Degree subjects

What can I do with a psychology degree?

25 Jan 2023, 13:38

Psychology graduates who want to practise as psychologists will need to go on to further study. However, they also have plenty of other career options.


Psychology students are good all-rounders. They tend to be inquisitive and analytical, and are happy tackling both ‘big picture’ issues and fine detail. They typically have good social skills and are comfortable dealing with others. This guide should help you think about the skills you have, the jobs they can be applied to, and the options available.

If you want to become a clinical psychologist after completing your psychology degree, you will need to undertake further study. Other popular routes for psychology graduates include teaching and public sector careers such as joining the police force.

Skills for your CV

Here are some of the skills you should have acquired:

  • communication skills (both written and oral)
  • research skills
  • analytical, data collection and problem-solving skills
  • report writing
  • interpreting and evaluating events, information and ideas
  • time management and organisational skills
  • adaptability
  • open-mindedness

Job roles and career areas you could work in

Psychology graduates excel in jobs that require them to engage with a range of complex issues and develop a strong understanding of areas that may be new to them in a relatively short space of time. These careers include law and management consulting.

Depending on the career you choose, you may need further qualifications or training after you graduate. You could consider the following job roles:

What do psychology graduates go on to do?

Here’s what psychology graduates who finished their degrees in 2017 were doing six months after graduating, according to the What do graduates do? report published in 2018.

Destination Percentage
Full-time employment in the UK 40.7
Part-time employment in the UK 15.0
Working overseas 1.0
Working and studying 10.3
Further study 22.7
Unemployed 5.1
Other 5.2

Source: What do graduates do? 2018

Key areas of employment for fresh psychology graduates

These are the top five areas of work taken up by 2017 psychology graduates six months after graduation, according to the 2018 What do graduates do? report.

Areas of employment Percentage
Retail, catering, waiting and bar staff 15.9
Legal, social and welfare professionals 15.3
Childcare, health and education occupations 14.8
Business, HR and finance professionals 9.5
Clerical, secretarial and numerical clerks 9.4

Source: What do graduates do? 2018

Which careers attract psychology students?

Charity and not-for-profit was the most popular career choice for students of biological sciences, a group of subjects that includes psychology, identified by a 2020 survey of more than 71,000 undergraduates carried out by Cibyl (a research business owned by the same company as targetjobs). Almost four in ten ( 39.5% ) biological sciences students who participated in the survey said they were interested in this area. The most popular careers for students of biological sciences were as follows:

Career Percentage
Charity and not-for-profit 39.5% expressed an interest
Scientific research and development 39.4
Consumer goods – manufacturing and marketing 26.4
Energy and utilities 11
Engineering, design and manufacture 8.7

Source: Graduate Survey 2020

What salaries can psychology graduates earn?

Want to know what graduates in your degree discipline typically earn in different locations? The Pay Index has provided targetjobs with a handy graduate salary tool showing just that.

Famous people with psychology degrees

But psychologists need not be confined to these areas. There are plenty of celebrities who have taken their degrees elsewhere:

  • Natalie Portman – has been starring in films since she was a teenager, but managed to complete her degree alongside her acting career.
  • Jessica Ennis-Hill – competed in athletics events including the Commonwealth Games and British Championships while studying at the University of Sheffield.
  • Lil Wayne – the rapper enrolled on the University of Phoenix’s online psychology course after beginning his musical career.

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