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What can I do with my degree?: Psychology

Studying a psychology degree fosters a valuable aptitude for work in both the science and arts fields, and forms a flexible basis for a wide number of careers...

Job options

Jobs directly related to your degree include:

Jobs where your degree would be useful include:

Remember that many employers accept applications from graduates with any degree subject, so don't restrict your thinking to the jobs listed here. To find out what jobs would suit you, log in to My Prospects.

Work experience

Due to the levels of competition in the field of psychology, it's increasingly vital to get work experience and voluntary work before you graduate to increase your chances of securing a career in this area.

Placements in all areas of psychology can be difficult to access, but any relevant paid or voluntary work can be beneficial, e.g. working with children or adults with learning difficulties, mentoring, befriending, and working in care homes or with those who are mentally distressed.

Depending on your career aims, it may also be helpful to join the British Psychological Society (BPS) , since membership with the society offers useful networking opportunities and information about continued professional development.

Psychology graduates are often eligible to apply for management training schemes, pursuing a diverse choice of career. Again, work or volunteering experience will be helpful, if not essential. Depending on your preferred path, it may be worthwhile undertaking some further vocational study in order to increase your chances of being appointed.

Search for placements and find out more about work experience and internships.

Typical employers

Only a small percentage of psychology graduates become professional psychologists, although many work in related fields.

Major employers of psychology graduates include:

  • the National Health Service - see NHS Careers
  • local councils;
  • multinational organisations.

Recruitment agencies, such as Psychologist Appointments , can be a good source of jobs.

Find information on employers in healthcare, marketing, advertising and PR, and other job sectors.

Skills for your CV

Transferable skills include:

  • communication;
  • information technology;
  • handling of data/statistics;
  • problem-solving;
  • the ability to work in teams.

The scientific aspects of your psychology course, including the application of a reasoned approach, problem-solving and manipulation of data, provide useful tools for careers in healthcare, law enforcement, finance, IT and research.

While the understanding about human behaviour and motivation, ability to critically analyse a problem, formulate a considered response, create an argument and generate new ideas, lend themselves well to careers in the creative industries, the legal sector, government administration and education.

Further study

Postgraduate training and study is a requirement to become a chartered psychologist. Many psychology graduates spend a year or more gaining work experience before embarking on postgraduate study due to course entry requirements.

Popular courses for psychology graduates include one-year MSc programmes in forensic, occupational, health or sport and exercise psychology.

Other graduates qualify as teachers as a route into educational psychology. Whilst a teaching qualification is no longer a requirement for this profession, it is still recommended as the most popular route.

For those entering clinical psychology, a three-year Doctorate is required, though few graduates are able to enter this immediately after their undergraduate degree.

For more information on further study and to find a course that interests you, see postgraduate study in the UK and search courses and research.

What do psychology graduates do?

The top ten occupations held by graduates in employment in the UK include, HR and industrial relations officers, youth and community workers and marketing associate professionals.

Graduate destinations for psychology
Destinations Percentage
Employed 62.9%
Further study 15.5%
Working and studying 9.6%
Unemployed 7.8%
Other 4.2%
Types of work entered in the UK
Retail, catering and bar work 18.7%
Caring and education work 17.2%
Legal, social and welfare 12.9%
Secretarial and numerical clerks 11.9%
Other occupations 39.3%

For a detailed breakdown of what psychology graduates are doing six months after graduation, see What Do Graduates Do?  

Graduate destinations data from the Higher Education Statistics Agency.

Written by AGCAS editors
January 2013

Spotlight on...

  • Hibernia College UK (HCUK)
    A leading provider of online courses and programmes at postgraduate level with a particular focus on teacher training and development

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