A degree in psychology opens the door to many different opportunities, both within the field and outside of it. After your degree, you could choose to take the route to become a psychologist of some kind. But, contrary to popular belief, getting a psychology degree doesn’t mean you have to be a psychologist (although, of course, you can if you want to). It is also a useful and relevant degree to many professions that may involve working with people. And, you probably also don’t realise the variety of types of psychologists there actually are! Keep reading to learn more about the different options you have.
Clinical psychologists work with clients that have various psychological conditions. These can be anything: mental illnesses, neurological disorders or learning disabilities. They work with individual children or adults, or even groups such as families or couples. Their role is to assess and monitor the needs of their clients. They then create treatment programmes for them and offer therapy.
To become a clinical psychologist, you’ll need to complete a Doctorate in Clinical Psychology after your degree.
This needs to be approved by the Health and Care Professionals Council (HCPC).
To be accepted onto the Doctorate course, your undergraduate Psychology degree must be accredited by the British Psychological Society (BPS) – most are but you may want to check. The Doctorate training will involve academic teaching, clinical experience, and a research project.
Educational psychologists work with children and young people who are experiencing difficulties in school and related activities. This could be because of learning difficulties, or also emotional or social issues. They assess children’s needs and suggest and develop systems to support them in their education. This means educational psychologists also work with the schools, teachers, and parents.
Again, becoming an educational psychologist requires you to complete postgraduate training and be registered with the HSPC.
This means you’ll need to complete a BPS accredited Doctorate in Educational Psychology after your undergraduate degree (which also needs to be BPS accredited). Before completing this, it is typical to get some experience working in education, health or social care to make a strong application! The doctorate will then be a combination of university-based teaching, a placement, and research or a dissertation.
Occupational psychologists work with businesses and organisations, either from a consultancy or as an employee of that organisation. They tackle issues such as work culture and change. This ensures employee satisfaction which makes the organisation more effective. This may involve communicating with different teams or people, such as human resources (HR) or management.
Working in this area could involve a range of responsibilities. This may include designing work environments, being involved in selecting and assessing candidates for jobs, or providing coaching and guidance to employees.
Once again, you must be registered with the HSPC to work as an occupational psychologist. To do this, you will need to complete a BPS accredited Master’s in Occupational Psychology after your BPS accredited Psychology degree. Then, you’ll also need to complete what is known as the BPS QOP (Stage 2): this is a doctoral qualification where you’ll work as a trainee.
Health psychologists help a wide range of patients suffering from psychological or physical health issues. This is done by encouraging the patients to carry out positive habits that benefit their health, such as healthy eating and exercising. They also provide information and advice to doctors so that they can communicate with and help patients more effectively.
To become a health psychologist, you must carry out a postgraduate course after your undergraduate degree. This will include working for a couple of years as a trainee health psychologist.
Forensic psychologists work with the judicial and penal systems to assess and treat criminals. They are responsible for assessing criminals, perhaps to examine the risk of re-offending or their mental health. They also develop appropriate treatments and rehabilitation programmes.
To become a forensic psychologist, you’ll need to complete a master’s in forensic psychology after your accredited degree, then Stage 2 of the BPS Qualification in Forensic Psychology.
This requires at least two years practice, and could be completed while working as a trainee forensic psychologist.
Psychology researchers work on projects and experiments to help expand our knowledge of how the mind works. This could be in any aspect of the field such as social, cognitive, developmental or neuroscience – wherever your interests lie. Researchers can work for a variety of private or public organisations, for charities, or also, very commonly, for universities.
To become a researcher, you’ll need to undergo further study in your subject by completing a master’s and then a PhD. These should be relevant to the area you would like to specialise and research in.
Often, researchers at universities will also work as lecturers and teachers there. So, if you’d like to spread your knowledge and love of Psychology, alongside carrying out your own research, then this might be for you.
Lecturers are responsible for creating and delivering lectures, seminars, and tutorials.
They may be also involved in developing the course itself and creating examination materials, as well as marking students’ work.
Again, this also requires studying beyond your undergraduate degree to a PhD level.
Rather than being a lecturer, if you’d prefer to work with younger teenagers or children, becoming a teacher may be the right option for you. Teachers work with children at school age, either at primary or secondary school.
To become a teacher you’ll need to complete either Initial Teacher Training (ITT) or Initial Teacher Education (ITE) after your degree. Postgraduate courses are offered at many Universities. However, there is also the option to train on the job, with schemes such as ‘Teach First’.
Human Resources (HR)
It is the HR team that recruits the right candidates for a job, as well as making sure that staff performance and welfare is at its best. Essentially, it is all about the people in an organisation. This will involve working with many departments and managers across the organisation.
Working in HR does not require a specific degree. But, for higher positions, a Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) accredited qualification is preferred.
This can be completed after your degree. However, working in HR can offer a progression from lower level administrative roles to managerial roles as you gain experience. Often, you can gain CIPD accredited qualifications alongside working as some companies will even pay for this.
This list is, of course, not definitive. Really, the answer to ‘what can I do with a psychology degree?’ is: whatever you want to do! However, if you’d like some more guidance on career paths that might be suitable with this degree, have a look at the links below.
Rachel is an undergraduate Psychology student at Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford, with a particular interest in perception. She believes that Psychology is an important science, as much of the human brain remains a mystery that we have yet to solve. She is excited to keep you up to date with the latest research in this field! In her spare time, she enjoys drawing, painting, and cooking all sorts of pasta dishes.