Bachelors In Psychology
A Bachelor's in Psychology focuses on major foundational areas of psychology along with an overview of more specific advanced topics. Areas of study may include: human development, abnormal psychology, childhood psychology, adolescent psychology, brain and behavior, cognitive psychology, emotion and motivation, beginning statistics and research methodology, social psychology, neuropsychology and environmental psychology. This list is by no means exhaustive.
You will graduate with a good foundation in factors that affect why people behave and respond the way they do. You will also develop an understanding of basic concepts of research and statistics. Even within a Bachelor's degree there will be some choice in the areas you can focus on. Typically you will be able to choose some upper level elective courses. For example, you could choose personality psychology over biological psychology or vice versa. Some programs may even have formal concentrations in one area like child psychology or biological psychology.
A Bachelor's in psychology can prepare a recipient for a wide variety of career paths. Of course, a Bachelor's in psychology would be useful for any type of career involving working with people or a need to understand human behavior, but is not limited to these areas.
You may have heard the claim that you cannot do anything with a Bachelor's degree in psychology. What is really meant by this statement is that you cannot work in psychology with just BA/BS degree. This statement is not completely true, but keep in mind that this statement could apply to most undergraduate majors. Very few majors will allow you to really practice directly in your field of study with just a Bachelor's degree. Even with a degree in a more “hard” science like chemistry, biology, or physics, opportunities for work directly in the field with just a Bachelor's may be limited to lower level lab work. In addition, these types of positions are typically intended to give individuals experience to later pursue graduate study.
Even majors that many consider more applicable to the job world, like economics or business, have limitations. You may have more opportunity to directly apply your knowledge in an entry level job, but many positions will not require it. Also, more senior and advanced positions will still often require at least a Master's or MBA. There are really only a handful of majors where a Bachelor's degree is really a ticket to working in a profession right away -- some examples include nursing, education, and some areas of engineering, computer science and accounting.
The point here is that psychology is not really different from most majors with regard to career focus. In fact, most students who pursue a Bachelor's degree do not end up working directly within their major field of study. This does not mean that their studies were worthless - far from it. Instead, their studies served as a foundation for leading into a broader career. If you plan to get a job after pursuing a Bachelor's degree you will either seek or land a job in a field related or unrelated to your major. No matter what your major your options are always going to be larger in fields outside your area of study. It may be true that directly-related career prospects within psychology will be a bit more limited than some other fields, but really not that much more so than most.
The main point to consider with a psychology Bachelor's is not what you can do in psychology but how competitive is it with all the other Bachelor's degrees that are competing for jobs not directly related to their field either, such as chemistry, math, history, English, sociology, geology, economics, art history, etc. A degree in psychology offers a good balance in terms of skill development and knowledge. Not only will you have a good background in understanding the forces that shape peoples behavior, but also in evaluating and conducting research and analyzing data. These are some fundamental skills that will be valued at most jobs and you can market to employers.
The question you need to ask is not “what you can do with a psychology degree, but rather what can a psychology degree do for you.” The answer is that you will be provided with a solid foundation in broadly useful skills that you can market and transition into success in different job fields.
Psychology is also a great pre-professional major. Fields such as Medicine, Dentistry, Law, Chiropractic and other professional occupations are really very people focused professions. A major in psychology offers a good balance of understanding behavior and scientific analysis.
That being said, there are some career tracks where a Bachelor's degree in psychology will be a requirement, or at least an advantage, and will qualify you for entry-level positions. Some ideas and sources of information are included below but this is by no means an exhaustive list.
Human resources - type of positions can vary widely in scope of duties but a foundation in understanding human behavior and detail-oriented research skill are desirable.
"National Human resources association: http://www.humanresources.org/website/c/
Recreation Therapist or Recreation Program Manager - Work environment could vary widely while developing and implementing activity programs for children, geriatric or mentally and/or physically disabled populations. Generally some applied experience training and/or certification will be required.
American Therapeutic Recreation Association: https://www.atra-online.com/
Certified Behavior Analyst- Certification is possible at the Bachelor's level with some specialized training. Behavior Analysts use a particular form of applied behavior modification working with individuals. Many jobs in this field involve working with children with developmental disorders such as Autism.
Behavioral Analysis Certification Board: www.bacb.com
Addiction counselor - It is sometimes possible to work in a limited capacity in addiction counseling with only a Bachelor's degree. Typically you will need some specialized training and being supervised by a more senior counselor. A graduate degree is often required for more advanced and independent work in this area.
The Association for Addiction Professionals http://www.naadac.org/
Psychiatric Technician - Typically works in an assistant level role in a major psychiatric hospital. Responsibilities vary and could range from helping administer medication to monitoring behavior or aiding in patient evaluation. Usually state licensure will be required but can be attained through apprenticeship type of positions.
American Association of Psychiatric Technicians: http://www.psychtechs.org/about.shtml
Psychological Coach - Such as Health and Wellness Coach or Life Coach. This is a bit of a new field but growing in popularity. Like a therapist, a coach works with individuals using professional techniques. A coach differs from a therapist in that they do not focus on psychological problems or issues (and cannot legally treat such issues). Instead a coach works to help clients create and attain goals, such as sticking with a health program or finding a job. They may use various psychological coaching tools and assessments to help this process. Coaches do not legally require a license. This fact allows many more people to enter the field with various levels of experience but creates a problem in consistency and quality of service for the field. There are a number of professional organizations that offer training and certification programs.
International Coach Federation: http://www.coachfederation.org/
Wellness coaches school of coaching: http://wellcoachesschool.com/
Probation/Parole Officer - Monitors and assists criminal offenders in their efforts to rejoin society or prevent future transgressions.
The American Probation and Parole Association: http://www.appa-net.org/eweb/
Victim Advocate - A victim's advocate is an individual that works in the legal system and provides support for victims of crimes such as assault, domestic violence, rape, etc. A victim's advocate helps by referring victims to appropriate programs that can meet their needs such as mental health counseling, government housing/shelters, food stamps, and victim's reparations. Victim's advocates also work with lawyers to make sure the victim's needs and desires are being met as well as possible through any court trials or hearings. If victims are required to testify in court, victim's advocates also attend to provide emotional support. Victim's advocates may also ask victims to write statements for the court process.
Disability Advocate - Another type of advocacy career that a Bachelor's of psychology degree can be useful for is advocating for those with disabilities such as brain injury or other mental difficulties. Because it can be very difficult for people with disabilities to make sure their bills are being paid, and that their basic needs are being met, there is a great need for individuals who can and will assist and advocate for them.
An advocate for this population may help by setting up a payee for monetary benefits and advocating and overseeing such that people with disabilities are placed in living situations that meet their specific needs with the least necessary assistance from others. These advocates also watch for signs that people with disabilities may be being taken advantage of or abused. If the advocate finds out that they are being abused, the advocate would report this because they are required to report any abuse by others of a vulnerable adult.
National Disability Rights Network: http://www.ndrn.org/index.php
Case Management - Some examples of careers that involve case-management are the division of child protective services, vocational rehabilitation, and government agencies that offer programs such as heat and food assistance. A Bachelor's in psychology degree allows a person to teach parenting classes and/or other life skills classes as needed. Case-management also entails helping people create goals and plans for the future.
Commission for Case Management Certification: http://ccmcertification.org/
Each of these types of degrees brings different salaries. The following table provides self-reported salaries for select job titles and can help provide a rough gauge of salary ranges for different career tracks available with a Bachelor's degree in psychology. However, bear in mind that salaries can vary widely with the area of the country and whether you are working in an urban or rural setting.