Occupational Therapy OT

| 17 October 2023

The data in this blog is for general informational purposes only and information presented was accurate as of the publication date.

A Career in Psychology: 17 Paths

a psychologist working with a patient

Did you know that a degree in psychology opens doors to various opportunities in health and rehabilitative sciences? You’ll have the chance to explore several fields and specialties beyond clinical behavior study.

Learn more about pursuing a unique career path in psychology and beyond, plus educational requirements and insight into each position. 

These requirements can vary by location and institution, so it’s essential to research the qualifications needed in your area and for the specific job or licensure you’re seeking.

3 health science careers a psychology degree can go into

1. Occupational Therapist 

An occupational therapist (OT) works patients with with individuals with disabilities, injuries, illnesses and other conditions that impede their ability to perform crucial daily activities.1
Occupational therapists work in a variety of settings, including2:

  • Hospitals
  • Offices of physical, occupational and speech therapists, and audiologists
  • Schools
  • Home healthcare
  • Nursing homes

A psychology background is relevant for occupational therapy, as OTs work to improve patients’ physical and mental health. 

Those interested in occupational therapy can enter a Master of Occupational Therapy (MOT) or Doctor of Occupational Therapy (OTD) program after completing their Bachelor of Science in Psychology. Those who complete their MOT may also continue to pursue the Post-Professional Doctor of Occupational Therapy (PPOTD) program. 

2. Physical Therapist

A physical therapist (PT) helps patients improve their range of motion and pain management. Physical therapists work with individuals with injuries and chronic health conditions.3

Physical therapists can work in many settings, including:

  • Home healthcare services
  • Outpatient centers
  • Individual and family services 

To become a physical therapist, students must complete an accredited Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) program.

3. Speech-Language Pathologist

A speech-language pathologist (SLP), or speech therapist, works with patients with a range of physical or cognitive communication disorders. Speech-language pathologists focus on improving speech, language and swallowing mechanics for patients of all ages.4 

A psychology degree lays the groundwork for understanding human behavior and communication disorders. Speech-language pathologists can build careers in educational facilities, hospitals, long-term care facilities and private practices. 

To become a speech-language pathologist, students must complete a Master of Science in Speech-Language Pathology (MS-SLP) program. 

4. Physician Assistant

A physician assistant (PA) provides medical care to patients under the supervision of a physician.5

A psychology degree provides a science-based background to understand human functions and behavior changes when dealing with injuries, illnesses and health-related conditions. 

Common settings where physician assistants work include:

  • Medical offices
  • Hospitals
  • Outpatient care centers
  • Educational services 
  • Government facilities

To become a physician assistant, individuals must complete an accredited Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies (MSPAS) program. 

5. Health Psychologist

A health psychologist studies the biological, social and psychological factors impacting health, illness and chronic conditions. Health psychologists work with patients to identify the root cause of illnesses or health conditions and treat behavioral side effects.6 

Health psychologists work in many settings, including7:

  • Private practices
  • Hospitals
  • Primary care programs

To become a health psychologist, individuals typically earn a bachelor’s and master’s degree in psychology. Aspiring psychologists may choose to practice clinically and earn their Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Psychology or Doctor of Psychology (PsyD).6

6. Child Psychologist

A child psychologist provides mental health therapy to children and adolescents. Child psychologists evaluate and treat behavioral, developmental and emotional health issues.8 

Child psychologists assess patients and provide therapeutic strategies to help children properly cope with their diagnoses. They study a variety of related fields, including8:

  • Brain development
  • Genetics
  • Social adaptation and language 

To become a child psychologist, individuals typically earn a bachelor’s and doctoral degree. You may earn your bachelor’s degree in child psychology, psychology or a related field. You then may pursue either a PhD in psychology or a PsyD. If you’re undergraduate degree is in a field unrelated to psychology, you may need to earn a master’s degree in psychology or child psychology.9

7. Counseling Psychologist

Counseling psychology is what many people imagine as a career in psychology. A counseling psychologist works with a range of patients who are dealing with problems at home and in their community, such as10:

  • Crisis intervention
  • Disaster and trauma management
  • Prejudice and discrimination 

Counseling psychologists assess patients and utilize therapeutic techniques to help improve patients’ mental health. Counseling psychologists can also choose to specialize in a particular field, such as individual or family psychology.10

Individuals are encouraged to earn a bachelor’s degree in psychology—though it’s not a requirement—and typically earn a master’s degree in psychology. Individuals should also complete a PhD in psychology or PsyD, as most states require it.11 

8. Clinical Psychologist

Clinical psychologists work with patients who deal with psychological and emotional conditions, including12:

  • Depression 
  • Anxiety 
  • Schizophrenia

A clinical psychologist evaluates the patient’s mental condition, offers a diagnosis and provides treatments to alleviate symptoms and improve the patient’s mental health.13 

Clinical psychologists work with patients of all ages and backgrounds. They can work in12:

  • Counseling centers
  • Private practices
  • Hospitals
  • Schools

To become a clinical psychologist, individuals typically earn a bachelor’s degree and a doctorate. You can also choose earn a earn a master’s in psychology.14

9. Substance Abuse Counselor

Substance abuse counselors assist individuals dealing with substance addiction or other behavioral issues. They may provide tools and strategies for patients to break their addiction and maintain sobriety.15

Substance abuse counselors primarily work in healthcare settings, such as15:

  • Hospitals
  • Inpatient and outpatient centers 
  • Correctional facilities 

To become a substance abuse counselor, individuals may complete a bachelor’s degree in psychology, counseling or a related field. Some master’s programs accept students with undergraduate degrees in unrelated fields. 

To practice clinically, some states require individuals to complete a master’s degree in counseling or a related field.16 

10. Marriage and Family Counselor

Marriage and family counselors work with families and couples to diagnose and treat issues within relationships.17 A marriage and family counselor can help individuals cope with18

  • Divorce
  • Marital issues
  • Interfamily relations
  • Life changes, like layoffs 

Marriage and family counselors can work in18:

  • Individual and family services
  • Outpatient care centers
  • Offices of other health practitioners
  • Private practices

Marriage and family counselors can also work in an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) to provide personal counseling for employees. To become a marriage and family counselor, individuals typically earn a master’s in psychology, marriage and family therapy or related mental health field.18 

11. Forensic Psychologist

Forensic psychologists work within the psychology and judiciary fields to observe and analyze criminal behavior. They are employed by13:

  • Police departments
  • Prisons
  • Judges
  • Attorneys
  • Other legal specialists

Forensic psychologists provide psychological evaluations of accused or convicted criminals. They are often required to testify in court for cases they’re assigned to.13  

To become a licensed forensic psychologist, individuals typically earn a bachelor’s degree and either a PhD in Psychology or a PsyD.19  

12. School Counselor

School counselors work in schools to help students succeed. They provide tools to improve student20:

  • Behavior 
  • Collaboration and communication 
  • Self-motivation 
  • Goal-setting 
  • Social skills

A school counselor’s responsibilities vary depending on the level of education. For elementary schools, a school counselor may focus on supporting emotional behavioral issues.21

For higher education, school counselors may provide academic resources for students preparing to graduate. To become a school counselor, individuals typically earn a master’s in school counseling.21

13. Psychiatrist 

Psychiatrists are medical professionals who specialize in treating mental health and behavioral disorders. Unlike a counseling psychologist, psychiatrists can provide patients with both medical and psychological evaluations and treatment plans.22

Psychiatrists can work in22:

  • Psychiatric and general hospitals
  • Private practices
  • Rehabilitation programs
  • Nursing homes
  • Academic health facilities

To become a psychiatrist, individuals typically complete a bachelor’s degree. A bachelor’s degree in psychology, pre-med or a related field is recommended but not required. Individuals then must complete a Doctor of Medicine (MD) or a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO) program. Individuals will then go on to complete a psychiatry residency.23

14. Sports Psychologist 

Sports psychologists work with athletes and professional sports teams to provide therapeutic aid and treatment. Clinical sports psychologists assess and treat emotional and psychological conditions.24

Sports psychologists specifically work with athletes dealing with career events and issues such as24:

  • Injuries 
  • Stress management
  • Teamwork 
  • Performance difficulties

To become a sports psychologist, individuals may earn a PhD in Psychology or a PsyD.24

15. Rehabilitation Counselor

Rehabilitation counselors help patients cope with mental, behavioral, physical or emotional disabilities that impact their ability to live their daily lives.25

Rehabilitation counselors work with patients dealing with26:

  • Chronic pain and illness
  • Physical injuries
  • Mental and emotional health conditions
  • Personal and social issues

Rehabilitation counselors develop treatment plans to help patients achieve goals in their personal or work lives. They can also provide career training and medical resources.26 To become a rehabilitation counselor, individuals likely need to earn a master’s in rehabilitation counseling.25

16. Neuropsychologist

Neuropsychologists study the relationship between brain and nervous system conditions and cognitive behavior, evaluating and treating patients of all ages. They specifically work with patients experiencing changes in their behavior or cognitive functions related to medical or neurological conditions.27 

This includes28:

  • Strokes
  • Neurodegenerative disorders
  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Epilepsy 
  • Brain cancer and tumors
  • Dementia
  • Genetic disorders 

Though it’s not required, individuals should consider earning a master’s in psychology to increase their chance of acceptance into a doctoral program. Individuals typically earn a PhD in Neuropsychology or a Doctor of Psychology (PsyD) in neuropsychology to practice.29

17. Mental Health Counselor 

Mental health counselors evaluate and treat patients with emotional and mental health conditions. They help them navigate their conditions and develop behavioral coping skills and techniques.30 

Mental health counselors can choose to specialize in the following areas30:

  • Depression
  • Substance abuse
  • Anxiety
  • Eating disorders
  • Dementia 
  • Adjustment disorders
  • Personality disorders

To become a mental health counselor, individuals typically earn a master’s in counseling.30

flowchart of where you can take your psychology degree

Build on Your Psychology Degree With USAHS

Choose a career beyond psychology and pursue further education with the University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences (USAHS). USAHS offers programs in physical and occupational therapy and speech-language pathology.

For more information on USAHS graduate programs, contact an enrollment advisor or fill out the request for information form.  

The entry-level occupational therapy master’s degree program at the Dallas, Texas, campus has applied for accreditation and has been granted Candidacy Status by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE) of the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA), located at 6116 Executive Boulevard, Suite 200, North Bethesda, MD 20852-4929. ACOTE’s telephone number c/o AOTA is (301) 652-AOTA and its web address is www.acoteonline.org. The program must have a preaccreditation review, complete an on-site evaluation and be granted Accreditation Status before its graduates will be eligible to sit for the national certification examination for the occupational therapist administered by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT). After successful completion of this exam, the individual will be an Occupational Therapist, Registered (OTR). In addition, all states require licensure in order to practice; however, state licenses are usually based on the results of the NBCOT Certification Examination. Note that a felony conviction may affect a graduate’s ability to sit for the NBCOT certification examination or attain state licensure. Students must complete 24 weeks of Level II fieldwork within 24 months following completion of the didactic portion of the program.


  1. American Occupational Therapy Association, “Become an occupational therapy practitioner,” AOTA, https://www.aota.org/career/become-an-ot-ota 
  2. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Occupational Therapists, What Occupational Therapists Do,” U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, last modified March 2023, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/occupational-therapists.htm  
  3. American Physical Therapy Association, “Becoming a PT,” APTA, https://www.apta.org/your-career/careers-in-physical-therapy/becoming-a-pt 
  4. American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, “Who Are Speech-Language Pathologists, and What Do They Do?,” ASHA, https://www.asha.org/public/who-are-speech-language-pathologists/ 
  5. American Academy of Physician Associates, “What is a PA?,” AAPA, https://www.aapa.org/about/what-is-a-pa/ 
  6. Staff Writers, “How to Become a Health Psychologist,” Psychology.org, last modified July 2023, https://www.psychology.org/careers/health-psychologist/ 
  7. American Psychology Association, “Health Psychology,” APA, last modified 2014, https://www.apa.org/education-career/guide/subfields/health 
  8. Cleveland Clinic, “Child Psychologist,” Cleveland Clinic, last modified April 2022, https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/22666-child-psychologist 
  9. S Grey, “How To Become A Child Psychologist: Salary, Education Requirements And Job Growth,” Forbes, last modified August 2022, https://www.forbes.com/advisor/education/become-a-child-psychologist/ 
  10. American Psychology Association, “Counseling Psychology,” APA, last modified May 2022, https://www.apa.org/ed/graduate/specialize/counseling 
  11. Staff Writers, “How to Become a Counseling Psychologist,” Psychology.org, last modified July 2023, https://www.psychology.org/careers/counseling-psychologist/ 
  12. American Psychology Association, “Clinical Psychology,” APA, last modified 2014, https://www.apa.org/education-career/guide/subfields/clinical/education-training 
  13. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Psychologists, What Psychologists Do,” U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, last modified September 2022, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/psychologists.htm
  14. N. Chamlou, “How to Become a Clinical Psychologist,” Psychology.org, last modified July 2023, https://www.psychology.org/careers/clinical-psychologist/ 
  15. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors,” U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, last modified October 2022, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/community-and-social-service/substance-abuse-behavioral-disorder-and-mental-health-counselors.htm 
  16. Become Staff, “How to Become a Substance Abuse Counselor,” Become, last modified February 2023, https://www.learnhowtobecome.org/substance-abuse-counselor/ 
  17. American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, “About Marriage and Family Therapists,” AAMFT, https://www.aamft.org/About_AAMFT/About_Marriage_and_Family_Therapists.aspx 
  18. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Marriage and Family Therapists,” U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, last modified September 2022, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/community-and-social-service/marriage-and-family-therapists.htm 
  19. N. Chamlou, “How to Become a Forensic Psychologist,” Psychology.org, last modified July 2023, https://www.psychology.org/careers/forensic-psychologist/ 
  20. American School Counselor Association, “School Counselor Roles & Ratios,” ASCA, https://www.schoolcounselor.org/About-School-Counseling/School-Counselor-Roles-Ratios 
  21. American School Counselor Association, “The Role of the School Counselor,” ASCA, https://www.schoolcounselor.org/getmedia/ee8b2e1b-d021-4575-982c-c84402cb2cd2/Role-Statement.pdf 
  22. American Psychiatric Association, “What is Psychiatry?,” APA, last modified January 2023, https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/what-is-psychiatry 
  23. Indeed Editorial Team, “Psychiatrist Educational Requirements,” Indeed, last modified March 2023, https://www.indeed.com/career-advice/career-development/psychiatrist-education 
  24. Staff Writers, “How to Become a Sports Psychologist,” Psychology.org, last modified July 2023, https://www.psychology.org/careers/sports-psychologist/ 
  25. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Rehabilitation Counselors,” U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, last modified September 2022, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/community-and-social-service/rehabilitation-counselors.htm 
  26. Indeed Editorial Team, “How To Become a Rehabilitation Counselor,” Indeed, last modified June 2022, https://www.indeed.com/career-advice/finding-a-job/how-to-become-rehabilitation-counselor 
  27. Cleveland Clinic, “Neuropsychologist,” Cleveland Clinic, last modified February 2023, https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/24691-neuropsychologist 
  28. Houston Medicine, “What Is a Neuropsychologist?,” Houston Medicine, last modified January 2020, https://www.houstonmethodist.org/blog/articles/2020/jan/6-signs-its-time-to-see-a-neurologist/ 
  29. N. Chamlou, “How to Become a Neuropsychologist,” Psychology.org, last modified July 2023, https://www.psychology.org/careers/neuropsychologist/
  30. L. Duszynski-Goodman, “What Does A Mental Health Counselor Do?,” Forbes, last modified July 2023, https://www.forbes.com/health/mind/what-is-a-mental-health-counselor/


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