A degree in psychology can open the door to a rewarding career. An undergraduate degree in psychology is a great foundation for a career in counseling and human services. New psychology graduates often find employment in entry level positions providing counseling and direct support to people with mental health and developmental disabilities. Career opportunities with an undergraduate degree in psychology can be limited in salary and can involve working with aggressive clients in psychiatric hospitals and detention centers. As you gain experience, there are opportunities to advance to more clinical positions.
A graduate degree in psychology provides a better opportunity for career advancement. A graduate degree in psychology can further prepare students for more leadership positions in the workplace. Supervisory positions often require a graduate degree in addition to work experience.
A graduate degree with additional certification can open the door to even more opportunities for growth. Psychology graduates usually pursue the Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) or become Licensed Clinical Psychologists. A licensed clinician can advance into director positions as well as move on to private practice. Depending on the state, additional course work and 2,000 to 4,000 clinical hours must be completed along with a state examination to become licensed.
1. Case Manager- Case managers provide overall service coordination for clients in need. There are many job opportunities for case managers. They can work in mental health, developmental services, early intervention, and foster care. Case managers also work in hospitals and assist with discharge planning.
2. Social Worker- Social workers are similar to case managers in that they are responsible for service coordination. Social workers also work in areas of Child Protective Services (CPS) and Adult Protective Services (APS). These positions investigate claims of abuse and neglect and assist with referrals and long –term support.
3. Intake Clinician- Intake clinicians often work psychiatric hospitals and provide the initial screening for patients entering the hospital. They also work in public and private agencies providing screening so that clients receive the most appropriate services.
4. Residential Counselor- Residential counselors provide direct support to children with emotional disabilities and adults with mental health and developmental disabilities.
5. In-Home Counselors/Mentors- In home counselors provide counseling services and support in the home and the community. Mentors typically work with children and teens with emotional and/or developmental disabilities. Mentors provide support with community integration and the development of social skills.
In-Home Counselors/Mental Health Support Counselors- work with children and adults who have both mental health and developmental disabilities. In-Home counselors provide more therapeutic services and work on developing independent living and coping skills.
6. Mental Health Technician- Mental health technicians work in psychiatric hospitals and provide support to people with mental illness. This is usually an entry level position that can be mentally and physically draining. They often have to work with patients that are in a mental health crisis due to non-compliance with medication and/or substance abuse. They also provide support for those who are hospitalized for suicidal and homicidal threats.
1. Professor- In most states a Master’s degree in Psychology is all that is required to teach at the community college level. However, a Doctorate degree is usually needed to teach at most four-year colleges and universities.
2. Social Work Supervisor/ Case Manager Supervisor/Unit Supervisor- Most supervisors in private and public social services agencies require a graduate degree and significant experience in the human services/psychology/counseling field.
Graduate and Certification Jobs
1. Licensed Professional Counselor- Licensed professional counselors (LPC) provide outpatient counseling and assessment in both public and private agencies. Licensed professional counselors can also start their own private practice.
2. Substance Abuse Counselor- Certified Substance Abuse Counselors (CSAC) provide substance abuse and addiction counseling in public agencies and private practice.
3. Licensed Clinical Psychologist- Clinical Psychologist usually earns a Ph.D in Psychology or a Psy.D in Clinical Psychology. Clinical psychologists are often responsible for assessment and providing counseling services. Clinical psychologists also provide services in private practice and service as clinical directors in public and private practice.