So you've decided to major in psychology, but what exactly do you plan to do after you graduate? Due to the economic downturn, competition for many jobs has increased dramatically. In order to compete in today's market, it pays to carefully consider your career options and select a field that is in high demand.
While salaries can vary, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a faster than average growth for psychologists. The following are just a few of the psychology-related professions that have a strong projected job outlook. Consider some of these options as you plan your career path.
1. Career or Vocational Counselor
Average Salary: $46,000
Due to the rapidly changing job market, many people are searching for a new job in their chosen field or even changing careers. Career counselors help individuals make career decisions and utilize tools including personality assessments, interest inventories and other evaluation measures. They often start by looking at a client's interests, job history, education, skills and personality characteristics in order to determine which careers are a good match. They also help clients work on building skills, practicing interviews, improving resumes and locating job openings. Assisting clients who are dealing with job loss or employment-related stress is also common.
2. School Psychologist
Average salary: $59,440
School psychologists work in educational settings to help children deal with emotional, academic and social problems. Thanks to increased interest in the mental health of children and federal education legislation, school psychology has rapidly become one of the fastest growing fields. The demand for qualified school psychologists exceeds the number of candidates available, which means that job opportunities are plentiful.
Average Salary: $47,530
Counselors help a people with a wide variety of problems, including marriage, family, emotional, educational and substance abuse issues. Nearly half of all counselors work in health care or social welfare settings, while another 11-percent work for state and local governments. While requirements vary, almost all states require at least a master's degree in order to become a licensed counselor. Typical work settings include K-12 schools, colleges and universities, hospitals, mental health clinics and private practice offices.
4. Genetics Counselor
Average salary: $71,100
Genetics counselors help provide information about genetic disorders to couples and families. These professionals typically have graduate training in both genetics and counseling, and many have undergraduate degrees in areas such as psychology, social work, biology, nursing and public health. Genetics counselors often work with a team of medical professionals, including doctors, nurses and geneticists to offer support, guidance and assistance to families who have a family member with a genetic disorder or who may be at risk of passing down an inherited disorder to their offspring.
5. Forensic Psychologist
Average Salary: $59,440
Forensic psychologists apply psychology to the fields of criminal investigation and law. This has rapidly become one of the hottest psychology career trends thanks to numerous portrayals in popular movies, television programs and books. While the field may not be as glamorous as it is depicted in the media, forensic psychology is still an exciting career choice with a lot of potential for growth. Forensic psychologists often work with other experts to resolve child custody disputes, scrutinize insurance claims, perform child custody evaluations and investigate suspected child abuse.
6. Engineering Psychologist
Average Salary: $79,818
Engineering psychologists use psychology to investigate how people interact with machines and other technology. These professionals use their understanding of the human mind and behavior to help design and improve technology, consumer products, work settings and living environments. For example, an engineering psychologist might work as part of a team to redesign a product to make it more efficient and easier to use in a work situation. Those working in academic settings report the lowest earnings, while those working in the private sector report higher salaries.
Average Salary: $81,100
Clinical psychologists assess, diagnose and treat clients suffering from psychological disorders. These professionals typically work in hospital settings, mental health clinics or private practices. Clinical psychology is the single largest employment area within psychology, but there are still plenty of jobs available for qualified professionals. In order to become a clinical psychologist, you must have a doctoral-level degree in clinical psychology and most states require a minimum of a one-year internship. Most graduate school programs in clinical psychology are fairly competitive.
8. Sports Psychologist
Average Salary: $45,000 to $80,000
Sports psychologists focus on the psychological aspects of sports and athletics, including topics such as motivation, performance and injury. The two major areas within sports psychology are centered on helping improve athletic performance or using sports to improve mental and physical health. Sports psychologists work in a wide variety of settings including universities, hospitals, athletic centers, private consulting practices and research facilities.
9. Industrial-Organizational Psychologist
Average Salary: $97,820
Industrial-organizational psychologists focus on workplace behavior, often using psychological principles to increase worker productivity and select employees that are best-suited for particular jobs. There are several different specialty areas within industrial-organizational psychology. For example, some I-O psychologists train and assess employees, while others evaluate job candidates. While there are some job opportunities at the master's-degree level, those with a doctoral-level degree in industrial-organizational psychology are in greater demand and command significantly higher salaries.
10. Special Education Teacher
Average Salary: $47,650
While slightly outside of a traditional psychology career, the field of special education offers a great deal of opportunity for those who enjoy helping children. Special education teachers work with students with a variety of disabilities. In order to become a special education teacher, you must have at least a bachelor's degree and complete a teacher training program in special education. Because of the increased enrollments in special education programs and a shortage of qualified teachers, job demand is strong and expected to grow.