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Psychology career

The best parts

For psychologist Tracey McGrath it’s that she loves seeing clients turn their life around. In this article Three psychologists on their love for work and love for life different views are shared:

  • For Grant Brecht, it is helping people have adaptable, rational, positive and solution focused approaches to their lives
  • For Oliver Brecht it is helping people to recapture the love in their lives
  • For Breanna Sada, it is about how people define what happiness is for them and then find it within themselves

Dr Rebecca Ray gave us her top 10 reasons why she loves private practice psychology, including seeing humans at their best and seeing humans at their worst. She finds clients sharing their vulnerability in the therapeutic space to be a privilege which leaves her hopeful for change.

There is evidence that psychological therapy can be effectively delivered online, which can provide psychologists some flexibility with how and where they work.

Psychologist Tric Gibson on how it is possible to have a long career in psychology:


Things to consider

Psychology is a field where professionalism is of utmost importance. Psychologists need to participate in ethical conduct, which includes all forms of communication with clients. Skills that are essential in the practice of psychology include strong listening and communication skills, personal integrity, empathy and self-awareness.

During the course of practice, a psychologist is expected to encounter clients who have a range of comorbidities and may require an interdisciplinary approach. Psychologist Rebecca Ray also discusses how to treat clients with trauma without becoming traumatised yourself.

It can be challenging to stay composed in session with clients, and the practice of mindfulness can assist with this according to clinical psychologist Samantha Clarke. Another clinical psychologist Dr Tara Hickey has also incorporated mindfulness into her practice with clients, as well as for her own wellbeing.

Psychologists are human too, and not immune to burnout. In this article psychologist Sam van Meurs discusses his experience of burnout. Burnout was also the focus of a 3 article series by psychologist Rebecca Ray:

Postgraduate study is required in order to become a psychologist. In this article, psychology degree graduate Karen Bremner discusses whether undergraduate psychology degrees are overrated or misunderstood.


What do psychologists do?

Dr Rebecca Ray looks at a number of different areas of practice in psychology such as counselling psychology, clinical psychology, clinical neuropsychology, community psychology, educational & developmental psychology, forensic psychology, health psychology, sport & exercise psychology and organisation psychology in her article The career progression of a psychologist – many roads lead to Rome.

There is a distinct difference in the training pathway and practice of a psychologist versus a psychiatrist.

Following on from an undergraduate degree in arts, science or psychology, psychologists receive extensive training in psychotherapy to help people with general problems such as stress and relationship difficulties. Clinical psychologists gain additional experience in a hospital or community mental health service which enables them to specialise in treating people with mental illness.

Psychiatrists complete a medical degree and undertake specialist training in psychiatry focusing on psychiatric and psychological treatments

The Medicare statistics showed that in 2015-2016 9.4% of the Australian population were receiving Medicare subsidised mental health services, up from 7.2% in 2011-2012, and although these statistics include services from general practitioners, it can be expected that psychologists will also be treating clients from a broad range of the population.

It is possible to transition into an academic role, although it has been suggested that this may be competitive as an early career academic within 5 years of completing a PhD.

Psychologist Dr Rebecca Ray looks at private practice in her series of articles:

Click here to watch a video on personal stories of psychologists.

The Australian Psychological Society is committed to increasing the numbers of culturally competent psychologists to help Indigenous Australians to close the mental health gap.


How to become a psychologist

Click here for an article by psychologist Dan Martin on the different pathways to becoming a registered psychologist in Australia.

Click here for information on the (minimum 6 year) study pathways to become a psychologist including an infographic from the Australian Psychological Society.


Where are the courses? Accredited courses

It is very important to check that the course you are considering is accredited with the Australian Psychology Accreditation Council whether you are looking to become a psychologist via a 3 year undergraduate sequence with further postgraduate study or via an alternative postgraduate pathway.


ATAR for psychology

In 2018 the ATAR for undergraduate entry into psychology ranged from 55 to 99 depending on the course and university. Click here for the full list.

Please note that postgraduate study is required to become a psychologist after completing an undergraduate degree. It is very important to check that the course you are considering is accredited with the Australian Psychology Accreditation Council whether you are looking to become a psychologist via a 3 year undergraduate sequence with further postgraduate study or via an alternative postgraduate pathway.


Are graduates getting jobs?

According to the 2018 Graduate Outcomes Survey the full time employment rate of those who gained postgraduate qualifications in the area of psychology was 87.1%, down slightly from 88.3% in 2017. In early 2019 the Job Guide stated that the number of psychologists grew very strongly over the past 5 years, and is expected to grow very strongly over the next 5 years. This may make the jobs market more competitive for psychologists in the future.


University scholarships

Click here to go to our page on university scholarships.


How much money do psychologists earn?

According to the Job Guide in 2018 the weekly pay for a psychologist was $1,934.

According to the 2018 Graduate Outcomes Survey the median income for those who had completed postgraduate coursework in psychology was $79,400 per year, up from $75,700 in 2017.


Videos about a career in psychology

Click here to go to our video page with interviews from two psychologists.


Career information from professional associations

Click here to go to the Australian Psychological Society’s page on careers and studying psychology.


This page was last updated in March 2019.