What Can You Do With An Applied Psychology Degree?

Last Updated: May 25, 2024

What is an Applied Psychology Training Program?

An applied psychology degree program focuses on teaching how to relate basic psychological practices (theories, principals, methods and techniques) to everyday life. In other words, the purpose is to apply these practices to various situations (both at home and at the workplace).

A training program in applied psychology provides an opportunity to work with psychologists in a variety of different settings (treatment centers, social service agencies, businesses, manufacturing and distribution centers, colleges, hospitals and clinics, etc.).

It normally takes four years to earn a bachelor’s degree in applied psychology, although it can take much longer if you want to obtain a master’s degree or doctorate in the field.

If you wondering what you can do with a degree in applied psychology – this article can help you. Listed below are some helpful suggestions of how to best utilize an applied psychology degree.

What Type of Classes Do Applied Psychologists Need?

Applied psychology training depends on what field of psychology you enter. For instance, if you decide to pursue a career in family psychology, you may be required to take courses in family relationships, sociology, human development, child and family relationships, marital counseling, family counseling, counseling theories, research methods, etc., while on-the-other-hand,

if you decide to pursue a degree in clinical psychology, you may be required to take courses in abnormal psychology, counseling theories, child psychopathology, cognitive behavior therapy, research methods, psychological assessments and family counseling.

Most undergraduate applied psychology programs take at least four years to complete. If you decide to further your education, it will take an additional two and a half years to earn a master’s degree and an additional five to seven years to obtain a doctorate (Ph.D. or Psy.D).

Moreover, depending on your specialty, you may be required to complete an internship and/or obtain licensure and/or certification before using your degree to seek employment.

Applied Psychology Careers

Aviation Psychologist

An aviation psychologist serves many important functions in the aviation industry. On the one hand, they might draw on their understanding of human development and human behavior to help airlines screen potential pilots, flight attendants, and other personnel. Doing so serves the function of finding the most highly qualified applicants that can fulfill their job duties in a fast-paced and high-stress environment.

On the other hand, aviation psychologists often specialize in providing counseling services to people that have experienced trauma, such as surviving a plane crash or losing a loved one in an aviation incident.

Career Counselor

A career counselor is someone who helps you figure out what you want to do for a job or career. They help you explore your preferences and define your personality, so you can see what kind of jobs you would be best suited to. Then they help you narrow down your choices and figure out which job would be most suitable for you. Whether you are starting out, or wanting to make a career change, a career counselor can help you.

A career counselor considers your background, your strengths and your values as they guide you through the process of making challenging choices. As a career counselor you could be working with adults, or with teens in schools.

Currently, there is no regulation for career counseling, and although the number of degrees in career counseling is increasing, you could have a degree in a field such as psychology, educational science, sociology or public administration.

Clinical Psychologist

Another field you can enter into with an applied psychology doctoral degree is clinical psychology. In fact, clinical psychology is the most popular career choice in the mental health field.

As a clinical psychologist, your main task will be to provide services (treatments) to individuals, children, families, couples and groups who are experiencing psychological distress. You may treat people with psychological disorders like depression, phobia, anxiety disorders and/or schizophrenia.

Child Protection Specialist

Child protection specialists are trained professionals whose primary job is to investigate reports of child neglect or child abuse. In that regard, child protection specialists draw on knowledge and skills not just from the human services realm, but from investigations and police work as well.

In many instances, child protection specialists work with families and agencies like child protective services to develop a long-term plan for mitigating neglect and abuse. This might include connecting the family of the abused child with proper counseling or identifying interventions that reduce the risk of neglect or abuse occurring in the future.

Developmental Psychologist

Workers in the field of developmental psychology specialize in studying the growth and development of humans from birth until death. In many cases, a developmental psychologist specializes in studying or working with a particular group of people, like adolescents or the elderly. Many developmental psychologists work exclusively in the research realm, seeking to answer questions about how and why we develop the way that we do.

Other developmental psychologists work in the clinical realm, using their understanding of growth and development as a means of assessing, diagnosing, and treating mental, behavioral, and emotional disorders and other psychological problems.

Educational Counselor

An educational counselor acts as a bridge between the student, the student’s family and the school or other academic setting.

Services provided may include such diverse things as helping the student learn to take better notes in class, providing coping skills for a child with learning disabilities, interface between the child and child’s parents if there are emotional or financial issues involved that are interfering with a child’s development, and the like. Educational counselors are in invaluable part of en educational team to ensure a child’s success.

Educational counselors are required to complete graduate studies in education, counseling, assessment and testing, and psychology. Most graduate programs also require that an educational counselor complete more or more internships under the guidance of an experienced educational counselor.

Educational Psychologist

If you have a doctorate (Ph.D. or Psy.D.) in applied psychology degree, you can seek employment in the educational field as an educational psychologist.

The majority of your time will be devoted to studying how people learn. You will more than likely be located at an educational setting (elementary, middle school, high school and/or college/university) and your main tasks will be to evaluate the effectiveness of classroom curriculum and educational interventions and develop educational programs to improve the learning experience for students.

You will also be able to use your applied science degree to teach college-level educational psychology courses. These courses will consist of cognitive-behavioral psychology principles, theories, methods and techniques.

Forensic Psychologist

You can become a forensic psychologist with a degree in applied psychology. With this degree you will primarily work within the criminal justice system.

Your main tasks will be to determine whether or not a defendant is legally responsible for his/her actions during a crime. In other words, you are mandated by law to give an expert testimony on whether the defendant was legally sane at the time of the crime.

You will also be responsible for handling any legal and competency issues that may arise during the course of a trial. It is important to note that you may be required to work with rapist, murders, child abusers and/or mentally ill defendants.

You may also be asked to help select jurors for the trials. Ultimately, your main task will consist of analyzing the mind of an offender in order to determine if he/she is a threat to society.

Health Psychologist

If you have a doctorate (Ph.D. or Psy.D.) in applied psychology, you may also become a health psychologist. If you decide to pursue this career with your degree, you will use your expertise to analyze the relationship between genetics, environment and personal choices to get a better understanding on how these factors influence health and well-being.

You will primarily work with a team of psychological and medical professionals in a clinical setting, although you may also be required to supervise health-related research studies and/or teach health-related college courses and training modules.

Your main goal will be to help people improve the quality of their lives by teaching them how to make better lifestyle choices.

Human Factors Psychologist

The field of human factor psychology lies at the intersection of psychology and engineering. In that regard, this field of psychology is concerned with the interaction between people and technology, people and their environment, and people and the tasks they have to perform as part of work or daily life.

For example, a human factors psychologist might work with engineers that are designing a new kind of computer keyboard and offer insights regarding how to best design the keyboard to maximize a person’s ability to use it in an intuitive manner.

Industrial-Organizational Psychologist

You can also use your doctorate in applied psychology to enter the business world. With a degree in applied psychology, you will be able to work at a company as an industrial-organizational psychologist.

Your main tasks will be to analyze employee attitudes, morale, satisfaction and behaviors. In other words, you will work with a company to improve employee performance and increase company revenue.

School Psychologist

A school psychologist works mainly with school students to identify, diagnose and treat or refer emotional, cognitive or behavioral issues.

Students suffering from stress, anxiety, depression or suicidal ideation, for example, would visit the school psychologist for help and support.

A school psychologist may also help those on the autism spectrum, or those with challenging behavioral or social issues such as anger management, social phobias, or students with mental disabilities or other mental disorders.

A school psychologist will work as part of a team, and liaise with parents, teachers and the broader community, to support the student’s success in learning.

Aside from in the school system, a school psychologist might practice privately or in a university, in mental health centers, day treatment centers or residential clinics. A specialized graduate degree or doctorate which focuses on psychology and education is usually required.

Social Worker

A social worker is a mental health professional who takes a bio-psychosocial approach to help people improve their lives by addressing concerns relating to housing, finances, mental health, general health, relationship and substance abuse. They act as advocates, educators, and counselors for their clients, providing links to community resources as necessary.

A social worker might help in the medical system for those with terminal illnesses and their families. They might become advocates for child welfare, or for those people navigating the criminal justice system, or for people dealing with addictions or mental health issues.

Social workers work in hospitals, or in the community, for addictions services, mental health clinics, schools, non-profit or government agencies, or in private practice. In order to become a licensed social worker, you will need an undergraduate degree in either social work or psychology, before going on to obtain a Master’s in social work.

Sports Psychologist

An employer may hire you as a sport psychologist, if you have a doctorate in sports psychology. Your main tasks will be to examine factors that may be affecting an athlete’s performance (endurance, tolerance, team participation and/or physical activity). You will also examine the athlete’s mental processes and address any issues that appear to be hindering him/her from doing his/her best.

Your main goal will be to get the athlete to focus on winning; not on personal issues. You will also be responsible for treating athletes with emotional distress and/or psychological disorders. In other words, you will teach athletes how to block out negative thoughts and replace them with more positive ones.

Substance Abuse Counselor

A substance abuse counselor is a compassionate, patient person, who is trained to diagnose and assess people in the field of addictions. You may be helping clients in crisis or in their on-going recovery from their addictive behavior.

In counseling you will help them uncover what causes them to choose addictive behavior and what they can do to stop it and make different, healthier choices.

You may refer them to recovery programs such as a 12-step program and support them as they continue their journey to wellness. You will put together a customized treatment plan according to the individual needs of each client. You may choose to specialize in who you help, for example, gamblers, teens, or veterans.

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