10 Best PhD in Psychology Degree Jobs
More than 50,000 people are expected to complete their doctorates this year, and if trends hold up, anywhere from 7% to 10% of them will earn their degrees in the field of psychology. Psychology is by far the single most popular subject area among all doctorate recipients, and it’s not hard to understand why.
The rigorous, advanced training that comes with a Ph.D. program in psychology qualifies a person not only to be a psychologist working directly with patients but prepares a person for careers in many other fields, including jobs that tend to be high-paying as well as exciting and challenging.
Here is a look at the 10 best jobs you could seek after completing your Ph.D. in psychology, including what the jobs entail and how much candidates could expect to earn.
Often working within the criminal justice system or for legal offices, forensic psychologists evaluate suspects and convicted criminals in an effort to understand their mindset and motivations for committing the acts they did. They often are tasked with determining whether an individual poses a threat to society at large, and some forensic psychologists will specialize in certain populations, such as children who have been victims of abuse. Depending on their job, forensic psychologists may be required to testify in court, and they may also need specific licensure, though that varies by state and workplace.
SEE ALSO: How to Become a Forensic Psychologist
Salary range: $60,000-$110,000
For anybody who earns a Ph.D. in any field, teaching at the postsecondary level is a common career goal, and the same goes for those who earn their Ph.D. in psychology. Psychology professors provide classroom instruction in a range of psychology topics, from clinical practice to developmental psychology, as well as potentially engaging in high-level research projects. Psychology professors may work at the undergraduate or graduate level, and they may need to perform advisory functions as well as classroom instruction as part of their jobs. Professors who earn tenure can expect to make much higher salaries than others.
Salary range: $51,000-$150,000
Perhaps the most obvious job title for someone holding a Ph.D. in psychology, clinical psychologists work directly in the frontlines of understanding and improving human behavior. Usually working one-on-one with clients, clinical psychologists evaluate and help treat mental, behavioral and emotional disorders, and depending on their training, they may work with specific populations, such as children or families. It’s important to remember that in every state, individuals wishing to work as clinical psychologists must earn and maintain licensure, and those rules vary by state.
SEE ALSO: How to Become a Clinical Psychologist?
Salary range: $50,000-$111,000
Addiction counselors work with individuals and families of individuals affected by dependence on drugs, alcohol, gambling or other addiction disorders. They help clients understand the root causes of their addictions and formulate strategies for permanently modifying their addictive behavior. Depending on their work environment, addiction counselors may work with individuals who have come into contact with the criminal justice system. Those in private practice must be licensed to work with clients, and those rules vary by state.
Salary range: $30,000-$55,000
Marriage and Family Therapist
Specializing in the unique characteristics of marriage and familial bonds, marriage and family therapists work directly with clients to address emotional and behavioral issues within the context of a couple or a family unit. While marriage and family therapists may work with individuals as well as couples or families, their treatment recommendations will come from a place of focusing on understanding the family unit. In every state, marriage and family therapists must earn state licensure and complete continuing education requirements.
Salary range: $40,000-$77,000
Working directly with individuals who need help or guidance to deal with their emotional and behavioral issues is far from the only way to put a Ph.D. in psychology to good use. That’s because the education required to earn that degree prepares a person first and foremost to understand why people do what they do. So there are many job opportunities that are not directly in the mental health field that still use the basic principles of psychology. One of the most available such jobs is marketing/advertising director. These individuals plan advertising programs or promotional campaigns to generate interest in products and services, and someone with a background in psychology would be highly sought-after for their keen understanding of human behavior.
Salary range: $50,000-$150,000
Survey researchers design surveys, conduct interviews and analyze the resulting data. Depending on the employer, these surveys could be related to consumer opinions, voter behavior, educational issues, disease prevalence or any other number of topics specific to individual companies or organizations that commission the research. A survey researcher with a psychology background would likely focus on crafting questions in a way that would help reveal deep truths about the subjects of the surveys.
Salary range: $40,000-$90,000
Political strategists are high-level consultants who seek to promote the election of candidates or advancement of interest groups. They work to plan and execute advertising, marketing and communications strategies aimed at raising awareness and positive public opinion for their candidate or group. They may work independently, consulting with a variety of leaders or policy advocates, or they may manage an entire political campaign.
Salary range: $40,000-$100,000
Human Resources Director
Human resources directors manage and lead the administrative functions of companies and large organizations. This often involves being in charge of hiring and promotions as well as disseminating decisions made at higher levels of the company so that they can be understood by all employees. For HR directors with psychology training, this could mean they might focus on getting to know candidates on deep emotional levels and ensuring that employees’ behavioral and emotional health is well-managed within the organization. At many companies, this is an executive-level role.
Salary range: $55,000-$135,000
Engineering psychologists use their foundational training in psychology to understand how human beings interact with systems, technologies, products, and environments to ensure that they are being designed in such a way that will reduce the risk of physical, emotional or psychological harm. Such individuals should expect to continue to be in high demand as the world becomes increasingly reliant on technology and humans turn to machines and connected systems for everything from food to education to healthcare. Depending on the employer, engineering psychologists may work more internally, helping their co-workers better understand human nature and predictable behavior, they may work more in seeking product and system feedback from users, or they may do both. For that reason, prospective engineering psychologists who can supplement their psychology education with coursework in engineering, statistics, and other technical areas will likely have a leg up.
Salary range: $40,000-$125,000
Demand for psychologists of all stripes is expected to grow considerably in the near-future and long-term. As science continues to deepen our understanding of human nature and how our emotional and behavioral health can be impacted by other people and society, more employers will see the need to bring the principles of psychology into the workplace. And while the single most common job title for graduates of Ph.D. in Psychology programs will continue to be “clinical psychologist,” the expansion of psychology into all areas of life will open career doors we can’t even imagine today.
- Salary range figures were compiled based on data published by Payscale.com in fall 2019.
- National Science Foundation, National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics (NCSES). Doctorate Recipients from U.S. Universities. (2017.) Retrieved from https://ncses.nsf.gov/pubs/nsf19301/data
- How Much Do Clinical Psychologists Make? (2019). Retrieved from https://psydprograms.org/how-much-do-clinical-psychologists-make/