What does a psychologist do?

Psychologists study human behaviour, conduct research and apply research findings in order to reduce distress and behavioural and psychological problems, and to promote mental health in individuals and groups.

They work on a broad range of issues with clientele including children, adults, couples, families and organisations. Professional psychologists undertake general training in psychology and some then specialise by undertaking further study. Possible specialisations include:

  • Clinical psychology
  • Clinical neuropsychology
  • Counselling psychology
  • Community psychology
  • Health psychology
  • Educational and developmental psychology
  • Organisational psychology
  • Forensic psychology
  • Sport psychology.

Why does a psychologist do this?

Psychology concerns the study of human behaviour, as well as the factors that can influence human behaviour. Psychologists consult people for issues as diverse as:

  • Addictions or habits (for example smoking, gambling)
  • Child and adult learning
  • Depression, anxiety, grief
  • Fears and phobias
  • Personal growth
  • Sleep disorders
  • Stress or chronic pain
  • Marital, family or relationship issues.

How does a psychologist do their job?

Professional psychologists use scientifically-established processes to help investigate a range of personal and social issues. Depending on their area of specialisation they may work in positions where they:

  • Diagnose, treat and prevent a wide range of mental health and general health issues
  • Counsel people to assist with issues such as personal wellbeing, relationships, work, health and crisis management
  • Undertake assessment, intervention and counselling for learning and developmental issues in people of all ages
  • Work with the law, police services and in correctional services
  • Study accident prevention
  • Design educational material
  • Assist clients to live happier, healthier lives
  • Design and implement recruitment and selection strategies
  • Conduct research and teach in universities.

Where do psychologists work?

Not all psychologists are concerned with personal problems. They work in a range of settings in both the public and private sectors, including:

  • Psychiatric clinics and general hospitals
  • Rehabilitation centres
  • Community health centres
  • Specialist agencies (for example caring for people with physical or mental disabilities)
  • Research centres
  • Legal and criminal justice agencies (prisons and detention centres, family court and child protection services)
  • Government departments
  • Schools and universities
  • Psychiatric services, community agencies, welfare organisations
  • Private practice.

How to become a registered psychologist

In order to become a registered psychologist through the Bachelor of Science:

  1. Study a Bachelor of Science with a major in Psychology (select the sequence accredited by the Australian Psychology Accreditation Council)
  2. Complete a Bachelor of Science (Honours) in Psychology
  3. Complete a Master of Psychology or a combined Master of Psychology/PhD program

More about becoming a psychologist

Other psychology careers

While many psychology students go on to become registered psychologists, others head into the workforce after completing their Bachelor of Science. They are able to use their psychology skills and knowledge in a broad range of contexts.

Some examples of recent positions acquired by psychology majors include:

  • Human resources consultant (local government)
  • Management trainee (bank)
  • Research assistant (university, hospital, health products company)
  • Marketing assistant (market research company)
  • Retail account manager (fast-moving-consumer-goods)
  • Project assistant (mental health support organisation)
  • Membership officer (NGO)
  • Integration aid (regional college)
  • Sleep scientist (hospital)
  • Tutor (residential college)
  • Science demonstrator (high school)
  • Weight loss consultant (private business)
  • Project coordinator (youth mental health support organisation)
  • Welfare officer (community organisation)

The major opens up pathways that lead to other professionally focused graduate degrees in fields such as:

  • Health-care (audiology, genetic counselling)
  • Business (human resources, marketing/public relations)
  • Education (early childhood, primary, or secondary teaching)
  • Community and social welfare (social work, rehabilitation)

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