Top future-proof job skills Psychology Students need

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Having a psychology background typically prepares you for some theory, research methods, statistics, counseling, and community welfare. At least most bachelor’s degrees in psychology offer these. When you get to the master’s level either from the arts, science, or interdisciplinary approach, you begin to specialize. You would then acquire core competency skills like using psychometric tests, structured counseling, conducting research, contextual thinking, the scientific method, report writing, case presentation, problem formulation, etc. These won’t necessarily give you practical skills to use on the job.

Half-jokingly, I say a psychologist is either listening, writing, reading, or talking. But for 2024 and the future, psychology career prospects demand so much more.

Reading, Writing, Listening, and Talking are abstract skills, and most doing well in psychology will develop these in some capacity. What more would you need as a psychology student in 2024 to be job-ready? If you are just interested in becoming a psychologist (doing your 12th, APs, or graduation), know this before you choose your path.

These skills give you 3 advantages:

  1. They are independent and entrepreneur-friendly skills because you spend less time paying others to use them while getting started. They are a DIY approach to building a business.
  2. They help you stand out compared to others in the job market when there are fewer open spots and high demand for all-round or wildcard employees. You can assist and collaborate more when you have skill diversity.
  3. Your actual job has 2 aspects: Vocational skills and Domain expertise. In most cases, your deliverables are based on vocational skills like making reports, setting up a website, writing a marketing email, etc. When you have both, you can do a better job and possibly improve your pay grade.

1. Artificial Intelligence tools

AI is in its classification and generative phase. For psychologists and most other professions, the generative aspect matters the most. Generative AI is an AI that helps you generate an output given some input (which is called a prompt). It usually takes the form of text, audio, code, and visual design.

I seriously say – the most valuable future cognitive skill is asking the right questions, not proving you have solutions. This skill is forced upon us because AI is getting really good at finding solutions.

How to start:

  1. Get your hands dirty with ChatGPT[1], Copilot[2], and DALL-E 2[3].
  2. Focus on writing good prompts and then modify the output with your contextual and experiential knowledge. (my tutorial here)
  3. Don’t think about coding AI; start with using AI tools first if you feel intimidated.

2. Visual design

Visual design is making graphics and informational layouts that look good and are digestible by a reader. Visual design is needed on every level to improve presentations, reports, and social media content better.

How to start:

  1. Use Canva[4] to make posters, resumes, mind maps, brochures, artwork, social media creatives, etc. You don’t have to learn or buy expensive visual design software for granular control, aim to be functional and good-enough to serve some goal.
  2. If you want to set up your clinic or entrepreneurial practice, you’ll need to understand the marketing side of design, so read up and observe trends. Learn by copying, or as we say – behavioral modeling is the easiest way to learn.

3. Video and sound editing

A lot of communication happens via video, and rightly so – video is the future of content and has been the present for a while. Reels, TikTok, Youtube, Zoom meetings, Online courses, and Masterclasses, and sometimes even Whatsapp-based education are video-centric. Audio-only software like Reaper[5] and Audacity[6] often do the job, especially if you are just recording instruments and managing voice tracks for your content.

How to start:

  1. Learn to use the in-app video features on different platforms (TikTok, YouTube, Instagram, Zoom). Explore streaming platforms like OBS[7] for video podcasts.
  2. Learn to edit using your default apps on your devices.
  3. Record and share after you’ve edited something.

4. Scripting languages like python

We talk with people. And we have to talk with technology. Programming is the way even if you aren’t an engineer. When you learn to write a script, you can automate your tasks or do a lot of manual work quickly. Python is almost like English and has great data analytics & visualization capabilities. I routinely run simple Python scripts to improve my workflow. E.g., when someone asks me for a list of sources in an article (I often have 40+ linked), I don’t manually copy-paste. I run a script to read the URL of my site and extract all the sources as a single list, which I then forward. 15 mins manual work, 1 minute with Python.

How to start:

  1. Learn via Coursera or Udemy or websites like this[8] and this[9].
  2. Have a goal in mind so you can apply your learning to a problem you face.
Future-proof skills for psychologists
New gen psychologists walking toward future jobs

5. Good decks and multimedia like infographics

Design is one thing. Writing valuable content is another. And putting them together is yet another. In most cases, particularly time-bound high-competition cases, people will listen to you when both are put together. The value of a block of text or a cool image is far less than well-organized text in a visual design.

How to start:

  1. Make short crispy presentations summarizing your proposals.
  2. Use templates made for different goals using any available online tools (native Google Drive tools, Lucid chart for mindmaps[10], Prezi for pitch decks[11], etc.)

6. Writing many, many types of content

Everything is content. Company documentation, case histories, x posts, emails, blogs, social media posts, marketing content on packages and banners, adverts, etc. All professionals, especially human-centric professionals like psychologists, have to focus on content and learn the nuances of different formats for different goals. Ask yourself – what point is writing something as a professional if no one reads it?

How to start:

  1. Improve your emails, make social media posts, write blogs, and document ideas in any work situation.
  2. Start thinking as if it is meant to be published.

7. Talking/presenting on video

We are in the era of podcasts and reels. People listen when your face and voice is available to them on demand. Practice talking in front of the camera and speak in a way that appeals to your target audience. This means learning about your target audiences (Gen Z, alphas, psychiatric clients, educators, employees/staff, etc.)

How to start:

  1. Record yourself on your phone and analyze. Now, plan and re-do. This is your first level of practice.
  2. Take up low-stakes opportunities to be on camera and in front of an audience with a mic to get comfortable. Learn to podcast and video yourself. Learn best practices regarding presentation, pacing, clarity, etc.

8. Web design/portfolios

Most tech-centric graduate students easily stumble into a position where they have to deploy a website, app, or portfolio (design, computer science). For psychologists, it’s a little less likely. So some extra effort is needed, which isn’t too difficult because the tools have become DIY-centric.

How to start:

  1. Build a site offering your services or content on WordPress[12], Wix[13], or SquareSpace[14] (if you want to design an app, consider learning Figma[15])
  2. Whatever value you add to the world, put it on those sites. Streamline and beautify later.

9. Data filtering + data presentation

It’s a psychologist’s unspoken job to reduce the clutter – to simplify, to organize the chaos, to separate the signal from the noise. When there is too much data, the value of that data is the consumable insight that rests in it. So psychologists need to learn how to present summaries of data, ignore contextually useless information, and bring attention to the important aspects.

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How to start:

  1. Write about ideas with data backing it up.
  2. Learn techniques (types of charts/graphs, summaries, highlighting) to present complex data in easy-to-digest ways.

10. Branding, Marketing, and Sales

Sales and Marketing may be a formal division in big industries with specialized roles. But, in almost every other situation – clinics, entrepreneurship, personal branding, small business, arts and crafts, etc., you, as a creator, must do all of it. Learn to think of logos, marketing ideas, and selling yourself and your services. In most cases, you will be doing this yourself until you grab enough attention and/or internet cred.

How to get started:

  1. Become a brandable person – customize your identity so you have something to advertise. As a psychologist, people will likely value your insights across virtually every domain. Maximize that potential by having a “style.”
  2. Work on your marketing effort on social media and create assets (products, content, services) with a plan – name, appearance, use-case, etc.

11. Adopting Tech

The era of choosing to be tech-free is long gone. For efficient work in any domain, learn about the devices you use and what sort of technology people use. Take a psychologist’s point of view – tech is made for humans. Tech is technically a psychological need. But, remember, tech is in a human context, so don’t forget your human-centric skills either – empathy, conflict resolution, active listening, etc.

How to get started:

  1. Educate yourself about your devices, settings, smart appliances, connectivity, cables, internet, etc. Learn how others use it (because that is behavior, too).
  2. Analyze the human side of tech – product use cases, data privacy, advertisements, user experience, user interaction, social impact, ethical technology, etc.
  3. Analyze the consumer needs that businesses analyze for their products to learn how consumerism and social media affect us.

12. Hyper-networking

Networking means knowing what others do, taking an interest in them, remembering them, summarizing yourself, and leaving people with something to remember you by interacting with them. Every field and industry is “cross-pollinated,” which means there is something for you and something others need from you everywhere. All it takes is effort.

How to start:

  1. Collaborate with people from different industries and build something interesting.
  2. Keep an ongoing conversational relationship with a diverse range of professionals. Acknowledge them and interact with them on their socials.
  3. Take the initiative to introduce yourself and talk. But go beyond professions – exchange experiences and stories and bond with others through hobbies.
  4. Have hobbies to discuss and relate to. Hobbies are one of the few ways to level the playing field when there is a power dynamic. Hobbies just grab attention.

Opening career paths

Your degrees will soft prepare you for a job in the traditional psychological roles in the health and wellness industries: mental health, public health, health tech, corporate and employee well-being, productivity, etc. But for most other new hybrid fields, you’ll need to acquire some of the skills I have listed above. They open the door for:

  1. Behavioral economics
  2. Behavioral engineering and public/consumer behavior change
  3. Content creation & Science communication
  4. Data analytics/analysis
  5. User interaction and User experience + customer journey (UIUX)
  6. Marketing and Sales
  7. Product innovation and Product design
  8. Social entrepreneurship
  9. Tech entrepreneurship
  10. Sustainability and Social Impact Consulting
  11. Quality testing

Priority skills

Ok, so I’ve listed 12 broad skills. But if you were to prioritize only 4, I recommend these for upskilling first.

  1. Using AI tools
  2. Data-filtering and Data presentation
  3. Branding, Marketing, and Sales
  4. Hyper-networking

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