What To Do With A Career In Psychology

Psychology is one of the most popular majors offered at Binghamton University, and for good reason! The major provides an excellent foundation for a career in a variety of fields, whether in clinical psychology, research, business, and more! Psychology is broad enough that it offers flexibility in a career path, but also provides basic skills such as critical thinking, empathy, and communication that are necessary for any workplace. Psychology majors can choose to take their education in many different directions depending on their interests, and this article will highlight a few of these career paths to inspire students. 

  • Counseling Psychology

Counseling psychology is what usually comes to mind first when people think about a career in psychology. This career involves diagnosing and treating mental disorders through the assessment and use of various diagnostic and intervention strategies. Students who have strong research skills, a desire for lifelong learning, and a commitment to helping individuals may want to consider a career in counseling psychology. Typically, a doctoral degree and state licensure is required to practice as a counseling psychologist.

  • School Psychology

School psychologists focus on assessing and meeting school-aged children and adolescents with behavioral or learning difficulties. Their work supports various aspects of children’s lives, including their academic, social, emotional, and behavioral needs. School psychology is for students interested in working with children and making a positive difference in the lives of the next generation. Each day in the life of a school psychologist looks different, as their responsibilities may vary with the changing environment of the school throughout the academic year.

  • Forensic Psychology

If you frequently find yourself watching crime documentaries, a career in forensic psychology may be for you! Forensic psychology is a unique field that combines aspects of psychology, law, and criminal justice. Common responsibilities include assessing the mental competency of criminal defendants, delivering treatment plans to adult and juvenile offenders, and sometimes serving as an expert witness in court. This career field involves a high level of investigation, assessment, research, and consultation, as well as being familiar with the law. 

  • Industrial and Organizational Psychology (I/O Psychology)

I/O Psychology is a unique field many people are not familiar with that involves the study of human behavior in the workplace. The nature of this work combines aspects of business and psychology, and is similar to that of consultants- they identify problems within the workplace, develop and implement training programs and solutions, and then evaluate the performance of both individuals and organizations. I/O psychologists might also research how things like social norms, attitudes, and management styles influence behavior in the workplace. 

  • Human Resources (HR)

Another career area that combines aspects of psychology and business, HR is a great fit for psychology students who have background knowledge in human behavior and want to improve workplace culture and performance. HR professionals are responsible for hiring and managing employees, addressing work-related issues, and implementing training programs. The strong communication skills and understanding of human behavior that psychology majors learn through their degree programs are beneficial to an HR career, as HR professionals work with employees with many different personalities, behaviors, and needs. 

  • Research 

Students who worked in a research lab at Binghamton and are passionate about continuing this work beyond college may want to explore careers in research psychology. Research psychologists typically work at higher education institutions, non-profit organizations, or government agencies, where they conduct research studies to better understand the way people think and act. Researchers often publish their findings in scientific journals and present their findings at conferences to further the field of psychology. Some jobs within research and development include clinical trial administrators, research scientists, and lab managers. Many researchers also work as academic professors within their discipline of research.

  • Behavioral Psychology

A number of different careers fall under the field of behavioral psychology, which studies observable behavior and how environmental factors influence it. Two common behavioral psychology careers include an Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapist and an addiction counselor. ABA therapists mainly work with children on the autism spectrum, helping them to increase positive behaviors and decrease negative behaviors. This work is accomplished by conducting assessments and developing treatment plans that involve the use of techniques such as positive reinforcement and modeling. Addiction counselors work with individuals with substance use disorders to create a personalized treatment plan to help them overcome their addiction. They also provide interventions in times of crisis, offer referrals, and educate a patient’s family and friends so they can better understand the complexities of addiction. Each of these careers involves the application of behavioral psychology techniques that psychology majors are taught in college courses. 

  • Marketing

Marketing is an excellent way for psychology majors to demonstrate their analytical skills while also being creative. Marketers are responsible for spreading the word about organizations and the products and services that they offer based on market research and data. They do this through a variety of different channels, such as paid advertising, organic search, emails, social media, influencers, and affiliate programs. Psychology majors have a greater understanding of the way people think and act, therefore assisting them in understanding consumer behavior and the way customers perceive a company while in a marketing role.

  • Advising

Becoming an academic advisor is an excellent way for psychology students to use their active listening skills, empathy, and multicultural competence to support students’ individual needs. Academic advisors provide direction based on students’ educational and career goals and have a high level of understanding of particular degree programs and requirements. A good academic advisor can positively influence a student’s academic career and success, and psychology majors who hope to provide the next generation with this same support may want to become an academic advisor. 

Psychology majors have so many options to choose from when considering their careers. Each student has their own strengths and career interests they can tap into when exploring careers involving psychology. Nearly every career field involves aspects of psychology, as knowing how people think, act, and work together is a very important factor in the workplace. Ultimately, a degree in psychology can open so many doors and provide an excellent foundation in transferable skills such as interpersonal communication, empathy, and cultural competency that are applicable to any career. 

Check out this specialized resource for students interested in careers in psychology: https://www.binghamton.edu/psychology/advising/careers.html

By Valerie Stracquadanio
Valerie Stracquadanio Senior Experience Consultants