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Which Career in Psychology Is Right for You?

Discover careers for PhD-educated psychologists.

Psychology is a wide field with a vast range of career possibilities. People with psychology degrees work in pretty much any field where it’s important to understand human behavior and cognition, including healthcare, social advocacy nonprofits, academic research and teaching, law enforcement, and government. Many careers in psychology require only a bachelor’s degree, but many more opportunities are within reach for those who earn an advanced degree. You can opt for a master’s degree, but if you want to take your career to the highest level, a doctorate (PhD or PsyD) is usually required.

What can you do with a PhD in Psychology? Listed below are some of the top careers. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median income for someone with a degree in psychology is $77,030, although some jobs can pay $124,000 or more.1

Which Career in Psychology Is Right for You?

Clinical Psychologist

Clinical psychologists typically work with patients in order to diagnose and treat mental or behavioral disorders. Clinical psychologists can administer diagnostic tests, counsel patients individually or in groups, or work with a team of other mental health professionals to help specific patient populations, such as children or older adults. Clinical psychologists typically earn an advanced degree in psychology, complete an internship under the supervision of a licensed clinical psychologist, and pass a licensure exam.

Forensic Psychology Professional

Forensic psychology professionals work with law enforcement and the legal system to help both the prosecution and the defense better understand the mental and behavioral aspects that may come into play with the cases they’re working on. They can help develop profiles of suspects; act as expert witnesses in family, criminal, or civil litigation; work with investigators and attorneys as consultants; or work directly in the criminal justice system to evaluate suspects and witnesses.

While it’s possible to enter the field with a master’s degree, a PhD will provide a greater range of career options.

Industrial and Organizational Psychologist

Industrial and organizational (I/O) psychology is the scientific study of work and the application of that science to workplace issues facing individuals, teams, and organizations. It is applied to investigate issues of critical relevance to employees, businesses, and society, such as testing/assessment, staffing, performance management, employee stress and well-being, teamwork, organizational development and change management, work-life balance, and leadership. I/O psychologists also develop and refine organizational policies, improve efficiencies and performance in the work environment, identify training and professional development needs, or re-engineer processes within the organization. Through these efforts, industrial/organizational psychology professionals advance the science of work, leading to smarter and more innovative evidence-based tools and solutions.

Some people enter the field of industrial/organizational psychology with a bachelor’s or master’s degree, but holding a PhD in Psychology is often necessary for higher-paying jobs in consulting and management.

Developmental Psychology Professionals

It’s a common misconception that developmental psychology professionals only work with children to help evaluate, diagnose, and treat developmental disorders. In fact, developmental psychology professionals are trained to work with people at all stages of life development, including adolescence and old age. Developmental psychology professionals can work in the education system, but there are also opportunities to work in any public or private-sector organization that focuses on specific populations or social welfare.

A PhD is usually required for those interested in a career in developmental psychology.

Behavioral Health Manager/Supervisor

People in this profession can have a background in nearly any psychology specialty and can be involved in clinical practice; however, they typically focus on managing staff, overseeing the treatment of patients, and developing strategies and organizational policies and procedures for organizations employing psychologists. Leadership positions in this field often require advanced degrees such as a PhD or PsyD.


Psychology researchers develop new knowledge about human and animal behavior. They frequently work with other researchers in laboratory and clinical settings to develop assessments, observe behavior, and review current psychological research. In order to move beyond assistant-level positions, a PhD is required.

Which Career Is Right for You?

Determining which career path is right for you really depends on your own interests, experience, and educational background. For example, if you’re someone who likes working with groups of people and improving systems, industrial/organizational psychology might be the way to go. On the other hand, if you like discovering new things and working with others to solve problems, being a researcher might be the career for you. Whatever your interests, the field of psychology has a path that will interest and engage you throughout your career.

Walden University is an accredited institution offering a number of psychology degree programs online at the bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral levels. Expand your career options and earn your degree using a convenient, flexible learning platform that fits your busy life.


Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission,