Psychology Careers That Require a Doctorate Degree (PhD, PsyD, EdD)

Doctorate in psychology (PhD, PsyD, EdD)- main image

What Psychology Careers Require a PhD, PsyD, or EdD?

In some industries, your ability to be successful is not affected by whether or not you have earned a doctorate degree. Unfortunately, psychology is not one of those industries. While a bachelor’s and master’s degree in psychology can qualify you for many psychology and counseling jobs, earning a doctorate in psychology (PhD, PsyD, or EdD degree) can be very valuable and may even be required for your success as a professional psychologist.

What Can You Do With a PhD or Doctorate in Psychology?

There are many specialty areas within doctorate psychology programs and each will lead you into a specific career path. Before you sign up for 7 more years of school you’ll want to be confident that you know what you want to do in your doctorate career and once you graduate.

Consider talking with your academic advisor, mentors, other PsyD, EdD, or PhD professionals, and anyone else who may give you valuable input and advice as you create and execute your plan to earn your doctorate.


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Careers That Require a Doctorate Degree

Below you’ll find additional information on common careers and employment areas that are pursued by students with a doctorate in psychology. Some of the most common industries where these doctorate-level psychologists work include mental health, government, business, and education. You’ll want to explore each area to get a better idea of which one might be a fit for you.

Social Service and Mental Health Career Psychologists

Mental health and social services are two of the most popular career fields for psychology graduates. Not only is there strong demand for professionals in these fields, psychologists can expect to earn a decent income and have the opportunity to work directly with patients struggling with mental illness and other ailments.

While a master’s degree in psychology is the minimum requirement for some entry-level social service and mental health career psychologist positions, most of the best jobs are reserved for psychologists with a doctorate in psychology.

Some of the most popular positions within this area of psychology include:

  • Clinical Psychologists – Clinical psychology is one of the most stable sectors of the psychology industry. Clinical psychologists are always in demand and can work in a variety capacities within several industries. They diagnose and treat individuals suffering from mental illnesses and typically work in direct patient care settings. Most clinical psychologists hold a PhD in psychology or a PsyD.
  • Counselors – Like clinical psychologists, counselors work in direct patient care settings and strive to help individuals improve the quality of their lives. However, where clinical psychologists treat mental illness and disorders, counselors address emotional issues that negatively affect an individual’s personal life. Counselors typically have a master’s or doctorate degree in counseling or psychology.
  • Social Workers – Surprisingly, a large number of psychology majors end up working as social workers for public, government and non-profit social welfare agencies. Like clinical psychologists and counselors, social workers are frequently involved with the care of individuals suffering from mental or emotional illness.
    Entry-level positions in social work require a bachelor’s degree, but more and more social workers are obtaining a master’s degree in social work, psychology or a related area. A few will go on to earn a doctorate degree.

Government and Public Service Psychologists

A growing number of graduate degree holding psychologists are finding careers with public service and government agencies. Federal, local and state agencies employ psychologists to work in research and social welfare, at public hospitals and clinics, and as mental health counselors and evaluators at correctional facilities.

A few of the most common careers in these sectors include:


Earn Your PhD, PsyD, or EdD in Psychology Online. Search Psychology Degree Programs.

Education and Academic Psychologists

Psychologists work within elementary educational systems to develop more effective educational, child development and special needs programs, and to counsel emotionally and mentally challenged children. At the college and university level, they’re employed as researchers, teachers, and professors.

Psychologists working within secondary education are usually required to obtain at minimum a masters degree. To work at the university level, a doctorate degree in psychology is required.

Common psychology careers within education include:

  • School Psychologists – School psychologists work directly with individual students who are dealing with emotional and behavioral problems that affect their academic performance and ability to interact with other children. School psychologists typically have a master’s degree in psychology, education or a closely related field.
  • Educational Psychologists – Educational psychologists are often confused with school psychologists, but they are very different fields of psychology. Where school psychologists assess, diagnose and treat emotional and behavioral issues of individual students, educational psychologists are concerned with the overall quality of education, curriculum, and programs for all students.
    Educational psychologists study how students learn and work with parents, teachers and school administration to improve academic outcomes for an entire student population. Educational psychologists are typically required to obtain a doctorate degree in psychology or education.
  • School Counselors – School counselors are responsible for helping children who are struggling emotionally or behaviorally to improve their academic performance, emotional health, and social interactions. They may also provide vocational and career counseling in high school and college settings. A bachelor’s degree in a relevant field is often the minimum requirement to become a school counselor, although a master’s degree may be required depending on where you work.

Psychology and Business Careers

While a large percentage of psychologists opt for a more traditional career in education, public service, or mental health care, a growing number of psychology professionals, known as applied psychologists, are putting their skills and knowledge to work in the private sector.

Applied psychologists use their expertise in psychology to improve vital business processes, enhance product design and develop effective workplace policies and procedures. A master’s degree in psychology is often sufficient to get started in applied psychology but the best positions and career opportunities require a doctorate degree.

A few of the most popular career paths for applied psychologists include the following:

  • Industrial-organizational Psychologists – Not only are Industrial-organizational Psychologists (aka, I-O Psychologists) in high demand they are also some of the best-paid professionals in the field of applied psychology. It is not uncommon for seasoned I-O Psychologists to make over $120,000 a year.
    I-O Psychologists use their unique knowledge of psychology to improve workplace productivity and efficiency for public companies, private companies, and organizations of every type. They perform a variety of functions, such as conducting performance tests, improving product design, developing corporate training programs, and hiring qualified employees and managers.
    A master’s degree in psychology will qualify individuals for entry-level positions in industrial-organizational psychology but a doctorate degree is the degree of choice if you want to advance in this field.
  • Forensic Psychologists – Recognition and popularity of forensic psychology has skyrocketed over the last decade, as has the demand for forensic psychologists. In short, forensic psychologists apply psychology in all aspects of criminal investigation and law.
    Forensic psychologists perform a number of functions including psychological analysis, expert witness, mental evaluation and private consulting. Forensic psychologists must have a master’s degree in forensic psychology but many hold a PhD in forensic or clinical psychology.

For those willing to put in the time and effort to earn a master’s or doctorate degree in psychology the career options and opportunities are endless. However, if you want to get the most from your graduate degree we highly recommend that you determine your future career path before you get started.


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