Most Psychology majors, or students planning to take Psychology as an undergraduate course, do not have the slightest idea on what lies ahead. Most of them are driven by the interesting research findings in Psychology, yet back away to take traditional courses in the Physical Sciences or in Business because the future of majoring in Psychology is not very clear. Fear no more. This article aims to enlighten the Psychology student on career options for taking Psychology as an undergraduate course.
Benefits of Majoring in Psychology
Majoring in Psychology is like skill training. All undergraduate Psychology students undergo training in conducting research, measurement and computation, problem-solving, critical thinking and writing - areas currently in demand in various types of work. Although it is unlikely that an undergraduate degree in Psychology could lead to monumental income, most graduates in Psychology receive compensation above the median salary in the United States. Furthermore, psychologists are armed with the cause of understanding themselves and others, and improving the lives of other people as well.
Job Possibilities for an Undergraduate Degree in Psychology
In the Business sector, Psychology graduates can apply in/as Admissions Recruiter, Advertising, Insurance Agent, Loan Officer, Management Trainee, Personnel Administrator, Public Relations, Retail Sales Management, Sales Representative and Textbook Representative.
In the Research division, Psychology graduates can apply in/as Grant and Report Writer, Information Specialist or Researcher, Marketing Researcher, Mental Health Aide, Research Analyst, Research Assistant, Statistical Assistant and Trainee for Product Research Companies.
In the Social and Human Services, Psychology graduates cam apply in/as Alumni Affairs Coordinator, Case Worker, Drug Abuse Counselor, Employment Counselor, Fund-Raising Specialist, Mental Health Aide, Parent Educator and Youth Counselor.
Further your Education, Specialize in Psychology
Getting an undergraduate degree in Psychology is not enough to understand the complexity of the human psyche. An undergraduate degree in Psychology can only provide enough background in the field for the various job titles listed above. Consequently, a Psychology student can boost his/her earnings by taking an M.A. or Ph.D. and specializing in a certain area of Psychology. Below is a comprehensive list of specializations in the Graduate School of Psychology. Check in your university for their availability.
- Behavioral Neuroscience or Comparative Psychology deals with the biological underpinnings of behavior and mostly use animals in their research.
- Clinical and Counseling Psychology are concerned about the diagnosis and treatment of psychological disorders. The former requires a doctorate degree, with 3-4 years graduate school and 1 year internship; while the latter typically requires an M.A. and deals with relatively minor psychological problems. Clinical Psychology is usually confused with Psychiatry, but the latter actually requires an M.D. Thus, the basic distinction between the two is that Psychiatrists can prescribe drugs, whereas Clinical Psychologists cannot.
- Community Psychology is concerned about creating supportive communities by pinpointing needs, providing services and accessible care, teaching people how to acquire resources, stimulating new opportunities, and preventing mental health problems by identifying high-risk groups.
- Cross-cultural Psychology identifies universal and culture-specific aspects of Psychology by conducting cross-cultural comparisons. Activities are currently being monitored by the International Association for Cross-Cultural Psychology.
- Developmental Psychology studies the biological and environmental influences on human development, from conception 'til death.
- Environmental Psychology studies the influence of the environment or its physical setting on behavior and mental processes.
- Experimental Psychology deals with experimentation on sensation and perception, cognition, learning, motivation and emotion.
- Forensic Psychology studies how principles in Psychology can be applied to the legal system.
- Health Psychology is a multi-dimensional approach to health. Topics include stress, coping and lifestyle. It also studies the nature of the healthcare delivery system in the country.
- Industrial and Organizational Psychology is concerned about the workplace. Also known as Personnel Psychology or Human Resource Management, it studies the interaction of employees and organization to assess productivity and work output.
- Personality Psychology studies what psychological traits and characteristics are enduring (or does not change in time). Topics include self-concept, aggression, moral development, gender roles and inner- or outer-directedness (commonly known as introversion and extraversion).
- Psychology of Women promotes research on the study of women and integrates the results with current psychological knowledge for social and institutional application. Activities are currently being handled by the Psychology of Women division of the American Psychological Association.
- School and Educational Psychology are concerned about learning and school adjustment problems. Activities include recommending educational placement and producing psychological tests for teaching and research.
- Social Psychology studies social interactions, relationships, social perceptions and attitudes and group functions.
- Sport Psychology aims to improve sport performance and participation in sporting events.
The above-listed areas of specializations in Psychology must not be confused with the Contemporary Approaches to Psychology. Specializations are the programs offered in the Graduate School of Psychology while Approaches to Psychology are the unique ways of looking at the subject matter of the field. Some specializations are therefore reflections of the Approaches, while others are areas in which psychological principles can be applied.
Psychology Work Setting
Above is a pie chart describing where Psychologists (both having graduate and undergraduate degrees) currently work. As you can see, almost half of them work in educational setting, and another half in the mental health profession. Although Industrial Psychologists roughly compose a small 12%, the business sector is increasingly recognizing the importance of Psychologists in maximizing profit and work productivity.