What Can I Do With My PsyD Degree?
While it’s not as old as its cousin, the Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology, the PsyD degree, formally called Doctor of Psychology, is an increasingly popular academic track for people who want to develop a deep understanding of human behavior and the mind.
As a terminal degree, meaning the highest possible academic achievement in the field, a PsyD is a doctoral degree that can provide the foundation of many successful and challenging career paths, including becoming a licensed clinical psychologist, working in academia or even helping hold criminals accountable for their actions.
Regardless of their specific job title or field, psychologists tend to be more highly paid than the average American, but some sectors offer much higher wages than the overall median for psychologists ($79,010).
Median annual psychologist wage by sector
|Ambulatory healthcare services
|Elementary and secondary schools
Each person’s ideal path depends on many factors, including the classes they took in their PsyD track, their own personal experience and what areas they find particularly interesting. That said, there are at least four major paths a person can take after earning this degree — helping clients or patients directly, working in public service, working in the private sector and contributing to the scientific understanding of human behavior.
Let’s take a closer look at each of the four main paths, including some specific job titles that fall under these umbrellas.
Help People Directly
The operative word in the degree is “psychology,” which is why it’s often assumed that people who earn PsyD degrees will work directly with patients, clients, families and others who need help in any number of areas related to behavior, emotions and feelings.
Ideal jobs depend on each individual’s interests and specific educational choices. For instance, someone whose PsyD is in clinical psychology will be much more likely to become a licensed clinical psychologist, while a person who took classes in substance use may be more likely to become an addiction counselor. It’s also important to note that in most states, licensure is required to practice as a psychologist, and other jobs may require licensing or state approval.
Here’s a look at some possible job titles that involve giving people the tools to manage their mental and emotional health:
- How to Become an Addiction Counselor
- How to Become a Behavior Analyst
- How to Become a Sports Psychologist
- How to Become a Cognitive Psychologist
- How to Become a Substance Abuse Counselor
- How to Become a Clinical Case Manager
- How to Become a Neuropsychologist
- How to Become a Health Psychologist
- How to Become a Criminal Psychologist
- How to Become a Forensic Psychologist
- How to Become a Behavioral Psychologist
- How to Become an Industrial-Organizational Psychologist
- How to Become a Child Psychologist
- How to Become a Counseling Psychologist
- How to Become a Clinical Mental Health Counselor
- How to Become a School Psychologist
- How to Become a Psychotherapist
- How to Become a Psychopharmacologist
- How to Become a Private Practice Psychologist
- How to Become a Clinical Psychologist
Work in Public Service
Consulting directly with people in crisis or those who need help managing their mental health and relationships may be the most obvious possible career path for PsyD degree-holders. But many people are not suited to that type of work for one reason or another.
SEE ALSO: Why Get a PsyD in School Psychology?
For some of these people, the desire to use their expertise in human behavior doesn’t necessarily extend to personally helping people have better mental health, and their own individual interests may lead them naturally to jobs with local, state and federal government agencies. Often, these individuals earn PsyD degrees with a focus in forensic psychology.
PsyD jobs in public service are quite diverse, and some do involve working directly with people in crisis, though this category generally includes jobs where the primary goal is ensuring the proper functioning of a public system, such as a school or the criminal justice system.
- Social worker
- School counselor
- Forensic psychologist
- Insider threat analyst
- Crime analyst
- Jury consultant
- Expert witness
- Court liaison
- Corrections officer
- Probation officer
- Victim advocate
- Trial consultant
Work in the Private Sector
Another major area of psychology focuses on how humans interact with systems like workplaces and other large organizations. Formally referred to as industrial-organizational psychology, people with education in this area often work as consultants for large companies, or they may manage human resources departments to ensure a good mix of personalities within a company’s staff.
The private sector also is an ideal place for people with general PsyD degrees or even those with clinical psychology concentrations to use their knowledge of human nature to contribute to a business’s goals.
This could mean working as a market researcher or ensuring the products a company makes will be intuitive for users from a mental health and psychological point of view. Possible jobs in the private sector include:
- Personnel psychologist
- Human capital consultant
- HR manager
- Leadership experience specialist
- User experience researcher
- Human factors engineer
- Psychology consultant
- Psychologist reviewer
- Training and development specialist
- Productivity manager
Contribute to Science
Any doctoral degree will involve major academic work, but the PsyD is generally considered much more clinical than its academic-focused cousin, the PhD, and as a result, there may be a perception that people with PsyD degrees don’t or can’t contribute to the body of science on human behavior.
That’s not true, of course, and many people who earn a PsyD may go on to do all manner of things that are academic or scientific in nature, including teaching the next generation of psychologists or conducting research into one or more areas of mental health.
Here’s a look at just a few of the ways PsyD-holders can contribute to the growing understanding of human behavior and the inner workings of the mind:
- Applied social scientist
- Experimental psychologist
- Learning design manager
- Behavioral scientist
- Clinic director
- Lab researcher
Regardless of where their path ends or how it might branch off from what they imagined, for people with a deep understanding of human nature and desire to help others lead better lives, there are few educational journeys that will be as rewarding as earning a PsyD. While it’s a serious commitment of time and money, the versatility the degree offers those who can complete a program is virtually limitless, and with the study of psychology expanding all the time, who knows what the future might hold?
- U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Psychologists. (2019.) Retrieved from https://www.bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/psychologists.htm#tab-2