40 Most Incredible Careers in Social Psychology
Social psychology is a growing branch of the study of human behavior that looks at how we treat each other and what drives us in relationships with other people, whether those interactions are positive or negative. As in any field, there is a wide range of possible career options in psychology, counseling, and therapy, many of which are based partially on a person’s level of education, ranging from a bachelor’s degree all the way up to a doctorate.
In psychology, many jobs require state certifications, and the first step for many of those jobs is earning a doctorate, but many other jobs don’t require such advanced training. Here’s a look at 40 of the most exciting and engaging careers in social psychology, broken down by industry.
Not all individuals with a background in social psychology will seek jobs in the counseling field, but it’s a popular destination for many, as it provides them with a chance to make an immediate impact on people’s lives.
Marriage & Family Therapist
Focusing on perhaps the most important relationships in a person’s life — their family — marriage and family therapists address emotional and behavioral issues within the context of a family unit, such as a married couple or a couple and their children. The median national wage for this job is more than $50,000 per year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Behavioral analysts most often work with individuals who have been diagnosed with an autism-spectrum disorder, including children and adults, and these specialists assist those individuals in modifying behaviors that can prevent people with autism from going to school, working or otherwise functioning in society. They typically earn between $35,000 and $70,000.
Mental Health Counselor
Mental health counselors work with a variety of people, often specializing in a particular subset of the population, to address emotional and behavioral health concerns, from anxiety and stress to depression and low self-esteem. Mental health counselors earn a national median wage of about $44,000.
Veteran therapists work with former service members, particularly those who were deployed to active duty, to address lingering emotional and mental health problems that may have been sparked or worsened by their military service, which can include issues like PTSD. Veteran therapists can expect to earn between $45,000 and $85,000 per year.
Sexual Assault Counselor
Sexual assault counselors assist individuals who have experienced sexual trauma, both in the immediate aftermath and on a long-term basis to ensure they are able to emotionally process their trauma and prevent lifelong behavioral disorders that can result from experiencing a rape or sexual assault. These specialized counselors earn about $45,000 per year.
Many psychology jobs involve both mental health counseling and larger medical concerns, and a wide range of jobs are available within healthcare settings, such as hospitals, long-term care facilities and mental health centers.
Occupational therapists work with individuals who have been injured or are experiencing chronic health conditions to develop or improve the skills they need to maintain their day-to-day lives and jobs, often including working with children, adults and the elderly. They earn a median wage of more than $84,000 per year.
Often working in outpatient facilities, though sometimes employed at hospitals and inpatient clinics, rehab counselors work with individuals addicted to drugs, alcohol or other substances or who engage in compulsive destructive behaviors to develop methods for coping with their emotional problems without substances or bad behavior. They earn about $45,000 per year on average.
Bereavement counselors often work within healthcare settings, especially facilities that provide end-of-life care, assisting family members and loved ones throughout the grieving process, and they may provide other supportive services, such as helping connect families with funeral services providers. Bereavement counselors earn between $35,000 and $65,000 per year.
Hospital counselors work with patients who are experiencing long-term or temporary mental health disturbances as well as providing counseling services to employees and other staff members at the hospital. They earn about $45,000 per year on average.
Working specifically with the elderly population, gerontological therapists help older individuals cope with the specific mental, physical and emotional concerns that come along with the aging process, focusing particularly on maximizing quality of life. The typical gerontological therapist makes about $65,000 per year.
Whether providing instructions, supporting students’ emotional health or helping learners ensure they’re making the most of their school years, the educational field is a popular one for social psychologists.
The natural path for many people who earn doctorates in social psychology, professors provide classroom instruction and guidance to students at postsecondary levels, including community college, four-year programs and graduate-level classes. Psychology professors earn a national median wage of $76,710.
Instructors may work within institutions of higher learning like community colleges, or they may work independently, providing individual instruction in the theory and practice of social psychology. These people generally make about $65,000 per year.
Whether at the elementary, middle or high school level, teachers provide subject matter instruction and guidance to assist students with building various skill sets, and teachers with a background in social psychology often teach at the high school level. The average high school teacher makes about $60,000 per year.
School psychologists work at all levels of primary and secondary education, and their specific day-to-day tasks will depend on the ages of the students in their charge, but generally, they work with students who have long-term behavioral health problems to ensure they’re able to reach their full academic potential. School psychologists earn a median annual wage of $56,310.
Working with students in institutions of higher learning, academic advisers assist college, graduate and professional students with ensuring they’re following academic and other rules set forth by the college or university and that they are succeeding in their academic pursuits. Academic advisers earn between $35,000 and $85,000 per year.
Working both inside police departments or other investigative bodies as well as working outside the legal system, social psychologists bring a great deal of experience to bear in law enforcement jobs.
Working in federal agencies like the FBI or CIA as well as in state-level investigative agencies, special agents are tasked with collecting evidence, solving crimes and pursuing suspects, usually within a department that deals with specific types of crimes. The average special agent makes more than $86,000 per year.
Detectives work within police departments and sheriff’s offices, as well as independently as private detectives, to gather and assess evidence, identify suspects and interrogate individuals in the pursuit of justice. Typical detectives make about $81,000 per year.
Criminal profilers often work within law enforcement agencies, though they can also be called in as independent consultants, to create a profile of a criminal suspect and identify potential suspects as part of a criminal investigation. They earn about $45,000 per year.
Forensic psychologists work closely with the court and corrections systems to evaluate defendants’ mental capacity to stand trial, diagnose mental health disorders in criminal suspects as well as providing assessments for the purposes of parole. They typically make upwards of $65,000 per year.
Crime Scene Investigator
Crime scene investigators use their understanding of the nature of crime and criminals as well as knowledge of physics and biology to develop evidence specimens that can lead to a criminal suspect and be used during trial. They can expect to earn about $45,000 per year.
Social psychology is essentially the study of how humans relate to one another, and for most people, there are few humans we interact with more than our coworkers, so social psychology is an in-demand skill set within the business world.
This rapidly growing psychology field involves using the principles of social psychology to solve problems and improve the efficiencies of workplaces, including studying productivity, management structures and more. I/O psychologists are among the highest-paid psychologists, earning a median annual wage of $97,260.
Engineering psychologists are experts in the relationship between humans and the products we use every day, helping to ensure the products are engineered not only for physical human safety but for psychological effectiveness as well. Engineering psychologists make about $70,000 per year on average.
Chief of Human Capital
Alternately called an HR director, a director of human capital is someone who works within a large company, government agency or nonprofit, overseeing all aspects of hiring, promotions, benefits administration and more. They can expect to earn $80,000-$115,000 per year.
Marketing directors oversee plans and campaigns related to maximizing the reputation of a product, service or good within the marketplace by crafting language and other elements that use the principles of psychology to highlight the company or service. Marketing directors typically make upwards of $75,000 per year.
Executive coaches most often work as independent consultants, helping guide and provide advice to individuals working at the highest levels of the corporate world so that they can excel in their current positions and/or seek even better jobs. They usually make at least $100,000 per year.
At first blush, the study of psychology may seem to be at odds with religion, but many jobs exist for those who wish to practice social psychology within the context of a broader faith tradition.
Spiritual psychologists help individuals deal with emotional and behavioral health problems from the perspective of a faith tradition or religious belief system. They make about $45,000 per year.
A life coach is most often an independent consultant who works with individual clients to achieve their goals in life based on their shared religious or spiritual views. Life coaches can make anywhere from $45,000 to $90,000 or more.
Christian counselors help clients address mental health disorders and behavioral concerns, focusing on the principles outlined by Christian teachings, and they often themselves are pastors or ministers. Christian counselors generally earn about $70,000 per year.
Biblical Marriage Counselor
A biblical marriage counselor is one who helps address problems within the context of a marriage from the perspective of what’s outlined in the Bible, and these counselors generally use biblical guidance as a foundation for their advice to clients. These counselors make about $45,000 to $60,000 a year.
Religious Cognitive-Emotional Therapist
Religious cognitive-emotional therapy is a relatively new form of cognitive therapy that uses the tenets of a religious tradition in the practice of cognitive-behavioral therapy, which aims to reduce the need for harmful or dysfunctional coping mechanisms. RCET therapists earn about $55,000 per year.
Political consultants work independently of campaigns, often advising several candidates at once, on a variety of topics, from policy agendas to personal appearance. They can earn very high salaries of $115,000 or more.
Candidate coaches work with a single candidate to help them improve upon their messaging and delivery to ensure they’re able to get as much public support as possible. As independent consultants, they’ll generally make upwards of $100,000 in a year.
A political campaign manager oversees all aspects of an individual’s bid for elected office, whether at the local, state or federal level; this includes hiring staff, writing policy and directing all aspects of the day-to-day administration. Campaign managers make about $90,000 on average.
Crisis Communications Specialist
Crisis communications specialists advise politicians and campaigns on how best to deal with internal or external crises or news events, including how to address scandals to how to capitalize on news events that may be beneficial to the candidate or campaign. They earn about $65,000 on average.
Lobbyists work for private companies, lobbying firms or special interest groups to lobby politicians and candidates on behalf of their clients, helping to influence public policy in favor of their employers and clients. Lobbyists earn between $55,000 and $150,000 per year.
The nonprofit world is an ideal one for those with a background in social psychology, as the nonprofit space helps people have an impact on many other people at once.
A nonprofit program director is responsible for directing the organizational mission of the nonprofit and overseeing all functions related to the mission, whether internal or external. They earn between $35,000 and $84,000 per year.
Grant writers work within nonprofits or as freelance consultants to research funding organizations and craft messaging and proposals that will give the nonprofit the best chance of securing funding. The average grant writer makes about $50,000 per year.
Fundraisers are in charge of conceptualizing, organizing and administering all fundraising events and campaigns conducted by a nonprofit organization. They make between $30,000 and $75,000 per year.
The executive director of a nonprofit organization is in charge of all aspects of the entire organization, serving as the final decision-maker and overseeing all day-to-day operations. They earn between $40,000 and $125,000 per year.
A volunteer coordinator is crucial for a nonprofit, as they help recruit, train and oversee the work of unpaid volunteers either across the organization or within a single department or team. Volunteer coordinators can expect to earn about $38,000 per year.
Social psychology is a broad field that encompasses pretty much every aspect of society, and potential careers in the field are virtually limitless.
- Salary information was gathered from Indeed.com, Glassdoor.com and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics in the fall of 2019.
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