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Job Photographs

  • A woman is sitting in an armchair.  She is writing in a notebook.

    This educational psychologist is arranging her appointments.

  • A woman is standing in a street, about to get into a purple car.

    This educational psychologist travels a lot in her local area.

  • Two women are sitting in chairs, facing each other and talking.  One of the women is holding a notepad.

    This occupational psychologist is giving counselling to a member of staff from a client company.

  • A woman and a young boy are sitting at a table.  The boy is playing with various coloured shapes.

    Psychological tests take many forms.

  • A woman is sitting at a desk.  She is looking at various paper documents.

    Analysing a psychological test.

  • Psychologist

Psychologist

Introduction

Psychologists study the way people think and act. They look at all aspects of behaviour and the thoughts and feelings that make us act the way we do. Psychologists use their understanding to help people with difficulties to change their lives for the better.

Many psychologists work in health and education services, but they can be found in a wide range of other areas.

Video: - Marilyn: Clinical Psychologist

Video: - Claire: Educational Psychologist

Video: - Claire: Clinical Psychologist

Work Activities

There are may different types of Psychologist, and they all use their understanding of psychology to try to help people change their lives for the better.

Here are some different types of Psychologist:

Clinical Psychologist

As a Clinical Psychologist you will help people who have physical and mental health issues. For example, you may train people in relaxation techniques to help them cope with anxiety. You may also work with people who have eating disorders, phobias, head injuries and illnesses.

You'll work in health and social care settings, such as hospitals, health centres and community mental health teams.

Sports Psychologist

As a Sports Psychologist you will work closely with athletes and sports coaches to help improve sports performance. You may help to introduce relaxation techniques, or methods of overcoming performance nerves, which affect many sports athletes. Helping athletes to recover from injuries is an important aspect, and also helping on field communication in team sports.

Educational Psychologist

As an Educational Psychologist, you will study and treat the learning, behaviour and emotional problems of children and young people. You'll assess young people's progress, and also help them with their school and emotional needs.

You might be required to help teachers to improve their school environment, recognising that this can influence young people's behaviour and ability to learn. You'll usually work in schools, colleges, nurseries and special educational units.

Occupational Psychologist

As an Occupational Psychologist you will look at the performance of people at work and in training. You will be involved in issues like the selection and training of staff, effective management and the working environment. You'll might work for a large company or the government, or possibly as a private consultant.

Counselling Psychologist

As a Counselling Psychologist you will help people to improve their sense of well-being and overcome problems in their lives. You'll work with individuals, groups or families. You might work privately, or in GPs' surgeries, counselling organisations and academic settings (schools, colleges, universities).

Forensic Psychologist

As a Forensic Psychologist you'll give evidence in courts of law and tribunals, and also to prisoners' review panels. You'll help offenders to understand their behaviour and to avoid re-offending when they are released. You might be involved in prison management, or work with the victims of crime.

As a Forensic Psychologist you can expect to work in prisons, youth custody centres, special units and regional secure hospitals.

Being able to read, write and speak Welsh may be an advantage when you’re looking for work in Wales.

Personal Qualities and Skills

As a Psychologist, you need:

  • An investigative mind.
  • To be interrested in how people think and act - how do our minds work?
  • Excellent communication and interpersonal skills.
  • A calm, professional approach at all times.
  • The ability to present your findings to all kinds of people - including in reports.
  • Teamworking skills, to work with other professionals.
  • Strict respect for your clients' confidentiality.
  • The psychological knowledge to be able to understand how we behave in a scientific way.

You should also be:

  • A good listener.
  • Logical and systematic.
  • Patient and non-judgemental. Don't let your own personal opinions interfere with your professional work
  • Able to talk to people of all ages, from all walks of life.
  • Able to build a trusting, constructive relationship with your clients.
  • Committed to helping people transform their lives in a positive way.

Pay and Opportunities

Pay

Earnings for Psychologists vary depending on your area of specialisation and whether you are employed or in private practice (self-employed).

The pay rates given below are approximate.

Psychologists earn in the range of:

Starting: £21,000 - £28,500

With experience: £37,000 - £52,000

High flyers: £55,000+

Hours of work

As a Psychologist you will work a basic 37-hour week. Some evening and weekend work may be required. Part-time opportunities may be available.

Demand

It can be difficult to secure a place on a postgraduate training course, due to high demand.

Where could I work?

Employers include the NHS, private companies, consultancies, the Civil Service and local government. Psychologists also work in university teaching and research.

Opportunities for Psychologists occur throughout the UK.

Self-employment

It is possible for psychologists to set up in private practice.

Where are vacancies advertised?

Vacancies are advertised in local/national newspapers, on job boards, on the British Psychological Society's 'Psychologist Appointments' website, on employers' websites, at Jobcentre Plus and on the Universal Jobmatch website.

Entry Routes and Training

Entry routes

You need to be registered with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) in order to become a Psychologist.

The steps towards registration with the HCPC are shown here:

  • Complete a psychology degree accredited by British Psychological Society (BPS)
  • Make sure the degree gives eligibility for the Graduate Basis for Chartered Membership (GBC)
  • Start building up work experience in your specialist area of interest
  • Study for a postgraduate professional training course accredited by BPS.

If your first degree isn’t in psychology or isn’t BPS-accredited, there are conversion courses you could take so you will be eligible for GBC.

Once you have graduated you may be able to begin working as an Assistant Psychologist.

A great way to get into this career is through an internship. Take a look at our information article 'Internships', for more details.

Work Experience

Firstly, you'll need to demonstrate your motivation, and show that you have a realistic understanding of what this role involves. Work experience, such as shadowing an experienced Psychologist, or maybe working in a care environment (such as a care home) will really help to show that you have the necessary skills and motivation.

Training

In order to get a place on a HCPC-approved postgraduate training course, you’ll need at least a 2:1 degree, as well substantial relevant experience.

The postgraduate qualification you choose will depend on the area you want to specialise in. For example, educational psychology, occupational psychology and forensic psychology each has a slightly different route to qualification. Most will take at least two years to complete.

Once you’ve qualified, you’ll still need to keep up to date with changes and further develop your skills.

Progression

With experience, you can progress to supervisory and management positions.

Some Psychologists specialise further or study for a PhD, eventually moving into teaching or research.

Rehabilitation of Offenders Act

Chartered Psychologist posts are exempt from the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974. This means that you must supply information to an employer about any spent or unspent convictions, cautions, reprimands or warnings, if they ask you to. This is different from other careers, where you only have to reveal information on unspent convictions if you are asked to.

Qualifications

For entry to an accredited degree course in psychology, the usual requirements are:

  • 3 A levels, including a science subject in some cases.
  • 5 GCSEs at C/4 or above including English, Maths, and sometimes a science subject.

Psychology at A level is not a requirement.

Other qualifications, such as an Edexcel (BTEC) Level 3 National qualification or the International Baccalaureate Diploma could also be considered. Entry requirements for degree courses vary; check prospectuses carefully.

Some universities accept the Welsh Baccalaureate as equivalent to 1 A-level.

Adult Opportunities

Age limits

It is illegal for any organisation to set age limits for entry to employment, education or training, unless they can show there is a real need to have these limits.

Courses

If you don't have the qualifications needed to enter your chosen degree course, a college or university Access course (eg, Access to Psychology) could be the way in. No formal qualifications are usually required, but you should check individual course details.

There are accredited conversion courses open to graduates with degrees in subjects other than psychology (and those with non-accredited psychology degrees). You can find out more by looking on the British Psychological Society's (BPS) website.

Part-time degree study is available from a number of universities. However, most part-time degrees are not accredited by the BPS.

Distance learning

Distance or open learning is available from the Open University, which offers a BSc degree in Psychology. This qualification is accredited by the BPS.

Funding

The BPS website has a searchable database of funding opportunities. These range from studentships to research grants.

Statistics

  • 22% of psychologists are self-employed.
  • 33% work part-time.
  • 14% have flexible hours.
  • 9% of employees work on a temporary basis.

Further Information

Professional institutions have the following roles:

  • To support their members.
  • To protect the public by keeping standards high in their professions.

For more information on the institution(s) relevant to this career, check out the contacts section.

LGjobs

Local government vacancies

Website: www.lgjobs.com

myjobscotland: Scottish local government vacancies

Scottish enquiries

Email: myjobscotland@cosla.gov.uk

Website: www.myjobscotland.gov.uk

NHS Wales Careers

Publisher: National Leadership and Innovation Agency for Healthcare

Email: abm.wedsteam@wales.nhs.uk

Website: www.wales.nhs.uk/sitesplus/829/page/36090

NHS Jobs

Website: www.jobs.nhs.uk

Step into the NHS

NHS careers

Tel: 0345 6060655

Website: www.stepintothenhs.nhs.uk

Skills for Health

Skills for the health sector

Address: Goldsmiths House, Broad Plain, Bristol BS2 0JP

Tel: 0117 9221155

Email: office@skillsforhealth.org.uk

Website: www.skillsforhealth.org.uk

Queen's University Belfast

Irish enquiries

Website: www.qub.ac.uk

Open University (OU)

Tel: 0845 3006090

Website: www.open.ac.uk

Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC)

Address: Park House, 184 Kennington Park Road, London SE11 4BU

Tel: 0845 3006184

Email: education@hcpc-uk.org

Website: www.hcpc-uk.org

NHS Education for Scotland (NES)

Scottish enquiries

Address: Westport 102, West Port, Edinburgh EH3 9DN

Tel: 0131 6563200

Email: enquiries@nes.scot.nhs.uk

Website: www.nes.scot.nhs.uk

A Guide to Careers in Sport and Exercise Sciences

Publisher: British Association of Sport and Exercise Sciences

Website: www.bases.org.uk/write/documents/BASES%20Career%20Guide%20revised%20edition%20Jan%202010.pdf

British Psychological Society (BPS)

Address: St Andrews House, 48 Princess Road East, Leicester LE1 7DR

Tel: 0116 2549568

Email: enquiries@bps.org.uk

Website: www.bps.org.uk

Getting into Psychology Courses

Author: Maya Waterstone Publisher: Trotman

Website: www.topuniversities.com/courses/psychology/guide

British Psychological Society

Publisher: British Psychological Society (BPS)

Tel: 01223 378 051

Email: kai.theriault@cpl.co.uk

Website: www.psychapp.co.uk

Institute of Psychoanalysis

Address: Byron House, 112A Shirland Road, London W9 2EQ

Tel: 020 7563 5000

Email: admin@iopa.org.uk

Website: www.psychoanalysis.org.uk

British Association of Psychotherapists (BAP)

Address: 37 Mapesbury Road, London NW2 4HJ

Tel: 020 8452 9823

Email: mail@bap-psychotherapy.org

Website: www.bap-psychotherapy.org

Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust

Address: Tavistock Centre, 120 Belsize Lane, London NW3 5BA

Tel: 020 7435 7111

Website: www.tavistockandportman.nhs.uk

People Exchange Cymru (PEC)

Public sector recruitment portal for Wales

Email: peopleexchangecymru@gov.wales

Website: www.peopleexchangecymru.org.uk/home

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