17 Careers for Psychology Graduates

If you want to know what you can do with a psychology degree, you've come to the right place. Here's a list of the kinds of careers and jobs where a psychology degree is essential, preferred or at least useful.

A Bachelor of Psychology is a generalist degree in many respects. Graduates have well developed writing and analysis skills. That's good preparation for jobs spanning government, teaching, research and administration.

However, the list focuses on careers where a psychology major offers genuine value. They include:

  • clinical and other professional roles for registered psychologists
  • social welfare careers (for which further study may be required), and
  • alternative career streams that are popular among psychology graduates.

Career success often depends on gaining additional specialist skills to complement psychology studies. The list was created by analysing job ad data.

Case Manager

Case managers work in fields such as social and human services and community programs. Educational requirements vary, but many require a degree in a social sciences subject (such as psychology) and some field experience. If you’re a caring person with good listening skills and want to help people, a case management position might be a good fit. Try to get field experience while completing your degree.

Job titles: aged care case manager, AOD (alcohol and other drugs) case manager, case manager, case manager (children, youth and family), case manager-victim support, case worker, case worker and operations manager, case worker / group worker, child and family caseworker, family support caseworker, migration support program caseworker, rehabilitation case manager, youth alcohol and other drug worker, youth case worker.

Child Care Worker

A psychology degree (especially with a focus on child psychology) is an excellent foundation for child care workers. You’ll need to earn a Certificate III in Early Childhood Education and Care and/or Children’s Services to embark on this career. If you eventually decide that you want to progress to a centre manager or coordinator role, you’ll need to also earn a Diploma of Early Childhood Education and Care.

Job titles: advanced child care worker, child care manager, child care worker, children’s services room assistant, early childhood educator, family day care coordinator.

Child Psychologist

As a child psychologist, you’d diagnose and address issues leading to behavioural and emotional problems in children and adolescents. The most common path to becoming a child psychologist is to complete an accredited master’s degree or PhD after a bachelor’s degree in psychology. Registration with the Psychology Board of Australia is required. If you plan to work as a child psychologist, make sure that child psychology is a strong focus in your bachelor’s degree and the main one of your graduate degree and research.

Job titles: child and adolescent mental health clinician, child and family psychologist, child psychologist, child and family therapist, kids early action program (KEAPS) clinician, psychologist-early intervention, school / child and adolescent psychologist, school psychologist.

Clinical Psychologist

Clinical psychologists assess and address mental illness and abnormal behaviour. These professionals rely on their extensive knowledge of the science of psychology when addressing human problems. Many clinical psychologists work in private practice. If you think that clinical psychology is the field for you, you’ll need to fulfill the requirements of the Australian Psychological Association and Psychology Board of Australia for registration. One path is to first complete a bachelor’s degree and then a masters or PhD.

Job titles: clinical neuropsychologist, clinical psychologist, clinician, college psychologist or counsellor, community clinician (mental health), community mental health clinician, consultant psychologist, counselling psychologist, family therapist / mental health clinician, forensic assessor, mental health clinician, psychologist, psychologist / therapeutic specialist, psychologist-senior (prison mental health services), relationship psychologist, therapeutic clinician.

Communications Specialist

A psychology program develops your ability to understand and communicate effectively with others, making it good preparation for a career in communications. One of a communication professional’s most important duties is to create and promote a positive image of the client or organisation they represent. They run social media campaigns, write media releases, and often carry out more general duties related to communications for and within the company.

Job titles: communications specialist, community liaison officer, external communications officer (social justice and inclusion), publicist, public relations coordinator, public relations specialist.

Counsellor

Counselling psychology specialist.

Counsellors help their clients recognise and work through issues, and the emotional difficulties that result from them. One of the primary techniques these caring professionals use is talking therapy. Some of the skills and attributes most vital to a successful counselling career include excellent listening skills, communication skills, empathy and patience. Counselling is a core professional activity for many psychologists in private practice. If you want to become a registered counsellor, you can enrol in a Graduate Diploma of Counselling program after your psychology degree. The program should be approved by the Australian Counselling Association.

Job titles: counsellor, counsellor advocate, counsellor (clinical services team), counsellor and intake clinician, crisis counsellor, drug and alcohol counsellor, family counsellor, psychologist, school counsellor, senior counsellor, sexual assault counsellor, rehabilitation counsellor, student counsellor.

Educational and Developmental Psychologist

Educational and developmental psychologists have specialised expertise in the stages of life (early childhood, school years, adolescence, adulthood, and later adulthood) and the specific challenges that people typically experience in them. These professionals are found in settings such as schools, health care facilities, government agencies, and academia. You’ll need to obtain a master’s degree or PhD to become a registered psychologist.

Job titles: educational and developmental psychologist, kids early action program (KEAPS) clinician, senior behavior support specialist, senior psychologist (education).

Human Resources Specialist

Your degree in psychology and the insight it has given you into human motivation and behaviour is a useful background for HR. HR specialists screen, interview, and recruit new workers for their organisations. HR departments are also responsible for workplace training, compensation and benefits, and employee relations. To enter this field, you may want to combined psychology with business studies in your degree, complete a certificate or diploma in HR, and/or seek work experience in an HR department.

Job titles: human resources assistant, human resources coordinator, human resources intern, human resources manager, human resources officer, human resources services advisor, human resources specialist.

Manager

Managers need strong communication skills and a solid understanding of human behavior and motivation. This means that your psychology background makes you a good candidate for this challenging role. A few common managerial responsibilities include coaching employees; addressing problems with performance and dealing with termination; training newly hired employees; and helping to ensure the realisation of company goals.

Job titles: assistant manager, centre manager, coordinator-cultural services, manager, project manager, project officer, training manager (not-for-profit community services), project coordinator, program coordinator, program leader, senior project officer, team coordinator, team leader, telephone and acute counselling services manager.

Marketing Specialist

Marketing careers rely on the same kinds of skills and knowledge that you build in psychology studies. Marketing specialists create and implement marketing campaigns and strategies. These professionals also carry out research and analysis to find out which products are most likely to sell. If you want to work in this field, you'll probably need to start with an entry-level position. Formal education in marketing (such as a graduate diploma) will make you more competitive.

Job titles: community marketing officer, marketing coordinator, marketing research coordinator, market research intern, market research analyst, marketing officer, marketing specialist.

Office Administrator

The organisational and interpersonal skills you developed during your psychology studies will give you a distinct edge in the office administration field. Office administrators carry out administrative and management duties that ensure the people they work with can do their jobs well. Office administration jobs are found in wide range of workplaces. Examples include governmental agencies, non-profit organisations, corporations, and small businesses.

Job titles: administration officer, administrative support officer, office facilitator, paralegal, receptionist and administrative assistant, program administration officer, reception and office coordinator.

Organisational Psychologist

Organisational psychologists have specialised knowledge and expertise in the application of psychological concepts, theory, and practice to workplace dynamics. These professionals can be in-house employees or work as independent consultants. If you want a career in this field, you should enroll in a master’s or PhD program in psychology. Make sure to make organisational psychology your research focus.

Job titles: organisational employee welfare psychologist, organisational psychologist.

Probation and Parole Officer

Probation and parole officers carefully monitor individuals who have been given parole from prison or detention, as well as offenders who are under community-based orders from court. They work to help in the rehabilitation and reintegration of offenders, with the goal of preventing them re-offending and returning to prison. As formal qualifications aren’t a requirement for probation and parole officer jobs, your psychology degree will help set you apart from and above many other candidates. You must be a citizen or permanent resident of Australia to work in this field.

Job titles: electronic monitoring surveillance officer, probation and parole officer, probation services officer, justice officer - offending behaviour program (OBP).

Research Psychologist

Research psychologists are fully qualified psychologists who build a career focused on research rather than clinical practice. They are most often found in academic settings (such as universities), but many work in private industry, as well. Research psychologists who work in academia are most often professors, and must teach as well as conduct research. Pursuing a PhD in psychology is your best bet if you think a career in research psychology is the path for you.

Job titles: postdoctoral fellow in psychology, postdoctoral research fellow, research analyst, research associate, research fellow, research psychologist, resident researcher.

Sales Professional

Sales is a popular career path among psychology graduates. This makes sense, as people with training in psychology have a highly developed understanding of human behavior and motivation. It can give them an edge over competitors. Many careers in this field will give you room to grow and progress. Find an entry-level job in a sales-related field and move forward from there. Experience is extremely valuable.

Job titles: applications sales representative-advertising, advertising sales representative, customer experience consultant, customer service representative, customer service / receptionist, outside sales representative, regional sales representative, sales representative.

School Teacher

A psychology background is an excellent one for a career as a primary teacher. If you think that this is the career for you, you’ll need a Master of Teaching (Primary Education) or equivalent. Some personal characteristics that make for a successful teaching career include empathy and patience; leadership skills and the ability to motivate; organisational skills; and a friendly and approachable manner.

Job titles: kindergarten teacher, primary school teacher, special education teacher, teacher, teacher aide, teacher librarian, teacher special education.

Social Worker

To pursue a career in this field, you’ll need to enroll in a Master of Social Work degree program after finishing your psychology degree. A master’s degree program accredited by the AASW (Australian Association of Social Workers) is necessary to gain licensure and practice as a social worker in Australia. Social workers must care about others and want to improve their lives, and need to be observant and empathetic. These professionals require highly developed listening, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills.

Job titles: child protection caseworker, child protection counsellor, child protection practitioners, community services worker, community services manager, community support worker, school social worker, school wellbeing practitioner, social worker.

Jobs in Australia

'Psychologist' is a significant occupational category but represents just one of the career options for psychology graduates. Some of the biggest potential employment areas are teaching, marketing and public relations, human resources, and welfare support.

Projected job numbers by 2022

Primary School Teachers 166,000
Advertising, Public Relations and Sales Managers 157,200
Human Resource Professionals 66,600
Welfare Support Workers 63,800
Human Resource Managers 52,800
Social Workers 34,700
Psychologists 33,600
Public Relations Professionals 28,100
Health and Welfare Services Managers 26,700
Child Care Centre Managers 19,800
Social Professionals 14,100
Personal Care Consultants 10,000

Source: Department of Employment, Australia 2017

Graduate Psychology Degrees Online

If you have a university degree (not necessarily psychology), you have some great options for studying psychology online. Through accelerated study, you can earn the equivalent of a bachelor or honours degree in psychology.

Graduate Diploma in Psychology

Monash Online's Graduate Diploma in Psychology is the equivalent of a 3-year bachelor degree in psychology. The 100% course is accredited by the Australian Psychology Accreditation Council and is open to university graduates. You study in an uncomplicated way, which is by focusing on 1 unit at a time. Each takes around 6 weeks. The 10-unit program can be completed in just over 1.5 years of part-time study.

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Graduate Diploma of Psychology Advanced

Monash University offers a 100% online psychology program that's equivalent to an honours (4th year) degree. The Graduate Diploma of Psychology Advanced is open to students with a bachelor degree or graduate diploma in psychology (and strong grades). The course consists of 8 units (requiring 1.4 years of part-time study). After graduating, you're eligible to register as a Provisional Psychologist. To be a Registered Psychologist, you can then do a 2-year internship (via the Psychology Board of Australia). Each student collaborates with a supervisor via a Psychology Research Portal.

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Resources: Australia's best online courses in psychology, Job ideas for psychology majors (Rutgers), Personal benefits from studying psychology (Mallory)