There are many potential careers that use a psychology degree of some kind. Although MCC does not yet offer a major in psychology, we do have an advisement sequence in psychology (LA 16) designed to prepare students for completion of a four-year degree in psychology at a transfer institution.
There are several web sites devoted to psychology careers, including:
- Wadsworth Publishing Company
- What Can I do With This Major?
- American Psychological Association
In general, careers in psychology fall into four broad categories: academic, clinical, counseling, and applied. There is, of course, a lot of overlap between these four categories.
- Academic careers in psychology are for people interested in doing research to better understand human behavior and mental processes, and teaching that understanding to others. Academic psychologists usually work in colleges and universities, and occasionally in other research settings. Researchers plan and conduct various kinds of research projects, including experiments, field studies, and surveys, then analyze their results and publish them in scientific journals. Most of them also teach. Some academic psychologists primarily teach, and do little or no research (such as the faculty who teach at MCC). Academic careers in psychology require at least a Master's degree in psychology and often require a Doctorate.
- Clinical careers in psychology are for people interested in helping those who face psychological difficulties. Some clinical psychologists work in hospitals or clinics, seeing patients with psychological problems ranging from mild anxiety to severe psychosis. Others work in private practice, helping patients with the same range of problems. Some of them are researchers who study the natures, progressions, and treatments of psychological disorders. In general, we use the term clinical psychologist to refer to someone who helps those who suffer from psychological disorders.
Clinical psychologists generally need a Doctorate degree. They must have specialized courses and training in their graduate work, and then must pass a state-sponsored board exam to be licensed to practice psychology.
- Counseling careers in psychology are for people who want to help others who need some support to deal with a particular life situation, often within the context of a larger organization such as a school or social service agency. Counseling therapists often have a Master's degree and even a Doctorate. Some work in private practice.
Students pursuing this line of work should also consider a degree in clinical social work. Mental health counselors and social workers are required to be licensed in New York State.
- Applied careers in psychology are for people who want to use the full range of information discovered by academic psychologists and apply it to a wide variety of settings. Applied psychologists work in many careers, including human resources departments of companies, sales and marketing departments, and educational management. There are no specific educational requirements for applied psychologists. You can take whatever psychology you have learned, at any degree level, and apply it to a variety of careers. Degrees in psychology are often useful for work in business or management, because psychology teaches critical thinking skills along with knowledge about how people work, think, and relate to one-another.
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