7 In-Demand Research Psychology Careers7 In-Demand Research Psychology Careers7 In-Demand Research Psychology Careers

Reduced stigma around mental healthcare and new discoveries in neuroscience are changing the future of psychology for the better, according to the American Psychological Association (APA). Research psychology will play an especially important role in countless industries, including marketing, social services, and mental healthcare.

Understanding human behavior is the key to solving many societal problems that plague the world today. An online bachelor’s degree in psychology provides a solid foundation for a wide range of important research psychology careers that can help make the world a better place.

What Is Research Psychology?

To understand what research psychology is, it helps to remember that psychology is the study of the human mind and how it works. Research psychology is more specific: It’s a scientific method that’s used to investigate problems and answer questions about human behavior. Although applicable in mental healthcare settings, research psychology benefits everyone. Advancements in knowledge surrounding human behavior make it possible to develop a wide range of concepts and ideas that can improve society.

Psychology researchers study a broad range of topics that impact the daily lives of average people. They study the biological, social, and environmental factors that make people who they are. For example, some of them focus on development and childhood behavior, while others study the way advertisements impact specific demographics.

Research Psychology Careers

A bachelor’s degree in psychology prepares aspiring professionals for countless research-based careers. From social workers to criminologists — and even human resources (HR) specialists — virtually every industry relies on psychology research to thrive. Below are seven research careers with a psychology degree that prospective students are encouraged to learn more about.

1. Social Science Research Assistant

Social science research assistants serve an important role in many settings. Social scientists, also known as sociologists, analyze the interactions between people and organizations, and they work to understand social development from a human standpoint. Social science research assistants aid sociologists by conducting research and surveys and preparing findings for publication.

The median annual salary for social science research assistants was about $50,470 in May 2022 , according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). They’re most commonly employed by colleges and universities, though local governments and social advocacy organizations may employ some. The BLS projects employment of social science research assistants will grow 11% between 2021 and 2031, faster than the average job growth of 5%.

2. Parole Officer

Parole officers have one of the most well-known research psychology careers. They’re responsible for helping law offenders through the rehabilitation process, which often involves evaluating and interviewing both parolees and their families. Their psychology background allows them to better understand the resources that a parolee needs, and it allows them to anticipate certain behaviors that may cause problems for the law offender in the future.

Parole officers earned a median annual salary of $60,250 in May 2021, according to the BLS. Though this career field is expected to see minimal growth between 2021 and 2031, workers transferring to different occupations or retiring will drive some demand, along with the continued need for former inmate supervision.

3. Market Research Analyst

Market research analysts study human behavior and actions at the consumer level to better understand how a product or service might sell. They look at previous sales trends to predict future ones, but they spend most of their time gathering data and insights on consumers and competitors. With this data, they can determine a brand’s marketplace position and help companies improve their sales.

Market research analysts earned a median annual salary of about $63,920 in May 2021, according to the BLS. Those working in company and enterprise management earned the highest salaries, but those who worked for consulting services earned the least. Employment in this field is projected to climb by an impressive 19% between 2021 and 2031. The increased collection and use of consumer data will drive growth.

4. Psychiatric Technician

While the vast majority of research psychology careers don’t include any kind of clinical care, psychiatry technicians and aides are the exceptions. These individuals are responsible for providing care to those with mental illnesses and certain developmental disabilities. They assist with daily tasks, such as helping patients bathe and eat, monitoring vital signs, and leading patients in various activities.

Psychiatric technicians earned a median annual salary of about $36,570 in May 2021, and those working for state governments earned significantly more — $49,660 a year — according to the BLS. To work as a psychiatric technician, candidates only need a high school diploma (or a GED) and a postsecondary certificate. This role can be a good choice for individuals who want to gain mental healthcare experience before or during their degree programs. Employment in this field is expected to grow by 9% between 2021 and 2031 due to employee turnover and increased demand for mental healthcare across the country.

5. Human Resources Specialist

HR specialists use their research psychology backgrounds to recruit and screen potential employees for their companies. The better they understand human behavior and social interactions, the more equipped they’ll be to choose the best fit for any available role. HR specialists may also manage employee orientation, manage records, and meet regularly with employers to ensure that their needs are met.

HR specialists earned a median annual salary of $62,290 in May 2021, according to the BLS. Since companies need to navigate complex labor laws and benefits choices, employment in this role will grow by 8% between 2021 and 2031. Remote work opportunities continue to grow as companies find that outsourcing their HR needs saves time and money.

6. Survey Researcher

Survey researchers compile and analyze data, and then use it to create surveys for a broad range of industries. They use their background in research psychology to determine the appropriate survey methods for different audiences. They solve problems caused by sampling issues and evaluate the performance of current surveys to design better options for the future.

This profession is one of the few research psychology careers in which a graduate degree is almost always a requirement, but a bachelor’s degree is usually acceptable for entry-level positions. Survey researchers earned a median annual salary of $59,740 in May 2021, according to the BLS, and the bureau also expects employment in this field to grow by about 6% between 2021 and 2031.

7. Research Psychologist

Research psychologists must earn graduate degrees, but many start their careers by earning bachelor’s degrees in psychology. They can work in developmental psychology, industrial and organizational psychology, biological psychology, social psychology, and more. Their duties include reading literature, creating research questions, formulating scientific hypotheses, and designing data analytics procedures based on their knowledge of human behavior.

Psychologists — including research psychologists — earned a median annual salary of $81,040 in May 2021, but those employed by the government or in industrial and organizational psychology earned significantly more, according to the BLS. Between 2021 and 2031, employment is expected to grow by about 6%. An increased demand for psychological services in schools, hospitals, prisons, and other agencies will drive growth.

Maryville University’s Online Bachelor of Psychology Degree

The online Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Psychology degree at Maryville University was designed to provide students with the foundational knowledge they need to thrive in careers across a broad range of industries, including research psychology. Core courses include Social Psychology, Critical Thinking in Social Science, Abnormal Psychology, and Human Cognition. The social science research sequence includes courses such as Research Design and Understanding Statistical Inference.

The coursework is fully online, giving students unprecedented flexibility. All coursework has been designed with the American Psychological Association’s standards in mind, so students can rest assured that they’ll receive the highest quality education.

Earn Your Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology and Pursue a Research Psychology Career

A psychology degree is one of the most versatile and useful degrees available to the current generation of students. In fact, psychology majors are employed in 88 of the 129 U.S. occupational categories. according to APA. Undergraduate psychology students develop social, technological, and communication skills that can serve them well in virtually any career and can serve as a strong foundation for graduate degree programs.

Discover the exciting paths you can take with an online BA in Psychology degree from Maryville. It can open the door to countless careers in education, healthcare, research, business, and more.

Recommended Readings

Inside the Consumer’s Mind: 10 Marketing Psychology Principles for Growing a Business

Degree in Sociology vs. Psychology: Careers to Promote Change

BA vs. BS Psychology


American Psychological Association, “A Psychology Major Opens Doors”

American Psychological Association, “14 Emerging Trends”

Indeed, 8 Careers to Consider for Research Psychologists

Payscale, Average Psychologist Salary

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Data for Occupations Not Covered in Detail

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Human Resources Specialists

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Market Research Analysts

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Probation Officers and Correctional Treatment Specialists

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Psychiatric Technicians and Aides

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Psychologists

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Psychologists, All Other

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Social Science Research Assistants

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Survey Researchers

Verywell Mind, “Psychology Research Methods Study Guide”

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