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What can I do with this degree?


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Find out more about how to pursue careers in the mental health field at  This website was built by SVSU’s own professor, Travis Pashak.  Please follow the link for helpful information on different positions within this field as well as insights on getting into graduate programs.   

 Direct Care:
Case Management
Mental Health Services
Physical Health and Wellness
Crisis Work
Art Therapy
Music Therapy

Community Relations
Development/Fund Raising
Grant Writing

Federal government, including Departments of Health and Human Services, Justice, Veterans Administration, VA Hospitals
State government, including Departments of Human Services, Mental Health & Mental Retardation, Community mental health centers, State psychiatric hospitals, Facilities for mentally impaired, Justice, Probation and parole
Local government
Senior citizens' centers
United Way agencies
Social service/nonprofit organizations
Religiously affiliated service organizations
Hospitals/healthcare providers
Private psychiatric facilities
Employee Assistance Programs (EAP)
College and university counseling centers
Private practice


Obtain essential practical experience through part-time or summer jobs such as camp counselor, tutor, or resident hall advisor.  Complete an internship for academic credit.  Gain experience through volunteering with organizations such as crisis hotlines, Big Brother or Sister, Special Olympics, service fraternities or sororities, etc.  Many entry-level helping positions require one year of related experience.  Volunteer experience and internships can typically fulfill this requirement.  Learn to work well with different types of people.  Develop strong communication skills.  Cultivate the desire to help others.  Become fluent in a foreign language to serve clients who may not speak English.  Be willing to relocate for increased job opportunities.  Become familiar with government hiring procedures. Acquire knowledge of government and community resources available for those in need.  Obtain a graduate degree in psychology, counseling, or social work for positions involving substantive counseling or psychotherapy or for advancement into administrative/supervisory positions.  Many specialties exist at the graduate level, for example school counseling, mental health counseling, counseling psychology, etc.  Pursue particular degrees depending upon interests and career goals.  See General Information on the last page for more details on this topic.  Maintain an excellent academic record and seek experiences valued by graduate programs.

Social Research
Market Research
Data Analysis

Federal, state and local government agencies
National headquarters of non-profit organizations
Universities and colleges
Market research firms
Market research departments of consumer goods and manufacturing firms
Consulting firms

Work with a professor on his or her research project.  Develop strong quantitative and statistical skills.  Take additional math and statistics courses.  Obtain a graduate degree for greater opportunities.  Obtain related experience. Get a part-time or summer field service position with a market research firm.  Get involved in the American Marketing Association.  Earn a graduate degree in psychology, statistics or marketing for the greatest number of opportunities.

Student Affairs
Adult Learning

Public and private K-12 schools
Colleges and universities
Community instruction offered by government or social service agencies, e.g. GED classes, life skills, parenting, etc.

Obtain a teaching certificate for public school positions.  Multiple certifications will increase marketability. Seek guidance from the education department of your college.  Earn a doctoral degree for post-secondary teaching.  Secure strong personal recommendations.  Volunteer or work as a tutor.  Gain experience working with children or adolescents.  Acquire related experience on campus as a resident hall advisor, orientation leader, admissions tour guide, or peer mentor.  Develop strong communication skills and learn to speak well in front of a group.

Employment and Recruitment
Labor Relations
Compensation and Benefits
Organizational Development

Large companies
Government agencies
Staffing and employment services
Large non-profit organizations including hospitals and educational institutions

Gain relevant experience in human resources by completing an internship.  Earn a minor in business or supplement curriculum with business courses.  Seek leadership positions in student organizations.  Develop strong computer skills.  Earn an MBA or a graduate degree in human resources to attain higher-level positions.

Customer Service
Insurance:  Claims Management, Underwriting
Real Estate:  Sales, Property Management
Public Relations

Service providers
Retail stores including:  Department stores, Specialty stores, Discount stores, Super retailers, Online retailers
Call centers
Financial institutions
Insurance companies
Real estate companies
Property management firms
Apartment complexes
Public relations departments of large businesses or nonprofit organizations

Develop career goals and seek relevant experiences to prepare for those goals.  Earn a minor in business or supplement curriculum with business or communication courses.
Obtain relevant experience through internships or part-time jobs.  Work a part-time or summer job in a retail store.  Demonstrate a willingness to take on additional responsibilities such as "assistant manager."  Participate in student organizations and seek leadership roles.  Learn to work well with different types of people.  Develop a strong commitment to customer satisfaction.  For sales, develop the ability to work well under pressure and be comfortable in a competitive environment.  Be willing to start in a management-trainee program or other entry-level positions.  When job searching, seek employers interested in hiring "any major."  Understand the top skills employers desire and be prepared to demonstrate them, such as communication (oral and written), computer, interpersonal, leadership and teamwork, etc.

Psychology provides a broad, liberal arts background.  Some students may choose to study psychology because they enjoy the subject but wish to pursue careers requiring "any major."  In this scenario, it is critical to develop desirable skills through internships, part-time or summer jobs, or volunteer experiences.  Some skills valued most by employers include:  communication, interpersonal, leadership, teamwork, and computer skills. 

Other students may major in psychology because they want to work in a related field. Many entry-level helping positions are available, however the amount of direct client contact is limited for those who have a bachelor's degree. Students may wish to pursue graduate education in psychology, social work, counseling, college student personnel, or other related fields to increase opportunities and earning potential.  Research career fields to learn what type of degree (master's or doctoral) and subject area are most appropriate.  The following list provides some examples:

Master's Degree
Licensed Clinical Social Worker
Professional Counselor
Educational, Vocational, and School Counselors
Substance Abuse and Behavioral Disorder Counselors
Rehabilitation Counselors
Licensed Marriage & Family Therapists

Doctoral Degree
Counseling Psychologist
Licensed Clinical Psychologist
Experimental Psychologist
School Psychologist
Sport Psychologist
Industrial/Organizational Psychologist

For those wishing to pursue graduate education, maintain a high grade point average, secure strong faculty recommendations, and gain experience through volunteer or work opportunities.  Assist a faculty member with his or her research.


Prepared by the Career Planning staff of Career Services at The University of Tennessee, Knoxville. (2005) UTK is an EEO/AA/Title VI/Title IX/Section 504/ADA/ADEA Employer

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