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How long will it take to get a job in psyhcology after college

Is a very big part in deciding my major in college #psychology

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Cian’s Answer

Hi Jonathan,

I did psychology in college in Europe and two of the things it's important to know if you're looking for a job as a psychologist are

1) What do you mean by "job in psychology"? Psychology is incredibly broad, and includes everything from Counseling to Neuroscience. Although you'll get an overview of most areas during your undergrad it's probably good to think about what aspect of psychology you're most interested in. I actually enjoyed the advanced statistics part of my course and ended up going into data analytics. I now work in tech doing business improvement. So I definitely don't work as a psychologist, but I do use the skills I learned from that degree program and it helps to inform my professional practice. Be aware that certain areas of psychology (clinical etc) will have different barriers to entry, which brings me on to point 2

2) For most jobs where you would call yourself a psychologist as part of the job title, you need to go to do a postgraduate masters or doctorate (grad school). That includes clinical, educational, forensic, child, research. About 25% of psych grads end up going to grad school afterwards. So if you want to work specifically as a psychologist straight out of college, more likely than not you won't get that type of work without a postgrad. I know people from my year that ended up in college for another 6+ years AFTER their undergraduate degree just to qualify to work in the area of psychology that they wanted to work in.

3) Competition for grad school places in psychology is high. Most people doing the undergraduate will want to work directly as psychologists but there is only a fraction of grad school places compared to undergrad places. In order to get into grad school you will need to be academically strong throughout your degree and, if you're looking for a care-based profession, have experience in that field. I did a research postgraduate based on my academiuc results but everyone that I know who got straight into a vocational grad school (clinical/educational) had experience in that area during their degree, for instance volunteering with local organisations that served the community in that way (phone helplines, mentoring programs, etc). Even if you have this experience be prepared that you might have to work for a year in between undergrad and postgrad to build up your experience before somewhere will take you on.

Cian recommends the following next steps:

Research different areas of psychology, and what area you might like to work in. There is a good portal by the British Psychological Society here that would be the same areas in America. https://careers.bps.org.uk/area/newcareer/i-want-be-psychologist-what-type
Think about what other areas you could work in without working necessarily as a psychologist specifically. HR, business, and data analytics are areas that a lot of psychologist end up in because the skills you learn in your undergraduate degree translate well to a lot of different areas.
If you do know you want to work in a specific area then start thinking now about getting practical experience in that field. Say for instance you're interested in forensic psychology you should see what volunteer programs are being run in prisons, re-offenders, or with teenagers at risk or going down the wrong path. This will help you understand the type of work that psychologist do in those areas better, and give you an extra edge applying for jobs or postgrads after college.
If all of this sounds a bit intense and you really only want to work helping people, consider alternative degrees that are vocational such as social work.
Thank you comment icon great comments, i have nothing to add ! Ron Warren
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Denise’s Answer

I wanted to be a doctor of psychology and treat people so I needed to complete a Ph.D. program. It took me 5 years after I completed my Batchelors degree ( 4 yrs). Then I could work for myself anywhere I wanted. I could also work in private practise, in hospitals, clinics and most anywhere they would need someone like me. I also wanted to help combat veterans. I ended up working in a clinic in a VA hospital and then I worked for the Army and now I work for a non-profit treatment program that helps women with PTSD heal.
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Amy’s Answer

Hi Jonathan,

I hope you are doing well!

Many people are in jobs that are different from what they studied in school. Always remember that school is different than working in the real world. Experience and the desire to work is all that matters at the end.

When I was attending school, I majored in Psychology with two minors in Human Development and Public Leadership. I currently have a business job because I had taken classes in computer science. Sometimes I use the psychology skills that I learned in undergrad to better communicate with staff members in different levels of management.

Landing a job can be tough at times. It is very important to have skills outside of your field and be open to learning new skills.

When it comes to hiring people, the following factors come into play:
- Experience
- Overall GPA
- Extracurriculars
- Quality of Classes (not how many majors or minors you have)
- Quality of interview skills
-Etc

I hope this message finds you well! Don't ever give up on your dreams :)

Amy recommends the following next steps:

Research jobs that require psychological skills like conflict management, law, public policy, management etc.
Research jobs that you find interesting
Figure out if you really want to pursue a degree in psychology (weigh out to pros and cons)
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Ron’s Answer

In addition to the wise feedback provided by Cian, Denise & Amy ... IF interesting in clinical work, go do some work in a mental health facility. Some who enter the field because it looks interesting, about thinking, etc... later find they do not want to spend their days around folks w/ some real problems! Personally, I love the work in clinical ... but I have seen many enamoured w/the idea and then turned off when actually starting clinical work. But as Cian said, so many different sub-specialties in psychology and throughout your life it will be relevant and personally engaging.
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