Occupational Therapy OT

| 18 December 2023

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

What Can You Do with a Psychology Major?

A student talks with a USAHS faculty-practitioner.

Psychology is one of the most popular majors in the United States.1 About six percent of all degrees conferred in 2022 were in psychology.2 Are you wondering what you can do with a psychology major?

We’ve outlined 22 potential professions in allied health, clinical care and academia, plus a few nonclinical pathways you might not have considered.

Career paths for psychology majors.

Allied Health Careers

Allied health refers to professionals who work alongside doctors and nurses to provide health care to patients.3 They are part of the healthcare team and can work in direct patient care, for example, as an occupational therapist (OT), or in a role like a pharmacy technician.

1. Occupational Therapist

Reasons psychology is an excellent undergraduate degree for occupational therapists.

Occupational therapists (OTs) help people enhance their quality of life by therapeutically improving their ability to do everyday life tasks.4 Patients may have suffered an injury or illness that inhibits their ability to function as they used to, or they may be a child with developmental delays. An OT uses adaptive equipment or modifies their patient’s environment to help them perform tasks in new ways.

Start your journey to become an occupational therapist by earning a bachelor’s degree in a related field from an accredited institution. Psychology is one of the best undergraduate majors for occupational therapy. This major focuses on human behavior and mental health, which helps occupational therapists better relate to their patients. Psychology also emphasizes effective communication skills, a key skill for occupational therapists to provide the best care possible for their patients.

Once you’ve earned your bachelor’s degree, you’ll need a Master of Occupational Therapy (MOT) or a Doctor of Occupational Therapy (OTD). An MOT will qualify you to practice as an occupational therapist, but an OTD will open the door to careers in research, advocacy and leadership, in addition to professional practice.

Want to know more about our MOT program?

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2. Physical Therapist

Reasons psychology is an excellent undergraduate degree for occupational therapists.

A physical therapist (PT) helps patients recover their range of motion and manage pain after injuries or chronic health conditions to improve their quality of life. They may work in hospitals, private practices, clinics, schools or other environments.

If you want to become a physical therapist, first earn a bachelor’s degree in a related field. Psychology is one of the best undergraduate degrees for physical therapists since understanding how people think, especially when in pain, can help you guide them to recovery.

After earning a bachelor’s degree, earn a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT). It generally takes two to three years to completeTime to completion may vary by student, depending on individual progress, credits transferred and other factors. and includes a blend of coursework and hands-on clinical education. After completing your degree, you’ll need to take the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) before you can qualify to practice.5

Want to know more about our PT programs?

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3. Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner

Description of degrees needed to be a psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioner.

Psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioners (PMHNPs) are trained mental health practitioners who work with patients dealing with mental illness. They can assess and diagnose patients and create and oversee a treatment plan that includes medication and therapeutic interventions. They also promote educational tools and information to support their patients and families.

The first step to becoming a PMHNP is to become a registered nurse (RN). Earn either an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) or a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) and then pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN).

Once you’re an RN, you’ll need to earn a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN), Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) or a post-graduate nursing certificate, Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP) role specialty. Next, you’ll need to pass the Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Certification exam to earn your PMHNP-Board Certified credential.6

Want to know more about our nursing programs?

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4. Physician Assistant

A physician assistant (PA) is a highly trained healthcare professional who provides many of the same duties as a medical doctor.7

Their typical responsibilities include:

  • Examining patients
  • Ordering and interpreting diagnostic assessments
  • Implementing treatment plans for patients
  • Prescribing medication
  • Performing some medical procedures, such as setting broken bones or stitching wounds
  • Educating patients and their families

To become a PA8:

  1. Earn an undergraduate degree, preferably in a science-focused field.
  2. Get healthcare experience (although this varies by program).
  3. Complete a Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies (MSPAS) program.
  4. Pass the Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination (PANCE).
  5. Get licensed in your state. Requirements vary by state.9

Clinical and Counseling Psychology Careers

Clinical and counseling psychology careers.

Clinical psychology focuses on understanding, evaluating and treating conditions related to mental, emotional and behavioral health.10 Counseling psychology also handles mental, emotional and behavioral disorders, but it focuses on promoting and helping patients improve their personal and interpersonal functioning.10

5. Clinical Psychologist

A clinical psychologist diagnoses and treats mental illnesses using talk therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy or other therapy.11 They do not prescribe medication as part of their treatment plans. Many clinical psychologists work in private practice, but they can also work in treatment facilities for mental illness or addiction or psychiatric hospitals.

To become a clinical psychologist, it typically looks like the following11,12:

  1. Earn an undergraduate degree, preferably in psychology or a related field.
  2. Earn your master’s in psychology. This step is optional.
  3. Earn a doctorate, which can be a PhD in psychology (a research-focused degree intended for researchers, educators or practitioners) or a PsyD (a practice-focused doctorate).
  4. Complete clinical experience or an internship.
  5. Pass the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP).13
  6. Get your state license.14 The requirements vary by state.

6. School Psychologist

School psychologists focus on helping children succeed academically, socially, emotionally and behaviorally.15 They most commonly work in K-12 public schools but also at private schools, preschools, universities and other learning institutions. They partner with families, teachers, school administrators and other education professionals to:

  • Increase academic achievement.
  • Improve mental health.
  • Encourage positive behavior.
  • Support diverse learners.
  • Create positive school environments.
  • Strengthen the connection between schools and families.
  • Monitor individual student progress toward academic and behavioral goals.

To become a school psychologist16:

  1. Earn a bachelor’s degree, preferably in psychology, education or other related field.
  2. Earn a master’s degree in school psychology or educational psychology.
  3. Depending on your state, pass an exam such as the Praxis exam.
  4. Obtain your state’s required license. Requirements vary by state.17

7. Child Psychologist

A child psychologist evaluates and treats children experiencing mental, emotional, behavioral or social conditions such as anger, grief and loss, disruptive behavior disorders  or depression and anxiety.18 While they don’t prescribe medication as part of their treatment plans, child psychologists treat these conditions with various interventions such as psychotherapy, art therapy or child-centered play.

To become a child psychologist, you’ll typically need to19:

  1. Earn a bachelor’s degree, typically in psychology or a related field.
  2. Earn a master’s degree in psychology.
  3. Earn a doctorate (either PsyD or PhD), depending on the state requirements.
  4. Pass the EPPP.
  5. If required by your state, obtain your state’s license to practice, which may include an internship or jurisprudence exam. Requirements vary by state.

8. Marriage and Family Psychologist

Marriage and family psychologists help families, couples and individuals identify and manage problems using therapy.20 They help foster conversations between family members and help them develop strategies and skills to deal with difficult situations or changes within the family unit, such as divorce.

Marriage and family psychologists often work in private practice and focus on treatment with a family-centered focus.

To become a marriage and family psychologist21:

  1. Earn a bachelor’s degree, preferably in psychology or a related field.
  2. Earn a master’s degree in marriage and family therapy, psychology or a related mental health field.
  3. Complete 2,000-4,000 hours in a residency or internship.
  4. Pass the Marriage and Family Therapist (MFT) National Examination.22
  5. Obtain your state license to practice.20

9. Forensic Psychologist

Forensic scientists apply their clinical psychology expertise to the legal system.23 They may conduct psychological assessments on people in the legal system, participate in criminal investigations or serve as expert witnesses or consultants during a court case. They often conduct psychological research and interview those who have been convicted of a crime or are a victim of one.

To become a forensic psychologist24:

  1. Earn a bachelor’s degree, preferably in psychology, forensic psychology or a related field.
  2. Earn a master’s degree in psychology, forensic psychology or a related field.
  3. Earn a doctorate (PhD or PsyD) in psychology or forensic psychology.
  4. Pass the EPPP.
  5. If required by your state, obtain your state license to practice.

10. Sports Psychologist

Sports psychologists help athletes and others in the sports industry manage the pressures of being an athlete.25 They address everything from enhancing their performance to motivation to injury rehab to career transition at the end of their athletic career. While they often work with professional or Olympic athletes, some sports psychologists also work with youth athletes who play recreationally.

To become a sports psychologist, you’ll typically need to do the following26:

  1. Earn a bachelor’s degree, preferably in psychology, sports science or other related fields.
  2. Earn a master’s degree in sports psychology.
  3. Earn a doctorate in psychology or sports psychology.
  4. Pass the EPPP if required by your state.
  5. If required by your state, obtain your state license to practice.

11. Geropsychologist

Geropsychology is a growing field that focuses on helping older people and their families tackle the mental and emotional challenges of aging.27 They may help aging adults cope with chronic illness or age-related stressors such as family conflict and changing roles. Often, they help family members manage the emotional and physical strain of being a caregiver for an aging parent.

To become a geropsychologist28:

  1. Earn a bachelor’s degree, preferably in psychology.
  2. Earn a master’s degree in psychology.
  3. Earn a doctorate in psychology.
  4. Complete an internship or other supervised practice.
  5. Pass the EPPP and a jurisprudence exam for your state.
  6. If required by your state, obtain state licensure to practice.

12. Rehabilitation Psychologist 

Rehabilitation psychologists assess and treat emotional, cognitive and functional difficulties people face when they experience disability due to an injury or illness.29 The goal is to help them adapt positively to their disability to overcome barriers to day-to-day activities.

To become a rehabilitation psychologist30:

  1. Earn a bachelor’s degree, preferably in general psychology.
  2. Earn a master’s degree.
  3. Earn a doctorate in psychology.
  4. Complete a one-year internship.31
  5. Pass the EPPP.
  6. If required by your state, obtain your state’s license to practice.

13. Environmental Psychologist

Environmental psychologists study the connection between people and their environment, in nature or their workplace.32 However, they may have different specializations.

Some environmental psychologists are involved in urban planning or interior design to create safe and healthy spaces for work or school.33 Others focus on conservation, what shapes our attitudes toward nature and how to encourage others to be more sustainable. They may work for nonprofit organizations, government agencies or the business sector.

To become an environmental psychologist32:

  1. Earn a bachelor’s degree, preferably in psychology.
  2. Earn a master’s in environmental psychology if available. Some environmental psychology programs allow you to focus your degree on architecture or ecology.
  3. Earn a doctorate.
  4. If required by your state, get your state’s license to practice.33

14. Clinical Neuropsychologist

A clinical neuropsychologist specializes in how brain injuries and conditions impact a person’s cognitive skills and behavior.34 They often treat conditions such as:

  • Traumatic brain injury (TBI)
  • Concussions
  • Epilepsy
  • Stroke
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Brain cancer

After assessing cognitive function, they’ll work with patients and the rest of the healthcare team to design a treatment plan.

To become a clinical neuropsychologist35:

  1. Earn a bachelor’s degree, preferably in psychology.
  2. Earn an (optional) master’s degree in neuropsychology.
  3. Earn a doctorate in neuropsychology.
  4. Complete a postdoctoral fellowship or internship in neuropsychology.
  5. Pass the EPPP.
  6. Obtain your state’s license to practice.

15. Psychiatrist

Unlike the other careers in this list, a psychiatrist is a medical doctor specializing in mental health.36 Instead of a PhD or PsyD, psychiatrists earn a Doctor of Medicine (MD) or a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO). As a result, they are allowed to prescribe medications, which a psychologist is not allowed to do.

To become a psychiatrist37:

  1. Earn a bachelor’s degree, preferably in psychology.
  2. Pass the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT).
  3. Earn an MD or DO.
  4. Obtain your state’s license to practice.
  5. Get certified by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology (ABPN).

16. Industrial-Organizational (I/O) Psychologist

Industrial organization (I/O) psychologists focus on studying the behavior of employees in the workplace.38 Their goal is to improve the organization’s work environments, employee performance and communication.

Improving safety and job satisfaction are also top priorities for I/O psychologists. Businesses often hire them to help with leadership development, diversity initiatives and ensuring their employees have a healthy work-life balance.

To become an I/O psychologist38:

  1. Earn a bachelor’s degree, preferably in psychology.
  2. Earn a master’s degree in I/O psychology.
  3. Optional: Earn a doctorate in I/O psychology.

Nonclinical Psychology Careers

List of nonclinical careers for psychology majors.

One of the best things about a psychology major is that it prepares you for careers outside of psychology.39 The knowledge you gain from studying psychology can help you better understand human behavior, a helpful skill for almost any role. Here are a few possibilities if you want to study psychology but not become a psychologist.

17. Human Resources Specialist

A psychology degree can prepare you for a career as a human resources specialist, which involves hiring job candidates and training them.40  They also focus on training existing employees in specific areas. Many HR specialists also work to help companies comply with federal and state regulations.

To become an HR specialist:

  1. Earn a bachelor’s degree, preferably in human resources, business, communications or psychology.41,42
  2. Get experience in human resources, like as an assistant.41
  3. Optional: Get certified in human resources from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) or HR Certification Institute (HRCI) to increase your opportunities.

18. Market Research Analyst

A market research analyst works for businesses to assess potential product or service sales.43 They collect and analyze data about consumers, competitors and business conditions to forecast marketing and sales trends. Once a new product is released, they monitor its performance.

To become a market research analyst44:

  1. Earn a bachelor’s degree, preferably in business, communications or social sciences, such as psychology.
  2. Optional: Earn a master’s degree in marketing or business administration.
  3. Optional: Obtain a license for additional earning potential.

19. Health Administrator

Description of what a health administrator does.

Health administrators supervise the day-to-day operations of a healthcare system.45 They focus on areas such as facilities, service, programs, staff and budgets, and they do not deal directly with patients.

To become a health administrator46:

  1. Earn a bachelor’s degree, preferably in healthcare administration, public health, business or a clinical discipline, such as psychology.
  2. Get real-world experience in health administration or a related role, such as in billing or human resources in a hospital.
  3. Earn a Master of Health Administration (MHA) (optional)
  4. Optional: Obtain certification in your state.

Code for CTA for Health Administrator program

20. Career Counselor 

Not everyone knows what they want to do, and those who do sometimes need help accomplishing their goals. That’s where a career counselor comes in. Career counselors help people identify their career goals through personality and career tests and education.47 Once they know what they want to do, they help them find jobs. As part of their role, career counselors often give presentations, run workshops about job-hunting skills or coordinate career fairs.

To become a career counselor, earn a bachelor’s degree in psychology, education, social work or another related field.47

Research and Academic Careers

If you want to work in psychology but not with patients, there are a few possible careers to pursue in the research and academic arenas.

21. Research Psychologist 

Rather than working with patients, a research psychologist, also called an experimental psychologist, studies human and animal behavior.48 They conduct experiments, often in a laboratory setting, and may work in public, private, nonprofit or government sectors. Many also often teach or present their findings.

To become a research psychologist49:

  1. Earn a bachelor’s degree, preferably in psychology.
  2. Earn a master’s degree in psychology to qualify for research assistant positions.
  3. Earn a doctorate for greater autonomy and access to more job opportunities.

22. Psychology Professor

If you want to study psychology but not practice, consider becoming a psychology professor. These individuals teach psychology courses at the undergraduate and graduate levels.50 As part of their academic role, they often conduct original research, publish their findings and advise students majoring in psychology.

To become a psychology professor50:

  1. Earn a bachelor’s degree in psychology or a related field.
  2. Earn a master’s degree in psychology or a related field.
  3. Earn a doctoral degree in psychology (usually a PhD or PsyD).
  4. Get research experience through an internship or work as a research assistant or coordinator.
  5. Gain teaching experience as an adjunct professor or postdoctoral fellow.


Are you still wondering if you should pursue a psychology major? The answers to these questions may help.

Is a Psychology Degree Worth It?

If you are interested in learning more about the human mind and how it works, a psychology degree is worth it since it is helpful for many different career paths and industries.51 You learn many crucial skills future employers look for, including52:

  • Understanding human behavior
  • Interpreting and using data
  • Problem-solving
  • Communicating effectively

What Are the Benefits of a Psychology Degree?

A psychology degree has many benefits, including53:

  • Understanding effective learning strategies.
  • Learning how to manage stress and anxiety.
  • Gaining the ability to complete complex tasks.
  • Assessing personality traits of those you encounter daily.
  • Improving scientific literacy.
  • Identifying and addressing biases and prejudices.

What Type of Psychology Career Pays the Most?

A psychiatrist earns the highest of any psychology career, with an average annual salary of $238,305.54*

What Do Psychology Majors Study?

Psychology majors study the following55,56:

  • Research skills
  • Human behavior and development
  • Counseling strategies
  • Analysis of others
  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Math

You may also have to complete internships or practicums that apply what you have learned in class to real-world situations.

Put Your Psychology Degree to Work at USAHS

Psychology is an exciting major because of all its career opportunities. If you want to help people live longer, healthier lives, explore USAHS’ graduate degree programs  to find the right route to achieve your career aspirations.

Whether you want to help patients regain mobility after an accident as a physical therapist or work on improving the quality of a patient’s life with occupational therapy, USAHS can help you achieve your career goals. Apply today!


*The information provided on this website is based on self-reported data and is intended for general informational purposes only. Payscale is a limited data source that relies on voluntary submissions from individuals and employers.

Please be aware that the accuracy, completeness and reliability of the data may vary due to its voluntary nature and limited scope. While efforts are made to maintain the data’s accuracy, we cannot guarantee its absolute correctness or currency.



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