Psychology is one of the UK’s most popular degree courses. As a psychology student, you’re part of a large, diverse group – and your options for after your degree are just as diverse. Psychology graduates are insightful and people-focused, but also scientists and critical thinkers. So what can you do with the skills you gain during your course? Read on to find out.
Unsurprisingly, many people enter psychology degrees with the goal of becoming a psychologist – though this is by no means the only thing you can do. In the end, around 20% of psychology graduates go on to become chartered psychologists.
As a psychologist, you’ll specialise in a particular area, such as:
- Clinical psychologist – helping people with mental health disorders like depression, anxiety and anorexia.
- Educational psychologist – helping young people to overcome problems that affect their learning and school life.
- Sports psychologist – giving athletes the mental strength and skills to succeed.
- Occupational psychologist – using psychology to increase the job performance of people and teams.
- Forensic psychologist – using psychological methods to help with crime solving or assess and treat criminal behaviour.
Becoming a chartered psychologist takes up to 5 years of further training and supervised work experience, including a recognised PhD. Entry onto approved courses is extremely competitive – to be a successful applicant you’ll need six months to a year of work experience in a psychology-related role. You’ll also need to demonstrate dedication, academic excellence and a range of soft skills. Need some help recognising and developing your skills?
Salaries for a qualified psychologist start at £30-35K, rising up to £50K with experience.
Teaching is another popular route for psychology graduates able to do further study. Teaching psychology is a way to make full use of what you’ve learned during your degree. Insights from psychology will help with other parts of your teacher training, such as understanding learning styles, behaviour management, and safeguarding young people.
To become a qualified teacher you can either do a one-year PGCE course (PGDE in Scotland), or a take school based training route. Top companies such as TeachFirst or Ark Teacher Training offer enticing graduate schemes, or check out all of our open graduate schemes.
You don’t have to teach psychology – an additional one-year conversion course will allow you to choose from a range of other subjects. You can also do a primary or early years PGCE.
If you’re interested in teaching a particularly in-demand subject, such as physics, you could get a generous bursary to do a conversion course and a teaching qualification.
Marketing products successfully depends on getting inside the customer’s head, so it’s understandable that psychology graduates are highly sought-after.
Marketers need to coordinate with many other areas of the business, such as product management and web design, so well-developed communication skills are vital. Additionally, the critical thinking and analytical skills you develop during your psychology degree will help you with the business side of marketing – company goals and the bottom line.
Here's our guide to help you discover more about roles in marketing. Similar careers such as advertising, market research and PR also attract psychology graduates.
Psychology and Human Resource Management is a common joint degree, showing that the two disciplines are closely interlinked. To work in HR you need a good understanding of people’s motivations and interactions. Your role could include hiring the right person to complement a team, mediating in workplace disputes and managing personality clashes.
While graduates from any discipline can move into HR, a psychology degree will make you especially attractive to employers. If you’re serious about HR, you should also consider further training from the Chartered Institute of Personnel & Development – though this can be done on the job.
User experience design
User experience design attempts to improve the way people interact their environment through design. This might be anything from the layout of a supermarket to the user-friendliness of a website or app. In the digital industries in particular, UX design is a fast-growing and vitally important field.
While you can get a junior UX role directly from university, you’re more likely to be successful if you go on to further study. Masters courses in UX design will generally ask for a 2:1 in a related discipline, such as psychology.
Even if you don’t want to be an academic, a career in research is a very real possibility for a psychology graduate. As well as direct knowledge of psychiatry topics, your psychology degree develops strong research and analysis skills. Research doesn’t necessarily mean a masters or PhD – as a graduate, you can go straight into work as a research analyst.
All kinds of organisations, from major corporations to government departments, are on the lookout for psychological research. You might run a fully-fledged research project into worker productivity, or gather and analyse information to brief an MP.
Careers advisors are employed by schools, universities, local authorities, charities and more. There are plenty of roles out there, and entry level positions are open to graduates without further training – though you should be willing to gain professional qualifications on the job.
Psychology graduates are valued for their insight into people’s personalities, needs, and ability to learn and develop, as well as soft skills like information-gathering and organisation.
Your degree doesn’t define you
Around 70% of graduate jobs don’t require a specific degree. If you graduate with a 2:1 or higher in psychology, you’ll be eligible for graduate schemes and roles in everything from accountancy to business, supply chain management to publishing.
Your psychology degree won’t give you a specific advantage here. You need to be aware of the soft skills you’ve developed, and be able to communicate them clearly. As a psychology graduate you’re likely to be analytical, insightful, curious and flexible.
Bright Network is always here to support your career. As a member, we can offer tailored advice to help you discover what to do with your psychology degree. Don’t hesitate to use the CHAT / HELP button at the bottom of your screen to message us, or give our membership team a call – 0203 011 1612.