Your options with a psychology degree & how to make it work for you

A psychology degree is attractive to employers because it combines a scientific approach (analytical thinking, objectivity, research skills) and humanities (understanding human behaviour, relationship building) giving you a broad choice about where you go on to work. Although the majority of psychology graduates do not become professional psychologists, many go on to work in related fields such as health, education and in the community or commercial roles and continue to apply their psychology degree in various ways every day. It is common to see psychology graduates go on to graduate schemes/graduate roles across the private, charity and public sectors too, depending on their interests.

The skills you gain from a psychology degree

These are the main areas that your degree is likely to develop, you may be able to think of more.

  • The scientific aspects of your degree will develop critical reasoning skills and the application of an objective, reasoned approach. It will also develop problem solving, analytical skills, data manipulation and report writing skills.
  • Your understanding of human behaviour and motivation will help you with relationship building, effective communication, and can help with creating an argument and generating alternative approaches/creativity.
  • The practical or research aspects of your studies could also provide opportunities for team working, presentation skills, problem solving and use of initiative.
  • It is likely that you will be developing digital skills such as using digital information and tools, creating online content, and communicating effectively online.

Popular job websites

Not all graduates join a graduate scheme, most find a job and progress from there. Here are a few sites that our graduates have found particularly useful.

All / Psychology related jobs

Mental Health and Healthcare related

Education and young people

Government, Social Care, Community & Charity

Commercial – HR, Marketing & related

Research & related

University & Academic related jobs (inc research assistant roles)

Graduate schemes particularly relevant for psychology graduates

Graduate schemes enable you to work and train in a large organisation, usually between one to three years, with a view to progressing into a senior role over the long term. Many allow you to experience different placements within the organisation for you decide what roles you are most suited to. Many of these schemes are open to students and graduates of any degree discipline. See also our page on Graduate Schemes.

Examples of schemes that may be of particular interest if you wish to use your psychology or research skills (some do not run every year).

Social Work & related

Charity Sector

Education & Teaching

Criminal Justice

Health, Government & Social Care

Tips for postgraduate study

Postgraduate study and training is required to become a chartered psychologist. Find courses accredited by the British Psychological Society for each specialism. On average, it takes seven years to gain chartered status as experience will also be needed. A chartered psychologist must be registered with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC).

Some students take postgraduate courses to build research skills and experience, increase their specialist knowledge or as a route to working in research. Psychology study options at Manchester(including PhD projects).

You may want to apply your psychology knowledge to professional training in areas such as social work, speech and language therapy, nursing or law.

Psychology degrees are often accepted if you want to change direction and study a postgraduate degree in a completely new academic area, check the entry requirements for courses you are considering and contact the admissions staff for clarification if you are unsure.

Make the most of your psychology degree

Explore your options early

It can feel daunting thinking about the direction to take after your degree. For most graduates it is a journey, trying out different roles to understand their strengths and what they enjoy most.
  • Consider your strengths and skills. Are there aspects of your course that you particularly enjoy (eg data analysis, research, understanding behaviour)? Have you developed skills during your working experiences (eg strong planner, diplomatic, calm under pressure)?
  • Is there a particular group of people you are keen to work with (eg young people, vulnerable groups, offenders)? Try out different types of work through internships or volunteering to test your ideas.
  • What is important to you? What do you choose to read about in the news, how do you spend your free time, what causes do you care about? This could tell you about the type of work that might interest you.
  • Find out about the potential value of your degree and its application to different roles and job sectors.
  • Think about how you normally make decisions. If you prefer to digest and weigh up lots of information about your options or plan ahead, then it is likely to work for you here. Or take a pragmatic approach – see what jobs and opportunities are advertised, give things a go and try different roles out. See also our advice on making decisions.
  • Hearing about what jobs involve, what others enjoy and what options can come next can have a big impact on our decisions. Find out about opportunities to connect with others below.

Work experience and voluntary work

Gaining experience during study makes a big difference. Experience enables you to explore your options, understand your skills and interests and demonstrate to employers that you have the qualities they seek. Larger organisations use their internship schemes as a way to spot and hire graduates early, some also offer insight weeks just for first years.

If you are considering as a professional psychologist, you will need to build up significant experience so start early. Volunteer with relevant client groups and build contacts for further opportunities. Experience will often be transferable across areas of psychology. If you want to to build your research skills approach your tutors/lecturers about volunteering to support postgraduates’ research projects.

Connections and professional memberships

Talking to people doing the different jobs you are interested in is a great way to find out about opportunities and gain experience.

If you are considering becoming a chartered psychologist, look into membership of the BPS. They advertise conferences, events and workshops to student members at reduced rates. These are great opportunities to connect with psychologists in your area of interest and to keep up to date with research and the latest insights.