Careers Service Occupations

Psychology

Psychology

About

Professional bodies

These represent people working in the sector, providing training and networking opportunities. They often provide careers support for students and graduates.

They also provide development for people already working in the sector. Follow them on LinkedIn, or visit their websites for news, contacts, work experience and vacancies.

The main professional associations for this sector include:

Making contacts

Making contacts is helpful for success in this sector. Many jobs in this field are gained through networking and speculative applications. You could start with:

Social media, particularly LinkedIn and Twitter, is useful for making contacts, finding employers and opportunities. Find out more about how to use social media for your career and subscribe to our Twitter list.

Events

Recruitment fairs, open days, talks and events give insight and opportunities to make contacts. Events for this sector include Careers Service events and External Events.

Related sectors

You may also be interested in Counselling and Psychotherapy, Healthcare and Complementary Therapies or see our other occupational pages for more options.

 

Roles & Skills

The following job profiles include descriptions of typical duties and entry requirements.

Clinical psychologist

Counselling psychologist

Educational psychologist

Forensic psychologist

Health psychologist

Neuropsychologist

Occupational psychologist

Psychological wellbeing practitioner

Sports and exercise psychologist

 

Skills employers look for

The skills required to work as a psychologist can vary, depending on the area of specialism. 

There are a number of key skills that are common across most specialisms:

  • excellent communication and interpersonal skills
  • self-confidence and an ability to establish effective working relationships with clients and other professionals
  • adaptability, flexibility and creative problem-solving skills
  • resilience and the ability to work under pressure
  • sensitivity and diplomacy
  • negotiation, teamwork and leadership skills

Gaining Experience

Relevant work experience is essential in developing expertise and demonstrating your motivation and commitment to the area of psychology. It is also a requirement for entry on some postgraduate study routes, and to achieve chartered status.

Below are some websites and articles that can help you find relevant experience:

You can also use the BPS Directory of Chartered Psychologists to contact psychologists to find out how they gained work experience. Some may also be able to provide work shadowing or an informational interview.

University psychology departments are sent vacancies, so check noticeboards and ask your tutor or school administrator.

Voluntary experience

Clinical psychology

To get onto a clinical psychology doctorate, you normally need to have at least six months' paid work experience. Assistant psychologist or research assistant posts are usually the best route into the doctorate.

Jobs are advertised on the NHS website and in the local press, but you can also make a speculative approach. See the British Psychological Society (BPS) for a register of chartered practitioners.

Experience in areas such as social work, nursing assistant or care assistant is also valued – anything that gives you clinical experience with a client.

Other opportunities in relevant social care settings such as hospitals, health centres, community mental health teams, child and adolescent mental health services and social services would all help to enhance your understanding of the profession and your transferable skills.

For a list of vacancy sites, see Finding jobs on our Probation and Social Work and Community, Advice and Guidance Work pages.

Recruitment agencies can also be a good source of vacancies. See Recruitment agencies for advice on how to use and find relevant agencies.

You could write your dissertation with a clinician or a trainee.

ClinPsy is a forum providing information for aspiring clinical psychologists. You can ask questions using the discussion forum, or read answers to frequently asked questions about work experience.

Finding Jobs

There are many sources of vacancies within the field of psychology.

Advertised vacancies

General

Psychology

Finding companies

General

BPS features tips for using an agency to find a position while NHS authorities and trusts also list available posts.

Psychology

BASES has a sports psychology directory of consultants.

Counselling and psychotherapy

The Association of Child Psychotherapists lists a directory of therapists on its website.

Study

For the majority of careers within psychology it's essential to have studied qualifications approved or accredited by the relevant professional body.

See the occupational profiles in the Roles and Skills section for full details and relevant links.

Funding for postgraduate study depends on the career area you're entering. Funding for clinical psychology is provided by the NHS and a limited number of bursaries and funded places are available for other career areas e.g. educational psychology.  Most people will self-fund their postgraduate study. 

GOV.UK Educational Psychology Funded Training Scheme is a good place to start, as is BPS: Accredited training courses & funding.