Psychologist

Psychologist

Psychologists are experts in human behaviour, closely studying and analysing the processes that relate to how people think and feel.

As a Psychologist, you’ll deliver treatment and counselling to alleviate your client's behavioural and psychological issues and promote positive health and wellbeing. You will have the opportunity to select a specialisation and work children, adults, and organisations. 

The average salary of a Psychologist is $77,766 per annum.

Salary range
Average salary $77,766
salary range
$69,280
$77,766
$86,687
Source: SEEK
Projected job growth
9% by 2020
9%
2015
2020
Source: joboutlook.gov.au
Employment by region
The top three regions for employment as a Psychologist are:
NSW
NSW 31.4%
VIC
VIC 32.8%
QLD
QLD 15.6%
Source: joboutlook.gov.au

Key skills required

The top skills for a Psychologist are:
  • Interested in people and human behaviour
  • Able to solve problems
  • An inquisitive mind
  • Emotional maturity and empathy for others
  • Patient and perceptive
  • Good oral and written communication skills
Source: myfuture.edu.au
Career pathway planner
Starting out
Starting out

Take the first step to becoming a Psychologist with a Bachelor of Social Science (Psychology), and learn how to understand people and their motives.

  • Bachelor of Psychological Sciences

Psychologist job description

What does a Psychologist do?

Psychologists are qualified experts in human behaviour and the processes of how we think and feel.  

As a Psychologist, you’ll use scientific methods to study the factors that influence human behaviour and apply a range of psychological therapies and interventions to assist people in managing their mental health issues. These evidence-based treatments are centred on changing behaviours and thought patterns to enable your clients to improve their quality of life.

Psychologists can work in an academic or research capacity with individual clients, groups (including families and couples) or organisations. Places of employment can include schools, hospitals, community health services, government departments, market research companies and private practice.

As a Psychologist, your daily tasks may include:

  • Working with clients to help them make changes to their behaviour through a variety of psychological therapies
  • Providing counselling
  • Identifying and diagnosing mental, behavioural or emotional disorders
  • Developing treatment plans
  • Administering psychological tests and assessing the results
  • Conducting research through interviews, surveys and observations

Want to know more about the skills and qualifications you’ll need to work as a Psychologist? Check out how to become a Psychologist.

Areas of specialisation in psychology

As a Psychologist, you might choose one or more specialisations to practice, such as:

  • Clinical psychology
  • Clinical neuropsychology
  • Counselling
  • Sport and exercise psychology
  • Forensic psychology
  • Educational and developmental psychology

Working hours of a Psychologist

A Psychologist’s working hours depend on the area of specialisation or workplace. For example, a Psychologist working in a hospital or other healthcare facility may be required to work evening and weekend shifts. Psychologists in private practice may be able to set their working hours to suit their schedule or the needs of their clients. Psychologists employed in a research or business setting will usually work regular weekday business hours.

Full-time Psychologists work an average of 38.2 hours per week, compared with the national average of 41.1 hours per week for all other occupations (Job Outlook).

What is the difference between a Psychologist and a Psychiatrist?

Psychologists and Psychiatrists are part of a range of healthcare professionals qualified to provide assistance and treatment to people experiencing mental health issues. While both are experts in the field of mental health, there are significant differences between their roles and approaches to treating mental disorders:

Psychiatrists are medical doctors, meaning they have completed a medical degree before undertaking further study to specialise in mental health. As medical doctors, Psychiatrists are qualified to prescribe medication to patients.

Psychiatrists have a broad understanding of biological, psychological and social knowledge, and commonly use this to diagnose and treat patients at the more severe end of the spectrum of mental illness, often in hospital environments.

Psychologists most commonly undertake a Bachelor degree followed by a Master’s degree or doctorate in psychology to become qualified. Psychologists have specialist training in various forms of non-medical interventions and therapies, such as counselling and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy.

Psychologists can’t prescribe medication, so they work closely with general practitioners or psychiatrists when needed. Psychologists help people experiencing psychological and emotional difficulties, as well as people who have no mental disorder but want to improve their psychological wellbeing. 

How to become a Psychologist

Are you interested in becoming a Psychologist and analysing why people do the things they do? In order to work as a Psychologist in Australia, there is a certain level of experience and study you’ll need to become registered and nationally recognised.

As a Psychologist, there are a range of areas you can specialise in such as developmental, neuroscience, cognitive and social psychology. Once you've become qualified, you can work in any one of these areas in an academic, clinical or corporate setting. Read more about the job description of a Psychologist.

What technical & professional skills do I need to become a Psychologist?

There are firm requirements needed to register and work as a Psychologist in Australia.

As psychology is considered a science, you must be properly trained to hypothesise, observe and replicate behavioural trends.

Registered Psychologist and Swinburne Online Director of Psychology Programs, Associate Professor Nikki Rickard, explains that to become a Psychologist you need to obtain registration with the Psychology Board of Australia. 

"Registration ensures that the Psychologist has the necessary skills, knowledge and experience to conduct their duties responsibly and ethically,” adds Nikki.  

General registration typically requires:

  • 6 years approved study or equivalent, with a minimum of a Master’s degree in Psychology OR
  • a 4 year accredited sequence of study (e.g. Bachelor of Psychological Sciences followed by an accredited Honours year) PLUS a 2 year internship (approved supervised practice in psychology).

Provisional registration can be provided after 4 years to enable supervised practice.

Can I work in psychology with less than 6 years of study?

If you’re not sure you can make a commitment to 6 years of study, an online psychology course such as the Bachelor of Social Science (Psychology) can help you gain an insight into the industry and allow you to work in a related field.

"With a three year degree in Social Science (Psychology), graduates might expect to work in areas related to psychology, such as those that value critical thinking skills, data analysis ability, report writing and general knowledge about human behaviour,” says Nikki.

"This might involve jobs such as a social or market researcher, counsellor, community services officer, human resources consultant or research assistant.”

A psychology degree can also be a useful basis for further study in areas such as health and community services, public relations and teaching. There are also many organisational roles where understanding human behaviour is a great advantage.

Should I become a Psychologist?

To be a successful Psychologist, you will need to have:

  • an interest in human behaviour
  • acute observational skills
  • an inquisitive mind
  • the capacity to think analytically, critically and logically
  • the ability to challenge status quo

While psychology is a career that requires technical expertise, SEEK Learning Consultant Sasha Jurac says the first thing she notices in potential students is an inherent interest in discovering more about human behaviour.

"Many prospective psychology students already have a predisposed passion to delve deeper into learning the ‘nuts and bolts’ of the mind, as opposed to merely having an inclination to heal or help people,” says Sasha.