Non-Academic Careers

A faculty position at a college or university is not the only career option for psychologists.

In response to the concerns of many psychology graduate students about the lack information on careers outside of the university setting, we began inviting psychologists with traditional training to tell us about their work in some relatively non-traditional places. The list below represents a relatively small sampling of an infinite number of careers that are possible — those who have "taken a different path" relate their own experiences of how they got to where they are now and the valuable lessons they learned along the way to employment "beyond the lab."

The following articles illustrate the various skill-sets and expertise that psychologists possess which are also highly valued by employers outside of academe. The nontraditional career paths represented by these personal success stories illustrate the different types of unique contributions made by psychologists in many different employment settings.

Animal Protection

Psychology in Animal Programs
Jacqueline Ogden, PhD, is responsible for animal care, veterinary care, and education and science programs at Walt Disney World, and uses her academic training in human and non-human behavior constantly in meetings, conservation-related projects, and more.

Criminal Justice/Law Enforcement

Forensic Psychologist
As the senior scientist and forensic psychologist in the FBI’s Behavioral Science Unit, Anthony J. Pinizzotto, PhD, is a liaison among academic, professional, and criminal justice agencies, participates in the scientific exploration and investigation within the FBI’s Training Division, and more.

Police Psychology in the Federal Government
Psychologists like Neil S. Hibler, FAClinP, make important contributions to the government in the areas of counterespionage, pre-employment selection screening, fitness for duty evaluations, crisis intervention, direct investigative/operational support, team building, training and other services.

Trial Consultant
Joy Stapp, PhD, develops effective trial strategies based on empirical research for clients in many types of litigation, including antitrust, contracts, discrimination, employment, environmental, insurance, intellectual property, lender, premises and product liability, oil and gas, personal injury, securities, toxic tort, and medical, legal and professional malpractice.

Health Care

Clinical Neuropsychopharmacologist
Psychologist-monitors like Richard J. Katz, PhD, have been instrumental in establishing the safety and efficacy of many drugs for Alzheimer's disease, depression, anxiety, PTSD and more.

Human Resources

Expert Witness in Employment Discrimination Cases
As an expert witness with the EEOC, Hilary R. Weiner, PhD, uses research to help investigators and attorneys determine whether or not employment discrimination has taken place.

Interior Design

Design Psychologist
Knowledge of psychology and human behavior gave Susan Lee Painter, PhD, a new way to create spaces for people by focusing on fulfilling the psychological needs of clients and users of space, rather than simply using aesthetic factors to serve as the basis for design.

Organizational Development

Organizational Development Consultant
As director of a consultancy firm, Philip M. Smith, PhD, oversees recruitment, assessment, management development, survey research, career counseling, and organizational change with household brand name clients on three continents. 

Research

Experimental Psychologist in a Behavioral Science Research Firm
Organization, critical thinking, statistical analysis, good research design, and technical writing are all skills that Sunny Becker, PhD, honed in graduate school, and were the very ones she needed to succeed as a military and educational researcher.

Writing

Science Writer
Science writer Siri Carpenter’s work is intellectually stimulating but broad in scope, concerns science, but not just one area of science, and allows her to do research and write, but not always about the same subject.