11 Psychology Degree Skills (And How To Highlight Them)
Updated August 3, 2023
In a psychology program, students develop transferable skills that they can apply to a variety of careers in the field. Understanding the competencies and technical knowledge you can expect to develop can help you determine if this is the right degree program for you.
In this article, we discuss what psychology degree skills are with examples, explore how you can improve them and learn how to highlight them in your job application materials.
What are psychology degree skills?
Psychology degree skills are transferable and psychology-related skills a student gains from obtaining a degree in psychology. Those who have a degree in psychology understand major theories and disciplines of the study and understand concepts such as research ethics, specialization study and psychological research methods that can help collect data regarding people and groups.
A psychology degree teaches students how to investigate psychology, create theories surrounding social and educational psychology and how to better understand the inadvertent signs people give through behaviors. It also helps psychology graduates understand what influences people's thoughts and behaviors and can be applied to a variety of issues that impact the mental health and daily lives of individuals.
Psychology degree skills
Here are 11 skills that psychology degree students often have when they complete their studies:
Most psychology degrees require a great deal of writing from their students. Academic papers, essays and even notes help them use and improve their writing skills throughout their college experience. Because psychology has many written projects, such as report writing and documentation, students focus on creating well-written, organized documents throughout their studies. Students also learn how to present and translate written essays and psychology theory concepts into understandable and organized presentations.
Psychology students learn critical thinking by studying different types of psychology in their college careers. Psychology requires critical thinking to evaluate conversations, evaluate behaviors and respond quickly to subjects' conversation answers. To determine aspects of a person's psychological profile, it's important for students to think critically about the characteristics, attitudes and thought patterns of the person, and which of them may conflict.
Many college degrees teach students to better manage their time. Learning how to manage one's time is important for psychology degree holders because researching, studying and applying psychology principles has many elements and obligations. For example, a psychologist may fulfill appointments with a patient, document another between appointments and make progress on writing a thesis for their dissertation. If a student wants to continue their college career in psychology, the course teaches them time management to help them in the process.
Psychology students practice reasoning throughout many of their evaluation courses. Many psychology courses focus on reasoning, both used when listening to patients and when evaluating symptoms during appointments. Reasoning skills can be helpful for many workplaces, and students can use them when managing conflict, explaining concepts and in a variety of work situations. Students can use the reasoning skills they've learned in their degree to understand customers and react appropriately in stressful situations.
Research is a very valuable skill that students in psychology studies learn. To evaluate and document patient behaviors, students may research different symptoms, similarities with other conditions and notable exceptions in recorded cases. Research skills can help in many general job settings, especially those that may involve trial-and-error situations. Understanding how to manage a new computer system, solve an error or recover a missing password can require research skills that psychology majors may have as a well-practiced habit.
Communication is a valuable skill for psychology students because it encompasses both how they receive and translate information. Psychologists work to communicate with their clients and typically require communication skills to do so effectively. Outside of the psychology field, communication skills can be valuable in the workplace. Communicating effectively not only looks appealing to an interviewer but also translates information to them as interruption-free as possible.
Analytical thinking is an important skill for psychology students because it helps them review and understand aspects of a client or case study. Students practice this skill during their courses, exercises and possibly internships. In any job field, analysis can be important for many situations.
When managing customers, analysis can be important for sensing if the customer is happy with their service or not. It can be useful for understanding someone's intent, such as when employees communicate with a potential stakeholder or customer for the first time.
Problem-solving skills can be very helpful for psychology students because they use the skill to help in the diagnosing process. They may handle clients or customers in various situations that require problem-solving to aid. Students may work with diverse schedules, availability and location to support clients properly.
In other industries, problem-solving is also a very important skill. Problem-solving with customers, stakeholders and other employees can help resolve conflict and find new solutions to issues.
Patience is an important aspect for psychology students because of the nature of their positions. Psychology students who want to have a future in psychology work understand that they can expect to encounter many kinds of clients, some of which may be easier to interact with than others. Having patience with customers applies to many kinds of positions and is a valuable skill overall across industries. Developing patience through work and school can have a positive impact on your application for most jobs.
Cultural competence is the ability to interact with people who practice different cultural beliefs in a respectful and positive manner. This skill is important for any career field. Those who study psychology often explore topics such as religion, cultural practices and inclusion, so they can develop cultural competence during their studies. Psychology majors who pursue careers as therapists and psychologists can use this skill to connect with their patients and provide quality care to all.
Self-awareness refers to the understanding of your own motivations and how others may perceive you. Self-awareness skills can strengthen your professional aptitudes and adjust your behavior to reflect a respectful and open personality, which is often necessary in a professional setting. By studying psychology, individuals may become more adept at noticing their own flaws, strengths and perceptions.
How to improve psychology degree skills
There are many ways you can improve your psychology degree skills, such as through some of the following steps:
1. Actively practice skills
If applicable to some skills, try to actively practice them when available. Students can practice writing, for example, when they interact with people. If someone shows signs of having a particular personality trait, psychology graduates can take notes and clearly describe their interaction with that individual, which can help solidify their writing skills.
2. Continue studying as much as possible
Another way students can improve skills they've learned from a psychology degree is by continuing the study as often as they can. They can accomplish this by studying psychology books, reading experts' opinions on theory and continuing study through peer-recommended titles. Another way they can continue studying is by attending workshops. Participating in workshops not only helps them review concepts they learned in college but also gives them opportunities to meet with potential connections.
Related: 15 Top Psychology Degree Jobs
3. Consider a specialization
Another way students can improve their skills is by pursuing a specialization in a particular subject. Some specializations include cognitive psychology, neuroscience, developmental psychology, social psychology and forensic psychology. These specializations can enable the student to gain new skills and also help improve their success during the job search process.
Psychology degree skills in the workplace
You can show your psychology degree skills in the workplace by:
Helping resolve conflicts
Those who understand psychology know how to manage and evaluate conflict. They may use their knowledge of conflict to bring understanding and resolution to an argument or tension in the workplace.
Using your persuasion skills
Using persuasion in the workplace can help you make more effective pitches and engaging presentations. It can also help you provide effective leadership, whether you're in a managerial role or working as part of a team.
Acting as a motivating force
Psychology students understand motivation is a very important factor when leading teams. Becoming a motivational force for your team can help improve efficiency and productivity.
As someone with a degree in psychology, you're likely able to explain concepts in writing, through presentations and in casual conversations. Having a psychology degree may also equip you to explain plans and define roles when completing projects as part of a team.
How to highlight psychology degree skills
While looking for a job, there are many ways you can highlight your psychology degree skills to persuade hiring managers to consider you further for applications. Here are some ways you can highlight your skills during the application process:
Psychology skills on a resume
In your resume, consider creating a section for your education alone. While your skills can translate everything you offer the company to your application, you can include more technical skills directly related to your degree. Listing the degree you received, when and from which university can have an influence on your application. Another part of your resume that you can use to improve your application process through your degree is a related courses section.
Psychology skills in a cover letter
In your cover letter, consider mentioning your time in college toward the middle of the piece. While it may be best to talk about your skills and experience and the job in your letter, discussing your degree can help bring value to your application from the beginning. Detailing specific aspects of your degree, such as classes that were challenging or lessons you learned and how they help you now, can show your recruiter that you valued your time in college and learned much that can be applied to your professional career.
Psychology skills in a job interview
During your job interview, talk about your psychology education and how it has prepared you for your future. While it may be best to talk about your skills more than your degree, anecdotes and lessons from your time in college can help illustrate how you learned the skills you have now.
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