Entry-Level Careers in Psychology

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Psychologists study behavior by observing and diagnosing various mental conditions in humans and animals. Because psychology is concerned with scientific methods that help them analyze and predict human behavior, psychology majors can be found across a wide variety of fields. While a significant portion of college graduates pursue careers as clinical psychologists, there are entry-level opportunities in marketing, business and human resources that use skills taught in undergraduate psychology programs.

Clinical Psychology

One of the most common career paths for psychology graduates is clinical psychology. As the largest specialty within the psychology field, clinical psychologist tasks primarily revolve around counseling patients, conducting diagnostic tests and treating mental disorders. To qualify for a psychologist position, students must obtain a doctoral degree, though a master’s degree is adequate for some industrial-organizational psychology positions. Students graduating with only a bachelor’s degree are eligible to become psychology assistants or obtain entry-level administration positions in mental health clinics, rehabilitation centers and correctional programs. Obtaining a position as an administration assistant to a licensed psychologist is another entry-level position for college graduates.

Public Relations

As a specialty within the marketing field, psychology has a major application in public relations. Public relations professionals are concerned with influencing and shaping public perception around current issues, companies and events. Duties for PR positions include writing favorable press releases and executive speeches, as well as organizing events to promote products and services. Psychology majors can enter a public relations career by becoming a PR assistant or specialist within a corporation, government agency, nonprofit organization or PR agency.

Sales

A large portion of a salesperson's job is convincing consumers to purchase his company's product or service. Communicating and building strong relationships with customers, vendors and partner companies is one of the primary jobs of a sales representative. Excellent personal selling and people skills -- two attributes taught in psychology programs -- are crucial for success as a sales representative. Although there are no formal educational requirements for sales representative jobs, sales is another common career that utilizes psychology.

Human Resources

Human resources and personal development departments within organizations often hire psychology and sociology majors. While human resources managers handle recruitment, employee training and organizational issues, HR assistants perform support functions such as payroll and timekeeping. HR departments are involved with managing an employee's personal and professional development and therefore, use psychology tools such as counseling to manage employee relations.

Average Salary

College graduates seeking a career in clinical psychology earned an average salary of $72,310 as of May 2009 according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Specialties such as industrial-organizational psychologists earned an average salary of $102,570. Psychology majors who decide to pursue a career in sales earned an average salary of $61,400. Public relations specialists working in the U.S. earned an average annual wage of $59,370. The average salary for a HR assistant was $37,840.

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