Associates in Psychology & Counseling Degrees & Programs Guide

Associates Degree in Psychology & Counseling Career Options & Salary

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Overview of an Associates in Psychology & Counseling


Before you request admission to your local vocational or community college so you can major in psychology & counseling, you should see what associate-level psychology programs are all about. Once you have completed your general education classes, which are required, you’ll take your core classes, or the classes that make up your major. While a bachelor's degree might include all of these, an associate degree in psychology might only include psychology courses that cover some of these subjects.

  • Introduction to Psychology
  • Social Psychology
  • Child Psychology - Developmental Psychology - Educational Pssychology
  • Abnormal Psychology
  • Counseling Psychology
  • Experimental Research Methods in Psychology
  • And More
Any good, accredited psychology associate degree program should teach you about the basics of psychology. These credits should transfer to a four-year college or university program, where you can complete your bachelor’s degree in psychology or counseling. Look for a program that also requires you to take courses in general critical thinking (liberal arts).

If you look at a list of the required courses, you won’t see many psychology classes listed. Because graduates of an Associate of Arts (AA) program won’t be ready to work with clients, you’ll take the majority of these classes in a bachelor’s degree in psychology program.

PROS

Earning an associate degree in psychology gives you the ability to enter a strong psychology program at a four-year college or university, which itself could lead to graduate study in the field. However, you must ensure that your community college credits will transfer to that four-year program so that you don’t have to retake any classes.

If you are drawn to a helping field, such as psychology, human services, or social work, then an associate degree in psychology or human services will be an excellent start.

If you decide to take a year or two away from school before transferring into a four-year degree in psychology program, you’ll be able to fill some jobs easily with your two-year degree. These include entry-level positions such as case management aide, client advocate, youth worker, psychiatric aides, psychiatric technicians, human services assistants, community action worker, social work assistant, group activities aide, mental health aide, and intake interviewer. After earning your bachelor’s degree in psychology, your career opportunities will expand greatly.

CONS

Even with an associate in psychology, you’ll find it necessary to go back to school for your bachelor’s and then a master’s degree in psychology if you plan to work directly with people, helping them with their emotional problems.

If you plan on working with people or offering psychoanalysis, you’ll have to have an advanced degree in psychology, not a degree you can earn from associate-level psychology programs. The same is true if you plan on going into clinical social work - here, you'll need to complete advanced social work and social psychology classes and training in treatment practices.

People interested in entering counseling may believe that psychology is the same thing but it isn’t. To become a licensed counselor, you'll need to take master’s-level education courses in mental health counseling and abnormal psychology, then earn a license to practice.

The level of study required in a bachelor’s degree is much deeper than in an associate degree in psychology program. However, you’ll also be able to explore psychology-related electives, such as child psychology or developmental psychology, which may lead into a minor to round out your future career.


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Certificate vs. Associates


You don’t need to think of this as either-or. If you earn your associate degree and earn a certificate in psychology, you’ll have that much more knowledge to use in your job or for transfer to a four-year program.

For instance, if you opt for a Mental Health Advocate/Aide Certificate, you’ll know about basic theories of psychology and counseling. You’ll also learn about self-care skills, cultural competencies, and healthy coping methods. At the least, earning such a certificate means you’ll become familiar with social services and human care services.

What Psychology & Counseling Associate Degrees are Available?


  • Associate of Science in Psychology (AS Psychology):
    In this degree, you’ll get a good introduction to what psychology is. You’ll be expected to study human behavior in scholarly surroundings, which helps you to develop critical and creative thinking. In addition, you’ll learn about how needs, beliefs and values influence human behavior. You’ll also learn human development from prenatal through late adulthood.
  • Associate of Arts in Psychology (AA Psychology):
    This degree allows you to expand your understanding of the human mind. The degree also helps you lay the groundwork for a future career in psychology. The AA in Psychology degree prepares you to enter the workforce in a helping field, which allows you to work with people in need of support and assistance. Even though it is not designated as a transfer degree, it can help to prepare you to begin taking classes at a four-year university.

Admission Requirements


You’ll need to submit your high school transcripts (or GED), as well as your ACT or SAT test scores when to apply to a degree program. If you have any previous community college credits, you’ll submit your official transcripts from each institution in which you earned your credits. Some schools may also require letters of recommendation from those who know you academically, like teachers.

How long does it take to earn a Psychology & Counseling Associates Degree?


At most community colleges, associate degrees require that you earn 60 credits. These include your general education classes, core classes in your psychology major, and electives. If you take 12 credits per semester, you’ll graduate in five semesters or 30 months. If you increase your credit hours each semester to 15, you’ll graduate in about two years or four semesters.

Your general education classes are your math, English, social sciences, liberal arts, sciences, and humanities classes. They are required for graduation. You’ll also be required to select several units from a list of classes related to your psychology degree.

Potential Careers in Psychology & Counseling with an Associates


  • Residential Support Worker
    You’ll care directly for residents who are admitted to a residential treatment program for their mental health issues. Possible client populations include mentally disabled individuals who live independently but need supervision, senior citizens, and at-risk youth.
    Average annual salary: $31,523
  • Orderly
    You’ll be likely to work under the direction of a nurse. You may help residents with basic living activities, also known as activities of daily living. These include bathing, feeding, moving from area to area, and dressing. You may also give medication to a patient as directed by the supervising nurse.
    Average annual salary: $29,500
  • Patient Care Technician
    You assist nurses, medical staff and doctors in giving care to residents. Your job setting may be in a hospital or a more-restrictive residential setting, where you are under the supervision of medical staff. If you notice that a resident’s mental health status seems to be changing, you’ll report this to a nurse or doctor.
    Average annual salary: $31,300.
  • Psychiatric Technician
    You’ll work in a hospital or nursing home setting. You’ll be a psychiatrist’s assistant, helping to care for patients who have mental illnesses or emotional problems. Your typical tasks include administering treatments in group and individual activities. Your role is to encourage patients to participate, helping them to increase their self-confidence. You’ll also monitor your patients via CCTV or in-person.
    Average annual salary: $34,500
  • Personal Support Worker
    You’ll give long-term or short-term care to your clients and act as their companion. You are an unregulated health professional, with no set guidelines to follow. Your job duties include providing physical care, recreational activities, laundry, and cleaning. Your employer may prefer that you hold a degree or certification. You may work different shifts, including weekends.
    Average annual salary: $32,700

Salary by Occupation


Occupation Entry-Level Mid-Career Late Career
Psychiatric Technician $30,400 $42,000 $48,300
Case Manager $36,200 $44,200 $65,700
Health Educator $38,400 $50,400 $56,800
Career Counselor $40,500 $47,500 $53,100
Psychologist $77,800 $81,500 $91,100
Psychology Program Manager $67,600 $78,000 $100,000

Options to Advance


Seriously consider going on to earn a bachelor’s degree or higher after earning your associate degree in psychology. At your current level, you’ll only be equipped to fill support roles, such as a residential treatment aide or patient care technician. If you want to do more with your knowledge, then you need to earn a bachelor’s degree, at the least. Then, you can become a family counselor, social worker, employment counselor for a large employer, mental health associate, crisis line therapist, chemical abuse tutor, or even a registered nurse.

With a bachelor’s degree, you will have the skills to work in a halfway house, crisis intervention center, social service agency, or as a psychologist in a vocational rehab center, or in a community mental health center. If you want to work in counseling (school or clinical), this isn’t possible with an associate or bachelor’s degree. A master’s degree is necessary, along with mandatory licensing.

Best Associate of Science in Psychology & Counseling Programs


  • Southwestern Assemblies of God University
    Waxahachie, Texas

    After the mergers of several Bible schools, the Southwestern Assemblies of God College was the result. In the early 1990s, SAGC changed its name to the Southwestern Assemblies of God University. In the early 21st century, SAGU created and aligned new colleges and added several new academic programs.

    Degrees Offered:

    • Associate Degree in Psychology
  • Massasoit Community College
    Brockton, Massachusetts

    Massasoit Community College may have been founded in 1966 but in 1947, a study completed by the State Board of Education found a need for low-cost education, which would be state supported. The study recommended the formation of 12 community colleges, one of which was MCC, serving the Brockton, South Shore area.

    Degrees Offered:

    • Associate Degree in Psychology
  • San Jacinto College
    Pasadena, Texas

    After fifty years of strong growth, inclusion, and innovation, San Jacinto College has grown, from one location, to offering students on three campuses and 12 extension centers in Houston the chance for an education.

    Degrees Offered:

    • Associate Degree in Psychology
  • Century College
    White Bear Lake, Minnesota

    Century College is one of the largest two-year colleges in Minnesota. In this role, it serves more than 21,000 non-credit and credit students annually. Century College offers degree programs in non-degree areas, as well as non-credit workforce training.

    Degrees Offered:

    • Associate of Arts in Psychology

Traditional Schools Offering an AS in Psychology & Counseling


  • Front Range Community College
    Westminster, Colorado

    Front Range Community College has one focus only - student success. Each student gets assistance in determining their purpose soon after they begin attending FRCC. Faculty and staff work to engage each student, in and outside of the classroom. Students are connected to peers, mentors, faculty, and advisors.

    Degrees Offered:

    • Associate of Arts in Psychology
    • Associate of Science in Psychology
  • Lansing Community College
    Lansing, Michigan

    Lansing Community College is listed as one of the largest 2-year colleges in Michigan. LCC serves more than 23,000 students annually, offering more than 200 associate degrees and certificate programs, along with workforce and career development, and personal enrichment options.

    Degrees Offered:

    • Associate in Arts in Psychology
  • Red Rocks Community College
    Lakewood | Arvada, Colorado

    Beginning in 1969, Red Rocks Community College has aided students in meeting their career and educational goals, collaborating with them every day. RRCC provides career-enhancing certificate programs, courses, and degrees that are a good investment for each student.

    Degrees Offered:

    • Associate of Arts in Psychology
    • Associate of Science in Psychology
  • Arapahoe Community College
    Littleton, Colorado

    Beginning in 1965, the first two-year community college in Denver began to offer education and vocational training to students. First named Arapahoe Junior College, the name was later changed to Arapahoe Community College.

    Degrees Offered:

    • Associate of Arts in Psychology
    • Associate of Science in Psychology
  • Monroe Community College
    Rochester, New York

    Beginning in 1961, Monroe Community College has been working hard to inspire its students. Ever aware of the changes in education, MCC has striven to stay at the head of the needs of its students.

    Degrees Offered:

    • Associate Degree in Psychology

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Psychology Counseling Degrees & Career Paths


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