Job Description:

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

Job Category:
Health Care & Social Assistance

What you will 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
oneirology – exploring how the brain works whilst dreaming

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

Competition for postgraduate training in all specialisms is strong. You’ll need a first or upper second class degree, and evidence of excellent research skills to apply. You’ll also need relevant work experience. In some specialisms this could mean a minimum of 12 months working in a relevant role before you begin a postgraduate course.


You’ll need:

  • knowledge of psychology
  • science and maths ability
  • IT skills -to be able to use a computer and the main software packages competently

As well as:

  • to enjoy working with other people (teamwork)
  • counselling skills including active listening and a non-judgemental approach
    active listening skills
  • excellent verbal communication skills and listening skills
  • sensitivity and understanding
  • an understanding of statistical methods and data analysis
  • patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations (adaptability)
  • empathy and the ability to deal with people in distress, trustworthy
  • decision-making skills especially in a crisis
  • an accurate, logical and methodical approach (organised)
Illustration of employee looking at workspace

Entry Requirements:

To become a psychologist, you should aim to take GCSE subjects that will provide a strong foundation for your future education and career in psychology. While there are no strict GCSE subject requirements for becoming a psychologist, the following subjects and skills can be beneficial:

  1. English Language: Strong communication skills are essential in psychology for interacting with clients, conducting research, and writing reports.
  2. Mathematics: Basic mathematical skills are important for understanding and analyzing data, which is a fundamental aspect of psychological research.
  3. Science: A good understanding of scientific principles is valuable for comprehending the scientific basis of psychology. Subjects like Biology or Chemistry can be helpful.
  4. Psychology (if available): Some schools offer GCSE-level psychology, which can provide a basic introduction to the subject and help you determine your interest in psychology.
  5. Social Sciences: Subjects like Sociology or Anthropology can be beneficial, as they provide insight into human behavior and society, which are relevant to psychology.
  6. Statistics: If your school offers GCSE-level statistics, this can be very helpful, as statistics play a significant role in psychological research and analysis.
  7. Critical Thinking: Some schools offer critical thinking courses, which can help develop your analytical and problem-solving skills, which are valuable in psychology.

Post School

You can get into this job through a university course.

To become a psychologist, you’ll need to:

  • study a psychology degree accredited by the British Psychological Society (BPS) or do a psychology conversion course
  • gain Graduate Basis for Chartered Membership
  • complete an accredited postgraduate qualification in your chosen specialism to practice as a psychologist

Psychology conversion course
You might be able to complete an approved psychology conversion course if:

  • your psychology degree is not accredited by the British Psychological Society (BPS)
  • you have a degree in a subject other than psychology

Postgraduate qualification
To practice as a psychologist, you’ll need to complete an accredited postgraduate qualification in your chosen specialism.

Specialisms include:

  • educational psychology
  • forensic psychology
  • occupational psychology
  • sport and exercise psychology

To apply for a postgraduate qualification in a specialism, you’ll often need:

  • a first or 2:1 (upper second class) degree
  • excellent research skills
  • relevant work experience

You might want to check the postgraduate entry requirements with the admissions department where you want to study.

You can find out more about all of the different specialisms and the postgraduate training from the British Psychological Society (BPS).

Working Hours 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.

Career Path & Progression:

Your career path will depend on your psychology specialism.

You could:

  • move into supervisory or management positions
  • move into teaching, academic research, policy or consultancy work
  • become self employed and run your own private practice