Top 5 careers in psychology

careers in psychology

If you are fascinated by how the human mind works and have strong critical thinking and research skills, a career in psychology might be right for you. The vast field of psychology has many career opportunities. With so many career paths, psychology is one of the leading college majors in the United States. No matter what career path you choose, you will need a bachelor’s degree and most likely a graduate degree.

Learn about different psychology fields:

1. Psychiatrist

Psychiatrists are medical doctors trained in bolstering mental and emotional health and well-being. They also diagnose and treat disorders, emotional difficulties, mental illnesses and trauma for clients. They provide individualized care to clients, including a range of specialized approaches that serve everything from ordinary life improvement to severely impactful problems, like obsessive-compulsive disorder. They are also able to prescribe medication and medically based treatments. Psychiatrists receive a rigorous amount of schooling and training regarding acute, behavioral, cultural, physiological and other contributors to mental health.

Educational qualification

To become a psychiatrist, one has to earn a Ph.D. from an accredited medical school and successfully complete a supervised residency program.  


Salaries for psychiatrists range from $171,000-$265,000. The average base salary is $215,255 a year.

2. Psychology Professor

Do you love researching and sharing your knowledge? Psychology professors teach courses in psychology ranging from general psychology courses to specialized courses in abnormal, child, clinical and developmental psychology. They create course materials, deliver lectures and keep up to date with new theories and developments in the field. In addition to teaching, they conduct research and publish findings in academic journals and textbooks.

Educational qualification

To be competitive for a position as a psychology professor, you should earn a doctoral degree. However, some community colleges and private colleges only require a master’s degree to teach.


Salaries for psychology professors range from $51,000-$86,000. The average base salary is $64,874 a year.

3. Correctional psychologist

Correctional psychologists work with inmates in prisons. Their goals are to provide a safe environment in the correctional facility and to rehabilitate inmates so they can transition from prison back into society. They work alongside correctional staff and caseworkers to identify clinical disorders in inmates. After they diagnose the inmate, they create a treatment plan.

Academic qualification

To become a correctional psychologist, you need a doctorate degree and a year of specialized training.


Salaries for correctional psychologists range from $45,000-$297,000. The average base salary is $117,521 a year.

4. Research psychologist

Do you have excellent analytical and investigation skills? Research psychologists, also called experimental psychologists, learn about animal and human behavior through experimental studies. They form hypotheses, conduct experiments, analyze results and write scientific papers. Part of their research methods may include interviews and surveys in addition to in-lab work. Many research psychologists work in academia but others work for businesses, government agencies and the military.

Academic qualification

The minimum academic qualification for an assistant research psychologist is a master’s degree while the lead research psychologist needs a doctoral degree.


Salaries for research psychologists range from $54,000-$102,000. The average base salary is $75,186 a year.

5. Industrial-organizational psychologist

Industrial-organizational psychologists—also called I/O psychologists—research human and organizational issues in the workplace. Industrial-organizational psychologists work with organizations across sectors both domestically and in multinational organizations. They use psychological principles to assist with company culture and human resources management, conduct marketing research and help organizations increase productivity. In addition to researching internal company issues, they also research consumer behavior and offer marketing strategies based on their findings.

Academic qualification

The minimum academic qualification for an industrial-organizational psychologist is a doctoral degree.


Salaries for industrial-organizational psychologists range from $53,000-$97,000. The average base salary is $73,101 a year.

Get started at Lynn

Learn how to best help your clients and open a wide range of career opportunities with a bachelor’s degree in psychology. Build upon your knowledge with a master’s degree.

Learn more about how to become a psychologist and how to become a mental health therapist.