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What Careers are Available with an Associate’s in Psychology Degree?

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What Can You Do with an Associate’s in Psychology

When we hear the words psychology or psychologist, we often think of graduate or doctoral degrees, but there are many careers available with an associate’s in psychology degree. Individuals who are interested in psychology but don’t want to be in school for several years can choose from three associate degrees: Associate of Arts in psychology, Associate of Science in psychology and Associate of Arts in applied psychology. For anyone wondering “What jobs can I get with an associate’s degree in psychology?” here are some careers available to individuals with an associate’s in psychology degree. 

What is an Associate’s Degree?

An associate’s degree, according to potomac.edu, is an academic award that students earn in a program that usually takes about two years. It is earned at the undergraduate level. There are four main kinds of associate’s degrees: Associate of Arts, Associate of Science, Associate of Applied Science, and Associate of Applied Arts. The Associate of Applied Arts and Associate of Applied Science degrees are often more practical, dealing more with the hands-on side of things. In contrast, the Associate of Arts and Associate of Science degrees usually focus more on theory than practice. Often, these degrees are designed for people who want to continue their education after their associate’s degree, often with a bachelor’s degree.

Why Not Just Earn a Bachelor’s Degree?

Potomac.edu lists several benefits to getting an associate’s degree. Some of the benefits listed compare getting an associate’s degree with getting a bachelor’s degree. One of those benefits is cost effectiveness. Since an associate’s degree takes less time to earn, it will cost less money than a bachelor’s degree. Also, since the time to completion is shorter, you will be able to get a job sooner and start making money sooner than if you were earning a four-year degree. Another factor is likeliness to graduate. If you only have to commit two years to studying, you are more likely to actually finish it, as opposed to a degree that takes all the time and money that a four-year bachelor’s degree does. 

Why Earn a Degree At All? 

An associate’s degree also has benefits compared to earning only a high school diploma. One of these is the idea of job opportunities. Usually, according to the website, having a degree communicates to potential employers that you are a hard worker and that you finish what you start. Another benefit of the associate’s degree, whether it is applied or not, is that it allows you to specialize in a certain area. As a high school graduate, you may or may not have an area that you are specialized in. An associate’s degree will make you more of an expert in a specific area, which could open more employment opportunities.

An associate’s degree can be a worthwhile investment, taking less time and money than a bachelor’s degree, but still giving the benefits that a degree offers when it comes to seeking employment. 

What is Psychology? Why Study Psychology? 

“What is Psychology,” by Dr. Saul McLeod, is found on the website simplypsychology.org. McLeod defines psychology as, “The scientific study of the mind and behavior.” If you are interested in why people think the way they do or act the way they do, this may be a good field of study for you. The study of the mind and behavior began many years ago in ancient Greece, where it was mainly discussed in relation to philosophy. Thinkers such as Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle made contributions to the field. 

In the 1800s, psychology became a discipline in its own right. Two schools of thought were founded. One was called structuralism. This focused on what the brain was doing at a given moment, and was mainly studied by introspection, where the researcher would describe what was going on in their mind during a given task. The other was known as functionalism, which focused on why the brain did what it did. It was more effective than structuralism because it was not as subjective. 

Later, three main approaches to psychology were founded. One was psychoanalysis, founded by Sigmund Freud, which placed importance on understanding the unconscious motivations in someone’s mind. There was also behavioralism, which did not place emphasis on the unconscious, but rather on conscious thoughts. The humanistic approach was founded later and focused on subjective experience. 

Psychology, according to McLeod, has four main goals. The first goal is to describe. This can help researchers to understand how human behavior works in general. The next goal is to explain. Researchers will come up with theories as to why a common human behavior takes place. The third goal is to predict. From the theories they have developed about human behavior, the researchers will predict what the outcome will be. If they are wrong, they will return to the second goal and revise their theory as to why the behavior takes place. Once they are past the first, second, and third goals, the fourth goal remains. The fourth goal is to change. The psychologist can proceed to use their findings to try to modify behavior that is harmful or detrimental. 

For hundreds – even thousands – of years, people have been striving to understand how the human mind works and why it works the way it does. If you have an intense interest in these things, this may be a good field of study for you. This curiosity is not all that is needed, however. Psychologists need more than an intellectual interest in the field. They need to care about people and want to help them. Below are listed some characteristics of a good psychologist.

What Kind of Person Makes a Good Pyschologist? 

Work.chron.com published an article entitled, “The Top Eight Characteristics a Psychologist Should Have.” In the article, empathy is listed as an important quality. Psychologists must show others that they care about them. Psychologists may work with all sorts of people. Even when the person they are working with has deep-seated problems, and possibly has led a life that the psychologist finds distasteful, they must control their reaction to these problems and try to help the person.

Another characteristic of a good psychologist is the ability to solve problems. They do not give advice; instead, they listen carefully to a client and then help them to create steps in order to reach their goals.

Psychologists must also be patient. According to the article, setbacks happen often and are to be expected. Undesirable behaviors do not change quickly if they have been reinforced for years, and pyschologists must accept the setbacks and be ready to continue moving forward at a pace that suits their patient. These characteristics are useful for anyone to have, but they are especially essential in this profession. 

What Skills Does a Psychologist Need?

Skills are different than personality traits in that they can be learned. People may have talent in some areas, but skills can be taught – for example, in an associate’s degree in psychology. Touro.com says that the #1 skill that psychologists need is communication. Psychologists who plan to work directly with clients will need to communicate with their clients and help them understand their own behaviors and set goals. Psychologists who work in research will need to communicate their findings.

Another skill listed is numeracy, or an ease with numbers. In the field of research, psychologists need to know how to summarize numbers to help others understand their findings. If they are working directly with clients, they need to understand the research of others in order to apply it to their work. 

Are you wondering, “What can I do with an associate degree in psychology?” Below is our list of the top AA degree in psychology jobs. 

What Can You Do with an AA Degree in Psychology? 

Psychology Aide

Psychology aide is one of the top AA degree in psychology jobs; this could help answer the question, “What can you do with an AA degree in psychology?” However, this job is not limited to those with an Associate of Arts, or AA degree. Those with an Associate of Science or Associate of Applied Science can also fill this role. 

Psychology aides assist psychologists as they assess and treat patients. They may assist with some patient therapy, and they can administer and score psychological tests. They also perform many administrative and office tasks like answering phones, greeting patients, documenting patient information, and interviewing patients. 

Psychology aides may work in hospitals, clinics, or mental health facilities. Zippia.com reports that the average annual wage for psychology assistants is $62,856, which works out to about $30.22 an hour. 

Administrative Assistant

What can you do with an associate’s degree in psychology? Here is one of the top AA in psychology jobs. Administrative assistants working in a psychology department are often in a mental health clinic or facility. They perform many administrative duties, such as answering phones, maintaining financial records, depositing funds, screening clinic guests and calls, maintaining clinic rosters, processing office paperwork, and coordinating the daily management and operations of the facility. The administrative assistant also provides support to the psychology department as needed. U.S. News & World Report states that administrative assistants earned a median salary of $37,690 in 2019.

Youth Counselor

Youth counselors work with young children and adolescents to assist them in solving problems. They also make referrals to appropriate agencies if it can improve the child’s physical and emotional well-being. Youth counselors typically work in outpatient care centers, but they may also provide their services to families and individuals. They try to help the youths overcome emotional and mental disorders, and they also work with individuals who have behavioral or substance abuse problems.

Those pursuing careers with associate’s in psychology degrees often find this job highly rewarding. Youth counselors earn a median annual wage of $37,399, according to PayScale. This is one of the top AA in psychology jobs, providing yet another answer to the question, “What can I do with an associate’s degree in psychology?” 

Psychiatric Nursing Assistant

Psychiatric nursing assistants work under the supervision of RNs or psychiatrists while they administer personal care to mentally challenged individuals in a mental health facility, clinic, or hospital. They closely observe patients and their mannerisms to acknowledge and record conditions that could be harmful to the patient or others. They assist patients in performing their daily living activities, support the doctors and nurses in handling emergencies, and help administer therapeutic treatment. Other duties include assisting in restraining patients, documenting patients’ information, ensuring patients are clean, and maintaining a good relationship with staff.

Psychiatric nursing assistants earned an average annual wage of $31,570 in 2020, according to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). This comes out to an hourly wage of $15.18. What can you do with an associate degree in psychology? Here is one of the best options for jobs with an associate degree in psychology. 

Home Care Aide

Home care aides provide care for mentally or physically ill, disabled, or injured patients who are living in residential care facilities or confined to their homes. They work under the supervision of licensed nurses. Home care aides also provide daily care to disabled patients who work outside of their homes. They often assist with daily personal care needs, assist in administering medication, and assist with use of medical equipment. The BLS reports that home care aides earned an average annual wage of $27,080 in 2020, which is about $13.02 per hour.

In Conclusion

Associate’s in psychology degrees have increased in popularity in the past decade or so, and they continue to do so. While one degree type can act as a stepping stone towards graduate degrees, another may prepare the student for entry-level work in psychology. Whichever degree is chosen, there is an abundance of excellent careers available with an associate’s in psychology. It is our hope that this list, outlining the best jobs with an associate degree in psychology, may have helped answer the question, “What can I do with an associate’s in psychology?” 

OAD Staff
May 2021

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This concludes our list of jobs available to those with an associate’s in psychology.