Almost three-fourths of recent doctoral-level graduates are working in higher education or human service settings, according to the most recent data from APA's Research Office.

In 1999, the year for which the most recent data are available, a total of 28 percent of surveyed graduates with full-time jobs worked primarily in universities, four-year colleges, medical schools and community colleges, while 44 percent found primary employment in hospitals, managed care, other human services positions and independent practice. The remainder of respondents worked in such settings as schools, business, criminal justice, nonprofit organizations and government agencies.

The job distribution for 1999 graduates in full-time positions is very similar to those in a previous 1997 survey, and shows that new doctorates tend to start their careers in hospitals and managed-care organizations before branching into independent practice in order to meet licensure requirements, says Jessica Kohout, PhD, director of APA's Research Office. The data also reflect that psychology's traditional focus on research, education and practice is still strong while its interest in business and government positions is growing.

The survey found that about 78 percent of employed graduates were working in a full-time position, 13 percent were working part time and around 9 percent were working full time in two or more part-time jobs.

Data from the same 1999 APA survey also paint a picture of how graduates got into those first jobs:

  • Graduates reported that their most-used and most-successful method for gaining employment was through informal channels, such as networking. Seventy-four percent reported using informal channels, and 34 percent said it was their most successful job-search method.

  • Close to 40 percent of all respondents also reported using Monitor classified ads, 37 percent used newspaper ads and nearly 30 percent sought jobs through their faculty advisors. Other sources included sending an unsolicited curriculum vitae (20 percent), electronic resources (20 percent) and other professional newsletters or journals, such as the Chronicle of Higher Education (15 percent).

  • While more than 30 percent of grads reported informal channels as the most successful job search method, 8 percent said newspaper ads were most successful, 6 percent voted for Monitor ads, 5 percent said meeting their employer through a former job was best and another 5 percent found unsolicited offers most effective.

  • In 1999, 24 percent of graduates found a job before completing their studies, 42 percent within three months, 17 percent in four- to- six months and 10 percent in more than six months; 7 percent of graduates reported being in their job when they began doctoral study.

  • Close to three-quarters of graduates said the position they accepted was their first choice.

Further Reading

More data on psychologists' education and employment are available online.