Psychology can open up numerous exciting career pathways and help you develop a range of transferable skills that are sought-after by employers in a variety industries across the globe.
Here, we’ll take a look what you can do with a psychology degree, why it can be useful, and where it can take you in your career, helping you decide if this is the right pathway for you.
Reasons to study psychology
‘Why should I study psychology?’ is a question which passes through the minds of hundreds of thousands of prospective students every year. For some, pure curiosity in the subject itself is enough to inspire their educational pathway. Understandably though, many students like to have a more concrete understanding of what their degree can lead to, and what they can expect in the future as a graduate of a psychology programme.
Psychology develops a range of vital transferable skills that are sought-after by employers in nearly every industry. Aside from the academic skills such as critical thinking, psychology students work towards a greater understanding of human behaviour. We spend the majority of our waking lives interacting and forming relationships with other people – so having a better understanding of how we behave (and why) is useful in nearly every walk of life, both professionally and personally.
As we’ll explore in more depth later on, psychology degrees can be the perfect gateway to other higher education programmes. A bachelor’s degree in psychology, for example, will open up the opportunity to study nearly any master’s degree in the humanities, helping you develop a wide-ranging set of transferable skills that will be of use not only in your professional life, but also if you choose to further your education.
If graduates opt to use their degree to stay in the field, working as a psychologist or psychiatrist is a highly lucrative vocation. Fully-qualified professionals are increasingly in-demand, and salaries are often above national averages, and you can frequently find interesting specialities within the subject that may unlock even more earning potential.
What skills will a psychology degree give you?
Many of the transferable skills that are inherent in a psychology degree ring true through many humanities subjects, and are invaluable to employers in a range of industries. These include things such as critical thinking, research, decision-making, problem-solving, and teamwork skills.
Importantly, a psychology degree places a critical emphasis on communication skills. As the course is an early stepping stone towards becoming a psychiatrist or psychologist, it is understandable that such a focus should be placed on being able to communicate effectively with people while demonstrating empathy and compassion. Again, these skills are sought-after and recognised in a huge range of professions which require human interaction on a day-to-day basis.
The research methods you’ll engage with on a psychology course give you the tools to better understand the world around you and how information is presented. This could be newspaper stories and articles, to magazines, journals, adverts, movies or television shows – you’ll be able to separate fact from fiction, and in a world where the term ‘fake news’ dominates the public conscious, this can be as invaluable a skill as any.
On top of that, psychology cultivates students’ abilities to understand and analyse human behaviours – a skill that, many would argue, is useful in almost every job. Furthermore, courses accredited by the British Psychological Society (BPS) contain extensive teaching on statistics and research methodology using scientific methods. This equips students with the ability to understand and work with quantitative and qualitative data, another trait that is highly sought-after by employers.
What can you do with psychology degree?
The beauty of a psychology degree, as we’ve already stressed, is its versatility. Believe it or not, only a small percentage of psychology graduates go on to work in branches of psychology such as clinical, educational, counselling, occupational, occupational, forensic, health, or sports psychology. For many, a psychology degree allows them to go on and work in fields such as human resources, careers advice, careers counselling, advertising, and market research.
The academic rigour of a psychology degree means some students are committed to, and prepared to follow an academic route with a psychology graduate programme. For those students looking towards directly-related psychology jobs – such as becoming a chartered psychologist and registering as a practicing psychologist, postgraduate studies are essential and are requisite to taking the qualifying exams. Some graduates choose to go on to study, research, and teach at Masters and PhD level to complete the academic pathway and become a fully-trained professional.
However, students don’t just have to follow the psychology pathway. Many use a psychology undergraduate degree as a launching pad to help give them a grounded bachelor’s education from which they can go on to study master’s programmes in nearly every humanities subject - from law and history, to teaching and literature. Wherever you see your career going, psychology is sure to give you a great platform upon which you can work towards achieving your professional and academic goals and aspirations.
What are the financial advantages of a psychology degree?
Aside from the lucrative potential career pathways in government, human resources, and marketing, the increasing demand for psychology experts means the field is willing to pay more for qualified professionals. According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), fully qualified psychologists (in the US) earn a median salary of $72,580 per year, which is nearly double the annual average occupation wage. This can go up to $94,590 for psychologists who specialise in a specific field.
Are there any disadvantages to having psychology degree?
As is true with many of the humanities subjects, it could be argued that those who want a more focused career pathway usually choose a subject which points them in a more obvious direction, such as finance, or engineering. A psychology degree can open up innumerable career pathways – which can be overwhelming for those who prefer a clearer direction mapped out for them. However, if you are open-minded, curious, self-motivated, or even focused on what you want to do in particular within the field, then psychology could be the perfect degree for you.
Students pursuing a direct path in psychology face similar hurdles as other professions in the medical field. Going the full route to becoming a fully-trained professional is time-consuming, and challenging. Furthermore, working in the field can be emotionally stressful, as is any profession which takes such an intense focus on humans and their behaviour. Thankfully, psychology graduate programs help equip students to deal with these challenges, which can ultimately lead them into a rich and rewarding profession.
What is the future career outlook with psychology degree?
Job growth depends on which industry you decides to venture into, although marketing and HR are particularly popular careers to pursue with a psychology degree, and are fast growing as well. Other major employers of psychology graduates include local and national governments, the media, police forces, prisons, schools, colleges of further education, and social services.
As previously mentioned, courses accredited by the British Psychological Society (BPS) put a focus on qualitative and quantitate data analysis and research. That means students with these degrees are highly sought-after in fields such as healthcare, law enforcement, finance, IT, and research.
According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), jobs in psychology are also growing at a positive rate, much faster than the average rate for other occupations measured. They believe that in the next decade, jobs for psychologists will grow 19 percent, and opportunities for clinical, counselling, and school psychologists could rise even higher.
So, as we’ve demonstrated, earning a degree in psychology is an excellent opportunity for students who are looking to begin their pathway to becoming a qualified psychology professional, or those looking to build a platform from which they can go into a number of other exciting professions in a range of industries. The skills graduates will take with them from the course remain useful and applicable throughout life, both professionally and personally. If you’d like to learn about human behaviours to enhance your professional skill set, or begin your path towards becoming a fully-qualified psychologist of psychiatrist, why not consider studying an online psychology degree?
MSc Psychology (BPS)
The MSc Psychology (BPS) is an online master's programme that explores the core areas of clinical psychology to improve ethical and evidence-based decision-making skills.