Careers in Psychology

Psychology is the second most popular undergraduate degree in the United States. It is a diverse field, in which you are not limited to becoming a psychologist. Psychologist refers to "professors of psychology" and "practicing clinical psychologists." Becoming a psychologist typically requires a graduate degree.

As you map out your education and future career goals, you need to determine what type of career you want and how long you are willing to study. Some jobs require a bachelor's degree and some require a master's or doctoral degree.

When you are considering your education and career options, think about your skills and strengths and the environment in which you would like to work. The Ball State Career Center can help you identify your current skills, strengths, and competencies; select or change a major; explore career options; and find an internship or job.

Skills and competencies that help you get a job

As a psychology major, you will gain skills and knowledge relevant to and useful in many jobs, including the ones employers typically look for when considering candidates with an undergraduate degree:

  • Good oral and written communication skills
  • Good interpersonal and teamwork skills (such as negotiation and leadership)
  • Strong analytical abilities (problem solving, decision making, and mathematical/statistical competence)
  • Flexibility (creative thinking, willingness to relocate)
  • Proficiency in field of study (know psychological ideas and how to use them, getting good grades
  • Computer skills (word processing, databases, e-mail, and other basic uses)

Fields where psychology majors work

Our alumni tend to work in four sectors:

Business: Nationally, about 20 percent of psychology major graduates start in the business world as management trainees, administrative support personnel, or other positions. Another 10 percent start in retail establishments, insurance companies, and similar businesses doing sales, human resources, and other functions.

Social service and health care: Nationally, about 20 percent of psychology major graduates get a position in social services and health care. Graduates can begin their careers in social services and/or health care with employement as any of the following:

  • interviewer
  • counselor
  • activity director
  • behavior analyst
  • director of volunteer services
  • probation/parole officer
  • caseworker
  • drug/substance abuse counselor
  • program manager
  • child protection worker
  • employment counselor
  • rehabilitation adviser
  • corrections officer
  • family service worker
  • residential youth counselor
  • counselor aide
  • group home coordinator
  • social service director
  • day care center supervisor
  • mental retardation unit manager
  • veterans' adviser

Government, military, law: A psychology degree is useful for careers in the government, military, and legal fields, such as public offices, law enforcement, probation officers, and corrections officers.

Education: Our alumni have worked as substitute teachers, in various student services positions on university campuses, and as trainers and educators for the mentally disabled.

Be the master of your domain
You define your learning experience by the opportunities and challenges you take.

Make an effort to learn and develop the skills you may need for the career you choose to pursue. Other general skills not listed above are desirable for a variety of jobs. Some of these, for example mathematical/statistical competence, will be developed in your courses.

Learn important interpersonal and teamwork skills by participating in organizations and societies such as Psi Chi (the psychology honor society) or other campus clubs and organizations.

Enhance your communication skills and specific areas in psychology by getting involved in research projects with faculty. Check out faculty research interests in our main office (NQ 104), online in the faculty biographies, or at the North Quad bulletin boards.

Get a "sneak peek" at your future career and learn job-specific skills by completing an internship. Internships are paid or unpaid positions and should be relevant to psychology and your career goals. Employers admire this hands-on learning experience and often require it of applicants.

For more information about careers in psychology, salaries, and resources go to 

To learn more about job opportunities, visit these online job search resources:

  • O*Net
  • Jobs.net
  • MentalWeb: a specialized site dedicated to creating links between employers and employees in the mental health field
Department of Psychological Science
North Quad (NQ), room 104
Ball State University
Muncie, IN 47306

Phone: 765-285-1690
Fax: 765-285-1702