17 Great Jobs in Psychology

A Few of the Fastest-Growing Psychology Jobs

So you've decided to major in psychology, but what exactly do you plan to do after you graduate? Competition for many jobs has increased dramatically and in order to compete in today's market, it pays to carefully consider your career options and select a field that is in high demand.

There are also lots of career paths in psychology beyond some of the "typical" options such as clinical or counseling psychology. In fact, some of the most interesting job options might be those that you do not hear much about such as aviation psychology or traffic psychology.

Obviously, the best job is the one that you truly love, whether it involves providing therapy, conducting research, or solving real-world problems. Before you decide on a career, spend some time thinking about what really interests you and the type of work setting you would most likely enjoy.

While salaries can vary, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a faster than average growth for psychologists. The demand for psychologists is expected to grow by 19 percent through the year 2024.

The following are just a few of the psychology-related professions that have a strong projected job outlook or are considered an up-and-coming field with opportunity for growth. Consider some of these options as you plan your career path.

1
Health Psychologist

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Health psychologists are focused on helping people living healthier lives. They study how psychological, biological, and social factors influence health. Two important areas of health psychology include helping people avoid illness and promoting healthy behaviors. Educating people about the causes of illness and teaching healthier habits are just two things that a health psychologist might do on a regular basis.

These professionals often work in settings such as hospitals, universities, health care centers, and government agencies. Some of the job duties they may perform include helping people to lose weight, stop smoking, eat healthy, and decrease stress.

2
Career or Vocational Counselor

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Thanks to the rapidly changing job market, many people are searching for a new job in their chosen field or even changing careers. Career counselors help individuals make career decisions and utilize tools including personality assessments, interest inventories, and other evaluation measures.

They often start by looking at a client's interests, job history, education, skills, and personality characteristics in order to determine which careers are a good match. They also help clients work on building skills, practicing interviews, improving resumes, and locating job openings. Assisting clients who are dealing with job loss or employment-related stress is also common.

3
School Psychologist

Preteen student meeting with school counselor or therapist
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School psychologists work in educational settings to help children deal with emotional, academic, and social problems. Thanks to increased interest in the mental health of children and federal education legislation, school psychology has rapidly become one of the fastest growing fields. The demand for qualified school psychologists exceeds the number of candidates available, which means that job opportunities are plentiful.

4
Counselor

A psychologist talking to a client
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Counselors help a people with a wide variety of problems, including marriage, family, emotional, educational, and substance abuse issues. Nearly half of all counselors work in health care or social welfare settings, while another 11-percent work for state and local governments. While requirements vary, almost all states require at least a master's degree in order to become a licensed counselor. Typical work settings include K-12 schools, colleges and universities, hospitals, mental health clinics, and private practice offices.

5
Genetics Counselor

Counselor talking to clients
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Genetics counselors help provide information about genetic disorders to couples and families. These professionals typically have graduate training in both genetics and counseling, and many have undergraduate degrees in areas such as psychology, social work, biology, nursing, and public health.

Genetics counselors often work with a team of medical professionals, including doctors, nurses, and geneticists to offer support, guidance, and assistance to families who have a family member with a genetic disorder or who may be at risk of passing down an inherited disorder to their offspring.

6
Engineering Psychologist

Engineering psychologist in his office
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Engineering psychologists use psychology to investigate how people interact with machines and other technology. These professionals use their understanding of the human mind and behavior to help design and improve technology, consumer products, work settings, and living environments.

For example, an engineering psychologist might work as part of a team to redesign a product to make it more efficient and easier to use in a work situation. Those working in academic settings report the lowest earnings, while those working in the private sector report higher salaries.

7
Clinical Psychologist

Clinical psychologist
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Clinical psychologists assess, diagnose and treat clients suffering from psychological disorders. These professionals typically work in hospital settings, mental health clinics, or private practices.

Clinical psychology is the single largest employment area within psychology, but there are still plenty of jobs available for qualified professionals. In order to become a clinical psychologist, you must have a doctoral-level degree in clinical psychology and most states require a minimum of a one-year internship. Most graduate school programs in clinical psychology are fairly competitive.

8
Art Therapist

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Art therapists utilize the expressive and creative arts to help clients cope with psychological distress and to enhance emotional well-being. People who work in this field are trained in both psychotherapy and art. By using art, clients can communicate feelings, express creativity, explore different aspects, of personality and cope with stress.

Art therapy is often used in a variety of situations, including with:

  • Adults suffering from chronic or severe stress
  • Children with disabilities
  • People who have suffered brain injuries
  • People who have witnessed or experienced a traumatic event 

9
Sports Psychologist

Sports psychology
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Sports psychologists focus on the psychological aspects of sports and athletics, including topics such as motivation, performance, and injury. The two major areas within sports psychology are centered on helping improve athletic performance or using sports to improve mental and physical health. Sports psychologists work in a wide variety of settings including universities, hospitals, athletic centers, private consulting practices, and research facilities.

10
Industrial-Organizational Psychologist

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Industrial-organizational psychologists focus on workplace behavior, often using psychological principles to increase worker productivity and select employees that are best-suited for particular jobs. There are several different specialty areas within industrial-organizational psychology. For example, some I-O psychologists train and assess employees, while others evaluate job candidates. While there are some job opportunities at the master's-degree level, those with a doctoral-level degree in industrial-organizational psychology are in greater demand and command significantly higher salaries.

One sub-specialty area of the field involves working in human resources management to screen and hire job applicants. These professionals are often involved in designing and administering employment screening tests and selecting job candidates that are the best fit for particular positions within a company.

11
Special Education Teacher

Counselor or teacher leading group counseling session with elementary students
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While slightly outside of a traditional psychology career, the field of special education offers a great deal of opportunity for those who enjoy helping children. Special education teachers work with students with a variety of disabilities. In order to become a special education teacher, you must have at least a bachelor's degree and complete a teacher training program in special education. Because of the increased enrollments in special education programs and a shortage of qualified teachers, job demand is strong and expected to grow.

12
Experimental Psychologist

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Do you love creating psychology experiments? Experimental psychologists use scientific methods and design research studies that explore many different topics within psychology. Social behavior, cognitive processes, personality, and human development are just a few of the topics that experimental psychologists might investigate.

People working in this field often specialize in a particular area such as cognitive psychology, educational psychology, or personality psychology. They may also be employed in a variety of settings ranging from universities, government agencies, research centers, and nonprofit organizations.

13
Forensic or Criminal Psychologist

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Forensic psychologists apply psychology to the fields of criminal investigation and law. This has rapidly become one of the hottest psychology careers thanks to numerous portrayals in popular movies, television programs, and books.

While the field may not be as glamorous as it is depicted in the media, forensic psychology is still an exciting career choice with a lot of potential for growth. Forensic psychologists often work with other experts to resolve child custody disputes, scrutinize insurance claims, perform child custody evaluations, and investigate suspected child abuse.

If you are interested in this area of psychology, you might want to also consider the related field of criminal psychology. Criminal psychologists perform a variety of duties such as developing psychological profiles of criminal suspects, assessing convicted criminals to determine their risk of re-offending, and helping law enforcement catch online predators.

14
Aviation Psychologist

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Aviation psychology is a relatively little known sub-specialty area of human factors psychology that involves the study of pilots, air traffic controllers, and other flight crew members. According to the Association for Aviation Psychology, people who work in this field perform a number of different duties including:

  • Evaluating prospective employees
  • Designing flight decks
  • Selecting and training pilots
  • Assessing cabin safety
  • Investigating aviation accidents
  • Conducting research on aviation safety

15
Geropsychologist

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As the population of older adults continues to grow, the demand for professionals to attend to their mental health needs also increases. According to the American Psychological Association (APA), adults over the age of 65 made up 12 percent of the population in 2004. By the year 2050, 21 percent of the population will be age 65 or older.

"Geropsychologists do everything from keeping older adults mentally and physically healthy and vibrant, to working with those who are frail and have cognitive impairments," explains Deborah DiGilio, director of APA's Office on Aging. Geropsychologists can work in a wide range of areas, from providing mental health services to aging adults to designing products that make life easier for the elderly.

16
Traffic Psychologist

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Traffic psychology is an emerging field that involves applying psychological principles to understanding driver behavior. Some areas in this field include:

  • Studying the relationship between driver behavior and traffic accidents
  • Designing vehicles that are safer and more ergonomic
  • Searching for ways to improve traffic safety and prevent auto accidents
  • Researching how people use transportation

Traffic psychology often involves a multidisciplinary approach, combining fields such as social psychology, behavioral psychology, and cognitive psychology. For example, traffic psychologists might assess how perception and cognition influence performance during a driving task. They might also look at how individual personality affects a driver's emotions, attitudes, and risk-taking behavior while driving.

17
Consumer Psychologist

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In a struggling economy where retailers and businesses are concerned with attracting new customers, the need for psychologists to research consumer behavior and to develop effective marketing campaigns has grown. Consumer psychologists not only study how and why people purchase goods and services, they also analyze how family, friends, culture, and media messages affect buying behavior.

Some tasks that a consumer psychologist might perform include:

  • Working with consumer focus groups to determine how appealing a particular product might be
  • Developing advertising and marketing campaigns to appeal to a target audience
  • Conducting theoretical research on shopping and buying behavior

A Word From Verywell

The jobs options listed in this article are just a few of the many different career paths that are available within psychology. Do you feel like you've spotted your dream job? Or are you disappointed that your chosen specialty area isn't on this list?

Either way, just remember that no list of predicted "hot jobs" can ever highlight all of the many options that are available within psychology. The important thing is to pick a career that is right for your, your interests, and your long-term goals in life.

Sources:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, Psychologists; 2015.

Hartman, K & Stewart, T. Investing in Your College Education: Learning Strategies With Readings. Boston, MA: Cengage Learning; 2010.

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