First day of Psych 100 – Intro to Psychology. The very first thing the professor said was ‘If you don’t plan on getting a Doctorates degree in Psychology, you may want to rethink what you want to do as a career.’ We spent an entire 50 minute lecture discussing the slim to none chance of getting a job in the field with a Bachelors in Psychology. This notion made plenty of people change their majors or have second thoughts about what they wanted to do with their lives. While some people did in fact choose Psychology because ‘it seemed like an easy major’ and were quickly dissuaded after this lecture, others who wholeheartedly wanted a degree in Psychology pondered on what else they could get a degree in.
All throughout undergrad, when I told people my major was Psychology I had to be prepared to hear everyone’s spiel about how I won’t be able to get a job with a Bachelors in Psychology. Whether it was other students in majors like Computer Science or Engineering, concerned parents, my own family members – even my own psychology professors. Many of my classmates graduated with severe anxiety surrounding what kind of job they will be able to get if they, God forbid, don’t get into graduate school.
I’m writing this blog to let you know that you CAN get a job in the field, utilizing everything you learned in those 4 years of school that you’re now paying for.
NOTE: I am in no way saying your opportunities would be equal to someone with a Masters or Doctorate degree in Psychology. Unlike many other majors (A biology major could be a biologist with a Bachelors degree, but a psychology major would not be a Psychologist with a Bachelors degree), having a graduate degree DOES matter in the field. However, what I am saying is that there are PLENTY of job positions that require a Bachelors degree in a Human Services related field.
Here are a few examples of positions that I have personally worked with just a Bachelors degree.
- Crisis / Victims Advocate – My very first job upon receiving my degree was a Crisis Advocate. Working directly in a Battered Women’s Shelter with victims, doing crisis counseling, case management, hospital accompaniment – you name it. Whatever the needs of the victims were, I was there to assist them with getting those needs met. Victims Advocates work in shelters, hospitals, and non-profit organizations primarily. There are many different types of Victim Advocates – Child Abuse, Domestic Violence, Sexual Abuse, Crime Victim, etc.
- Hotline Responder / Phone Counselor – The job that I have worked while in graduate school. Suicide Hotlines, Mobile Crisis Hotlines, Domestic Violence Hotlines, Mental Health Crisis Hotlines, etc. These hotlines require some type of counseling skill and knowledge of psychological disorders as well as being familiar with the services available in the area. Most states designate crisis hotlines for each county. In Maryland, for example, every county has a crisis hotline as well as a domestic violence/sexual assault hotline.
- In-Home Treatment / Psychiatric Rehabilitation Program (PRP) / Intensive In-Home – This position is tricky because every state has a different name for these types of programs. In Maryland, it is commonly referred to as Psychiatric Rehabilitation Program (PRP). These types of programs vary from day programs at a location to you being assigned a caseload and meeting your clients at their homes or in the community to work with them on developing, or redeveloping necessary skills to function in the community. The PRP program I worked for, I assisted clients with learning how to apply for jobs, learning how to do basic personal hygiene, teaching them social skills to interact with people in their community and helping them cope with the symptoms of their diagnosis. Each program is different and does different things, but the general idea is that you have an assigned caseload that you are responsible for visiting and maintaining a treatment plan.
- Case Manager – Similar to PRP worker and advocate, a case manager is usually assigned a caseload and assists clients with getting the necessary help they need. Depending on what kind of agency you work for, these needs and duties may vary. You may assist a client with applying for health insurance, making doctors appointments, finding adequate housing, applying for food stamps – etc.
- School-Based Community Worker – This position is also called many different things. These positions usually assign you to schools (lots of times in schools with high drop-out rates and behavioral issues or students who need an IEP) and your job is to work with the students who are having difficulty focusing in school, particularly those with mental health diagnoses.
Now again, am I telling you to not get a graduate degree? Heavens no! These are jobs that I work/worked until I finish my graduate degree and get licensed to be a Therapist. But, these jobs are good stepping stones – and also GREAT ways to obtain experience working with particular populations. If you want to be a therapist, psychologist or psychiatrist- you should already know that requires much more than a Bachelors degree. BUT, if you know that you want to help people, work with under-served populations and work in the human services field but don’t quite know if you’re a) ready for grad school b) want to even go to graduate school or c) even want to be a therapist or psychologist – there are jobs you can have with a Bachelors degree in Psychology! Don’t give up just yet!