What can I do with a psychology degree?
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
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:
- advertising copywriter
- advice worker
- charities administrator
- child psychotherapist
- government research officer
- health service manager
- human resources officer
- insurance risk surveyor
- insurance underwriter
- market research executive
- mental health nurse
- psychologist (clinical)
- psychologist (educational)
- retail banker
- speech and language therapist
- sports coach
- teacher (secondary)
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.
|Full-time employment in the UK||40.7|
|Part-time employment in the UK||15.0|
|Working and studying||10.3|
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:
|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.