Psychologists study people's behaviour, motivations, thoughts and feelings. They use their
understanding of psychological theory, together with counselling and other forms of therapy, to
help people avoid, overcome or control their problems. They may be referred to by their specialism
(listed below) or as a Chartered or practitioner psychologist.
As a psychologist you would typically specialise in one of the following areas:
q educational psychology - helping children and young people to overcome difficulties and promote
their educational and psychological development
q occupational psychology (sometimes referred to as organisational psychology) - helping
businesses improve their performance and increase employees' job satisfaction
q health psychology - promoting healthy attitudes and behaviour, and helping patients and their
families to cope with illness
q counselling psychology - helping people resolve their problems and make decisions, particularly at
stressful times in their lives
q neuropsychology - helping patients with brain injuries and neuropsychological diseases to recover
or improve their quality of life
q forensic or criminological psychology - using psychological theory to help investigate crimes,
rehabilitate offenders and support prison staff (see the Forensic Psychologist job profile)
q clinical psychology - see the Clinical Psychologist job profile
q sports psychology - see the Sport and Exercise Psychologist profile.
Some areas of psychology have no direct training route. For example, to become a 'child
psychologist' you might first train as a clinical or counselling psychologist and then specialise in
working with children. Or you could train in educational psychology and work with children in
To work as a Chartered or Practitioner Psychologist, you need to complete training in psychology
approved by the Health Professions Council (HPC).
Your training would begin with a degree in psychology, accredited by the British Psychological
Society (BPS) leading to the Graduate Basis for Chartered Membership (GBC). To get on to a
degree you will usually need five GCSEs (A-C), plus three A levels (check with course providers for
exact entry requirements).
If you already have a degree in a subject other than psychology, you may be able to achieve GBC
by completing a BPS-approved conversion course.
See the BPS course search facility for a list of all accredited programmes.
q BPS course search facility
To become a Chartered or Practitioner Psychologist (and eligible for registration with the HPC) you
need to follow your BPS accredited course/exam with:
q (educational psychology) a Doctorate in Educational Psychology - in England, Northern Ireland and
q (occupational psychology) the BPS Qualification in Occupational Psychology, which usually
consists of an accredited MSc in Occupational Psychology plus two years' supervised practice
q (health psychology) an MSc in Health Psychology and two years' supervised experience
q (counselling psychology) the BPS Qualification in Counselling Psychology or a BPS accredited
doctorate in counselling psychology
q (neuropsychology) training in either clinical or educational psychology, plus two years' supervised
practice and an accredited course in neuropsychology.
q (forensic psychology) an MSc in Forensic Psychology plus two years' supervised practical
experience; also see the Forensic Psychologist profile
q (clinical psychology) a three-year, full-time, NHS funded Doctorate in Clinical Psychology; also see
the Clinical Psychologist profile
q (sport and exercise psychology) an accredited MSc in Sport and Exercise Psychology plus two
years' supervised work experience; also see the Sport and Exercise Psychologist profile
Competition for postgraduate training is strong. Entry requirements will often include a first or upper
second class honours degree, evidence of your research skills, plus relevant work experience.
Whichever specialist area you want to go into, it is important to check your postgraduate
programme is approved by the HPC (see the Register of Approved Programmes page on the HPC
q Health Professions Council (register of approved programmes)
Statutory regulation for psychologists started July 2009. For more information on state registration
with the HPC, check the HPC website.
Your working hours would vary depending on the branch of psychology you specialise in, but would
typically be 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday. Part-time hours and job sharing opportunities may also
You could be based in a hospital, school, prison or exercise facility. You would usually have an
office base, but may also use consultation rooms or visit clients in their own home.
Skills and Knowledge
q honesty and integrity
q the ability to build effective working relationships
q good team working skills
q excellent communication and listening skills
q good problem solving and decision making skills
q the ability to organise a complex workload to meet deadlines
q an accurate, logical and methodical approach
q IT skills.
Training and Development
Once you are qualified you may have the opportunity to specialise further within your branch of
psychology, or pursue a research project leading to a PhD qualification (this would be helpful if you
wanted to go into teaching or research as a career).
Throughout your career you will be expected to take part in continuing professional development
(CPD) activities in order to keep your knowledge and skills up to date. See the BPS website for
q British Psychological Society
PO Box 376
Tel: 0345 60 60 655
Health Professions Council
184 Kennington Park Road
Tel: 020 7582 0866
British Psychological Society
St Andrew's House
48 Princess Road East
Tel: 0116 254 9568
You will find most opportunities with local authority education or social services departments, and
in the NHS. You could also work for the Prison Service, some government departments or in the
Alternatively, you could specialise in teaching and research work in colleges and universities.
You may find the following useful for job vacancies and further reading: (links open in new window)
BPS Psychologists Appointments
HM Prison Service
Jobs Go Public
We do not accept responsibility for the content of external sites.
q Assistant psychologists can earn around £15,000 to £23,000 a year.
q With experience, this can rise to between £30,000 and £40,000 a year.
q Managers and consultants can earn up to around £80,000.
Figures are intended as a guideline only.
Hospital Play Specialist
Mental Health Nurse
Primary Care Graduate Mental Health Worker
Sport and Exercise Psychologist