Careers in Psychology

by Jordan Fabel | Last Updated: October 18, 2021

The psychology field offers many different career options. Before you choose psychology as your major, it’s a good idea to know what direction it can take you.

Finding the right career matters. Whether you’re getting ready to graduate or trying to choose the right major, consider the following careers in psychology.

Careers in Psychology

Top 14 Careers in Psychology

1. Psychiatrist

Of course, one of the most common careers in psychology is one as a psychiatrist. You will need eight years of post-undergraduate study to enter this career. A bachelor’s degree is a good start, but you will also need to graduate from medical school and complete your four-year residency.

While the education requirements will take many years to complete, Psychiatry is one of the highest-paying options for careers in psychology. The salary will average about $216K per year, depending on the area you choose to specialize in.

2. Neuropsychologist

With a doctorate in neuropsychology, you can enter this type of career in psychology. As a neuropsychologist, you’ll work with cognitive science and specialize in the study of the brain. This field is filled with cognitive tests and working with those suffering from brain injuries.

It’s common for neuropsychologists to work at hospitals, mental health clinics, research centers, pharmaceutical labs, and colleges. The average salary for this position is about $90K.

3. Psychiatric Technician

Psychiatric technicians or Psy Techs will be put in charge of a patient’s mental wellbeing. They will report the mental and emotional state of a patient to the medical staff. Some of the other duties will include assisting with the rehabilitation programs, personal hygiene, and administering medications to mentally ill patients.

This career in psychology can be very physically demanding. The average base salary starts between $22K and $47K, and you won’t need an advanced degree like other careers in psychology.

4. Aviation Psychologist

As an aviation psychologist, you will study pilots, flight crew members, and air traffic controllers. Some of your duties may include conducting safety research, evaluating potential employees, selecting pilots, designing flight decks, and training flight crews in communications.

5. Sports Psychologist

As a sports psychologist, you will work with athletes to help increase their performance. You may work with golfers on the mental side of the game or help a basketball player get his/her mind right before a big game.

This psychology career will require a master’s or doctorate in sports psychology or a related area. It’s a career you can enter if you want to work with athletes and have an interest in sports.

The average salary for a sports psychologist is about $55K per year. However, if you work with professional athletes, you will likely earn six figures.

6. Forensic Psychologist

If you want to enjoy a career in psychology and you’re fascinated by the criminal side of things, becoming a forensic psychologist is a good fit. This career usually requires a doctorate, but some jobs are available for those with a master’s degree. It’s best to get a degree in counseling or forensic psychology.

A forensic psychologist may help develop criminal profiles, deal with child abuse cases, prepare witnesses for court, provide expert testimony, and offer law enforcement training. If you want to work with law enforcement, but you don’t want to join the police force, this could be the right career for you.

As a forensic psychologist, you can earn an average salary of about $60K per year.

7. Industrial-Organizational Psychologist

An industrial-organizational psychologist will tackle workplace issues. They can help companies increase worker productivity and develop market research. You may also be in charge of helping choose the right employees for a specific job.

An industrial-organizational psychologist will need at least a master’s degree. If you want to open up more doors, a doctorate can earn you a higher salary and give you more opportunities.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average annual salary for this position is close to $150K if you’re working in scientific research. You can work at a college, university, or another type of school and earn a salary closer to $70K.

8. Clinical Psychologist

When you become a clinical psychologist, you’ll be trained to diagnose, treat, and even prevent mental illness. It’s one of the largest areas for careers in psychology. You can work in a hospital, private practice, or mental health clinic.

While you will need a doctorate in psychology, it takes more than just an advanced degree to make a high salary. You will need a one- or two-year residency, and you will need to pass the state licensing exams.

As a licensed clinical psychologist, you can earn around $54K with about five years of experience or less. However, once you have ten or more years of experience, you can make a six-figure salary.

9. Engineering Psychologist

Becoming an engineering psychologist means you need a master’s degree. If you want to open up more doors, you’ll need a doctorate.

This career in psychology will work to increase efficiency and improve the systems of a company. Your duties will also include improving productivity and making sure injury is minimized.

While the average salary is about $80K, those working in the private sector can earn even more. Jobs are also available in the university setting.

10. Clinician

As a clinician, you will administer and score psychological testing. You will work under a licensed psychologist. You will need to graduate from a clinical psychology program and have some administration experience. The salary starts between $10K and $20K, but more experience can equate to more pay.

11. Substance Abuse Counselor

A very fast-growing career throughout the US, a substance abuse counselor works with patients addicted to substances. It may be someone addicted to cocaine, alcohol, or another type of substance.

It’s necessary to have the right academic background and good communication skills. Experience working with patients going through the recovery process is a plus.

Some states will require certification or a license to become a substance abuse counselor.

This career in psychology has a starting salary of around $25K and can make around $40K with some experience.

12. Special Education Teacher

It’s not a common psychology career, but it still fits into the field. As a special education teacher, you’ll work with children in need of special help due to a variety of disabilities.

You will need a bachelor’s degree, and you will also need to complete the teacher training program for special education. This is a growing field with a high demand for qualified teachers.

13. Traffic Psychologist

If you want to use psychological principles to understand driver behavior better, you can become a traffic psychologist. This type of career in psychology includes some of the following duties:

This type of career will include multiple disciplines, such as social psychology, cognitive psychology, and behavioral psychology. You might need to assess how an individual personality impacts the emotions or attitude of a driver.

14. School Psychologists

Entering into a career as a school psychologist means you will be working with students. You will likely collaborate with teachers, doctors, and parents to help students overcome behavioral, academic, social, and emotional issues.

It’s necessary to complete a 60-credit school psychologist specialist program, leading to an EdS or master’s degree. About one-third of school psychologists get a Ph.D., EdD, or PsyD degree.

The average salary for this career in psychology is nearly $60K per year.

Even More Psychology Career Options

While the 14 careers listed above are the most common and some are very high-paying, there are several other options in the psychology field. If you want to enjoy an incredible career in psychology, you should choose carefully. There are many excellent options including:

All of these careers in psychology offer great options for those looking to help people. If you’re fascinated by the mind, a career in psychology is likely a good choice for you. Many industries are looking for employees with advanced degrees in psychology.

Jordan Fabel

Jordan Fabel

Covering different 'paths' that people's lives can take. Creative, foster parent, ticket dismissal, you get the idea. Exploring the requirements, certifications, exams, and obviously, approved courses along each path. I, personally, am the high school dropout son of two teacher parents. So how did I get here? That story is coming soon!