Even though The Princeton Review lists psychology as one of the top undergraduate majors, there are distinct disadvantages to majoring in it. In fact, its popularity is one of its biggest problems. Job seekers might be one of countless other psychology graduates seeking entry-level employment within the field. They might be dismayed to discover their hard work as an undergraduate garners a relatively low salary, unless they pursue several more years of graduate level education.
Graduates with a bachelor’s degree in psychology are generally not qualified for careers within the field, including school or career counselors, unless they pursue graduate level education, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The American Psychological Association admits that graduates with bachelor’s degrees in psychology often experience some of the highest unemployment levels of all college graduates.
Satisfaction and Marketability
Some psychologists are deeply impacted by their professional interactions, to the point of lowering their job satisfaction. If they are counseling victims of tragic loss, horrific abuse or other unspeakable tragedies, they might experience high levels of stress or even internalize some of their patient's pain, the APA’s Practice Central reports. If they wish to change careers due to job dissatisfaction or lack of employment options, they might have trouble changing to another field without additional training. Their degrees might not be considered as prestigious because they're generally not as difficult to obtain as some more difficult majors in areas such as math or engineering, The Wall Street Journal reports.
A psychology degree is no guarantee of a high salary. In fact, many psychology graduates earn nearly $40,000 less per year than engineering or science graduates, according to the Wall Street Journal. Without a graduate degree, psychology graduates might earn significantly less over the course of their lifetime. While psychology graduates often have skills for a wide variety of higher-paid career paths, such as business management or human resources, they might have trouble securing higher earnings when other, more specifically trained candidates are in competition for the same jobs.
The incredible popularity of psychology as a college major means there will be more competition for jobs upon graduation. Even though many workers might be nearing retirement age, they might delay retirement for personal or financial purposes, resulting in fewer jobs for newcomers in the industry. For those with only a bachelor's degree in psychology, employment might be even more difficult to find as they compete with better educated candidates with doctorates.
2016 Salary Information for School and Career Counselors
School and career counselors earned a median annual salary of $54,560 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, school and career counselors earned a 25th percentile salary of $41,650, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $70,930, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 291,700 people were employed in the U.S. as school and career counselors.
- American Psychological Association: APA Issues Clarification on Psychology Employment Data
- The Wall Street Journal: Generation Jobless: Students Pick Easier Majors Despite Less Pay
- Penn State: Thinking About Careers in Psychology
- The Princeton Review: Top 10 College Majors
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: School and Career Counselors
- Forbes: The 10 Worst College Majors
- American Psychological Association: Psychology Job Forecast: Partly Sunny
- Psychology Today: The Top 10 Reasons to Major in Psychology
- American Psychological Association Practice Central: Occupational Vulnerability for Psychologists
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook: School and Career Counselors
- Career Trend: School and Career Counselors
Amy Pearson earned dual bachelor's degrees in management and horticulture. She is a licensed elementary teacher for kindergarten through sixth grades. Pearson specializes in flower and vegetable gardening, landscape design, education, early childhood and child development.