Psychology is one of the most popular fields of study in American colleges today. According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), 116,500 bachelor’s degrees in psychology were awarded to students in 2018-19. That’s about six percent of all bachelor’s degrees earned that year, and a 120 percent jump over 2009-10.
That reflects the broad utility of an education in psychology, but something many of those graduates end up asking themselves is, what can I do with a master’s in psychology? Is it worth pursuing advanced studies in the field? Does a master’s-level education mean earning a higher salary? Does it lock you in to work as a psychologist, and does it give you a complete education to become a psychologist, or will you need more?
Psychology is a rich field of knowledge that you can apply in pretty much any kind of work that deals regularly with human beings.
Human psychology is a vital part of everything from human resources to marketing to healthcare. Anyone equipped with a master’s degree in the field is sitting on top of a prime load of useful skills and information to be a success in any of those fields or more.
Of course, before you can explore any of these options, you are going to need to go out and actually earn that master’s degree in the first place.
What Can I Do With a Master’s in Psychology?
Let’s start with what you can’t do with a master’s in psychology, first. You can’t become a fully licensed clinical psychologist in any state without at least a doctorate in the field. But a master’s is a step in that direction if that’s your ultimate goal.
When you do start looking at the career and job possibilities for master’s in psychology, though, you’ll find a lot of options on the table both in treatment and in fields you may not even think of as being related. In fact, after looking at some of the opportunities we’ll describe here, you might even come up with your own new and innovative applications for that advanced psychological training.
What can you do with a master’s in psychology as a clinician?
Maybe you are interested in performing clinical psychological work but can’t quite stretch to fit a doctorate into your busy schedule or limited budget just yet. That’s no problem. What can you do with a master’s in psychology in clinical treatment? Options include:
- Become a school psychologist. Most states require only a master’s degree for these positions.
- Become a licensed psychological associate. Some states have a special limited scope license for psychologists who practice under doctorally-licensed psychologists that you can get with only a master’s degree.
- Become a licensed counselor. With a master’s in counseling psychology, you can be licensed as a counselor in most states to treat patients in a wide variety of settings.
What Types of Careers With a Master’s in Psychology Are Available?
You will find master’s in psychology programs available in all different types of concentrations. In fact, you’ll get a lot more flexibility to choose your career with a master’s degree than you would with a doctorate.
You can find a program offering a master’s in forensic psychology and go to work sleuthing with a CSI unit in dark underpasses and exploring criminal minds.
You can pick a concentration in social psychology and take the marketing world by storm as you leverage your understanding of consumer psychology to craft effective sales strategies.
Or you can become a leader and manager in just about any field with a degree in industrial-organizational psychology and use your understanding of motivation and influence to propel staff to new heights of productivity.
What Jobs Can You Get With a Master’s in Psychology?
You probably already got the picture that you are going to be swimming in potential job offers with a master’s in psychology. Those will include many conventional psychology related positions such as:
- School psychologist
- Psychology researcher
- Adjunct psychology instructor
- Counselor or therapist
But you can also spread your wings a lot wider when thinking about what you can do with a master’s in psychology. In some ways, it will be up to you to define the jobs you can get. Just about any field related to human psychology that requires a master’s degree—or even lesser degrees—is on the table.
That means you can think about leading a user experience department at a tech startup if that’s the kind of human interaction that interests you. You might find yourself drawn to helping kids and families after you earn a master’s in child psychology. Go out there and start a new non-profit in family services with that elite psychology expertise at your fingertips!
The only really limit on what jobs you can get with a master’s in psychology will be your imagination.
Master’s in Psychology Salary Potential
Not only are there plenty of jobs out there, but they tend to offer relatively high salaries. After all, earning a master’s degree is a pretty big accomplishment. Employers look for new hires with the grit, resolve, and smarts to get through those kinds of programs and throw money at them. Those companies know something that you should know: you are well worth their investment with a master’s in psychology in your back pocket.
Master’s graduates in psychology have a strong earning potential no matter what field they decide to pursue their career in.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of 2020, the average weekly salary bump enjoyed by master’s graduates over those with a bachelor’s degree was $240. That’s almost $1,000 more a month you can count on earning over the course of your career just for having a master’s degree on your resume.
How much do you make with a master’s in psychology?
It’s impossible to cover the wide range of possible salaries you can tap into with a master’s in psychology in hot industries like technology or finance. But you can get a quick snapshot of what you are worth by looking at the Bureau of Labor Statistics data for the job category of psychologists, which includes master’s-prepared professionals.
In 2020, the median salary level for psychologists was $82,180. In the category of industrial-organizational psychologist, that median was $96,270. And for clinical, counseling, and school psychologists, it came to $79,820.
Is it easy to find master’s in psychology jobs?
A quick hunt of any job board will turn up hundreds or even thousands of possible master’s in psychology jobs all over the country. It all depends on how wide you decide to cast your net.
Like any career, the most desirable jobs are going to have the greatest competition. So you’ll want to back your master’s in psychology up with real-world street cred as well. Scoring the right internships as part of your degree or earning related practical experience on the job before you go for your degree are the best ways to stand out in a crowded market.