Private Sector Careers for Ph.D.s in Psychology
While there are no apparent job search sites that explicitly work to connect Ph.D. level social psychologists with corporate employers, nonetheless it is important to understand that the skills you have developed in the psychology field are important and relevant to business environments. According to psychology expert Kendra Cherry, "Social psychology looks at a wide range of social topics, including group behavior, social perception, leadership, nonverbal behavior, conformity, aggression, and prejudice.1" These topics must be considered and managed properly in successful businesses. The following excerpts help explain the connection between degrees in psychology and private industry:
Corporate Management: When you’re thinking about potential jobs with a psychology degree, it’s likely that big business isn’t the first thing that pops into your mind. In reality though, psychology is an important discipline when it comes to the corporate world. Managers with a deep understanding of the science are often able to interact with and direct their employees more effectively than those with no formal psychology training. Many times, understanding psychology and how consumers think will help you lead your company in the right direction when it comes to making changes and planning for the future of your business.
Sales & Marketing: Just as with corporate management, there are other jobs with a psychology degree that are common in the business arena. Perhaps the vastest array of career opportunities is in sales and marketing. Understanding psychology and the mind allows you to more effectively reach your customers and develop methods and strategies for growing a business’ client base and sales figures. It’s no accident that you remember a product’s commercials and advertising efforts – through the use of psychology these campaigns are designed to penetrate your mind and keep the promoted product in the forefront2.
Industrial-Organizational Psychologists: Industrial organizational psychologists are responsible for using psychology to create business policies and better understand the way a successful business model works, considering the psychology of the personnel and the way in which they are treated. It may also involve employee screening (for jobs such as police officer, FBI, security officer or other job which requires the employee to carry a firearm). The psychologist may also work directly with employees to help improve the workplace and productivity3.
This being said, it will be up to you to research corporate positions through general job search sites like Indeed.com and Monster.com as well as direct website visits to career sections of corporate employers. If you have an idea of the geographical area where you would like to be located, find the local chambers of commerce and economic development sites to research lists of businesses in the area. Spend time exploring the websites of companies that look interesting to you, and attend business mixer events. Think of parallels between their needs and your skills. Don't limit yourself to conventional views of psychology. Leverage what you know and communicate the skills you can contribute to a business environment on your resume, CV, and during networking and interview opportunities.
Here are some sample job descriptions in private industry:
1.Cherry, K. (N.D.). What Is Social Psychology? Retrieved fromhttp://psychology.about.com/od/socialpsychology/f/socialpsych.htm
2.Excerpts retrieved from Teaching Educational Psychology at http://www.teachingeducpsych.org/psychology-degree-jobs.html
3.Excerpt retrieved from The Business Insider at http://www.businessinsider.com/the-5-highest-paying-jobs-you-can-get-with-a-psychology-degree-2011-9
This material was compiled by Laura Bogardus and Angela Robinson