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How to become a psychologist in Australia: careers in psychology

Psychologists play important roles helping people overcome challenges and improving their day-to-day lives. They study human behaviour and use scientific methods to investigate why people feel, think and learn. Often they work with people experiencing difficulties such as grief or mental health disorders. Psychologists provide guidance, support and advice on a range of issues from relationship problems, learning difficulties, substance abuse and a spectrum of problematic behaviours. They may work alone with individuals, or with couples, groups or organisations.
Pathways

Being a psychologist: daily duties

Psychologists assess, diagnose and offer treatment options to people experiencing distress and other difficulties in their lives. They engage clients in talk-therapy where they speak about problems, and guide them towards possible solutions and strategies for resolution. Psychologists are often involved in behavioural research projects or in broader public health policy.

Tasks:

  • Collecting data to assess behavioural and cognitive disorders
  • Formulating plans for treatment
  • Conducting research studies
  • Consulting with other professionals
  • Developing interview techniques
Skills

Being a psychologist: skills for success

Psychologists require strong interpersonal skills because they work in close contact with people who are often experiencing trauma and distress. They need good listening skills, empathy, the ability to communicate persuasively, calmly and clearly, and to be sensitive and socially perceptive. Good analytical skills and an understanding of scientific approaches is also essential, as well as critical thinking and problem solving skills.
Skills/attributes
  • Active listening
  • Social perceptiveness
  • Strong communication skills
  • Scientific knowledge and skills
  • Critical thinking and problem solving skills
Specs

Specialised roles within psychology

There is always a demand for psychologists to work in a range of settings because of the breadth of human behaviour and cognition. As a result, there is plenty of scope for psychologists to specialise in their careers.
  • Clinical psychologist
    A clinical psychologist specialises in treating serious mental illnesses and psychological disorders such as bipolar and schizophrenia. They are trained in specialised therapies and treatments, and have complex problem solving skills. As well as professional practice, they also work in research, teaching, supervision and public policy roles.
  • Forensic psychologist
    A forensic psychologist applies their specialist knowledge to the legal and criminal justice systems. They provide services to litigants, perpetrators, victims, government organisations and the legal profession, often acting as expert witnesses.
  • Sports and exercise psychologist
    These specialist psychologists work with athletes to promote mental health and enhance their sporting performances. They assist with health and wellness coaching for all levels of athletes.
Pathways

Educational pathways for psychologists

To work as a psychologist in Australia, you will need to undertake an appropriate tertiary qualification, followed by further post-graduate studies or an internship and registration.
  • Start your career
    Find a registered course to give you a head-start in your career.
  • Strengthen your skills
    Develop your psychology skills and work towards your career goals with one of these courses.
  • Build your resume
    These accredited qualifications will allow you to continue your professional development as a psychologist.
  • Industry requirements
    Psychologists in Australia need an industry certification with the Psychology Board of Australia under the National Registration and Accreditation Scheme.
  • Finding Work
    Put your training to good use and get the best professional head start in your psychology career. Emphasise your personal strengths and achievements in your resume and target your cover letter to the job description listed.
  • Employment Prospects
    The unemployment rate for qualified psychologists is below average. The industry is stable, and employment is predicted to rise strongly in the long-term.

Resources for Psychologist

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Psychology career fact sheet

Considering a career in psychology? Check out this fun fact sheet for everything you need to know about the industry, at a glance.

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