversight of a licensed social worker or psychologist.
NOTE: Some clinical positions may require additional certifications depending on where you live.
The major draw of working as a technician is that you’ll be more directly involved in the field of psychology. This isn’t a position where you just use the skills you developed as a psychology undergraduate, your knowledge of psychological theory and technique will also be useful in succeeding in these careers.
If you’re interested in working in a clinical position as a psychology undergraduate, you’ll want a solid foundation of coursework in whatever sub-category you’re most interested in. Try to get a firm understanding of how psychology works in practice, not just theory, and be sure to be active during office hours. Professors are eager to talk about their subjects, and they can suggest additional readings or seminars that might help you have a better grasp on the practical side of psychology. Finally, if you plan to be working alongside patients, taking the time to get CPR-certified or even basic first-aid certification (such as those available through the American Red Cross) can make your application stand out more.
Advertising Agent and Marketing Communication Specialist
As a part of understanding human behavior, psychology undergraduate students often develop a firm understanding of persuasion. This makes them excellent candidates for positions in advertising or marketing. As an advertising agent, you’ll research target audiences and develop advertising messages and materials, but your focus will be on paid ads. On the other hand, marketing is a broader term that includes advertising, but it also includes public relations, social media, emails, and other unpaid channels.
These positions will often involve writing emails, articles, slogans, and social media posts. In addition, many such positions will work in visual design. On your average day, you’ll work with a team of people to create interesting and impactful content that promotes a product or brand.
Working in marketing and advertisement allows you to flex your creative muscles while still making use of your communication skills and knowledge of human behavior. In addition, similar to a Sales Representative, every industry makes use of marketing at some level. So, you’ll have a lot of flexibility and mobility when selecting positions.
If you’re interested in working in marketing as a psychology undergraduate, you’ll want to take courses that focus on human behavior and practice your writing skills. In addition, learning basic graphic design, such as Adobe Photoshop, can help you get positions where they need flexible employees.
Human Resource Personnel
Human resource personnel will typically work underneath a human resource manager. In this position, you’ll handle much of the paperwork and policy implementation, as it relates to employees, at businesses and firms. In addition, you will assist with screening and interviewing potential new employees and help onboard new employees.
Working in human resources will put you at the organization level of a firm, as opposed to the outward-facing business side found in sales or marketing. It will focus primarily on your communication and interpersonal skills, and it won’t rely on a heavy foundation of clinical knowledge or theory.
The biggest draw for human resource positions is consistency. Nearly every business with more than 20 employees will begin to work with an in-house or outsourced human resource team. While the industries can vary widely, the position is very consistent due to widely accepted standards within the human resource field. Every firm may have their own unique way of handling specific things, but the broad strokes will remain the same.
How do I become a therapist?
In order to become a therapist, you will need, at minimum, a master’s degree in psychology. In addition, there are different types of therapists. Two of the most common examples of therapist positions include Marriage and Family Therapist and Clinical Psychologist.
Marriage and Family Therapist
Marriage and family therapists work with married couples and family groups and focus on behavioral changes and management. Requires a master’s degree and a license issued by the state you live in. Each state sets the requirements for these licenses, but in general you will need between 1,000 and 3,000 hours of supervised work experience.
Clinical psychologists work to improve the mental well being of patients. They work with other professionals, such as medical doctors or psychiatrists, to provide different forms of treatment. While you can sometimes start this position with only a master’s degree in psychology, provided you work under a licensed clinician, most positions require a doctoral degree. In fact, practicing as an independent clinical psychology requires a doctoral degree in most states.
Is an undergraduate degree in psychology worth it?
If you’re looking for a versatile degree that can be used in many different fields, isn’t tied to a particular industry or location, and opens up future opportunities should you wish to pursue them, then an undergraduate degree in psychology is absolutely worth the investment.
Ultimately, the question isn’t what you can do with an undergraduate psychology degree, but rather what you want to do with one. Unlike some degrees, a psychology undergraduate degree isn’t a ticket to a single job, but rather a ticket that could be used to enter multiple, diverse positions.
Getting an undergraduate degree in psychology
One of the biggest advantages of an undergraduate psychology degree is the flexibility it offers you. By studying psychology with the University of Florida Online, you don’t need to wait until after you graduate to start experiencing that flexibility. UF Online allows you to study from anywhere while still receiving the same high-quality education that on-campus students receive at the University of Florida. As the #3 Best Online Bachelor’s Program in the nation, UF Online delivers courses that are designed specifically for online learning and are taught by UF faculty all at an affordable price.