Getting a minor in psychology won't make you the next Dr. Phil, but it could give you the edge over other job candidates in a competitive market. Studying psychology at the undergraduate level teaches students how to ask questions about why people think, feel and behave as they do. You'll learn where to get the answers, and how to apply basic psychological principles in your relationships with others. These skills will allow you to pursue work in several areas, including some in the behavioral-health field. But it also can help in other areas that may be surprising, such as with the government, sales and customer-service related occupations.
Direct-care staff members make a residential or inpatient treatment center run after the psychologists, psychiatrists and social workers have gone home. While most jobs require a high school degree, getting your minor in psychology will add to your desirability for these highly competitive positions. Direct care staff attend to tasks such as feeding residents, monitoring house activities and participating in recreational programs. As direct-care staff, you'll be responsible for carrying out many of the orders left by the professionals, so a minor in psychology will help you to understand those orders and the folks you care for.
A personnel administrator assists the personnel department in private companies or government agencies in areas such as employee selection and promotion. Your duties would typically include classifying open positions; recruitment; coordinating employee placement and retention programs; and administering employee health and safety programs. Training in psychology will help you relate to nervous candidates and better put them at ease. Your psychology background will also come in handy in understanding what motivates and satisfies employees.
Understanding how people think and feel helps you predict how they might act, which is helpful if you work in sales. You might, for example, empathize with a customer's fear of making a bad decision, being swindled or spending too much money to help him overcome these feelings to make his purchase. Having a minor in psychology will give you the edge over other salespeople in that you'll be more likely to understand the principles behind basic sales techniques, so your application of these techniques might be more sophisticated. A salesperson is also likely to use what she has learned while studying psychology to take care of herself in this high-pressure, highly competitive environment.
A minor in psychology can help an advertising copywriter gain insight into what motivates people to buy. While the minimum job requirements generally include having a bachelor's degree in English, journalism, communications or marketing, some background courses in psychology are helpful when you consider that the main job tasks are to conduct research, brainstorm ideas, write copy and communicate on a personal level to a target audience -- all of which are skills acquired during the study of psychology.
- Life Line Youth and Family Services: Services, Inc.: Residential Youth Treatment Specialist
- Drexel University: Bachelor of Science in Psychology
- Old Dominion University: Is Psychology for You?
- • Hanover University: Finding Careers with a Bachelor's Degree in Psychology
- New York State: Personnel Admr Trainee 1
- The University of Missouri: Copywriter 1
Brenda Scottsdale is a licensed psychologist, a six sigma master black belt and a certified aerobics instructor. She has been writing professionally for more than 15 years in scientific journals, including the "Journal of Criminal Justice and Behavior" and various websites.