Career pathways are often at the forefront of soon-to-be graduates mind’s —and often even on the mind’s of sophomores and juniors — as you prepare to make the decision of whether to apply to graduate programs or not. In the field of psychology, there are myriad career pathways — some require different levels of graduate education, but some are possible with just your BA. Take a look at a brief (but certainly not exhaustive) list of ideas below!
I’m interested in getting a Master’s or PhD — which degree is suitable for what position?
Positions requiring graduate degrees in psychology will often involve some level of direct therapy with patients. Often, attaining a Master’s in psychology alongside licensure can provide you with the qualification to work as a counselor in an organizational setting, as a Staff Psychologist, and as a School Psychologist. Something to consider for these types of positions is what clientele you would prefer to work with. Obviously, school psychologists will work with children and adolescents, whereas a staff psychologist will work with members of a specific organization’s staff to ensure good health and mental well-being in a work environment.
Getting a doctorate — PhD or PsyD — in psychology, along with appropriate licensure, opens the door to private practice as a Clinical or Counseling Psychologist. This will enable you to work 1:1 with patients in a private setting — either your own or someone else’s clinic. Additionally, if you’re interested in leading your own research or teaching, a PhD is a requirement for many positions in academia.
I only want to get my BA in psychology, or I’m not sure about graduate school — what opportunities are out there for me?
While clinical and counseling therapy positions require higher education, there are plenty of positions in mental health that only require you to have a BA in psychology — and some you can even start while still pursuing your degree. For example, an Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) Instructor typically requires a BA, or even occasionally just the current pursuit of a BA, where you will get to work as an interventionist for educating and treating children with autism and autism-spectrum disorders.
Additionally, you could look into becoming a Mental Health Case Manager, where you will oversee a caseload of clients with long-term mental illnesses. Rather than providing direct therapy treatment, case managers help clients assess their needs and implement or review plans for service, while also connecting clients with community resources.
Finally, if you’re interested in pursuing research, or want to explore research as a career pathway without committing to years of graduate schooling, most Research Assistant positions in Psychology require a BA in psychology or other related social science. Research assistant experience also looks excellent on future graduate school applications, if that does end up being a possibility in the future.