Career Options: Psychology

The study of psychology will have developed a large number of abilities and skills which will help you to pursue a career as a professional or Chartered psychologist, or in a wide range of other occupations.
Psychology Career Options
Graduate Destinations What did last year's undergraduates go on to do? For job titles and employers see the main Destinations section.
Main Activity - Undergraduates (as %)
Main Activity - Undergraduates (as %)
Knowns only
2014
Full-time paid work 53
Part-time paid work 13
Work and study 1
Full-time study 20
Unemployed 8
Other (travel) 4

These include: formulating theories, observing, testing and evaluating evidence, analysing numerical data, writing and presenting reports. In addition you have developed abilities relevant to all graduate occupations, for example time management, communicating technical information to other non-specialists, and self-motivation. Some psychology graduates proceed onto professional training in a branch of psychology either directly or after a period of work experience. Professional roles require registration with the relevant regulatory body the British Psychological Society and/or The Health and Care Profession Council. Your degree is accredited by the British Psychological Society (BPS) for Graduate Basis for Chartered Membership (GBC) stage one training. Many others may go directly into work, or further study for academic interest or to train for other professions. For examples see the destinations data for graduates of previous years. One motivational aspect of psychologists tends to be the interest in helping others which may be both rewarding and enjoyable but may also have its challenges.

Sectors

These links show: how the sectors break down; the main graduate recruiters; characteristics of working in the sector and key current issues; as well as lists of job roles available in the sector.

The links below will help you gain a good understanding of each career sector, key employers, current issues and lists of job roles available.

Chartered psychologists work within both the public and private sectors of the economy. The largest number is to be found in the health (within both the NHS and other private providers) and education sectors. There are also opportunities within penal institutions and the sporting industry. However the majority work within commercial settings, for example, retail, advertising and consultancy, but they are not likely to be called a 'psychologist'.

Roles

You may have settled on a particular career route within your degree course options. The list below covers the major areas of professional psychology, and refers to some other areas that graduates from your course have entered. Each job title typically links through to a detailed generic job description which includes a broad job description, salary and conditions, entry requirements, typical recruiters and links to further, pre-assessed, useful information. The BPS and the Graduate Prospects Websites are particularly useful sources. Remember this list is not prescriptive, and you may be interested in other occupations. The Careers Centre will help you whatever your ambitions may be.

Chartered Psychologist Roles

Clinical Psychologist

Clinical Psychologist - This work involves seeing clients in groups or individually in order to help resolve psychological difficulties. Clinical Psychologists usually specialise in a particular client area; eg adult mental health, or learning difficulties.

Counselling Psychologist

Counselling Psychologist - This work involves helping clients, individuals, families, and groups, to alleviate acute personal and relationship difficulties so as to improve their sense of well-being.

Educational Psychologist

Educational Psychologist - This work is concerned with helping children or young people who are experiencing problems within an educational setting with the aim of enhancing their learning. They work in conjunction with teachers, parents and other professionals, e.g. youth workers.

Forensic Psychologist

Forensic Psychologist - This work involves working with offenders and those under supervision orders. The major employer is HM prison and probation services but opportunities may be found also in the health and social services.

Occupational Psychologist

Occupational Psychologist - This work focuses on assessing the performance of people at work, how organisations function and the behaviour of individuals and groups. The prime objective is to improve the effectiveness of organisations and improve job satisfaction.

Sport and Exercise Psychologist

Sport and Exercise Psychologist - Sport and exercise psychologists are concerned with the behaviours, mental processes and wellbeing of individuals, teams and organisations involved in sport and exercise.

Health Psychology

Health Psychology - Health psychologists are concerned primarily with people's experiences of health, well-being and illness. They can also be involved with public health promotion and many are employed by universities to work in an academic research position.

Neuropsychology

Neuropsychology - Neuropsychologists' work focuses on the assessment and rehabilitation of people with brain injury or other neurological disease. This is an area of specialism you can pursue after qualifying first as a Chartered Psychologist.

Other career areas which may relate more directly to the interests and education of psychology graduates; plus others that some Reading psychology graduates are known to have entered.

Wellbeing Practitioner (IAPT)

Wellbeing Practitioner (IAPT) - Psychological wellbeing practitioners (PWPs) work within the Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) service. They provide high volume, low intensity interventions for clients with mild to moderate depression, based on a cognitive behavioural model. They may work within primary care trusts, specialist mental health trusts, as well as, charity and private sectors.

Speech and Language Therapist

Speech and Language Therapist - this role involves working with infants, children and adults who have various levels of speech, language and communication problems, and with those who have swallowing, drinking or eating difficulties. There is a two year conversion Masters course for graduates interested in this profession.

Psychotherapist

Psychotherapist - These professionals help individuals to overcome stress, emotional and relational problems, or troublesome habits. Individuals may be adults or children, and therapy may take place in different types of groups or individually. Many are employed by the NHS although some work in private practice and are registered with the Health and Care Professions Council.

HR Officer

HR Officer - Human resources (HR) officers develop, advise on and implement policies relating to the effective use of people within an organisation in order to achieve business aims. Typical activities include: recruiting and training appropriate staff, advising on and administering pay and benefits, and supporting line management in areas such as organisational development.

Training and development officer

Training and development officer - this role involves being responsible for the professional training and development of individuals and groups of staff within an organisation.

Marketing Executive

Marketing Executive - This role creates marketing campaigns to improve sales of products or services and involves planning campaigns, organising advertising and PR, research with consumers and new product development. Brand Managers focus on the visual concepts in marketing.

Social Worker

Social Worker - This work involves providing people with support through difficult times and protecting vulnerable people from harm. One would normally specialise eg fostering and adoption. 'Frontline' offers a fast track training programme to work with young people - Frontline

Medicine

Medicine - It is possible to qualify as a medical practitioner providing health care, e.g. General Practitioner (GP), Hospital Consultant etc, by taking Medicine as a second degree over five years, or, via a four year accelerated degree programme. There is also a new two year Physicians Associate profession opportunity.

Secondary School Teacher

Secondary School Teacher - Teachers create the right environment for pupils to learn and monitor pupils through observing and recording their progression. They plan and deliver lessons in line with the national curriculum and keep up to date with their subject areas, teaching methods and techniques. Communicating with parents is also key.

It is possible to train (typically via a PGCE) as either a primary or secondary school teacher with a degree in psychology. Teachfirst offers an alternative way of qualifying in challenging schools. For Higher Education Teaching and Research a higher degree, Masters and/or PhD, in the relevant subject would be required.

Solicitor

Solicitor - This role provides expert legal advice to clients: from private individuals to large companies. Solicitor specialisms have either a personal focus or a commercial one, so understand where your interests lie.

Finding Opportunities

Most if not all of the above roles will require some form of postgraduate study, either full or part time. Chartered Psychologists and other professional Therapists will have to follow a professional postgraduate training course in their desired specialism. Competition for entry is fierce.

However before entry onto professional therapy/psychology courses it is usually essential to gain insights into the work through work experience, paid or voluntary. Working with clients is highly relevant whether this is achieved by obtaining a post as an assistant psychologist, or in lower level work in a therapy setting. See the NHS jobsite.

Often it is necessary to undertake voluntary work. Networking with professional psychologists in your local area could prove helpful in finding opportunities, as would making use of the websites listing volunteer opportunities below.

You may also be able to contact Reading graduates via the Alumni Association and through your department.

To find teaching experience use the University's Student Tutoring Programme, or you might contact the schools you attended, or those which you may have been in contact with through other means (eg, relations, fellow students etc).

For those interested in Teaching, Solicitor, and Social Work, a specialist Postgraduate training course is normally required, although some prospective teachers may train on the job - see School-led teacher training on the DfE website.

For Higher Education Teaching and Research a higher degree, Masters and/or PhD, in the relevant subject would be required.

Some would-be solicitors obtain a training position with the larger firms and are sponsored on the legal professional training courses (GDL, and LPC). However the majority have to self fund their studies. The majority of Marketing trainees will gain their professional qualification via part-time study on-the-job.

it is highly desirable to obtain work experience through vacation schemes or other temporary work before applying to any professional training course. Such experience not only improves your knowledge about where your occupational interests lie, but also helps to gain entry onto courses and into employment.

For vacancies in all areas make use of The Careers Centre's online vacancy service My Jobs Online. You'll also find the links listed below also helpful to explore opportunities and vacancies.

Some websites for professional training.

Useful websites for finding volunteer opportunities within the community:

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