If you have an interest in psychology as well as marketing and communication, consumer psychology might be a good fit for you as a future career.
After all, consumer psychology is the study of consumer behavior and the marketing techniques that are used to influence how we make purchasing decisions. Included in this is the investigation of the psychological mechanisms that drive us to buy certain goods and not others.
This is a very interesting field of study and work, indeed. On the one hand, consumer psychology involves copious research and data analysis. On the other hand, consumer psychologists also spend much of their time evaluating the motivational forces behind decision-making processes, like the effect of social media marketing on consumer behavior.
Because of their expertise in these areas, consumer psychologists are often asked to:
- Develop marketing messages that catch the attention of consumers and lead to improved sales
- Conduct market research for businesses that identifies target markets, key demographics, and the like
- Research the attitudes of consumers as they pertain to specific products or services
- Analyze consumer behavior, including conducting surveys and devising questionnaires to gain a deeper understanding of the needs and wants of consumers
Of course, this is not a complete list of what consumer psychologists do, but it does give you a peek at some of the most common job duties.
If you’re still intrigued by the prospect of consumer psychology as a career, the next question we should consider is this: what does it take to become a consumer psychologist?
Get a Bachelor’s Degree
The first step in your journey to becoming a consumer psychologist is to complete an undergraduate degree. Typically, students complete their BA or BS in psychology, which offers an excellent foundation of knowledge for continuing your studies in a graduate degree program.
Your undergraduate studies in psychology should take three years. During that time, you will take a variety of courses that give you a wide-ranging understanding of the science of psychology. Common courses you might take include, but are not limited to:
- Introduction to psychology
- Developmental psychology
- Child psychology
- Social psychology
- Experimental psychology
Your coursework will be a blend of Levels 4, 5, and 6. Usually, programs include a research project as well. As you complete the degree requirements for your undergraduate degree, you might consider applying for an intermediate qualification, such as the Diploma of Higher Education in Psychology or the Certificate of Higher Education.
Many programs also include work placement options which give you valuable, real-life experience in psychology. Depending on the university, you might have the chance to take part in a short-term work placement (e.g., 30 hours), a long-term placement (e.g., one year), or both.
Entry requirements into an undergraduate psychology program usually include having at least one course in chemistry, biology, physics, or maths. You might also explore economics, philosophy, anthropology, or history.
It should be noted that since undergraduate programs in psychology are so popular in the United States, competition for spots can be quite intense.
The Next Step – Choose Work or Continued Education
With a bachelor’s degree in psychology, you might choose to enter the workforce and get some practical experience. For consumer psychology, this might mean working in marketing, business, or even finance.
Getting some work experience will help you develop your skills further, and having relevant work experience is certainly helpful for applying and gaining admittance to master’s degree program, should you decide to continue your education.
Get a Master’s Degree
If you want to expand your knowledge and abilities, continuing your education in a master’s course in consumer psychology is an excellent option.
A master’s course is usually 12-18 months in length. During that time, you will explore advanced topics in psychology that go beyond the basics of studying at the undergraduate level.
Since your master’s studies will be in consumer psychology, your coursework will reflect this specialization. Courses you might take include, but are not limited to:
- Applied consumer psychology
- Consumer analysis
- Issues in scientific research
- Quantitative research methods
As part of these courses, you will gain knowledge and skills related to a host of consumer psychology theories and concepts. This includes learning how to interpret consumer behavior, how to use analytics skills to evaluate consumer decisions, and understanding the process of consumer decision-making, among others.
Complete Postgraduate Study
Final step in becoming a consumer psychologist is to earn your doctoral degree. Doctoral programs also requires that you have a good deal of work experience in your specialization.
These studies usually encompass three years of academic experiences as well as practical work experiences. Though it can be a long road to becoming a consumer psychologist, the right education and practical experience will help you become a competent practitioner.
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