What careers do a master’s degree in psychology qualify you for?

VH-studio // Shutterstock

VH-studio // Shutterstock

Have a master’s in psychology but don’t want to become a clinical psychologist? There are plenty of other career paths open to you.

According to Psychology.org, a master’s in psychology prepares you for various careers, from working in schools and organizations to providing counseling services. If your goal is to practice as a psychologist, you’ll need a doctoral degree. However, a master’s degree offers versatile and rewarding opportunities not available to bachelor’s degree holders.

Advantages of Earning a Master’s in Psychology

A master’s in psychology degree takes about 2-5 years to complete and offers many advantages, including:

  • Meets prerequisites for doctoral programs to become a licensed psychologist
  • Prepares you for new career opportunities that require advanced study
  • Allows you to specialize in areas of psychology to pursue careers in your chosen field
  • Provides opportunities to contribute to research and the advancement of the psychology field
  • Requires coursework that allows you to better understand yourself

Jobs with a Master’s in Psychology

Psychology majors can pursue careers in counseling, social work, education, human resources and organizational development, law, and social and community services. They can find work in many sectors. A master’s in psychology can prepare you to provide counseling services or pursue other psychology jobs where you never meet with clients.

Psychology majors report career satisfaction. A 2017 national survey found that psychology master’s degree holders reported satisfaction with their job’s intellectual challenge and level of responsibility, albeit less satisfaction with their salaries.

“Many entry-level positions are generally low-paying, especially until you are independently licensed,” said Megan Pietrucha, Psy.D. Pietrucha is a licensed clinical sport psychologist and has taught psychology at the graduate level. “Make sure to find work experiences that maximize your hours towards licensure so you can increase your earning potential.”

Mental Health, Substance Use, or Behavioral Counselor

There are about 388,200 mental health, substance use, and behavioral counselor jobs in the United States as of 2022, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Demand is expected to grow much faster than average. In fact, the BLS projects these occupations to increase by more than 18% in the next decade.

These counselors evaluate clients seeking help for addiction or behavioral health issues. They work at outpatient mental health, individual and family services, practitioner offices, and hospitals. You need at least a bachelor’s degree to become a mental health counselor.

Median Annual Salary: $53,710

Marriage and Family Therapist

The BLS projects marriage and family therapist positions to grow 15% from 2022-2032, much faster than other occupations in the U.S. Marriage and family therapists provide education and assistance to families and couples as they work through the healing process. They collaborate with treatment teams to provide support to groups and individual patients. This career requires at least a master’s degree and state licensure.

Median Annual Salary: $58,510

Industrial-Organizational Psychologist

Industrial-organizational psychologists get to the root of the problems in the workplace and resolve conflicts. Companies rely on industrial organizational psychologists for recruitment and training needs. Most of these psychologists work in scientific research and development services, colleges and universities, and for the state government. The BLS estimates there are less than 1,300 industrial organizational psychologists currently employed, but average salaries are high in the field.

Median Annual Salary: $147,420

School Psychologist

Most school psychologists see students in elementary, middle, and high schools. School psychologists often work on teams to support children with special education needs. You must earn a master’s degree to become a school psychologist. While some jobs may only require a master’s, many school psychologists hold a doctoral degree or specialty graduate degree.

Median Annual Salary: $84,940

Human Resources Manager

Psychology majors can become human resources managers after getting at least a bachelor’s degree. Human resource managers help to coordinate and oversee an organization’s administrative functions, including hiring, employee benefits, and resolving employee grievances.

Median Annual Salary: $136,350

Educational, Guidance, and Career Counselor or Advisor

Educational, guidance, and career counselors help scholars achieve their academic and career goals. The BLS reports that this occupational group employs roughly 308,000 people. Most of these counselors work in elementary and secondary schools, colleges, and junior colleges.

Median Annual Salary: $61,710

Is a Master’s Degree in Psychology Right for Me?

A master’s degree in psychology is a versatile choice, whether you intend to pursue further education and licensure or dive straight into a career in psychology. Master’s degree holders can pursue rewarding opportunities in counseling, organizational psychology, and research.

If you want to pursue doctoral studies, a master’s in psychology prepares you for dissertation research, strengthening your advanced writing, research, and communication skills. Doctoral degree holders can go on to pursue careers as licensed psychologists, clinical health administrators, and psychology professors or supervisors.

Psychology master’s degree holders also earn about 20% more than psychology bachelor’s degree holders, according to the American Psychological Association (APA). They also report higher work satisfaction. According to the most recently available survey data from the APA, 87% of master’s degrees in psychology majors reported being satisfied with their level of responsibilities and 91% with their contribution to society.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the highest-paying careers with a master’s in psychology?

The highest-paying career with a master’s in psychology is an industrial-organizational psychologist. These professionals make an average annual wage of $144,610, according to the BLS.

How long does it take to get a master’s in psychology?

You can graduate from a master’s in psychology program in 2-3 years. Part-time learners must graduate within five years. The program typically includes coursework, practicum hours, and a thesis.

What types of psychology jobs have the highest demand?

Substance use, behavioral disorder, and mental health counseling jobs are in high demand. The BLS projects the occupation to grow by 18% from 2022-2032, much faster than average.


This story was produced by Psychology.org and reviewed and distributed by Stacker Media.


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