Did you know that about 6% of college graduates majored in psychology? While this may seem like a small number, it actually suggests a growing interest in psychology — without overcrowding the field. Psychology is a much broader field than many people understand, with lots of people segueing from a bachelors of psychology degree to a graduate degree that’s quite different. For example, a person could take their bachelors of psychology degree and, depending on what school they attend, move on to a masters of adult education, or something else entirely. Of course, there are also plenty of graduate and postgraduate psychology programs in the country. Lots of people continue their psychology study all the way through their doctoral degrees. As we begin to understand the importance of psychology more and more, students become increasingly interested in it — yet they aren’t sure about the kinds of careers they can expect to pursue after they’ve finished their studies. We do know that college degrees are important for those entering the work force, or for that matter re-entering it — in 2013 alone, 89% of college-educated millennials worked full-time, and 83% of people who attended college report that their degree paid off. But still — where do you go after you’ve received a bachelors of psychology? Does it always mean pursuing medical school or a doctoral degree, or do you have other options? Below, we’ll discuss a few possible career paths for those who received their bachelors of psychology degree.
This is probably the first career field people think of for those with psych degrees. But a psychiatrist’s role isn’t necessarily what many people imagine it to be. Lots of people think of Freud when they imagine psychiatry; they think of someone talking with their patients and essentially helping them figure out their emotions. While psychologists often do this, a psychiatrist is more likely to handle the medical side of mental health problems — things having to do with brain chemistry and hormones and the body, as much as they have to do with the mind. This doesn’t mean that a psychiatrist doesn’t talk to their patients about emotional traumas and problems; but they aren’t necessarily going to handle things like therapy themselves, even if they advise it. A psychiatrist is a qualified medical doctor, having gone to medical school like any other doctor. They’re able to prescribe medication, and can help patients figure out a complex treatment program. With that being said, this might not be the right career path for those who want to focus more on the emotional side of things.
Therapists focus much less on medication — in fact, most are not qualified or allowed to prescribe medication — and more on coping skills. Therapists can specialize in a wide variety of different fields. Some focus on family therapy, while others work with couples. Some may also focus on very serious issues, like substance abuse or sexual abuse. Therapists need to have a very calm nature, and the ability to absorb the potentially stressful things their clients discuss without being too emotionally impacted. They help their clients build up coping skills and progress to a point where they don’t necessarily need to see a therapist on a regular basis — ideally, though this isn’t possible for every person. A therapist is also a sounding board, giving advice and helping people look at their lives a bit more objectively.
3. School Counselor
A school counselor can handle one of two things — or sometimes both, depending on the school. While some school counselors focus on the academic side of counseling students, others help them on an emotional level. They’re there for students to talk to — and as many low-income students don’t have access to therapists or psychiatrists, this is a truly important position. School counselors are also available to ensure that if students are being abused at home, the authorities are immediately alerted. They’re there to advocate for students above all else.