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Psychologists study people's behaviour, motivations, thoughts and feelings, to help them overcome or control their problems.

Salary, a pound sign Salary: £28,050 to £85,333 average per year
Hours, a clock face Hours: 35 to 40 per week

1. Entry requirements

You'll need:

  • a British Psychological Society (BPS) accredited degree in psychology leading to Graduate Basis for Chartered Membership (GBC) of the BPS
  • work experience in the specialism you want to work in
  • a BPS accredited postgraduate qualification relating to your chosen specialism

To work as a psychologist, you'll also need to be registered with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC).

If you have a degree that isn't in psychology, you may be able to get GBC by doing a BPS-approved conversion course. You'll then be able to register with the HCPC and work as a psychologist.

You'll need Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) clearance.

The British Psychological Society (BPS) and Health Careers have more information on careers in psychology.

2. Skills required

You'll need:

  • science and maths ability
  • excellent communication and listening skills
  • empathy and the ability to deal with people in distress
  • decision-making skills
  • an accurate, logical and methodical approach
  • IT skills

3. What you'll do

You'll specialise in an area of psychology like:

  • education – helping children and young people overcome difficulties and further their educational and psychological development
  • occupational – helping businesses improve their performance and increase employee job satisfaction
  • counselling – helping people resolve their problems and make decisions, particularly at stressful times in their lives
  • neuropsychology – helping patients with brain injuries and diseases to recover or improve their quality of life
  • forensic or criminal – using psychological theory to help investigate crimes, rehabilitate offenders and support prison staff
  • clinical – working with people to help them deal with conditions like anxiety, stress, depression and mental illness
  • sports and exercise – working with individuals, teams and organisations to improve motivation and performance

You could be based in a hospital, school, clinic, prison or community mental health team.

4. Salary

Starter: £28,050 to £41,000

Experienced: £41,000 to £57,000

Highly Experienced: £58,000 to £85,333 (head of service)

Your salary will depend on your area of specialism. The figures included here are based on a clinical psychologist's salary, working in the NHS. 

These figures are a guide.

5. Working hours, patterns and environment

Your working hours will depend on your specialism.

You'll usually work from an office or consultation room, but you may also visit clients in their homes.

6. Career path and progression

You could specialise further within your branch of psychology or take on a research project leading to a PhD qualification.

You could move also into teaching or research as a career.

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Last updated: 14 November 2018