Mental health is a global priority. The COVID-19 pandemic has increased the demand for mental health support, and in turn, the demand for qualified psychologists.
There’s more than one way to become a registered psychologist. In fact, you can start your studies with almost any undergraduate degree and choose your own path with psychology career pathways. This means you can combine psychology with expertise in another field. It’s a great way to create opportunities in industries you’re interested in, such as business, education, and healthcare. Plus, transferable skills from other specialisations can be a real asset to any team.
Navigating all of these options may feel overwhelming, but understanding the steps you need to take to get there is the key.
A bird’s-eye view of creating your psychology career path
There are three major stepping-stones on the path to general psychology practice: study, work placement, and professional registration. It’s generally a six-year sequence of education and training that has options to suit your circumstances and preferences.
The traditional path to a psychology career is to start with an undergraduate psychology degree. However, you can choose your own path with JCU Online’s Graduate Diploma of Psychology (Bridging). This qualification enables you to build on any undergraduate degree that’s not in the field of psychology. Don't forget, even if you have not previously studied psychology but have other qualifications, you will bring a lot of transferable skills and be able to design your psychology career path.
You might start with a business degree and follow your own path to becoming a psychologist specialising in management, human resources, or economics. A language degree will enable you to become a psychologist with bilingual abilities, so you could work overseas or with migrant populations.
Completing JCU Online’s Graduate Diploma of Psychology (Bridging) puts you in the same position as students who have completed an undergraduate psychology degree. All students will then go on to an additional year of accredited psychology studies. If you wish to pursue a general psychology pathway (or a pathway with an area of endorsement), you can complete an accredited fourth year of study in psychology.
2. Work Placement
The second stepping-stone is work placement or internship. All students have the choice to do this in one of two ways. You could complete a 5+1 professional master's program with one year of additional coursework and one year of internship.
Setting out into the workforce for two years of the internship has been described as doing a master’s degree without going to university. This is because, in addition to working, you’ll also be doing some reading, assignments, and meeting regularly with a Psychology Board of Australia-approved Psychology supervisor. There is nothing better than getting hands-on experience in an environment where you can learn and be supported through your placement.
During the supervised practice of your internship, you’ll be considered a provisional psychologist. This is an opportunity for you to get first-hand experience working in your chosen environment. It’s one of those rare chances in life where you’ll get to work with and learn from a variety of professionals. It’s the perfect time to start building the network for your future career. An experience like this will set you up for a career in psychology with excellent support and learning opportunities.
Work placement also provides options to customise your path as a psychologist. Your Psychology Board of Australia-approved Psychology supervisor may be employed in the same organisation as your internship, or they might work elsewhere. So, you can seek work placement at a location that embodies your career goals and work with a clinical supervisor who will complement them.
3. Professional registration
All practising psychologists on the 5+1 pathway must pass the National Psychology Examination with the Psychology Board of Australia to register as a General Psychologist. This is the third major stepping-stone on the pathway to practising general psychology. It’s also a jumping-off point—from here, the career pathway is entirely up to you.
If you’ve arrived via JCU Online’s Graduate Diploma of Psychology (Bridging) after completing an undergraduate degree in an unrelated field, this is where you can put the sum of your studies and work experience into practice. During your placement, you will discover lots of opportunities to create your own psychology career path simply by being exposed to the workplace and the clients’ needs. You will most probably encounter moments that give you that spark to carve out a career pathway when you find a gap or an area of practice you love working in. The career opportunities in psychology are both inspirational and enormous.
The traditional career pathway for psychologists was to apply their skills in health organisations. While this is still a popular choice, psychologists with general registration are just as likely to find themselves in demand from businesses, education institutions, and community organisations, to name just a few.
In business, one of the key areas for psychologists is human resources and management. While the skills of a psychologist are important when hiring staff, it’s the ability to influence culture and build high-performance teams that create real value for the business. Many organisations are even adding the position of Chief Wellness Officer to their C-Suite in an effort to support staff in managing the demands of the modern workplace. Occupational psychology is also needed more than ever in areas exposed to traumatic situations such as the COVID-19 pandemic or a company merger.
Psychology has had a long history in schools and education environments through the role of the school counsellor. More recently, it’s become common for students to also have the support of a school psychologist for developmental, behavioural, learning, and mental health issues. General Psychologists are also able to provide much-needed guidance as career counsellors, creating a bridge between education institutions and the workforce.
3. Community organisations
Another rewarding role for psychologists is working with a wide variety of organisations that support local communities. You might work with people from a culturally and linguistically diverse background, people experiencing financial difficulties and homelessness, or local government services.
While the traditional career pathway for psychologists working in health organisations is still alive and well, even this route offers a range of job opportunities. Psychologists may become allied health professionals who help people manage mental health through diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation. This role may take you into nursing homes, care facilities for people with disabilities, or an organisation like Headspace. Some psychologists work alongside general practitioners or in a multi-professional team in the community to give care where it is needed. Opportunities like these can be found across Australia in the metro, regional and rural areas.
Start your journey with JCU Online Graduate Diploma in Psychology
Wherever your studies begin and whatever your goals in psychology, JCU Online’s Graduate Diploma in Psychology is the bridge that enables you to choose your own pathway. Once you embark on the journey, you will quickly realise it is one of the best career decisions you made.
Learn more about JCU Online’s Graduate Diploma in Psychology (Bridging). Get in touch with our Enrolment team on 1300 535 919.