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Psychology workforce data released

Careers and University, Psychology

Psychologists in Focus has been released by Health Workforce Australia, as part of its Australia’s Health Workforce Series. In the section covering stakeholder views, the Australian Psychological Society (APS) confirmed that the demand for masters programs (which are now a prerequisite for an area of endorsement of registration) enormously exceeds the places available. The APS also mentioned that internship pathways (the 4 + 2 years) are closing due to difficulties implementing this pathway under the national registration requirements. (Click here for information about pathways to becoming a registered psychologist).

An overview of the Australian psychology labour force
Of the 29,387 registered psychologists in Australia in 2012:

  • 23,614 (80.4%) were in the labour force – and of these, 94.9% were employed in psychology, with the majority being clinicians; 4.2% were on extended leave and 0.9% were looking for work in psychology
  • 2,036 (6.9%) were not in the psychology labour force as they were employed elsewhere and not looking for work in psychology (596), not employed and not looking for work (676), overseas (480) or retired (285)
  • 3,737 (12.7%) were provisional registrants, of which 83.6% were female

Area of endorsement
In 2012, of the employed psychologists, 7,089 had an area of endorsement. The 5 largest groups were:

  • Clinical psychology 5,084
  • Counselling psychology 802
  • Educational and developmental psychology 450
  • Clinical neuropsychology 446
  • Forensic psychology 414

Psychologist demographics
In 2012, of Australia’s employed psychologists:

  • The average age was  43.7 years
  • 26.9% were aged 55 and over (compared with 9.9% in 1996)
  • 76.7% were female
  • 0.5% reported Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander status
  • Approximately 82% worked in a major city

Twenty eight per cent of psychologists in the NPWS had a second job in psychology in addition to their main job. Overall the largest setting of work for employed psychologists was:

  • Solo private practice 20.4%
  • Group private practice 12.2%
  • School 10.6%
  • Community mental health service 8.0%
  • Tertiary educational facility 7.0%
  • Government agency or department other than defence forces 6.7%
  • Hospital 6.4%
  • Other community healthcare service 4.5%

Between 1996 and 2011, the psychology workforce increased by almost three times, with the reduction in working hours on average being about 3 hours per week. Health Workforce Australia reported that the industry stakeholders gave feedback that the demand for psychology services, particularly from clinical psychologists has increased, and that this increase in demand is expected to continue. Reasons for this are because of the destigmatisation of mental health, as well as increased government support and access to mental health services.

The issue with the supply of psychologists with a qualification that has an area of endorsement is in gaining entry into a masters program to obtain the area of endorsement.

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