There are several paths one can take to pursue a psychology career. While some may start at a four-year college or university earning bachelor’s degrees, others may first obtain associate’s degrees. For most occupations, completion of a graduate program is required. This can be accomplished either through a master’s degree program or a doctoral program depending on one’s desired occupation.
An associate’s psychology degree should be viewed as more of a stepping stone toward a psychology career than a degree useful for pursuing a future position. None of the traditional jobs in the psychology field can be pursued with an associate’s psychology degree alone. This is not to say that this degree has no value. Many times, credits earned during the pursuit of an associate’s degree can be used toward pursuing a bachelor’s degree.
While most psychology positions require a master’s or doctoral degree to practice, there are some exceptions. With a bachelor’s degree, one can work as an assistant to a psychologist in many work settings, including community mental health centers, correctional programs, and vocational rehabilitation centers. In addition, entry-level positions within the federal government require only a bachelor’s degree. Because it is one of the few places that a bachelor’s-level psychologist can practice, competition for these positions can be fierce.
Completion of a master’s psychology degree opens the door to additional job opportunities. The field of industrial-organizational (I-O) psychology is one in which individuals can work with a master’s degree only. Another option is working as an assistant to a doctoral-level psychologist.
It goes without saying that individuals with doctorates in psychology have the most diverse career choices, including patient care, research, and teaching. Most individuals pursue doctorates in psychology in order to see patients, but these individuals may also conduct research or teach at the college level.
While there are many routes one can take to complete the education necessary to become a psychologist, not all degrees are necessary or sufficient for practice in a particular area. For the interested student, it is important to first consider what type of work one desires to do and then to investigate the degrees necessary to achieve those goals.
An associate’s degree is an undergraduate degree that is typically completed in two years. Institutions that grant associate’s degrees include community colleges, junior colleges, and technical colleges. Some colleges and universities will also grant associate’s degrees after completion of two years of study in a specific course track.
There are several types of associate’s degrees that one can be awarded. Those that may be relevant to someone interested in a psychology career include an associate of arts or an associate of science. These degrees are designed to help someone transfer from a two-year institution to a four-year college or university and serve to fulfill the more general requirements for a four-year degree. For those interested in psychology, associate’s degrees in psychology and related subjects are available.