T Nation

Question for You Psychology Majors


#1

So I'll be going in my third year of college as a psych major. What I am curious is to what sort of work I can expect to find with a Bachelors degree? I did a lot of research on this and I know it's not a whole lot but I would really like to be working in the field while getting my masters. I know it's a pretty popular major so I am sure a few of you have been down the same path.

Thanks.


#2

Probably Starbucks


#3

Hey man. What are your grades like? Apply to Psi Chi and then find a NAMI office to volunteer with. With a psych degree experience is everything so get as much as you can before you graduate.

Bachelors? Reseach assistant is ideal and that is where I'm headed. I would suggest the same for you.

What area are you thinking about focusing on in your Master's program? You should hammer that out first and then find a job that relates to it.

Example-Industrial Master's could look into HR as a job with a bachelor's.

so uh, more details bro?


#4

Nothing, I'm afraid. The days when you can graduate with a worthless liberal arts degree and no actual skills and expect to find work are over.


#5

The grades are good. I am currently holding a solid 3.5 (I know, I know, should be higher) but I will definitely be buckling down this year.

I honestly want to focus on Psychotherapy.. That being said, the idea working at a mental institution fascinates me. I been doing a lot of job searches lately and it seems like that a BA in Psych. can get your foot in the door in those types of facilities.

The ultimate goal is.. well, to become a shrink.

http://www.careerbuilder.com/JobSeeker/Jobs/JobDetails.aspx?IPath=ILKV0I&ff=21&APath=2.31.0.0.0&job_did=J3F1WD744VHCDBBYRVX

Something like this.


#6

so you want to apply to clinical psychology PhD programs or doctor of psychology (Psy.D) or counseling programs. maybe master of social work. look into those. for the differences etc. maybe check out the 'student doctor network' psychology forums.

it is very hard to get ones foot in the door unless one is part of a clinical program. and then paid work is hard to come by until you graduate from that.

volunteer work might come easier, but that might well not be what you are looking for. either in an inpatient hospital context or an outpatient setting maybe something to do with homeless shelters or womens refuge or anger management courses or street kids or...

that could be a way to get your foot in the door.

summer camp?

ultimately... you want to be health insurance reimbursable. that means having recognized qualifications such that the insurers will pay so people can see you without paying too much out of pocket.

there are psychoanalytic societies, too, especially in NY and Cal. maybe look into those. they have qualifications, too (traditionally only available to psychiatrists but they have opened the doors to practitioners from other clinically recognized programs).

luck.


#7

Is it considered a liberal arts degree in the US? Not the case here.


#8

No. Pysch is not a liberal arts degree, it's a social science degree.

Having say that, I think belligerent was just making a general statement about a bachelors of any kind while referencing the halcyon days of the early 80s when any degree pretty much guaranteed you a job.


#9

You can get a loan and open your very own psychology shop.


#10

"A Little Shop of Horrors"


#11

I'd take the opportunity to get some interesting experience, stuff that might be a little exciting but not pay much. The reality is that focusing on building a career in psychology with a bachelor's is a little unrealistic. My wife worked at a 24 hour care facility (for people with severe mental illness) for a year while I finished up my undergrad. She's got some awesome stories.

It also allowed her to apply to a heck of a lot of schools over a broader span of time, and is now getting a decent stipend while finishing her PhD. I think she sent out well over a dozen apps (which costs a lot of money) over a year's time, but ended up having more or less her pick of schools. I'd highly recommend taking the time to apply to a lot of places all over the country.


#12

Thanks for the advice. I would really like to focus on Illinois or Florida. I know my options are cut off this way but I would love to stay near family. Been researching numerous graduate schools and jobs as well, seeing what kind of options are open to me.


#13

No problem. Feel free to PM me if you think of any questions in the future, I can shoot them by my wife. Just now realized you're also from Illinois. We just recently moved, but I used to live a couple hours South of Chicago in the Quad Cities.


#14

Thanks mate, I will definitely do that. I live just south as well, in the 815 (Joliet) area.


#15

You can get a job in a youth correctional facility. I got a buddy doing that in Vegas. Most of the job is just defusing situations, but occasionally you need to restrain kids until they calm down. He says its a pretty fulfilling job to help those kids, most of whom have some sort of psychological obstacle impeding their progress in life. I would imagine that as a psych major you would be a natural fit.


#16

I'm a licensed psychologist with a Doctor of Psychology (PsyD). You need to keep in mind that any Bachelor's level work that you do in the field is going to pay poorly and essentially serves only to augment your resume for graduate program applications. As such, I'd recommend looking for the most prestigious work you can find -- e.g., as an assistant in a university lab, with NAMI or the APA, with PAR (a major testing company which is in Florida), or something like that. Your GPA is good but will not stand out on its own; you need something to set you apart.

As far as your future plans are concerned, keep in mind that the cost of graduate training is quite high. PsyD programs tend to be expensive and you are less assured of any sort of assistantship to cover your costs. The upside of the PsyD is that the practice-focused training is fantastic -- you come out of internship very prepared to work as a professional and you're likely to have acquired a very broad range of knowledge of actual treatment and assessment approaches.

The PhD programs, on the other hand, require a much greater commitment to the "scientist" end of things, so you spend more time in stats and research design classes, assisting in other people's research, writing original research, teaching undergraduate classes, and so on. If you want to teach or work in a research or political role (e.g., with the APA), then the PhD is definitely the way to go. The other upside of the PhD is that all of that research work tends to cover the cost of your program so you come out oweing very little, if anything at all.

It probably sounds like I'm in favor of the PhD, but I'm very happy with my PsyD (and, no, that's not cognitive dissonance rearing its ugly head). I've enjoyed interesting and varied work opportunities, and I make a very healthy salary. If you're looking in Florida, I'd recommend considering my alma mater, Nova Southeastern University, in Fort Lauderdale. The training and experience is extraordinary, and their placement rates in internship and passage rates for the national licensing exam (both of which are important but tend not to get thought about until it's too late) are very high.

Hope this helps. Don't hesitate to ask if you've any other questions.


#17

This is exactly the kind of information I needed. I had a ton of questions when I initially read this and now that I am typing the reply, I can barely think of any.. so they will all come gradually.
I definitely want to go the PsyD route, as the medical/research aspect does not interest me all that much. As I stated before, focusing on therapy is something I am very interested in so I figured the PhD route is not for me.

A concern that I do is that my Psychology program is Bachelor of Arts and not Science. I heard from a couple of people that it can come back and bite me in the ass, especially when applying to schools. Is there any truth to this or should I not be sweating bullets?

Thanks again,
Tomas


#18

This is one thing I can attest to. My wife is currently making more money than me with minimal research work and TA'ing and will owe the school nothing. I sure wish my job would pay me more and then hand me a free PhD in a couple years. (although this is testament to me recently moving to a new state and grabbing whatever work was available.)Sounds like your not interested in the research route, but I know that now I am actually trying to pay off my student loans and they mean a lot more to me than when I accepted them.

I can't imagine a Bachelor of Arts mattering too much as long as you apply to the right programs. Just thoroughly research them before applying and usually professors are pretty good about answering e-mails regarding the work that they specifically do, at least they were when it came to my wife.


#19

The more research I do, the more excited I am to pursue a career in this field. Mental health clinics are extremely intriguing and my girlfriends mom might set me up with an internship at one of them (she is some sort of managing director.) Let's hope for the best. I am sure that will also help me with my graduate programs as well.