James Madison University

What is Your Interest Area?

Students sometimes have a difficult time selecting a career goal. You might know you are interested in psychology, but you may not be sure why. What is your primary interest area? What are your professional strengths? The following section describes eight interest areas that often draw students to the Psychology Major.Examples of job titles are listed under each interest area.

Applied Behavior Analysis


This area is concerned mainly with the objective measurement and management of behavior. The major placements are in mental health settings, educational institutions, or psychology laboratories. Positions include aides in psychiatric or psychological therapy units using behavior modification, teacher's aides in mainstreaming students with maladaptive behavior, research aides collecting observational data, or research associates in a laboratory studying behavior modification.

  • behavior analyst
  • chemical dependency technician
  • collection assistant
  • counselor aide
  • instructor aide
  • juvenile prevention program coordinator
  • mental retardation professional
  • rehabilitation aid
  • research analyst/planner/assistant
  • teacher's aide

Business Emphasis


This area is for students interested in working in a business setting. Many jobs involve extensive work with people.

  • advertising assistant
  • affirmative action officer
  • airline reservation specialist
  • customer service representative
  • clerical worker
  • dispatcher
  • office manager
  • management trainee
  • public relations director
  • salesperson
  • secretary
  • travel agent

Criminal Justice / Forensic Psychology


This area is for students interested in working in law enforcement. Policing and criminal behavior are significant interest areas.

  • child protective services worker
  • corrections officer
  • court service worker
  • delinquency prevention specialist
  • juvenile probation officer
  • mentor for at-risk youth
  • probation officer
  • police officer

Educational Applications


Students emphasizing this area of study might seek employment as teacher aides, day-care center workers, children's tutors, and other education-related positions that do not require a graduate degree or teacher certification.

  • arena and sports facility instructor
  • child care worker
  • child development worker
  • day-care worker or aide
  • developmental disabilities professional
  • educational textbook representative
  • instructor or aide for handicapped program
  • neighborhood outreach worker
  • private tutor
  • student activities advisor
  • youth coordinator/counselor/worker

Human Services Emphasis


This area focuses on providing human services in mental health, family services, and childcare. Students prepared at a bachelor's level usually are not able to deliver direct psychological services, but can deliver support services.

  • adolescent care technician
  • case manager/worker
  • chemical dependency aide
  • child protective services worker
  • church youth director
  • community organizer (outreach and services)
  • counselor aide
  • customer relations
  • group home aide
  • developmental disabilities worker
  • developmental reading instructor
  • educational representative
  • elderly care aide
  • foster home parent
  • home visitor
  • housing specialist
  • job placement counselor
  • neighborhood outreach worker
  • program coordinator
  • psychologist's assistant
  • recreational specialist
  • social service aide
  • social worker's assistant
  • staff administrator
  • staff member
  • test administrator
  • ward attendant
  • welfare organizer
  • youth director

Industrial/Organizational Psychology


Most larger organizations need to apply principles of psychology to their work environment. This is the area of industrial/organizational psychology. Positions are available within larger businesses, with government agencies, and with consulting firms. Many positions are in human resource departments.

  • claims specialist
  • employee assistance program specialist
  • employee representative
  • industrial tester
  • interviewer
  • job analyst
  • job evaluation specialist
  • manpower specialist
  • performance evaluation specialist
  • personnel analyst
  • placement officer
  • training and development specialist

Personal Development Interest


Consider a minor in Art, Coaching, Conflict Mediation Studies, Dance, English, Philosophy, Political Science, Religion, Sociology, Spanish, or Women's Studies.

This interest area encompasses students who are interested in psychology as a means by which they can learn about themselves and their relationships with others, as well as ways to improve their personal skills. Jobs within this area include a particularly strong element of "social responsibility," the desire to do work that benefits individuals or society as a whole.

  • affirmative action officer
  • child/family protection caseworker
  • church youth leader
  • community activist
  • community outreach coordinator
  • community organizer
  • community worker
  • foster home parent
  • house parent
  • volunteer coordinator
  • youth worker

Scientific Applications


This area focuses on scientific psychology. Most positions in this area require a graduate degree, however, some positions are available that require only a bachelor's degree.

  • data analyst
  • lab assistant
  • public relations specialist for science-oriented industries
  • research analyst/planner/assistant
  • science writer
  • statistical assistant
  • technical product sales