You’ve done it – after years of late night assignments and cramming for exams you’ve finally completed your Undergraduate Certificate, Bachelor or Graduate Diploma in Psychology. Then comes the real challenge – entering the workforce.
Private practice, human services, social health and mental health are all key fields where a psychologist can utilise and hone their skills. Other sectors that may not immediately come to mind include immigration and customs, police and Australian Defence Force, performance sport and people management roles. Within each of these sectors are numerous types of roles a psychologist can take on – but which field of psychology are you going to enter?
In some cases the decision to enter specific fields will need to be made while studying to ensure the proper accreditation is achieved. Others may actually require further study. Below we have listed twelve fields you can enter once you have received your psychology degree.
A registered or ‘general’ psychologist has a minimum of six years of schooling and must be registered with the Psychology Board of Australia. The Psychology Board of Australia ensures all Australian psychologists are suitably trained, qualified and are safe to practise. The board regularly publishes regulatory standards, codes, guidelines and other resources for practitioners, employers and the public in general. A registered psychologist has no specific specialised field or sector and can assess, diagnose and treat a wide range of both group or individual problems.
When you think of a ‘typical psychologist’ you are most likely envisioning a clinical psychologist. Clinical psychologists are trained to advance the science of psychology, the professional practice of psychology and provide services to help with people’s general health and well-being. They can address a wide range of mental, emotional and behavioural disorders as well as disabilities, and apply methods for the assessment, prevention, diagnosis and treatment for a range of complex psychological issues.
Is one of the larger areas of psychology that focuses on clients with mental issues and works to improve their interpersonal functioning throughout their life. Counselling psychologists focus on social and emotional health and address issues relating to work, family, marriage and much more.
An educational psychologist focuses on the optimisation of learning. This can involve investigating and applying psychological techniques to both teaching and learning to help promote the development and skills for both individuals and groups, quite often in educational settings such as schools or universities.
A forensic psychologist can work across a broad range of roles relating to the law. Forensic psychology can focus on providing mental health services to those with a mental illness who have offended and are in the criminal justice system or are at risk of offending. Forensic psychologists can also apply their psychological knowledge and practices to understand or solve issues relating to the law. Finally a forensic psychologist can also help assess offenders’ state of mind at the time of an offence and determine if they are fit to stand trial or can be presented as a credible witness.
Health psychologists, also sometimes referred to as medical psychologists, focus on how biology, psychology, behaviour and social factors can influence one’s health and illness. A health psychologist will often deal with health-related issues such as quitting smoking, weight management, stress management, nutrition and managing ongoing illness with effective coping strategies.
Industrial and Organisational Psychologist
An industrial and organisational psychologist – often referred to as I/O psychology – operates within the workplace and aims to maximise employee well-being, efficiency and productivity. Industrial and organisational psychology focuses on the study of human behaviour which includes human factors – the aim of which is to improve how people interact with products and machines through analysing human error, product design, ergonomics, human capability and human-computer interaction.
An International Psychologist works on a global scale – they seek to understand and educate on cultural differences and provide assistance to people working in international or global settings. Due to the nature of this role, there are a wide-range of career options that are often internationally-based.
For those who have experienced life-altering injury or disability, a rehabilitation psychologist can assist in the journey to recovery. Rehabilitation psychologists are doctorate-qualified and can treat cognitive, functional and emotional challenges those who require rehabilitation face. Their ultimate goal is to have their client reach a level of independence.
Research psychology or experimental psychology involves studying a broad range of human and animal behaviour. Research psychologists will conduct studies to explore how one may think, act or behave under different conditions. They can also conduct research to determine how humans with behavioural or mental illness respond to different treatments.
A social psychologist studies social behaviour. This can involve a broad range of topics including group behaviour, social interactions, communication, leadership and social influences on decision-making. Social psychologists also focus on how people interact and perceive others around them and can include studying conformity, aggression and prejudice.
A sports psychologist will focus on how psychology influences athletic or sporting performance, exercise and physical activity. Many top sports men and women work with a sports psychologist to improve their focus and on-field ability through increased motivation and reduced stress. Others work with individuals to enhance their health and well-being throughout their lifespan through physical activity.
The field of psychology as a whole is very broad and far-reaching in its roles. Once you have completed your studies there are many different fields or sectors you can enter to hone your skills and begin your career. Taking the time to decide while you are at school – who often provide resources to assist with just this – can help focus your studies towards your preferred field and kick-start your career journey on the trajectory you are most suited for.