Although a bachelor’s degree in psychology will not prepare you to become a professional psychologist, an undergraduate major can mean that a student graduates with both a strong liberal arts education and adequate preparation for entry-level employment in one of many career paths. The undergraduate years are an excellent time for exploring careers through courses, conversations with people who have careers that interest you, internships and part-time jobs.
Summer work and part-time jobs not only provide you with exposure to different fields, they also give you practical experience that can be attractive to employers. Sometimes, these jobs can lead directly to employment after graduation. As part of the undergraduate curriculum there are often opportunities for field experience, independent study and research. Any of these may give you excellent work experience. By the time you graduate with a bachelor's degree, it is possible to have assembled a resume with work experience attractive to employers.
Besides the requirements for a major in psychology, take courses that relate to your vocational interests. Some colleges have formal, structured emphases for majors. Examples of these are courses in industrial/organizational psychology, mental health services, developmental psychology-disabilities, management, applied psychology, behavior modification, and biopsychology. The first option could require taking psychology electives such as industrial psychology, personnel psychology, educational psychology, sensation and perception, and interviewing, supplemented with courses in economics or marketing. The vocational goal of a student in this type of program is obviously to work in business.
A closely related alternative is the double major or major-minor combination. Psychology and management is a route similar to the industrial/organizational option just described. Psychology and education is a combination that could prepare a student to teach psychology in a high school or to teach special populations, such as those with mental or physical disabilities.
The student whose college or university does not offer a formal route that matches his or her career interests can fashion his or her own program. Talk to your advisor, psychology department faculty and campus career counselor about ways to increase the attractiveness of your degree to prospective employers through both course work and practical experience.
Following are some of the fields that graduates with bachelor’s degrees in psychology have entered. For more information about specific careers in these fields, check with your advisor, local library, and people working in these fields.
- administration and management
- business and industry
- child care
- employment interviewing
- health services
- marketing and public relations
- probation and parole
- psychiatric assisting
- research or laboratory assisting
- technical writing