Careers in Psychology – Everything You Need to Know


A career in psychology can involve a wide range of job titles and work settings as well as a number of different educational and career paths.

When you think of a career in psychology, many assume being a psychologist is the only option. Clearly becoming a psychologist is certainly a common career path, it certainly isn’t the only option.

In this guide, we provide an overview of the opportunities across the subfields of psychology, mental health and behavioral health.

The subfields of psychology

A key element of determining your career path in psychology is to narrow down the subfield that interests you most so that you can plot a course into this field.

Here are the most common subfields (click on any of the links to take a deep dive into that subfield):

Some of these subfields bleed into one another with many practitioners straddling 2 or even more of these subfields in a given role.

Which career path in psychology will earn you the most?

Salary should be only one consideration when choosing a field; job satisfaction, impact, personal interest, and work-life balance are other crucial factors to consider. That being said, here are the above subfields organized by earning potential:

  1. Neuropsychology – Neuropsychologists typically have a high earning potential due to their specialized training. They often work in hospitals, research settings, or private practices. Average annual salary: $90,000 – $130,000. Salary guide
  2. Industrial and Organizational Psychology – These psychologists often command higher salaries due to their roles in improving business performance. Average annual salary: $80,000 – $120,000. Salary guide
  3. Clinical Psychology – Clinical psychologists can work in a variety of settings, including hospitals, private practices, and mental health clinics. Average annual salary: $75,000 – $110,000. Salary guide
  4. Forensic Psychology – Working often with the legal system, these professionals can earn a diverse range. Average annual salary: $65,000 – $110,000. Salary guide
  5. Educational Psychology – They work in school settings or research. Average annual salary: $70,000 – $100,000. Salary guide
  6. Behavioral Psychology – This field can vary, but behavioral psychologists often work in research, clinics, or schools. Average annual salary: $75,000 – $100,000. Salary guide
  7. Child Psychology – This is a subset of clinical or counseling psychology focused on children. Average annual salary: $65,000 – $95,000. Salary guide
  8. Developmental Psychology – These psychologists typically work in research or academic settings. Average annual salary: $60,000 – $90,000. Salary guide
  9. Sport Psychology – Working with athletes and teams, their salaries can vary based on clientele. Average annual salary: $60,000 – $100,000. Salary guide
  10. Counseling Psychology – Counseling psychologists often work in schools, colleges, and various community settings. Average annual salary: $55,000 – $85,000. Salary guide

Educational Path

Bachelor’s degree

A Bachelor’s degree in Psychology typically takes 4 years to complete and provides a broad overview of the field.

Learn more about a bachelor’s degree in psychology.

Here are some jobs you can do with a bachelor’s degree:

See also our guide to entry-level psychology jobs.

Doctorate degree

doctorate in psychology, such as a Doctor of Psychology (PsyD) or Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology (PhD), typically takes 5-7 years to complete and provides advanced training in research, clinical practice, and theory. Typically there will be an area of focus e.g. behavioral psychologyeducational psychologyforensic psychologycounseling psychology or organizational psychology.

Graduates may become licensed psychologists and pursue careers in academia, research, or clinical practice.

Here are some jobs you can do with a doctorate in psychology (you’ll note some repetition from the above list and this is because whilst some of these roles, outside of licensed psychologist, don’t require a doctoral degree, candidates with a doctoral degree are being increasingly desirable):

What is the outlook for a career in psychology?

The outlook for a career in psychology is strong and expected to grow in the coming years. One major factor contributing to this growth is the increasing demand for mental health services. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), approximately one in five adults in the United States experiences a mental illness in any given year.

Furthermore, the increasing prevalence of chronic conditions such as depression, anxiety, and substance abuse, among others, is driving demand for psychological services. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, an estimated 19.4 million adults (7.8% of the US population) had a substance use disorder in 2018, and the numbers are expected to rise in the coming years. Additionally, the NIMH reports that suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States, with an estimated 50,000 deaths by suicide each year.