A bachelor’s degree in psychology can provide you with the skills and tools needed to eventually enter the field. In other words, a bachelor’s degree is the first step in becoming a psychologist, but a master’s degree, doctorate and licensure/certification is also needed before you can officially practice in one of these areas. Thankfully, there are a variety of entry-level jobs available for those who only have a bachelor’s degree in psychology. Some employers actually prefer candidates that have an undergraduate background in psychology because it provides the employee with a wealth of psychological knowledge, analyzation competences and interpersonal skills.
Moreover, a bachelor’s degree in psychology not only prepares you for a multitude of careers (research, education, sales, justice system, human resources, private practice, etc.), it also offers valuable tools that you can use to accurately examine and assess various people and situations, which is an asset at any job. So what can you do with a Bachelor of Arts psychology degree? Well, the answer is “a lot.” This article will help you determine which path is best for you.
Education & Training
A bachelor’s degree psychology program focuses on psychological theories, methods and history. It also focuses on research skills and methodologies. This program takes approximately four years to complete and normally does not require licensure or certification. Other courses that you may take in this program include: introduction to psychology, lifespan development, statistics, mathematics, English, science, human development, abnormal psychology and sociology.
You may also be required to complete an unpaid supervised internship at a mental health agency before graduation. With a bachelor’s degree, you will be able to enter into a variety of fields from human resources to education.
A bachelor’s degree in psychology may enable you to work in a variety of industries, but it will not qualify you to practice as a psychologist. In order to provide mental health services to clients you will need to earn an advanced degree (master’s and/or doctorate) in psychology. Your main function at this level will be to provide psychological insight into the minds and behaviors of others (employees, clients, students and/or customers).
Bachelor of Arts Psychology Careers
Human Resources Executive
You can enter the field of human resources. Human resource executives play a significant role in all companies, businesses and organizations (small, medium and large). A bachelor’s degree in psychology may provide you with the tools needed to effectively manage employee relations, organize company functions, communicate with customers and clients and train new employees. To be successful in this career you will need a strong understanding of how the mind influences behaviors, especially in the workplace. You will also need strong organizational, communication and people skills.
You may pursue a career with the criminal court system as a probation officer. A psychology degree program teaches you how to effectively work with prison inmates, those who have recently been paroled and probation violators. Your bachelor’s degree will not only provide you with the skills needed to supervise those who have been court-ordered to attend treatment programs, parenting classes, etc.); it will also provide you with the tools needed to effectively interact with the court system.
Moreover, if you decide to pursue this career path, you may be required to develop rehabilitation plans for those under your supervision. Many employers will hire you because of your in-depth understanding of the mind and human behaviors. Furthermore, to serve in this capacity, you may be required to take a psychological assessment and/or a physical exam.
Another career path you can venture into with a bachelor’s degree in psychology is training. This degree will provide you with the skills needed to help companies, businesses and organizations understand how their employees, clients and customers think, feel and behave. With a bachelor’s degree in psychology, you are able to develop training modules for employees, teach employees how to reframe negative thoughts and behaviors, increase employee productivity and improve employee quality. You are also able to help employees understand the relationship between the company’s mission, value and objectives and their part in the company’s success.
You can use your bachelor’s degree in psychology to enter the world of social work. The knowledge you obtained may help you examine how social factors influence human emotions, thoughts, beliefs, opinions and behaviors. If you decide to pursue this career, you will not only need a strong understanding of human motivations, you will also need good communication and social skills and a good sense of what others need (resources).
If you consider yourself a “good salesperson,” then you may want to use your bachelor-level degree in psychology to enter the sales industry as a sales representative. The good news about this industry is that there are numerous jobs (retail, insurance, automotive, financial services, etc.) available. Your psychology background will help you gauge a customer’s or client’s mindset and preferences so that you can offer him/her products that he/she wants and/or needs.
Your psychological expertise will also help you identify sales objectives and offer suggestions on how to enhance or alter the products so they are more appealing to target groups. To be successful in this career, you will need to be able to communicate with a variety of people and effectively manage challenging, difficult and/or stressful situations. This is where your background in psychology will be most useful.
Lastly, you can use your bachelor’s degree in psychology to become an educator. Although you will not be able to teach at the college level, you will be able to teach elementary, middle and high school – provided you get a teaching license. Your psychology background may help you identify students who are experiencing psychological distress, either at home or at school. It will also provide you with valuable insight into the students’ learning styles and preferences.
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References and Further Reading
- Brain, C. (2002). Advanced Psychology: Applications, Issues and Perspectives. Cheltenham: Nelson Thornes.
- Fox, D. R., Prilleltensky, I. & Austin, S. (2009). Critical Psychology: An Introduction (2nd ed.), London, UK: Sage Publications.
- Psychology Today. (2013). Psychology.
- American Psychological Association. (2013). Psychology as a Career.
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2013). Psychologists. Occupational Outlook Handbook.