Careers with a Bachelor's Degree
About 50% of Scranton B.S. psychology students will immediately seek full-time employment after they graduate. The good news is that, of the psychology majors entering the labor force one year after graduation, 98% were employed.
Psychology is the third or fourth most popular college major. Approximately 125,000 seniors graduate with a degree in psychology each year, but many are not necessarily interested in a career as a psychologist. The National Center for Education Statistics reports that 20% of psychology baccalaureate recipients work in social services or public affairs, 21% in administrative support, 14% in education, 10% in business, 10% in sales, 9% in service personnel, and 5% in health professions. An additional 3% find themselves working in computer science and an equal percentage in biological sciences.
The career of "psychologist" is not open to the BS psychology graduate. American psychology has clearly made the decision that the doctorate – and the master's degree in school psychology – is the entry-level qualification. Therefore, we cannot honestly speak of the baccalaureate in psychology as preparation for a career as a licensed psychologist. Similarly, a baccalaureate degree in political science does not qualify an individual to practice law, and a baccalaureate in biology does not make one a physician.
All this is to say that the study of psychology at the bachelor’s level is fine preparation for many professions. The argument that a psychology degree prepares students for multiple careers is supported by the National Science Foundation. They determined that psychology baccalaureate recipients work in a broad range of careers: 30% in management or administration, 28% in sales or professional services, 16% in teaching, and 12% in production or inspection.
Looking specifically at college graduates' prospects in business, two major studies examined the relation between college experiences and management potential. Undergraduate major was the strongest predictor of managerial performance and progress. Psychology majors fell within the category of behavioral/social science, the group with the best overall record, with particular strengths in interpersonal abilities, verbal skills, and motivation to advance.
The one general weakness of social science majors was in quantitative ability. Psychology, however, is the exception in providing a quantitative background. This attests to the value of our requiring competence in math, statistics, and research methods.
What a Psychology Major Provides
The liberal arts education with a psychology major at the University of Scranton enhances those skills critical to job success. These prominently include:
- Critical thinking
- Oral communication
- Interpersonal skills
- Writing ability
- Problem-solving skills
What Employers Seek
Dozens of research studies have now examined the applicant characteristics that employers prioritize when hiring. Here we summarize the results of 3 studies from that large literature.
Employers participating in a survey conducted by the American Management Society were asked to select from among 9 traits the most important characteristic of candidates applying for an entry-level college graduate position. The percent rating each item as most significant was as follows (from Pilla, 1984):
- Personality/motivation 35%
- Education background 20%
- Communication skills 16%
- Scholastic performance 12%
- Intelligence 5%
- Work-related experience 2%
Implications for job-seekers thus include: practicing your interviewing skills; polishing your communication style; maintaining a positive grade point average; and seeking career-relevant work experiences.
In sum, psychology graduates are entering all kinds of occupations. The bachelor's degree in psychology affords flexible employment. You are obviously not limited to positions in mental and psychological services. Your degree can lead to a multitude of exciting careers. It is up to you to capitalize on the opportunities and to decide the direction.
A Plethora of Job Opportunities
Students often think only of psychiatric hospitals as employment sites for those interested in work related to psychology. Listed below are many types of agencies and settings. In all of these, persons with bachelor's degrees have found interesting and challenging positions which utilize their knowledge of psychology.
- Community Relations Officer: works either for business or government in promoting good relations with the local community.
- Affirmative Action Officer: works for recruitment and equal opportunities for minorities; employed by business, industries, schools and government.
- Management Trainee: plans and supervises operations of a business concern.
- Urban Planning Officer: deals with city planning, renewal
- Personnel Administrator: works with employee relations, selection, promotions, etc.
- Advertising Copywriter: researches audience and media.
- Media Buyer: researches products and audiences to select effective media for advertising.
- Health Educator: gives public information about health and disease.
- Psychological Technician: administers routine tests, helps with patients under supervision of a psychologist.
- Director of Volunteer Service: recruits, supervises, trains and evaluates volunteers.
- Public Statistician: collects and interprets data on health and disease.
- Customs Inspector: serves at international borders in investigations and inquiries.
- Probation/Parole Officer: persons with psychology backgrounds are often preferred for such positions, especially with adolescent parolees.
- Technical Writer: researches and writes material dealing with social science for magazines, newspapers, and journals.
- Sales Representative: publishers of psychological books often seek out psychology majors.
- Opinion Survey Researcher: does opinion polls and interprets results.
- Daycare Center Supervisor: supervises activities of preschool children.
- Research Assistant: assists in the collection and analysis of data.
- Laboratory Assistant: working with animal behavior research, especially primate laboratories.
- Scientific Instrument Salesperson: opportunities in sales and development for companies specializing in psychology apparatus.
We have not listed the numerous kinds of "clinical" positions available to many students with a bachelor's degree in a variety of social service and mental health agencies.
The University of Scranton's Center for Career Development conducts an annual survey on post-graduation employment. Our B.S. psychology graduates in recent years are working as:
Administrative Case Manager
Patient Services Coordinator
|Behavior Support Assistant||
Personal Care Assistant
|Direct Care Counselor||
Public Relations Representative
|Direct Support Professional||
|Drug/Alcohol Treatment Specialist||
Educational Treatment Counselor
|Research Program Assistant|
|Ensign – United States Navy||
School Behav. Health Worker
|First Grade Teacher||
Second Lieutenant -- US Air Force
Second Lieutenant -- US Army
|Head Pre-School Teacher||
Headhunter for Technology
|Special Education Development|
Human Resources Specialist
|Special Education Teacher|
Intensive Care Manager
|Training and Development Specialist|
|Language and Culture Assistant||
Transportation Security Officer
|Life Skills Trainer||
TSS for Autism
U.S. Army Reserves
Volunteer for Jesuit Volunteer Corps
|Mental Health Counselor||
Volunteer for Mercy Volunteer Corps