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6 unexpected career paths for psychology graduates

The degree itself has tremendous value in the workforce more generally, with skills like data analysis, statistics and human behavioural analysis

Psychology is often seen as a quite linear, vocational career path. You study psychology, and then become a psychologist. That’s how it works, right? Well, not always. In Australia, you will need additional study, beyond a bachelor’s degree, to actually become a registered, practicing psychologist (the Psychology Board of Australia technically requires a sixth year of graduate study).

But the degree itself still has tremendous value in the workforce more generally, teaching students transferable skills like data analysis, statistics and human behavioural analysis, not to mention soft skills like empathy, curiosity and communication (all of which are in red hot demand right now).


Here are 6 unexpected psychology graduate jobs. 


1. Career counselling


Working as a Guidance Counsellor for young people, or a Career Development Practitioner for professionals, is a great way to use the skills you’ve honed during a psychology degree, and it doesn’t usually require any additional post-graduate study. Career counselling is all about helping people find their way in the world. It’s a niche subset of counselling that focusses on professional development and career aptitude, and there are plenty of jobs out there. SEEK, for example, is projecting 14% growth in the industry over the next five years.


2. Human resources


A career in HR can be incredibly fulfilling (and quite lucrative too, once you’ve climbed the corporate ladder). It requires interpersonal skills, communication, teamwork and a knack for relationship management. Sound familiar? There’s a whole field devoted to organisational psychology (although you will need additional post-graduate study to earn that specific title). Still, a psychology degree will round out your HR skillset nicely, helping you manage teams, recruit new staff, and analyse patterns of employee behaviour. There’s also plenty more dedicated training you can do to boost your credentials.


3. Law enforcement


While a career in forensic psychology will require additional study, there’s nothing stopping psychology graduates from jumping into law enforcement more generally. In fact, you might find that many of the skills are transferable: communication, pattern recognition, statistical analysis, social psychology, empathy, and an understanding of criminology all make for well-rounded police officers. There are plenty of other careers in criminal justice that can benefit from a psychology degree, too, including Behavioral Analyst, Victim’s Advocate and Addiction Counsellor.

It's a booming field, too. Between 2017 and 2019, the number of companies with a Customer Experience Officer jumped from below 65% to over 90%.

4. Customer experience


Customer Experience (CX) is a natural fit for psychology graduates. In recent years, more and more companies need professionals who can (at the same time) emote and connect with their customers, while crunching large data sets and running trend analysis. That’s quite a specific skills overlap. As a CX professional, you’ll use analytics and emotional insight to map customer journeys, conduct qualitative and quantitative research, and communicate findings to senior stakeholders. It’s a booming field, too. Between 2017 and 2019, the number of companies with a CXO jumped from below 65% to over 90%.


5. Video game design  


This one might sound surprising, but if you’ve been following the trend of video game design in recent years, you’ll know that many of the big developers are starting to leverage psychology and behavioral theory to make their games more fun and, well, more addictive. Loot boxes, micro transactions, in-game cash shops, Free to Play (FTP) games – these are some of the more morally questionable uses of behavioral psychology – but there’s plenty of scope for psychologist to change games for the better, too. With the global gaming market expected to hit $339 billion by 2027, there’s a huge opportunity for psychology graduates to shape the future of video games.


6. Child protection


Child protection practitioners are responsible for assessing reports of abuse and neglect of young people. It’s a confronting career, for sure, but also an incredibly rewarding one. If you’re interested in this field, you’ll probably need a social work degree, or a related degree that focusses on child development, human behaviour, and the impacts of trauma. But psychology graduates are well placed to transition into the role, with a little additional study (you can check out Victoria’s specific child protection requirements over here). Your training in emotions, familial relationships, communication and counselling will all be extremely relevant.


Interested in studying psychology online? Check out RMIT Online’s Graduate Diploma of Psychology

This article was originally published on 20 September 2022