What does a psychologist do?

A psychologist assesses, diagnoses and offers treatment options for people who are experiencing distress or difficulty in their life. A common intervention is talk-therapy, in which a client is encouraged to speak about their problems and is guided towards possible solutions and strategies for resolution. Psychologists work to positively influence human behaviour and cognition; they are often involved in behavioural research projects or in broader public health policy.

Tasks:

  • Collecting data about clients to assess behavioural or cognitive disorders
  • Formulating plans for treatment and using diagnostic tests
  • Conducting research studies on behaviour or cognition
  • Consulting with other professionals on cases and treatments
  • Developing interview techniques and psychological tests

What skills do I need to be a psychologist?

A psychologist needs strong interpersonal, scientific, problem-solving, persuasion and research skills. It involves working with people and is an industry that has a high impact on groups and individuals as it deals with behaviour and cognition. Critical thinking and active listening are essential in the job and a psychologist needs to be sensitive and socially perceptive. This allows them to have an awareness of why people react in particular ways, develop an understanding and offer alternatives.

Skills/attributes
  • Active listening
  • Social perceptiveness
  • Strong speaking, reading, and writing skills
  • Scientific knowledge and skills
  • Critical thinking and problem solving skills

Specialisations

There is plenty of room for psychologists to develop specialisations. They are always in demand in a wide range of settings and because of the breadth of human behaviour and cognition, there are many different specialisations that focus on a variety of areas in clinics, hospitals and universities.

Clinical psychologists

Clinical psychologists specialise in the treatment of serious mental illness and psychological disorders, including schizophrenia and bipolar. They are trained in a range of therapies and treatments. These psychologists have special skills in solving complex problems. In addition to professional practice, they are often involved in research, supervision, teaching, and public policy to promote psychological health.

Forensic psychologists

This specialty applies psychological knowledge to the legal and criminal justice systems. They provide their services to litigants, perpetrators, victims, and personnel of community and government organisations, often acting as an expert witness. The discipline requires a strong scientific sensibility and the ability to communicate information clearly to laymen.

Sports and exercise psychologist

Sport and exercise psychologists deal with athletes to promote mental health and in turn enhance sporting performance. They assist in health and wellness coaching for athletes of all levels, assisting with injury recovery, performance expectations and career transitions.

Study pathways for psychologists

Because of the rigorous scientific and academic foundations in this career, you need to undertake tertiary studies at university in order to be a psychologist. This is followed by further post-graduate studies or an internship pathway and registration.

Getting Started

Get a head start on your psychology career with recognised courses.

Skill Building

Work towards your career goals and develop your skills as a psychologist.

Professional Development

Continue your professional development as a psychologist with these accredited qualifications.

Industry Recognition

In order to work as a psychologist in Australia, you will need industry certification with the Psychology Board of Australia (PsyBA) under the National Registration and Accreditation Scheme.

Getting a job after graduation

Put your training to good use and get the best professional head start in your psychology career. Emphasise your personal strengths and achievements in your resume and target your cover letter to the job description listed.

Job Prospects and Salaries

The industry is stable with employment rising very strongly in the long-term. Unemployment for psychologists is below average