Careers in Psychology

CAREERS IN PSYCHOLOGY

 

A Guide to Jobs Available for BA - level Psychologists

 This information is for undergraduate psychology students at Texas A&M-Kingsville who wish to enter full-time employment after completing a bachelor’s degree.  While the Master’s. and Ph.D. remain the only degrees with which one can enter professional positions that are labeled “Psychologist,” over the past few years an increasing number of students with a bachelor’s degree have found stimulating and interesting career opportunities in numerous fields, often utilizing their interests and knowledge of human behavior gained through a psychology degree program and the critical thinking and research skills obtained from their classes in statistics and experimental psychology.

 

Developing Career Skills

Academic preparation for a career in psychology requires taking courses in which you learn how to do something.  While all courses have some practical value, some courses more clearly translate into job skills.  Examples of such courses within the Department include PSYC 4308 Psychological Testing, PSYC 4304 Family Therapy, PSYC 4302 Personnel and Industrial Psychology, and PSYC 3315 Health Psychology.

Other valuable skills can be obtained from courses in business administration, marketing, journalism, speech, English composition (for editing, technical writing), biology, social work, math/statistics, and computer science, among others. Finally, an excellent way to build job skills as an undergraduate is to volunteer.  Likely places for volunteers include hospitals, social agencies, schools, nursing homes, and youth programs. Many times a volunteer experience can turn into a full time job upon graduation.

Jobs with the State and Federal Governments

Government is big business.  The federal and state governments are the country’s largest employers of psychologists. Most of the kinds of occupations found in private industry are found in the government, too.  Compensation is competitive.  A variety of benefits: Vacation and sick leave, injury compensation, group life insurance, health plans, and retirement programs make Federal employment attractive, also.  Similar benefits may be offered by State Agencies. 

The Federal Career Directory – A Guide for College Students describes a variety of Federal career positions and jobs for college graduates.  Among positions which are relevant to psychology majors with a B.A. or B.S. degree are the following: psychology technician (e.g., in a VA hospital or research laboratory), correctional officer, employment assistant specialist, manpower development specialist, social science analyst,

Writer-editor (scientific and technical writing), and statistician (for candidates with a strong background in math and statistics, plus courses in social sciences).

Most federal positions are filled on a competitive basis under the civil service merit system.  You will receive a civil service rating on the basis of your education, experience, and performance on written examinations (if required for the particular job).   If you meet the requirements for a particular job announcement, then your name will be put on a list of those eligible.  Appointments to jobs may be made from within federal agencies, e.g., by promotion of employee or by hiring a qualified employee form another federal agency. However, when a job is to be filled from a list of those eligible, appointments are made by choosing any one of the three top-ranked eligible individuals.

Where Do I Look for Positions?

Students often think only of psychiatric hospitals and mental health agencies as places for employment of those interested in work related to psychology.  Listed to the right are many other types of agencies and settings.  In all of these, individuals with bachelor’s degrees have found interesting and challenging positions that utilize their knowledge of psychology.

We have not listed the numerous kinds of “counselor” jobs that are available to many students with a bachelor’s degree in a variety of social service and mental health agencies. Usually you can find out about such opportunities through contacting your local community service agencies. 

Some examples include:

  • Bishop Senior Center
  • Christus Spohn Hospital
  • Coastal Bend Kids Clinic
  • Coastal Plains Mental Health
  • Family Planning Center
  • Texas Family Counseling Service

More information about these and other community agencies can be obtained from the Jav-A-Community – Community Service Directory at:

 http://www.tamuk.edu/studentorganizations/studentorganizations_files/pdf%20format/Directory%20-%20Update%204-13.pdf

Many of these programs provide interesting possibilities with adequate pay; while they do not always have much of a future as a career, for a beginning post bachelor’s position they can be quite challenging.

Much useful information about job opportunities might be gained through a series of telephone calls and/or letters to the personnel departments of area businesses, hospitals, research institutes, newspapers, military bases, departments of corrections, mental health agencies, child care centers, nursing homes and all the service agencies that one finds listed in the brochures for United Fund giving. 

 

TYPES OF JOBS AVAILABLE

  1. Community Relations Officer:  Works either for business or government in promoting good relations with the local community.
  2. Affirmative Action Officer:  Works for recruitment and equal opportunities for minorities; employed by business, industries, schools, and government.
  3. Recreation Worker:  Plans and supervises community recreation facilities. (Increasing number of opportunities available for therapeutic recreation workers, often requiring coursework in therapeutic recreation. 
  4. Urban Planning Officer:  Deals with city planning, renewal.
  5. Personnel Administrator:  Works with employee relations, selection, promotions, etc.
  6. Advertising copywriter:  Researches audience and media, writes text of advertisements.
  7. Media Buyer:  Researches product and audiences to select most effective media for advertising.
  8. Health Educator:  Gives public information about health and disease.
  9. Vocational Rehabilitation:  Counsels persons with handicaps and illness in preparation for new vocations (some states require an M.A. degree for this position).
  10. Psychiatric Assistant:  Administers routine tests, helps with hospitalized patients under supervision of psychiatrist or psychiatric nurse.
  11.  Director of Volunteer Service:  Responsible for volunteer-recruits, supervises, trains, and evaluates volunteers.
  12. Public Statistician:  Collects and interprets data on health and disease and community relations.   
  13. Customs Inspector:  Serves at international borders and airports in investigation and inquiries.
  14. Probation and Parole Officer:  Persons with psychology backgrounds are often preferred for such positions, especially with adolescent parolees.
  15. Newspaper Reporter:  Social science, psychological interest, mental health areas.
  16. Technical Writer:  Researches and writes material dealing with social science and psychological knowledge for magazines, newspapers, and journals.
  17. Sales Representative:  Major publishers of psychological books often seek out undergraduates with psychology majors for these positions on college campuses.
  18. Opinion Survey Researcher:  Does opinion polls and interprets results.
  19. Daycare Center Supervisor:  Supervises and coordinates activities of preschool children with working parents.
  20. Research Assistant:  Assists in the collection and analysis of data for major investigations.  Positions usually available only in large hospitals, businesses, and government.
  21. Laboratory Assistant:  Psychology background preferred for students working with animal behavior research, especially primate laboratories.  
  22. Scientific instrument Salesperson:  Opportunities in sales and development for companies specializing in psychology apparatus.
  23. Psychometrist:  Administers, scores, and interprets psychological tests for schools and industry.
  24. Caseworker:  Counsels and aids both individuals and families requiring social service assistance. 

Additional Career Information from the American Psychological Association

 

Careers in Psychological Science http://www.apa.org/action/careers/index.aspx

Careers http://www.apa.org/careers/index.aspx

Careers in Psychology http://www.apa.org/careers/resources/guides/careers.aspx

For more information, contact:

Dr. Richard L. Miller, Chair

Dept. of Psychology & Sociology

Texas A&M University-Kingsville

Kingsville, TX 78363

Richard.Miller@tamuk.edu

Tel: 361 593-4181

This page was last updated on: September 30, 2016