Top 9 Master’s in Psychology Degree Jobs
Advanced training in psychology, such as through a master’s degree, can open career paths as diverse as helping people fight addictions to or solving crimes by profiling potential suspects. While many jobs for those with master’s degrees in psychology involve working hands-on with people who may have mental health or behavioral disorders, there are many others that don’t necessarily focus on diagnosis or treatment of such issues.
In the most recent complete academic year for which data is available, nearly 30,000 master’s degrees in psychology were conferred by U.S. colleges and universities, accounting for about 3.4% of all master’s degrees. That makes psychology the seventh-most popular graduate degree in the U.S.
When you see the diversity of career options and relatively high wages that open up for those who complete a master’s in psychology, it’s not hard to understand why these degrees remain popular.
School counselors work at all levels of the educational spectrum, from elementary school all the way through college, helping students in almost every aspect of their educational journeys. Whether it’s giving them advice about potential classes to take or helping them cope with concerns at home, school counseling is one of the most common career choices for those with master’s degrees in psychology. A good school counselor will work with each student as well as their families, teachers and others in the student’s life, to put together a specific plan to best help that student achieve their school and personal goals as well as helping make sure they stay on track. Those working in public schools must possess state-issued credentials, and requirements for those vary by state. See more school counselor details.
Salary range: $35,000-$72,000
Marketing directors are responsible for managing all aspects of campaigns, plans and programs to generate interest in their company’s or clients’ products or services. A marketing director with a background in psychology will be able to bring high-level knowledge of human behavior and how to best position products within the marketplace using their understanding of why people make the decisions they make. Marketing directors also generally have to marshal the resources of several different types of workers across multiple departments, so strong understanding of interpersonal relations is very helpful to ensure that projects go smoothly and customers are satisfied. Depending on the specific job, marketing directors may be very hands-on in crafting messaging and positioning their goods in the marketplace, using their direct knowledge and experience in psychology.
Salary range: $70,000-$135,000
Addiction counselors work with individuals who have substance abuse disorders, such as drug addiction or alcoholism, providing treatment aimed at recovering from their addictions. They may work within larger healthcare settings or one-on-one with clients and will evaluate each individual before developing a treatment plan. Addiction counselors may have individual sessions with clients, they may work within a family setting, or they may conduct group therapy sessions. Depending on the individual counselor, their methods may incorporate traditional 12-step programs, such as Alcoholics Anonymous, and they may work exclusively with a certain population subset, such as youths or military veterans. In addition to working directly with individuals impacted by addiction, these counselors often are required to interact with other healthcare providers or the justice system.
Salary range: $35,000-$55,000
Whether in a police department, sheriff’s office, private agency or even the FBI, investigators are responsible for things like solving crimes and identifying suspects. With a master’s degree in psychology, an investigator will have a very deep understanding not only of typical human behavior but specifically of criminal psychology, or what drives people to commit crimes. When working within law enforcement agencies, investigators must be mindful of legal restrictions that may exist, such as ensuring suspects are aware of their rights. Private investigators, on the other hand, have the same duties as private citizens. Regardless of where they work, investigators may probe crime scenes, interview witnesses and suspects, collect evidence and observe the activities of a variety of individuals.
Salary range: $40,000-$106,000
Behavioral therapists work with individuals, families, couples and other groups to identify and treat behavioral issues, such as disorders, compulsions and other behaviors. Most often working with specific populations, such as those with anxiety or obsessive-compulsive disorder, behavioral therapists are charged with helping their clients modify problem behaviors so that they can achieve their goals in life. Many behavioral therapists work exclusively with children or adults with autism-spectrum disorders, and their jobs may include helping clients develop basic skills, such as grooming. For behavioral therapists working within the autism community, training in applied behavior analysis, a specific branch of psychology, is usually necessary, and employers may require specific certifications. See more about behavioral therapists.
Salary range: $35,000-$70,000
Forensic psychologists often work in or around the criminal justice system, evaluating suspects and defendants for competency to stand trial or helping provide opinions on appropriate sentencing of convicts with mental health disorders. In some jurisdictions, the job requires a doctoral degree, but many require a master’s degree only. Forensic psychologists may also provide direct counseling services to individuals working within the system, and they will be expected to communicate well with judges, attorneys, police, doctors and other healthcare providers about the mental faculties of suspects and defendants. Some forensic psychologists may work within investigative units to identify potential suspects based on criminal psychology profiles, while others may work within family courts as opposed to criminal courts.
Salary range: $40,000-$110,000
Sports psychologists work with athletes at high levels, particularly professional athletes, though often with amateurs as well, to cope with the pressure of competition. Many athletes go through bouts of anxiety that they won’t be able to perform or are losing focus during games or matches. Sports psychologists help athletes developing coping mechanisms to keep whatever mental strain they’re experiencing from affecting their performance on the field as well as ensuring they don’t have long-term mental problems. Many sports psychologists will specialize in particular sports, such as golf or auto racing, both of which come with specific and very different mental health pitfalls, while others focus on athletes overcoming serious injuries.
Salary range: $50,000-$100,000
For most families, dealing with a loved one in the throes of addiction at some point becomes unbearable, and many families turn to outside help for dealing with their loved one’s addiction. That outside help often comes in the form of an interventionist, who is trained in accepted methodologies behind the concept of intervention in addiction, which is a well-planned process in which friends and family members of an addicted person confront the individual about their addiction. In addition to understanding the nature of addiction, interventionists must be adept at navigating the complexities of familial relationships and understanding how family behaviors may play into a person’s addiction. Interventionists are responsible for identifying individuals in the addict’s life who should be part of the intervention group as well as helping choose a time and place for the confrontation. In some cases, interventionists may also help convince the addicted individual to seek immediate treatment, and most interventionists will continue assisting family members during and after the person’s treatment program.
Salary range: $30,000-$70,000
Graduate Academic Advisor
Graduate academic advisors work with advanced students, whether they’re earning a master’s, doctoral or professional degree. They are responsible for advising graduate students on a variety of topics, including academic programs and options, policies and procedures, transfer credits, potential career paths and more. Graduate academic advisors will often focus on only one student population, such as computer science scholars or future law students, and they will often need to consult with academic faculty as well as sometimes with students’ parents, though that’s ideally not common at the graduate level. They may be tasked with proactively developing plans to keep at-risk students from falling behind their cohort or losing financial aid, and they may also help connect students with campus resources to help them meet their academic goals.
Salary range: $40,000-$70,000
The field of psychology is exciting and expanding by the day. Whether working with individuals in crisis or using your keen understanding of human nature to achieve specific business goals, there’s no shortage of fulfilling and rewarding psychology career paths for those with master’s degrees in psychology.
- Information on salary ranges was culled from research conducted on Indeed.com, Payscale.com and Glassdoor.com in fall 2019.
- National Center for Education Statistics, Digest of Education Statistics, Bachelor’s degrees conferred by postsecondary institutions, by field of study: Selected years, 1970-71 through 2015-16Master’s degrees conferred by postsecondary institutions, by field of study: Selected years, 1970-71 through 2016-17. (2018.) Retrieved from https://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d18/tables/dt18_323.10.asp?current=yes