5 Career Settings for a Cognitive Psychologist

careers for cognitive psychologist

Typical Work Environments for Cognitive Psychologists

  • Corporate and Industrial Consultancy
  • Universities and Colleges
  • Residential or Domestic Therapist
  • Healthcare Service Providers
  • Government and Legal Settings

A career setting for a cognitive psychologist depends on what aspect of the field they want to pursue. Cognitive psychology is one of the many specialized disciplines within the much broader study of human thought and behavior. Many professional practitioners use a process of mental modeling to develop a framework for studying complex features, including language, perception and memory. While this is a relatively narrow field of study, there are actually a lot of different career paths available with an advanced degree and experience.

1. Corporate and Industrial Consultancy

Professionals interested in finding meaningful ways to apply their skills in real environments can seek employment as a consultant. Big businesses and other organizations employ specialists in human behavior to aid in industrial-organizational management, which encompasses almost every aspect of daily operations. Some psychologists focus on assessing usability to ensure that products, services or physical establishments are conducive to a positive customer experience.

2. Universities and Colleges

Since the field is highly research-oriented, a significant portion of cognitive psychologists seeks employment in academic settings, according to the American Psychological Association. These positions often offer the opportunity to conduct practical and theoretical studies with access to the school’s facilities, resources and connections. University jobs usually require at least some time in the classroom and some psychologists find they prefer to focus on teaching or building a career within the school’s administration.

3. Residential or Domestic Therapist

Qualified psychologists who enjoy working directly with clients have plenty of opportunities to work in therapy environments. Cognitive therapies are typically oriented towards children with behavioral or developmental disabilities or aging adults who struggle with memory loss, emotional control or basic daily living activities. Therapists licensed to practice applied behavior analysis may find more opportunities for employment in clinical, residential or in-home therapy.

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4. Healthcare Service Providers

Experts in cognitive psychology serve critical roles throughout the healthcare service industry, ranging from specialty mental health clinics to large hospitals. Professionals in these environments may work as part of a larger team that develops comprehensive treatment strategies for individual patients. Those working in clinical environments usually build stronger relationships with individual clients and work with them on a long-term basis.

5. Government and Legal Settings

Government agencies can be an appealing potential employer for psychologists who want to focus on research. These organizations often offer the opportunity for advancement as well as a stable career path for senior staff members. Some professionals also find jobs working in a courtroom or with police investigators as an expert witness or consultant.


A diverse selection of potential work environments is one of the big appeals of a psychology degree. Choosing a career setting for a cognitive psychologist is often a matter of personal preference, but many of the top jobs require a graduate or doctoral degree for consideration.

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