Psychology majors need to go to grad school to become fully qualified psychologists.
The best-paid 10 percent of fully qualified psychologists earned $116, 870 in 2011, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a wage more than 2.5 times higher than the $45, 230 mean annual salary for all occupations. Becoming a fully qualified psychologist takes years of study and training. Psychology majors who decide to go straight into work after graduating from college will be unlikely to command such generous pay.
Psychology majors earned a median starting salary of $33, 500 in February 2012, according to data from the National Association of Colleges and Employers' April 2012 Salary Survey. Information for the April 2012 report was gathered in February 2012. This figure was up by 1.2 percent from the $33, 100 psychology major graduates typically earned the previous year. The average starting salary for all graduates at this time was $42, 569, up 4.5 percent from the previous year, according to the NACE.
A study published in June 2011 in Perspectives on Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, found that psychology majors earned a median starting salary of $35, 300. The study revealed the salary outlook for psychology majors who did not continue their studies at post-graduate level was particularly poor in both the short and long term. The study's authors found psychology majors were paid less compared to graduates in other science fields, engineering and health.
Related Reading: Career Choices for Management Majors
Psychology majors starting their careers in educational services could expect to earn $38, 300 during their first year out of college in February 2012, according to NACE data. Those who opted to get jobs in professional, scientific, and technical services or federal, state, and local government earned median salaries of $37, 200 and $36, 100 respectively.
The mean annual wage for qualified psychologists was $85, 830 in May 2011, according to the BLS. Psychology majors who want to become psychologists need to go on to to earn a master's, specialist or doctoral degree in psychology after graduating from college.Graduates with a bachelor’s degree in psychology who decide against continuing with their education often find work in fields such as business administration, sales or education.