Careers at the Associate Level

Persons with an associate degree in psychology work in a variety of settings and perform an array of tasks. Options for employment are variable from state to state and are affected by the state’s economy, the number and kind of mental health professionals seeking employment, the types of mental health facilities and the credentials required for various jobs, among other factors.

If you are considering a career at this level, it is very important, therefore, to contact the person in charge of human resources at the state department of mental health in whatever states you might like to work. Also check with the directors of the academic programs that interest you to see how many of their graduates are placed in jobs and the kind of jobs they obtain. Terminal associate degree programs are often designed to meet the needs of employers in the community served by the college, but some programs are more effective than others at integrating students into the local job market.

Some typical occupational programs are described here, but title and job descriptions will vary among schools and among states: Human Services – training to work in social welfare agencies, correctional facilities, or agencies serving special populations such as the elderly, the physically handicapped and the mentally handicapped. Employment settings may include child welfare agencies, juvenile detention centers, vocational rehabilitation services and group homes. Mental Health – training for employment in mental hospitals, mental health clinics, community mental health centers, counseling centers and crisis intervention units. Drug and Alcohol Rehabilitation Counseling – training to work under supervision as a counseling aide or paraprofessional counselor to people under treatment for abusing drugs or alcohol. Early Childhood Education – training for a job as a teacher's aide or a child care assistant in a preschool, day-care center, Head Start program or other service for young children.

People employed in these settings with associate degree training are supervised by a psychologist, social worker or teacher. Their responsibilities may include screening and evaluating new clients, keeping records, advocating clients' needs and working with parents and teachers. Working with the elderly or children may mean organizing social and recreational activities such as games and field trips, helping with personal tasks like dressing and teaching new skills like drawing. Those who work with the mentally ill may teach survival skills such as cooking or using public transportation.

Preparing for Internships, Jobs or Grad School

Resources from XPD – Experience & Professional Development:

College of Saint Benedict
Saint John’s University

Dr. Robert Kachelski
Chair, Psychology Department
CSB Main 368