June 10, 2011 / 5:19 PM / 8 years ago

Psychology grads face below-average salaries: study

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - U.S. graduates leaving university with a psychology degree face dim salary prospects when they enter the job market despite claims by employers of valuing a liberal arts education, according to a new study.

In this file photo graduating students enter the Paladin stadium during the commencement ceremony at Furman University in Greenville, South Carolina May 31, 2008. REUTERS/Larry Downing

“Face it, wages are tied to specific occupations, and real-world data show that psychology alumni just don’t work in areas that pay top dollar,” said Donald W. Rajecki, of Indiana University, and the lead author of the report.

Among some of the jobs psychology graduates enter are mental health case manager, day-care teacher, home health aide, social worker and substance abuse counselor.

“Whether psychology alumni are personally drawn to these particular downscale positions or take them on out of necessity, one result is the same: comparatively low pay,” Rajecki added.

The findings, which will be published in the journal “Perspectives on Psychological Science”, are based on an examination of four publicly available data sets on different careers and their salaries.

The researchers found that psychology majors have a median starting salary of $35,300, which is below the national average for college graduates, especially those with engineering, health and science degrees.

Rajecki said that many advisers tell prospective psychology majors to enhance their employability by participating in research efforts, earning double majors or getting practical experience through internships.

Rajecki added that getting advanced degrees in psychology does not brighten the salary picture much.

“Even psychology professors obtain appointments at the lower end of that salary scale,” he explained.

But this shouldn’t mean that students should stop choosing psychology as a major, according to Rajecki.

“Psychology is a remarkable academic discipline that seems to get more interesting every passing year. And, of course, money isn’t the only thing that matters.”

Reporting by Bernd Debusmann Jr., editing by Patricia Reaney

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