Routes into a career in psychology
Psychology is a fascinating subject which has applications in all areas of life – from health and education to business, social work and scientific research. If you’re considering a career in psychology, this guide will help to explain what steps you will need to take.
Getting a GBC (in the UK)
To qualify as a chartered psychologist, you will first need to attain Graduate Basis for Chartered Membership (GBC) of the British Psychological Society (BPS). One way to do this is to complete an undergraduate honours degree with a minimum grade of 2.2 in a BPS-accredited course. The BPS requires certain modules to be covered for a degree to be accredited: for instance, the psychology degree at Middlesex University is accredited by the society. Non-accredited courses also exist, but they are usually chosen by people who are studying psychology for other reasons than for a career.
Don’t worry if you’ve already taken a degree that is not accredited by the BPS: you can take an accredited conversion course, which many universities also offer. These usually take about half the time that a standard undergraduate psychology degree takes to complete. You can search for all conversion courses currently offered in the UK on the BPS website.
Once you are eligible, you can apply to become a Graduate Member of the BPS. This affords you a number of benefits, including access to the society’s academic journals, discounts on textbooks and publications and the ability to use the title MBPsS. Most importantly, a GBC is a requirement for many positions as a professional psychologist – so this is where your career really begins.
Which route to take?
Careers in psychology can take place in a broad range of settings, from hospitals and clinics to universities, prisons, government departments and private companies. Psychologists are usually not medically qualified, and only a small proportion of those who study psychology will go on to work with patients.
If you decide to work in the NHS, you will usually need to choose from four specialisms: clinical, health, counselling or forensic psychology. The first three specialisms tend to work within medical or academic settings, while forensic psychologists usually work with police and probation services.
However, there are numerous non-medical career opportunities for psychologists too. From helping people with learning disabilities to advising companies on their marketing strategies, there are an almost infinite numbers of applications. Many psychology graduates begin with placements or voluntary work to gain experience, or combine their degree with a management training scheme to enhance a business career.
Psychology is a rewarding career and offers you the opportunity to make a real difference to others. I have never regretted my decision to study Psychology and still love what I do.