Psychology Careers

Why You Should Pursue a Career in Psychology

Psychology is the study of the mind and behavior through examining the connections between brain functions and actions as well as environment and behavior interactions. Psychologists apply their learnings to help individuals with behavioral and mental disorders improve and maintain their well-being. 

According to the American Psychological Association (APA), there are many fields of psychology that focus on particular aspects of the mind, behavior, environment, or developmental level. A career in psychology can be pursued in brain science, environmental, industrial/organizational, counseling, developmental, forensic, and health to name a few! When considering a career in psychology, you could think first about who you want to help and why. If you are interested, for example, in the criminal mind - you may find yourself in forensic and public service psychology. If research is more your niche, you can consider quantitative or brain science psychology.

Psychology Career Roles
Psychology Career Role
Cognitive Study of how individuals obtain, perceive, process and store information.
Environmental Understanding how human behavior affects our environments.
Clinical Study by observation and experimentation to promote change in individuals with mental, emotional, and behavioral disorders.
Counseling Understanding the influence of human traits in problems and people across different ages.
Developmental  Study of how people grow, develop, and adapt at different life stages.
Experimental Exploring theoretical questions about human behavior to prove or disprove through experimentation.
Forensic Conduct evaluations and assessments that inform legal and judicial systems and proceedings.
Health Study of the factors that permit individuals to be healthy, recover from illness or cope with conditions.
Human Factors and Engineering Study and application of interactions between humans and products, devices, and systems.
Industrial and Organizational Study of human behavior in the workplace.
Rehabilitation Support individuals with physical or developmental disabilities to adapt and pursue wellness.
School Apply theories of human development to understand individual learning and inform instruction.
Social Study of interpersonal relationships.
Sports Identification and application of psychological principles to influence peak sport performance, physical ability and human performance.

The APA states that psychologists are doctorate level professionals who complete coursework in ethics, statistics, biological and social bases of behavior, psychological assessments, and different types of therapeutic approaches. Some psychologists pursue licensure to prescribe medication after completing advanced and specialized training.

When you choose a career in psychology, your day-to-day could be different from another psychologist. Some assess, diagnose and treat mental, emotional, and behavioral disorders while others may work with physically or developmentally disabled individuals only. Further according to the APA, majority of psychologists will typically engage in the following responsibilities:

  • Conduct research on behavior and brain function
  • Identify and diagnose mental, emotional, and behavioral disorders
  • Manage psychological assessments
  • Create and research papers and reports to share with others in the mental health field

Careers with a Psychology Degree

There are a variety of available careers with a masters in psychology. Professionals have many different paths they can pursue upon receiving their graduate degrees.

Masters-level graduates can work in a variety of sectors including:

  • Schools
  • Hospitals
  • Private practice
  • Nonprofit organizations
  • Private healthcare clinics
  • Government/military

Securing a job after graduation may require additional internships, coursework, or licensure. Furthermore, some careers, as mentioned above, will require doctorate degrees. Thus, it is vital that prospective students understand the limitations associated with masters-level psychology degrees. For more information, see our guide on how to become a psychologist.

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Earn Your Master of Arts in Psychology from Pepperdine University.


Doctorate degrees are often required in both academia and research-based studies. Furthermore, many supervisory or director roles also need a doctorate. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) as of September 2019, the majority of clinical, counseling, and research psychologists require a doctorate degree. However, master’s level graduates in psychology can work as a psychological assistant in clinical, counseling, or research under a doctoral psychologist.

Psychology Job Outlook

The psychology career outlook varies largely depending on the field and specific degree obtained. Research from the BLS, as of September 2019, indicates that the job outlook for psychologists is expected to rise 14% between 2018-2028 (the average growth rate for all jobs is currently 7%). The BLS cites the following reasons for growth: greater demand in psychological services, care for an aging population, increased awareness between mental health and learning, and increased organizational effectiveness for organizations.

As the field continues to evolve, psychology careers are increasingly requiring flexibility and adaptability. Many professionals may work in multidisciplinary settings in conjunction with other service providers. Likewise, healthcare changes and insurance costs continue to make a significant difference in how professionals render their services.

Psychology Salary

When it comes to the average masters psychology salary, the range varies significantly. According to the BLS in September 2019, a psychologist earns an annual average of $79,010.

However, as mentioned, many psychologist careers require a doctoral degree. The combination of clinical, counseling and school psychologists (which calculates professionals in all relevant industries and sectors) make a median salary of $75,090.

With respect to masters in psychology salary subgroups, each profession also varies. For instance, Marriage and Family Therapists earn a median salary of $50,090 per year. Scientific Research and Development Services psychologists appear to have the highest pay scale, with the average wage currently at $119,690.

The field of psychology can offer tremendous room for growth and opportunity. Graduating professionals have the invaluable ability to work in a variety of sectors serving diverse populations and giving back to their communities.

Last updated: April 2020