Do I have any job prospects?
April 17, 2006 9:23 PM   Subscribe

What can I do with an M.A. in Psychology?

I'm in my 5th year of a psychology doctoral program, & I'll be taking my qualifying exams for the second time next month. I've had some serious medical problems over the years, & they've caused me to fall behind in my work. They also affect my memory, & that, of course, affects my performance on this type of exam. This is my last chance, & I really don't know if I'll pass.

I'm concerned about my job prospects if I do get kicked out. I've got my M.A. in psychology, & I'd like to teach. However, I know the community college job market is tough for people with M.A.s because there are so many applicants with Ph.D.s out there. What else can I do with my degree? I don't know of much one can do with just this degree.
posted by Four-Eyed Girl to Education (16 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
This thread might help a little bit.

Would you consider entry-level work in business or government? Such a job would give you exposure to a working environment and allow you to meet people in jobs of which you aren't aware. You could joint some networking associations and start meeting more people, then move into something more compelling.

Entry-level jobs for which you might qualify:

Marketing assistant
Junior technical writer
Junior copywriter
Customer service rep
Call centre
Sales assistant
Admin assistant
Market research
posted by acoutu at 9:36 PM on April 17, 2006

Also, try this Google search: What can I do with a psychology degree?
posted by acoutu at 9:37 PM on April 17, 2006

School Psychologist?
posted by MonkeySaltedNuts at 10:06 PM on April 17, 2006

From the Occupational Outlook Hankbook:
Persons with a master’s degree in psychology may work as industrial-organizational psychologists. They also may work as psychological assistants under the supervision of doctoral-level psychologists and may conduct research or psychological evaluations.
posted by hydrophonic at 10:31 PM on April 17, 2006

Er, make that Handbook. The OOH is a great starting place for just about any "what kind of job" question. Also, your school should have a counseling office full of people who live to answer this question. (And you are talking to them already about how your health problems have affected your academic perfomance, right?)
posted by hydrophonic at 10:48 PM on April 17, 2006

Ethnographic research. Typically Ethnographers are Anthropologists or Sociologists, but often those coming out of academia are "purists" when it comes to using it for market research. They would rather watch native tribespeople discover tools than understand why billy down the street likes iPods better than iRivers.

Ethnography in high end market research uses teams of information designers, anthropologists, and psychologists. Could be an avenue to explore.
posted by qwip at 2:04 AM on April 18, 2006

I actually ended up voluntarily bailing on my (Counseling) Psych Ph.D. program to take the M.A. and work in academic advising and student development. Opportunities in this field will vary greatly from one college/university to another, but I've had the chance to work with students on self-exploration (interests/skills), choosing majors and careers, motivation, procrastination, time management, etc., as well as helping them understand how academia works. If you have an interest in teaching broader life skills one-on-one, and you'd like to stay in higher ed, it might be a path to explore. Check out the NACADA website for more info.
posted by Kat Allison at 5:25 AM on April 18, 2006

No, I haven't talked to anyone on campus outside my department about my health problems. I might as well say what they are. I suffer from major depression, & on top of that, my medications contribute even more to my memory & concentration problems. I've tried many, many medications & combinations, & changing them isn't an option. This is the best combination I've found.

The entry level jobs option really make me sad because I've put myself through so much for these degrees, & I'd hate it if I'd have to start out as if I have no degrees at all.
posted by Four-Eyed Girl at 7:53 AM on April 18, 2006

Four-eyed Girl, you would not really be starting out as if you had no education. Yes, you might have to work undermarket for up to a year. But once you have some tangible non-academic experience and an inkling of where you want to head, you can be working in really interesting and more senior positions.

For example, a year later, you might find yourself working as a team lead or a full-fledged market researcher, technical writer, marketing specialist, account executive, etc. I've seen people go from $30k or $40k to double or triple that in five years.

You didn't say what other experience you had or even whether you had worked as a TA, RA, etc.

Most of these positions would pay more than many academic positions.

And none of these positions is as entry-level as you would be offered with no degrees at all.
posted by acoutu at 10:53 AM on April 18, 2006

However, I know the community college job market is tough for people with M.A.s because there are so many applicants with Ph.D.s out there.

Contrariwise, the state clinical psychology market is full of MAs because it's cheaper than hiring doctoral-licensed PhDs.

This is fairly drastic, but have you thought of a clean break to a new country? Psychology is one of those fields which is a buyer's market in the US, and a seller's market elsewhere. Having a masters' in psychology is enough to qualify you for a skilled worker visa in New Zealand, for instance, where it's an in-demand sector, particularly on the clinical side.
posted by holgate at 10:58 AM on April 18, 2006

I've worked as a TA for 12 quarters, been an instructor for 2 quarters, & instructed the TAs one quarter, & won TA of the year once. Oh, I've been working on a developmental psychology degree.
posted by Four-Eyed Girl at 11:17 AM on April 18, 2006

Some Exciting Areas in Applied Psychology has information on 10 careers for psych majors in the following fields: Aviation, Clinical/Counseling, Consumer Behavior, Education, Environmental Issues, Health, Human Factors,
Legal Issues, Sports, Workplace Issues.

But if I were you, I'd find a foreign university that wants someone to teach English to its psych (and related) majors. You'd get to see another country and get a solid job at the same time. With a little experience, you could then try another country, and another, and...
posted by pracowity at 1:45 PM on April 18, 2006

Some MA programs set you up for the MFT license. Does yours? If so, just forget the doctorate, and start accumulating hours for your MFT.
posted by jasper411 at 4:32 PM on April 18, 2006

With an MA one can get licensed as a therapist as a Licensed Professional Counselor in a number of states. Many agencies prefer to hire LPCs instead of PhDs. This is certainly the case in Colorado in the Denver Area.

With regard to your exams: apart from memory problems you mentioned, if you wish to pursue your PhD and study hard it is likely you will succeed. I passed my comprehensive exams at a v difficult graduate school on the 3rd attempt, though I don't know I'd do that again. BUt I did get my PhD, had great clinical jobs, and am in a dream job now, years later. Don't give up.
posted by madstop1 at 5:16 PM on April 18, 2006

Okay, you have some relevant work experience. But I want to emphasize that when I say "entry-level", I mean "entry-level" for someone with no other experience in the field. I don't mean you'll be competing with high school grads.
posted by acoutu at 3:12 PM on April 21, 2006

Thanks for the clarification, acoutu.

My program doesn't set me up for the MFT license. I'm in a Developmental Psychology Ph.D program only.

I'm going to try & take my exams again next month. I'm terrified & very anxious, but I'm going to try. The hardest part is not thinking I'm going to fail again.

I'll definitely keep everyone's suggestions in mind. Thank you!
posted by Four-Eyed Girl at 10:04 PM on April 24, 2006

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