Psychologists study people’s behaviour, motivations, thoughts and feelings, and help them to overcome or control their problems.
Salary range: £32,000 to £83,500
How to become a psychologist
You can get into this job through:
- a university course
You’ll need to complete:
- a psychology degree accredited by The British Psychological Society (BPS)
- Graduate Basis for Chartered Membership
- an accredited postgraduate qualification in your chosen specialism
Once you have a psychology degree, you can specialise in a particular area, for example educational or forensic psychology.
To become a neuropsychologist, you must have specialist knowledge in neuroscience and a postgraduate qualification from the educational or clinical psychology fields.
Competition for postgraduate training is strong. You’ll need a first or upper second class degree, and evidence of excellent research skills to apply. You’ll also need relevant work experience.
If you have a degree in a different subject, you may be able to complete an approved psychology conversion course.
You’ll usually need:
- 2 to 3 A levels, or equivalent, for a degree
- a degree in any subject for a postgraduate course
- equivalent entry requirements
- student finance for fees and living costs
- university courses and entry requirements
- you’ll need to register with the Health and Care Professions Council
You’ll find more advice on careers and training in psychology from The British Psychological Society.
What it takes
Skills and knowledge
- knowledge of psychology
- counselling skills including active listening and a non-judgemental approach
- customer service skills
- the ability to understand people’s reactions
- sensitivity and understanding
- excellent verbal communication skills
- patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations
- to enjoy working with other people
- to be able to use a computer and the main software packages competently
Restrictions and requirements
You’ll need to:
- pass enhanced background checks, as you may be working with children and vulnerable adults
What you’ll do
Your day-to-day tasks will depend on your specialism. For example, you might work as an educational psychologist, where you would:
- help children to overcome difficulties
- interview young people and assess their emotional state
- develop treatment programmes to help clients’ psychological wellbeing
As an occupational psychologist, you’ll:
- assess the productivity of a business and how the staff work
- develop processes to measure employee talent and progress
- have one-to-one sessions with employees to support their wellbeing
In counselling psychology, you may:
- work with children and adults to explore their social, economic, cultural and spiritual health
- use psychotherapeutic methods, like cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), to treat patients
- assess patients and recommend treatments
If you’re a neuropsychologist, you could:
- investigate the impact of injury or illness on patients’ behaviour
- make rehabilitation and treatment recommendations
- look to improve patients’ health and quality of life
You could work in an NHS or private hospital, at a school, in a therapy clinic, in the community or at a client’s business.
Your working environment may be emotionally demanding.
Career path and progression
As your career develops, you could specialise within your branch of psychology, for example:
- forensic or criminal psychology
- clinical psychology
- sports and exercise psychology
You could also take on a research project, leading to a PhD qualification, and combine this with university teaching.