Psychology can be a desirable liberal arts major for students seeking employment in a variety of settings with a bachelors degree. Since psychology majors have acquired in-depth knowledge of how and why people think, feel, and behave as they do, many employers prefer them to graduates from narrow vocationally oriented majors.
To get a good job after graduation, the psychology major must actively plan for it during his/her undergraduate years by:
For those students who qualify, graduate training will aid their job prospects; however, a determined and resourceful psychology major can and will get a satisfying, psychologically-relevant job with just a bachelor’s degree. But he/she has to work at it.
If you desire to be employed specifically as a psychologist, you should remember that 95 percent of the people employed as psychologists have an advanced degree in psychology (e.g. MA, PhD, PsyD). For this information, refer to the section on MA level employment.
Although a bachelor’s degree in psychology will not prepare you to become a professional psychologist, an undergraduate major can mean that a student graduates with both a strong liberal arts education and adequate preparation for entry-level employment in one of many career paths. The undergraduate years are an excellent time for exploring careers through courses, conversations with people who have careers that interest you, internships, and part-time jobs.
Summer work and part-time jobs not only provide you with exposure to different fields, they also give you practical experience that can be attractive to employers. And sometimes these jobs can lead directly to employment after graduation. As part of the undergraduate curriculum, there are often opportunities for field experience, independent study, and research. Any of these may give you excellent work experience. By the time you graduate with a bachelor’s degree, it is possible to have assembled a resume with work experience attractive to employers.
Besides the requirements for a major in psychology, take courses that relate to your vocational interests. Some colleges have formal, structured emphases for majors. Example of these are courses in industrial/organizational psychology, mental health services, developmental psychology—disabilities, management, applied psychology, behavior modification, and biopsychology. The first option could require taking psychology electives such as industrial psychology, personnel psychology, educational psychology, sensation and perception, and interviewing, supplemented with courses in economics or marketing. The vocational goal of a student in this type of program is obviously to work in business. (Includes Information from the American Psychological Association, 1993.)
For more information about possible career paths for B.A.-level psychologists, please see the Careers page at the Undergraduate Advisor.