So you want to be a psychologist?


The popularity of psychology has increased massively in the twentieth century. From the defining works of Dr Freud, Albert Bandura and whoever created Big Brother, the study of human behaviour has captured many individuals imaginations. A- Level Psychology is one of the top 5 A-levels taken in the UK, and over 10,000 students start undergraduate degrees in it every year. However, the majority of  graduates do not go on to be professional psychologists. So here is some information about the area. There are five main areas which psychologists train for:

  • Occupational Psychology – the psychology of work and organisations, how people make organisational decisions.
  • Educational Psychology – the psychology of how people learn in educational settings, psychology of teaching and interventions to aid learning.
  • Forensic Psychology – refer to investigative and criminological psychology: applying psychological theory to criminal investigation, understanding psychological problems associated with criminal behaviour, and the treatment of criminals.
  • Clinical Psychology -reduce psychological distress and to enhance and promote psychological well-being.Working on anxiety, depression and eating disorders
  • Sport and exercise psychology- help athletes prepare psychologically for competition and to deal with the psychological demands of both competition and training. Examples of the work they carry out include counselling referees to deal with the stressful and demanding aspects of their role.So its not all about learning how to read minds, many courses include modules from each of these areas.

The British Psychological society ( http://www.bps.org.uk/ ) is the governing body for all psychologists in the  UK and has information about careers in psychology. To begin a career in psychology, you will first need to choose an undergraduate degree which is accredited by the British psychological society, both of which can be found on the website, this will give you graduate basis for registration or GBR. You don’t need to have an a level in psychology to be able to be accepted onto an undergraduate course. Most psychology courses will require you to have at least a C in GCSE maths.

If you have not completed a psychology degree at undergraduate level you can study a conversion postgraduate diploma at many universities, which give you required entry. All postgraduate psychology courses will require an individual to have GBR. For example clinical psychology requires you to have experience working with mental health patients in order for you to acquire an assistant psychology post, then you may be able to apply for a clinical doctorate which are very competitive sponsored by the NHS.

Many psychology undergraduates do not pursue careers in psychology. According to the prospects website around 4% of psychology undergraduate go on to go further study in the subject. Therefore if you are determined to go down this route, the work is varied and interesting but it is a long process. So if you think you have the stamina for it, and interest, grab a career mentor preferably a psychologist, or talk to a careers advisor (me!!) about it.

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