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What careers can a degree in psychology lead to?

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A psychology degree develops important skills that could help you land your dream job. We talked to Senior Lecturer in Psychology and Employability Coordinator, Carole Carter, about the wide range of careers you can have as a psychology graduate.

Students in Cognitive Lab

"It's important to volunteer"

“A lot of students come to me and say that they don’t know what career path to choose. I tell them to get out there and try to think about what you want to do, what field you want to work in and who you want to work with. Try to do some volunteering during your degree. Sometimes, what we think we want to do, the reality is we don’t enjoy doing.

“If a student says they want to be a teacher, they should volunteer as a teaching assistant, and see how it goes. Sometimes they come back and say they hated it and don’t want to work with children. But it's important to try things and see what works for you,” Carole explains.

"Students need to know how to sell their skills in a job interview"

Research, analysis, critical thinking and problem solving are just some of many transferable skills you gain by studying psychology, but Carole notes that some students emerge from their degree with many good qualities, but are not necessarily aware of them.

Job interview shake hands

“Employers made it very clear a few years ago that universities need to ensure students know what skills they have because they are going to interviews ill prepared. They are not selling themselves, and are not consciously aware of the skills they possess, so we took that on board and tried to make these skills readily available to their conscious mind.

“We have an HR professional who comes in and works with our students on things like applications forms, their CVs and interview skills,” says Carole, who is also responsible for making students aware of the vast array of careers that are available to them.

"We try to get our students thinking about alternative routes"

“What we aim to do is broaden their horizons and give them as much as experience as possible in different fields, and in the traditional fields, forensic and clinical psychology. We try to get them thinking about alternative routes and opportunities. Professionals come here to talk to our first year students and because of that they seem to have more motivation, interest and determination.

“We are supported incredibly well by our careers department. They are very good and they regularly hold different career days. A recent event focused on working with offenders. We had probation officers here, people from the police and forensic psychologists. I was surprised afterwards as a number of students told me that they really fancy going into probation work,” Carole explains.

A male student reading a book

"Our students spend 36 hours doing volunteer work"

In the second year of studying, students are encouraged to find their own volunteering opportunities.

Carole says: “One part of a module requires them to go out and develop their skills in some way. Students are not required to develop their psychology skills and can work on other transferable skills instead. They have to spend 36 hours doing volunteer work which is going to be recognised later in their career. In the third year we have a placement module that’s proven very successful.”

"It’s not important that your next job has the word psychology in the name"

In 2017 The British Psychological Society (BPS) published a report on the career destinations of psychology graduates one, three, five and seven years after graduation.

Students chatting about careers

They surveyed around 2,400 students, who indicated that they were employed across a very wide range of employment sectors, with 34.7% in human health, 21.5% in education, 9.3% other, 6.9% in scientific research and development, 3.7% in office administration, office support and other business support activities and 2.9% in social work.

“It’s not important that your next job has the word psychology in the name for you to use your skills. Anyone who works in other fields like marketing or human resources would love our students. They can design a study with an intent, gather the data, analyse it and write it up,” Carole concludes.

Here at Sunderland, some of our courses are accredited by the British Psychological Society (BPS), and our psychology courses were ranked 3rd overall in the UK in the 2018 UK Engagement Survey.

Our courses are designed to suit your personal needs, so we offer a flexible framework that allows you to select specific modules from our various courses to suit your own interests. Find the right psychology course for you.

Published: 26 March 2019

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