Options (or lack thereof) with BA in psych

Discussion in 'Psychology [Psy.D. / Ph.D.]' started by natsky, Mar 15, 2012.

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  1. natsky


    Mar 15, 2012
    Hi everyone,

    I’m new to this forum, and was hoping I could get some input. I’m about to graduate this semester with a BA in Psychology. The thing is, I don’t plan to continue my education, but I have no idea what I can do with a Bachelor’s degree. Is it really useless, like everybody says it is?

    The issues I have with more schooling are simply that I’m already burnt out, and grad school would require even more student loans (which is how I put myself through undergrad). I’m also not 100% sure I want to be a counselor/therapist. I ultimately felt it was unwise to commit to grad school if I’m unsure about it. Without a clear path, however, I feel as though I am blundering around in the dark. All I know is that “helper” roles appeal to me - I don’t necessarily need to BE the psychologist, but would assist one. If that makes any sense. Even assisting in lab work for psychology research appeals to me, though I’m not sure my degree would be sufficient.

    I guess my questions are: Does anybody know of career options for someone with a BA in psychology? Have you had a similar experience, and what did you end up doing? Do you have any other helpful information or tips, because I know I may be making assumptions that aren’t true.

    Thanks in advance for taking the time to read this. I appreciate any advice :)

    P.S. I hope I am not misunderstood for being lazy or unwilling to work for a career - I realize that I may have abandon my hopes of having a job that is psychology-related with only a BA. I just feel that at least for right now, grad school isn’t for me.
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  3. Eeveepony

    Eeveepony Pony of Time

    Mar 2, 2012
    Stony Brook, NY
    Marketing, HR, sales, lab tech work, hospital tech work, crisis centers, rehab centers all tend to like psych majors with a BA :). I'll see if I can find the list that my school posts for you.
  4. Therapist4Chnge

    Therapist4Chnge Neuropsych Ninja Faculty Moderator Emeritus 10+ Year Member

    Oct 6, 2006
    The Beach
    Most college majors do not prepare students to do much coming out. If you are a mechanical engineer or similar...maybe, but a communications major is qualified to do...? Same with Psychology, Sociology, etc. Get a job for awhile, see what you like and don't like, and then you can revisit any larger plans.
  5. Ettevi05


    Feb 13, 2012
    There are plenty of RA positions you can apply to (there is a thread in the doctorate forum called RA Positions 2012 which you can look into). I have been job hunting for about three months now and was able to find job listings for Hospice as admissions counselors, also any clerical or administrative work at your university (I was able to find a posting but only for part time). Definitely look at USAjobs.gov, or any jobs that required a BA. You can also be a psychologist assistant, I was able to find a posting about that but it was about 6 hours away from my city. Job hunting is no fun but definitely start looking at things that may interest you, and what type of settings you're likely to enjoy working in.
  6. wigflip

    wigflip 2+ Year Member

    Oct 18, 2010
    You have more insight about yourself than half the people in my doctoral program. Nothing to apologize for. And there are plenty of bright, productive folks who stop at the BA and make wonderful contributions. Go to grad school only when and if you are ready. Even if you are fully funded, grad school requires significant sacrifices, so it's not worth going if you are ambivalent.
  7. momto4girls

    momto4girls 2+ Year Member

    Oct 1, 2011
    My husband graduated from UCLA as a psych major - and he works at an investment bank. :) Not related at all to his major, but he makes a very good living (probably making substantially more than he would have in psychology). I also had friends that were psych majors that eventually went into nursing or other health-related fields after working for a few years. Taking some time to work is a good way to figure out if you want to go back to school.
    Good luck!
  8. madtofu

    madtofu 2+ Year Member

    Feb 15, 2011
    Hey, natsky. I worked at a residential facility with a BS before I went to grad school. If there's a particular issue or population you really like (substance abuse, domestic violence, intellectual disabilities, autism, teenaged girls, children with behavioral problems, etc.), that might be a good option for you. Places like that tend to like to hire people with a background in psychology or social work and your school can probably point you to facilities/agencies in your area.

    In my area, several residential facilities didn't advertise their openings on job sites (like Monster) and some of them didn't exactly advertise their existence (a facility for sexually aggressive boys, for example). So you just had to know they existed and find their website and look through their open positions. Ask around - professors, TAs, fellow students, department office staff, and any counselors or social workers you know.

    You might also check with your state's association of nonprofits (mine had a website with all member agency's job openings) or start with a big funder's website (like United Way) and see who they fund in your area. You might find some agencies you didn't even know existed.

    Best of luck to you!
  9. Qwerk

    Qwerk Forensic LMSW 2+ Year Member

    Nov 18, 2011
    You might find a job as a psychiatric technician or habilitation specialist with a B.A. I did these types of jobs with my B.A. (in English!) before I started my M.S.W.

    The downside is that the pay isn't great, but it's a good way to get experience and figure out what you want to do.
  10. ToneTone

    ToneTone 2+ Year Member

    Jan 29, 2012
    I second the non profit work, lots of places like shelters will hire BA level employees. However, often it does not pay much and can be high burn out job as sometimes you may end up with the less desirable hours and lower pay. I am doing this type of work now along with volunteering to build my resume and just got accepted to a few schools because I personally felt limited with a BA. People can move up though with experience but I'm seeing now that at my job lots of people with graduate degrees applying for our entry level positions. It may be because I work with a very specific population but I certainly hope this is not becoming the trend for BA graduates :(
    I live in a big city though where there's multiple grad schools in the area and a saturation of therapists/psychologists though. my friends in smaller cities seem to be able to find something for themselves with a BA working with people.
  11. Member012345678

    Member012345678 2+ Year Member

    Mar 11, 2012
    After getting my BS in psych, I was able to work at a local psychiatric hospital as a Psychiatric Technician (be aware, though, that a handful of state require a certification to hold this job....which I actually think is a really good idea), as an RA at the university I attended, and also as a Mental Health Worker at a local residential treatment center. You could also apply your degree to the field of CNA work, or even go on and get your nursing degree.
  12. Amiee


    Apr 10, 2012
    I have my BA in psychology and currently work in a mental health program for a non-profit. I've been here for 3 years and love it. I recently applied for the MSW program at sac state due to working in this field. I think it's great you are considering working for a few years to make sure this is the field for you especially because a lot of masters programs want you to have paid work experience. I am a community mental health worker if that helps with your job search.
    Good Luck!
  13. Psycnube


    Mar 21, 2010
    Some mental health facilities hire on Case Managers with a BA/BS Psych degree. Most of them require that you have at least a year of experience working with the relevant client population so I suggest trying to find a job as a psych tech first as this requires only a HS diploma.
  14. JollyBee


    Apr 22, 2012
    I work as an ABA therapist for children with autism. It was VERY easy to get a job in this field as there is currently a huge shortage of therapists. All you need is a degree or diploma (or be working towards one - they often hire students) and some experience with children. Depending on the demand in your area, you may not even need any experience at all. It's a good way to get some clinical experience. Plus, the kids are adorable! :)

    You can find ABA (also referred to as IBI) jobs at hospitals, learning centres, and private clinics. There is also the option of self-employment. Good luck! :)

    ABA: Applied Behaviour Analysis
    IBI: Intensive Behavioural Intervention
  15. Qwerk

    Qwerk Forensic LMSW 2+ Year Member

    Nov 18, 2011
    Good suggestion -- residential/community habilitation is a big field with easy-to-get jobs if you have a degree in psychology. You can work with children or adults. Titles might include "skillbuilder," "training specialist," "behavioral therapist," or "habilitation worker."
  16. iqe2010

    iqe2010 7+ Year Member

    Jan 17, 2010
    Nothing more than being a glorified secretary making $10/hr.
  17. Vasa Lisa

    Vasa Lisa 2+ Year Member

    Dec 8, 2010
    These entries linked below are pretty old - and the job market has tightened, but I still find them useful for recent college grads - especially to grads with degrees in liberal arts.



    Yes - there are a lot of college grads underemployed - and it is frustrating to be a college graduate and not waltz into the job of your dreams with a comfortable living wage that pays off the student loans. It is a big adjustment from college to the outside world. And yet there is opportunity out there.

    So if you have to take a low wage entry level position fresh out of school with a BA in Psychology - look for one in a field where you are interested. You will get a first hand look at all the professions and be able to see which one most appeals to you if you want to continue on to grad school. You will also be able to see who is able to advance (and to what types of jobs) without a degree or with only a BA.

    There are some great suggestions in this thread.
  18. Isadora


    Apr 24, 2012
    So many good suggestions!

    Snagging a job at a place that has a high turnover rate can be a nice stepping stone. The agency that processes our county's food assistance, childcare assistance, Medicaid, etc. will hire people with a Bachelor's degree in almost anything - social services is best of course. The pay isn't atrocious, but your caseload will be nightmarish and the job will be incredibly unfulfilling. Notch in the belt, though.

    Another option - similar to many of the suggestions - is working as a behavioral monitoring type person for a public school. My state's public schools have started using these folks instead of having school counselors do actual counseling. Depending on the district, you'd be helping kids with skills, doing some groups, talking to parents, yada yada. I can't see that being the most pleasant job, but it beats processing food stamp applications.

    I've found Indeed to be the most useful job search engine since it pulls from multiple websites. Definitely worth looking.

    I took five years off of academic things before graduate school. I wasn't sure what I was interested in, and I needed time to think. Glad I did it. Now I'm incredibly burned out from graduate school! Can't wait to finish!

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