Psychology Majors Unhappy about Lack of Career Options

I came across an interesting article in the Wall Street Journal about the dissatisfaction of students majoring in psychology and their career paths (Light, 2010). According to a Wall Street Journal study, only 26% of psychology majors are “satisfied” or “very satisfied” with what’s available to them career-wise.

The study was conducted by PayScale.com between April and June of 2010 of 10,800 employees who received their bachelor’s between 1999 and 2010. However, the study did not include those without work, rather it only included those who already have jobs.

Dr. R. Eric Landrum (author of Finding Jobs with a Psychology Bachelor’s Degree), explained that one reason for the dissatisfaction is that there are not many fields that recruit students with psychology undergraduate degrees. In addition, the Wall Street Journal article also said those who choose not to pursue graduate education in psychology will oftentimes (within a year) switch to a different area completely.

In an earlier article on Psi Chi, Dr. Landrum (2001) shared,

“It’s best to think of your undergraduate education in psychology as learning ‘about’ psychology, not learning ‘to do’ psychology.”

I wholeheartedly agree with this statement. Unlike many other fields that offer students practical, hands-on skills, the undergraduate psychology degree offers an introduction to what the field of psychology is like. It isn’t until the Master’s level, when students are introduced to practicums, that they will actually “use” the things they’ve learned and apply it to real life, especially in a mental health counseling capacity.

It can be frustrating to those at the bachelor’s level to feel that they are not as “marketable” as their peers majoring in other fields, especially in this tough economy. However, if students understand that learning about psychology equips them with important critical thinking skills and a broad understanding of human behaviors and the science behind it, then they will approach any career with confidence and an awareness of the unique skillset (see the University of Dayton link below) that psychology provides in preparing them to become “a well-rounded, well-educated citizen and person.”

References

Landrum, R.E. (2001). I’m Getting My Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology–What Can I Do With It? Retrieved from http://www.psichi.org/pubs/articles/article_50.aspx

Light, J. (Oct. 2010). Psych majors aren’t happy with options. Retrieved from Wall Street Journal, http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704011904575538561813341020.html

University of Dayton. The Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology: Employment Opportunities and Strategies. Retrieved from http://campus.udayton.edu/~psych/handbook/BACHOP~1.HTM