Psychology is a major which leads well to many different career choices, both within and outside Psychology. The major is widely respected by both the academic and non-academic world, by graduate and professional admissions committees and by employers in both the business and service sectors. Now that you have chosen to major in Psychology, you can begin the process of deciding the ways you will use that experience as you select and plan for the right career for you.
A major in psychology can be a good start to a career in medicine or psychiatry. In contemporary mental health, psychiatry plays a vital leadership role, and psychiatrists are the only mental health professionals who can prescribe pharmaceuticals. For students thinking about a pre-med track, psychology majors receive a head start by learning about the science of living organisms, how they behave and think, what motivates them, how they relate to one another, how you can improve your skills in relating to them, how they feel, and what can go wrong with them.
Students with an interest in working with people, computers, and mathematics will find excellent career opportunities in Quantitative Psychology and Behavioral Statistics. Students with BA or MA degree may work as research assistants or statistical assistants in medical research centers, industry, or government agencies-any setting where information is subjected to statistical analysis. Statistical assistants usually work closely with researchers collecting data.
Master's level (M.A. or M.S.) school psychologists are typically employed in the public schools. A state-approved training program and state certification are required. Certification can usually be obtained after 60 hours of graduate work and a 1 year supervised internship. A career in Child Psychology requires graduate training at either the Master's or Doctoral level. At the Doctoral level, there are three separate specializations involving children Child Clinical Psychologists, School Psychology, and Applied Developmental Psychology.
Counseling psychologists foster and improve normal human functioning across the life span by helping people solve the problems, make the decisions, and cope with the stresses of everyday life. They work with people by assessing their needs and providing a variety of therapies ranging from behavior modification to interpersonally oriented approaches.
Research Psychology is a category of research opportunities within psychology. Virtually every branch of psychology, from clinical, developmental, to experimental conducts research on the topics of interest to it.
The business world is one of the many career fields for which an undergraduate specialization in Psychology may be particularly appropriate. An undergraduate major in Psychology typically includes courses in Personality, Motivation, Social Psychology, Group Process. These courses and others contribute significantly to the understanding of the "how's" and "why's" of human behavior and how people behave in an organizational or business setting.
Clinical psychologists assess and treat people's mental and emotional disorders. Such problems may range from the normal psychological crises related to biological growth (e.g., rebellion in adolescence, inadequate self-esteem at midlife) to extreme conditions such as schizophrenia or depression.
Organizational and industrial psychologists are concerned with psychological factors in business and industry; they are concerned about the "human factor" in work organizations. Psychologists in this group might help design personnel practices, selection and promotion procedures, organizational hierarchies, tests to match people with appropriate jobs, persuasion techniques for sales and marketing, and working conditions which improve morale and productivity.
Students choose to major in psychology in part because they are interested in human motivation and the human condition. Many aspects of law deal with the human condition and with human behavior. Psychology majors are frequently exposed to content areas easily translated into the concerns of mental health law, criminal law, and family law.
Neuroscience is one of the most exciting professional or scientific disciplines extant. Many have hailed the brain as the last major scientific frontier. Neuroscientists of various types hold faculty positions and do research in departments of chemistry, biology, anatomy, psychology, genetics, psychiatry, pharmacology, and neuroscience at universities, medical schools, veterinary schools, and research institutions (e.g. National Institutes of Mental Health).
Although clinical and counseling psychologists provide psychotherapy to individuals, families and groups, counseling is also done in a number of settings by persons whose post-graduate training is not psychology. This can include clinical social work, pastoral counseling, Licensed Professional Counseling, and "Christian Counseling."