Psychology is a popular major today–and for good reasons. For one, it’s a fascinating subject that delves into the complexities of human behavior. We’re naturally curious about what makes us tick, and psychology provides a framework for understanding that. Psychology is also a great field for those who aspire to do good for the community. But you might not have realized that getting a psychology degree doesn’t limit you to just psych-based careers. Many of the core concepts taught in psychology have broader applications. 

According to research published by the Association of American Colleges & Universities (AASU) in 2021, most employers value skills such as critical thinking, decision-making, team management, and communication skills. In other words, skills that you’ll build and develop with a psychology degree. 

Even if careers in psychology (such as clinical psychology, forensic psychology, psychotherapy, etc.) do not interest you, there are still plenty of career choices in various industries after majoring in psychology. 

Besides subject-specific classes, most psychology programs include classes designed to build skills that you can apply to virtually any job. While these skills aim to make you a better psychologist, you can benefit from them even if you opt for a different career path. 

These skills include:

  • Communication

Most psych programs teach you how to communicate clearly and ask better, more meaningful questions. While this is intended to help you build a good bedside manner, you will find it immensely helpful in any role you aim for. 

  • Ethical decision-making

Ethics are strongly emphasized in psychology courses. You are likely to learn how to weigh the pros and cons and assess potential outcomes before making decisions. Employers highly value this skill today. 

  • Critical thinking

A good psychology program will encourage you to develop critical thinking skills to solve psychosocial problems, often through case studies. This process can help you become a confident problem-solver, capable of thinking rationally, even under pressure. 

  • Empathy

Psychology programs train you to understand interpersonal nuances, equipping you to work with patients from different backgrounds efficiently. These empathetic skills are valuable in professional settings, especially in global companies with high employee diversity.

Yes, it is fairly common for students with a psych degree to change streams or careers after graduation. 

Data from the American Psychological Association (APA) shows that, in 2019, 29% of students with a bachelor’s degree in psychology opted for higher degrees in other fields. When you look at the big picture, that’s around 1.1 million students. 

In comparison, an article published by Psychology Today states that in 2016, just under 27% of recent psychology graduates in the U.S. ended up working in careers they described as being “closely related” to their major.

So, in short, while it isn’t exactly the ‘norm’ like some websites claim, many students with psych degrees tend to explore careers in areas beyond psychology. 

A psychology degree can help you establish and build a rewarding career in your area of interest. Here are some possible jobs for psychology majors in alternative fields*:

  • Business Careers for Psych Majors
    • Marketing/Advertising managers
    • Human Resources (H.R.) managers
    • Sales managers
  • Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement Careers for Psych Majors
    • Detectives and criminal investigators
    • Lawyers
    • Probation officers and correctional treatment specialists
  • Healthcare Careers for Psych Majors
    • Health services managers
    • Registered nurses (RNs)
  • Careers for Psych Majors in Entertainment
    • Film directors
    • Actors
  • Careers for Psych Majors in Education
    • Postsecondary teachers
    • Preschool and childcare center directors
    • School and Career Counselors 
  • Careers for Psych Majors in the Government or Non-profits
    • Social Workers
    • Policy Analysts

Business Careers for Psych Majors

The world of business is driven by decisions that require a strong understanding of human behavior, analytical thinking, and the ability to communicate effectively. A psychology degree can help you build all of these if you have a passion for business management. Here are some business roles you could aim for after earning a degree in psychology.

Marketing/Advertising Managers

What they do: 

Marketing or advertising managers plan and oversee the execution of campaigns designed to generate interest in products or services. They usually work with teams consisting of designers, strategists, and content marketers to build these campaigns. They also estimate demand and analyze trends to identify the best marketing approach to meet business objectives.

Median annual pay (2021):


How a psychology degree can help you become one: 

Marketing is all about understanding consumer behavior. What makes people want to buy something? What messaging will they relate the most to? Detailed answers to these questions guide marketing managers toward success. You will be equipped to solve any organization’s marketing problems with a solid understanding of psychology. A degree in psychology can arm you with communication skills, empathetic skills, and a broader understanding of human behavior – all of which can make you a great marketing manager.

Human Resources Managers

What they do: 

Human Resources Managers plan, direct and oversee hiring, training, and retaining employees. They often act as intermediaries between employees and the company’s management. 

Median annual pay (2021):


How a psychology degree can help you become one:

A psych degree can help you understand people better. How can this help an H.R. manager? For starters, it can help you gauge candidates’ personalities through interviews, making you a valuable asset in recruitment. Additionally, with a better understanding of behavioral patterns, you are likely to identify learning gaps and recommend appropriate training programs that can benefit your organization as a whole.

Sales Managers

What they do: 

Sales Managers plan sales strategies for the products and services that businesses offer. They direct sales teams, set targets, and analyze performance to maximize profits. They may also assist in planning training and development programs for sales representatives.  

Median annual pay (2021): 


How a psychology degree can help you become one: 

It is virtually impossible to sell anything without understanding your clients and consumers. With a degree in psychology, you are likely to learn empathetic skills that can help you identify potential buyers simply through their traits or behavior patterns. From real estate to automobiles to insurance, sales managers help drive business. By exercising the communication skills sharpened by your psych degree, you can work towards a profitable sales career in the sector that interests you most.

Criminal Justice Careers and Law Enforcement Careers for Psych Majors

If you’ve ever watched shows like Criminal Minds or Mindhunter, you probably already know that psychology plays a significant role in criminal justice. It is important at all levels of the criminal justice process – investigations and arrests, pretrial, adjudication, sentencing, and corrections. Majoring in psychology can help prepare you for the following criminal justice careers:

Detectives and Criminal Investigators 

What they do: 

Detectives and criminal investigators, often referred to as special agents, conduct interviews, analyze records, and help make arrests. They typically investigate more serious crimes, like assaults, robberies, and homicides. The job requirements may vary depending on the law enforcement agency or unit (such as the FBI, CIA, SWAT, etc.)

Median annual pay (2021):


How a psychology degree can help you become one:

Modern investigations often use psychological profiles of suspects to solve crimes and ensure justice is served. These profiles often require a detailed understanding of behavior patterns and abnormal psychology. A degree in psychology can make you a better investigator by arming you with an advanced understanding of such concepts. On a personal level, it can also better prepare you to face the high-pressure environment that comes with the job.


What they do: 

Lawyers advise individuals, businesses, non-profits, or government organizations on legal issues and represent them in court. They analyze the details of their cases and present facts to help resolve disputes. They also counsel clients and inform them of their legal rights. Lawyers often specialize in niches such as environmental law, tax law, copyright, intellectual property law, etc. 

Median annual pay (2021): 


How a psychology degree can help you become one:

Most psychology courses include training in research methods and data analysis. As a lawyer, these skills can make you better at gathering and analyzing evidence to support your arguments. Understanding human traits can also help you analyze the behavior of clients, witnesses, and jurors, which can be useful in building a strong case. With further education and certification, you could pursue a career as a trial lawyer, mediator, or judge and make a meaningful impact in the legal field. If you are interested in solving legal issues, explore the possibilities of combining your psychology degree with legal studies, as it can provide a strong foundation for pursuing a fulfilling career in law.

Probation Officers and Correctional Treatment Specialists

What they do: 

Probation officers, parole officers, and correctional treatment specialists supervise and assist with rehabilitating formerly incarcerated individuals, i.e., they help former inmates lead better lives outside prison. Correctional treatment specialists, often called case managers, advise probationers and parolees and develop rehabilitation plans for them to follow. This often includes evaluating inmates through questionnaires and psychological tests.

Median annual pay (2021): 


How a psychology degree can help you become one:

Training in psychology can help you understand and address the underlying causes of criminal behavior and work with probationers to develop personalized treatment plans that address their specific needs. The communication and empathic skills you develop through a psych degree can help you build a rapport with probationers and establish trust, which can be important in ensuring their compliance with court orders. 

If you strongly believe everyone deserves a second chance, consider using your understanding of psychology to establish a career in corrections. 

Healthcare Careers for Psych Majors

Psychology majors have a unique skill set that can be highly valuable in healthcare roles. Their understanding of human behavior, communication, and interpersonal relationships can make them effective in patient care, counseling, and therapeutic settings. Additionally, their training in research methods and data analysis can help them contribute to evidence-based practice and the development of treatment plans.

Health Services Managers

What they do: 

Often referred to as healthcare administrators, health services managers – as the name suggests – are responsible for the planning and coordinating of medical and health services. While their title and role may differ, their job typically involves recruiting staff, training them, managing finances, and organizing records.

Median annual pay (2021):


How a psychology degree can help you become one:

Understanding human behavior and interpersonal relationships can help you manage and motivate healthcare professionals and improve patient care. Studying and learning research and data analysis methods can help you assess the effectiveness of different healthcare programs. This can help you make better, informed resource allocation and budgeting decisions. While the features of a healthcare administration degree might provide you with focused learning for this role, a psychology degree can also equip you with the right skills to become a successful health services manager. 

Registered Nurses

What they do: 

Registered nurses (RNs) provide and assist with patient care. Some R.N.s also educate patients about general illnesses and how to prevent them. R.N.s often work with specific patient groups, and their responsibilities may differ accordingly. 

It is important to note that you will need a nursing degree and additional certifications to become a registered nurse. 

Median annual pay (2021):


How a psychology degree can help you become one:

By learning about human behavior and social dynamics, you can connect better with patients and their families and offer support in tough times. A good working knowledge of research methods and data analysis can help you make informed decisions about patient care and treatment plans. If you’re interested in pursuing a career in nursing, consider using your psychology degree as a strong foundation to build on.

Careers for Psych Majors in Entertainment

The modern entertainment industry has a range of unique jobs for psychology majors. Their knowledge of people’s thoughts and feelings allows them to create and embody relatable characters, write engaging storylines, and develop effective marketing campaigns.
If you have a creative flair, consider these alternative careers after graduation:

Film Directors

What they do: 

Film directors are responsible for making creative and business decisions about film productions. Directors often work with teams of writers, designers, videographers, actors, music producers, etc., to bring their stories to life on screen to entertain or educate audiences.

Median annual pay (2021):


How a psychology degree can help you become one:

Studying the human mind can bring fresh perspectives to your creative vision. Besides this, understanding social dynamics can help you write better, more engaging stories. It often takes a village to bring some films to the screen, and directors have to interact with various people to bring their work to life. Having good communication skills definitely helps. 

Wesley (Wes) Craven, the director of popular horror films like Scream and A Nightmare on Elm Street, graduated with a B.A. in psychology and education from Wheaton College.


What they do: 

Actors portray characters in theater, film, T.V., web series, and other media. They help bring stories to life by playing the roles written in the script. 

Median pay (2021):

$23.48 per hour

How a psychology degree can help you become one:

What personality traits would characters have based on their backstory? What would they be likely to do and say? Psychology can give your creativity a scientific edge, making your characters more relatable to audiences. One of the biggest challenges actors face is embodying characters that may be extremely different. Understanding behavior patterns can help you nail this–on stage or screen. 

Natalie Portman, a famous film actress with roles in films like Thor and Black Swan, graduated with a B.A. in psychology from Harvard College.

Careers for Psych Majors in Education

Psychology majors can excel in educational roles because of their insights into how people learn and develop. They can use their learning theories and cognitive psychology knowledge to design more engaging lesson plans and evaluate student progress. Additionally, their understanding of human behavior, emotions, and empathy can help them connect with students, create positive classroom environments, and address individual learning needs. If you are enthusiastic about teaching, consider using your knowledge of psychology to pursue a career in education:

Postsecondary Teachers 

What they do: 

Postsecondary teachers, or professors, teach students beyond the high school level. They usually specialize in a variety of subjects within a field. Professors also conduct or assist students with original research. 

Median annual pay (2021):


How a psychology degree can help you become one:

Postsecondary teachers usually require a master’s or doctoral degree, although this varies by subject. Studying various aspects of psychology can make you an efficient postsecondary educator, especially in teaching social sciences. You can relate better to students and devise engaging course plans. Being a professor may suit you if you want to educate the next generation.

Preschool and Childcare Center Directors

What they do: 

Preschool and childcare center directors run educational programs for younger children. They hire and train staff to help run preschool centers efficiently–in sync with state and federal regulations.

Median annual pay (2021):


How a psychology degree can help you become one:

Pediatric and developmental psychology should play an important role in the early stages of education. As a psychology graduate, you can prepare children for higher learning by devising learning plans that help them develop essential skills. You will also be better prepared to manage a team and interact with the children and their parents.

School and Career Counselors 

What they do: 

School or career counselors help individuals make informed decisions about their education and career paths. They offer guidance on academic and vocational options, provide information about various industries and job opportunities, and assist with resume building, interview skills, and job search strategies.

Median annual pay (2021):


How a psychology degree can help you become one:

If you’re interested in becoming a school or career counselor, your psychology degree can be a great foundation to build on. As a psychology major, you can gain valuable skills in human behavior, communication, and interpersonal relationships that are essential for counseling roles. Plus, your knowledge of research methods and data analysis techniques can help you provide evidence-based advice to students and job seekers. To become a school or career counselor, you may need a master’s degree in counseling or a related field and licensure or certification, depending on your state’s requirements. Your psychology degree can be a great starting point if you’re passionate about helping others find a good college or job.

Careers for Psych Majors in the Government or Non-profits

Psychology graduates can make a difference in government or non-profit sectors by applying their skills and knowledge to address social issues. Psych courses often include the study of social dynamics, which can be useful in evaluating and developing programs that address issues like mental health, poverty, and inequality. With a strong ethics and social justice foundation, psychology graduates can bring a critical perspective to policy-making and contribute to creating more equitable communities. The interpersonal skills from psychology courses can help you collaborate effectively with diverse groups and advocate for social change.
If you are eager to make a positive impact in society, consider applying your unique psychological perspective to government or non-profit roles:

Social Workers

What they do: 

Social workers help individuals or groups cope with socioeconomic problems. Clinical social workers (CSWs) may also diagnose and treat mental conditions. CSWs typically require a master’s degree in social work (MSW) and a license. A bachelor’s degree in almost any field is acceptable to enter an MSW program. CSWs often specialize in specific areas of social service. 

Median annual pay (2021):


How a psychology degree can help you become one:

Strong interpersonal skills can enable you to build rapport with diverse populations and collaborate with other professionals in multidisciplinary teams–which is often the case in non-profits. Ethics and social justice training can bring a critical lens to your social work. 

Policy Analysts

What they do: 

Using various data collection methods, policy analysts evaluate current and past policies and events. They often research the effects of government policies on a particular region or population and provide insights that help in planning, developing, or carrying out policies. 

Policy analysts often require a master’s degree in political science or related fields.

Median annual pay (2021):


How a psychology degree can help you become one:

Psychology students can contribute significantly to creating evidence-based and equitable policies that address complex social issues. Knowledge of intergroup dynamics and social psychology concepts can lead to better police ideas. Employers also value analysts with good data collection and research skills. 

*Note: There may be different hiring policies for certain roles based on the industry, company, and the role itself. Some may require candidates to have earned specific degrees or have industry-specific experience. Certain roles may also require additional training or certification. We recommend reading about the roles that align with your goals and talking to individuals who work in the fields that interest you. 

Psychology is a versatile field that can lead to many career paths in business, criminal justice, law enforcement, healthcare, education, entertainment, and more. Majoring in psych is open to more than just psychology-related professions. In fact, it can open several doors that might be a great fit for your interests. If you want to pursue further education but keep multiple career options open, majoring in psychology might be a good idea. We hope you found this article insightful. Feel free to read our other articles on related topics.

All the best!

What are the top-employing alternative occupations for candidates with a psychology degree?

According to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Services (BLS), these are some of the top-employing occupations for candidates with a psychology degree:

1) Postsecondary teachers
2) Educational, guidance, and career counselors and advisors
3) Lawyers
4) Human resources specialists
5) Registered nurses
6) Elementary school teachers (except special education)
7) Social workers

Where can I read more about careers in psychology?

There is a lot of information available on the Internet about the topic. But career trends are dynamic, so we recommend referring to updated sources that cover emerging trends. Our blog publishes periodic content on college education, majors, and careers across diverse fields, including psychology.
Besides our blog, quality subject-specific content is published by sites such as the American Psychological Association (APA) and Psychology Today.

Consider reading books like ‘Careers in Psychology: Opportunities in a Changing World – 5th Edition’ (ISBN: 9781544359731).

These resources can provide additional information on professional career paths in psychology.