If you already have or are thinking about pursuing a degree in psychology, you’re not alone. According to the American Psychological Association’s Center for Workforce Studies, about 3.5 million people in the United States held a bachelor’s degree in psychology as of 2017.
While many of them went on to pursue graduate or doctorate degrees in psychology or other fields, a solid two million (or 56% of psychology majors) did not. So if you decide not to work toward a clinical or academic career or go for another advanced degree? Don't worry; there are a huge variety of opportunities and career paths you can pursue with your psych degree.
Why a Psychology Degree Can Set You Up for Success
An education in psychology is applicable to many jobs. “Psychology graduates are particularly rich in ‘transferable skills,’ including communication, analysis, and critical thinking,” says Dinah Meyer, Chair and Professor of Psychology at Muskingum University. These skills are in high demand among large employers, Meyer says.
A degree in psychology helps you develop both quantitative skills (through classes like research and statistics) and more creative, open-ended thinking patterns. “Psychology degrees teach people how to understand human behavior and how to use data and research in real-life settings,” says Annie George-Puskar, Assistant Professor in the Curriculum and Teaching Program at Fordham University Graduate School of Education, whose background is in psychology. “These valuable skills can be applied across many fields such as business, law, education, and other social sciences.”
Basically, your psychology major can help you develop into a person with a variety of hard and soft skills and a clear understanding of yourself and other people—which can be an asset in a huge variety of jobs.
Here are eight jobs you might consider pursuing with a bachelor’s degree in psychology (along with salary information from the compensation resource Payscale):
1. HR Manager
Average salary: $67,948
Salary range: $48,000–$95,000
HR stands for “human resources” and, as the name implies, HR managers are responsible for managing all things related to the humans working for their organization—a.k.a., the employees. Depending on the organization, HR managers can work on recruiting new talent, developing employee training programs, handling employee complaints, redesigning an organization’s culture, overseeing benefits, rolling out new wellness initiatives, and just about everything in between. HR managers need to be great with people (as they’re managing the employee experience) and logistics (to manage all of the details, paperwork, and compliance issues that go along with managing the employee experience)—making this a great role for someone with a psychology background. And because most HR management roles don’t require any education above a bachelor’s degree, psych majors don’t have to worry about pursuing a graduate degree in order to land a role in HR.
Average salary: $52,238
Salary range: $38,000–$75,000
Copywriters are responsible for writing, well, copy—such as content for an organization’s website, email marketing campaigns, user experience (UX), and sales materials. Copywriters can be employed by brands directly (known as “in-house copywriters”) or marketing and advertising agencies (known as “agency copywriters”), or they can work on a freelance basis. The key to success in copywriting is to understand what motivates people—and then to use that understanding to write copy that encourages people to take action, whether that’s by signing up for a newsletter, clicking on a specific ad, or purchasing a product. Because psychology majors have a deep understanding of human behavior, they can make great copywriters (as long as they also know how to write!).
3. Marketing Analyst
Average salary: $56,346
Salary range: $41,000–$79,000
Marketing analysts are responsible for helping companies better understand their customers and industry. Market analysts typically dig into a variety of data sets and statistics on a company’s target demographic (for example, purchasing trends, market research, and customer surveys) to gain insights and help companies develop strategies on a variety of business initiatives. They might weigh in on identifying potential customers, gaining market share, or more effectively marketing to their existing customer base. Because psychology majors can translate their knowledge of human behavior to understand customer behavior and are well-versed in research, data, and statistics, their backgrounds make them ideal candidates for this type of role.
4. Sales Account Executive
Average salary: $57,372
Salary range: $36,000–$92,000
Sales account executives (often referred to as AEs) are responsible for identifying new prospects, pitching their company’s products or services, closing new business, and managing and upselling their accounts. In order to be successful in sales, AEs need to understand their customers—what their challenges are, what they’re looking for in a solution, and what would motivate them to make a purchase and close a deal. Understanding human behavior and motivation is typically a large part of a psychology undergrad program’s curriculum—which can set psychology undergraduates up for a successful career in sales. It’s worth noting that bonuses and commission are almost ubiquitous in sales jobs and are significant contributors to an AE’s earning potential. If you take into account average bonus, commission, and profit sharing in addition to average salary, the total average income potential jumps to $96,515.
5. UX Researcher
Average salary: $86,359
Salary range: $57,000–$131,000
When a company designs a product, they want to make sure that it’s going to appeal to the people they’re designing it for—and user experience researchers (often shortened to UX researchers) are responsible for making sure that happens. UX researchers gather data to try to understand the people who make up their product’s key user demographic—and then leverage those insights to help guide the design process and ensure that the final product is one that’s going to be easy and enjoyable for that target audience to use. UX researchers need a balance of both qualitative and quantitative research skills (for example, interviewing target users and analyzing user engagement data for a new site feature) as well as the ability to influence their colleagues—skills that are par for the course for psychology majors.
6. Diversity and Inclusion Manager
Average salary: $81,438
Salary range: $56,000–$125,000
Diversity and inclusion managers are responsible for fostering a workplace environment and culture that allow employees of all backgrounds to thrive. Depending on the organization, diversity and inclusion managers may have a variety of responsibilities, including crafting company policies, developing D&I training programs, spearheading D&I recruiting initiatives, and managing complaints related to harassment and other D&I issues within the workplace. Understanding human behavior and psychological concepts—including cognitive biases and psychological safety—is crucial to the role. Diversity and inclusion managers also need a strong sense of empathy, compassion, and ethics—all qualities that are emphasized in psychology undergrad programs.
7. Academic Advisor
Average salary: $44,501
Salary range: $35,000–$58,000
Academic advisors work at colleges and universities and are responsible for guiding and advising students throughout their educational journeys. This might include meeting with prospective students to help them determine if the college or university is the right fit for them, advising new students on their major options, or helping students who are struggling academically access the resources they need to improve their grades and performance. Psychology majors, especially those who’ve taken counseling courses, are often great fits for advisor roles, which require excellent communication, empathy, and other interpersonal skills.
8. Customer Service Manager
Average salary: $58,170
Salary range: $40,000–$84,000
Customer service managers are responsible for managing a company’s customer service operations. This includes both dealing with customers directly and managing and training customer service representatives to be more effective in their own dealings with customers. Customer service managers need to know how to effectively communicate, manage conflict, defuse tension (since many customers who reach out to customer service have complaints or problems), and make sure the customer feels their needs are being met. Basically, they need to understand who their customers are, why they’re reaching out, and how to make them feel heard and understood—and this is all right up a psychology major’s alley.