Skip to content
Open menu Close menu

Careers after studying psychology

In a survey presented by the Higher Education Statistics Agency (2013) for 2013 Psychology Graduates:

  • 62.9% went straight into work rather than further study, and 12.9% went straight into work as "Legal, social and welfare professionals" (including psychology related professions). 
  • 15.5% of graduates were in further study. Over half of these graduates were studying a Masters in related fields.

According to the British Psychological Society (BPS) website 'Around a third of graduates who go into permanent employment as psychologists enter public services (such as the health service, education, the Civil Service or the Armed Forces); a further third go into industry or commerce (such as market research, personnel management); the remainder go on to a wide variety of different areas (November 2010).'

Skills and knowledge

Psychological knowledge is prized in a range of professions. Knowledge of how people behave in various circumstances and an understanding of their motivations and goals might help you empathise with others better or at least help you cope with others in everyday family or working life. If you understand others and understand yourself a bit better, you will find your social interactions much more positive.

Communication skills
The ability to communicate through written documents and verbal presentations are vital tools for professional life. You will gain valuable experience through preparing essays, scientific reports and PowerPoint presentations for professional purposes.

A critical, analytical attitude
BPS accredited courses ensure you have a thorough grounding in critical and evaluative skills in relation to the research process. You will learn about the nature of scientific enquiry, and be able to critically assess the strengths and weaknesses of past theories and research. You will manage a large-scale psychological project in conjunction with a research supervisor; generating your own research questions, taking responsibility for research design and ethical considerations, and gaining practical skills in data collection, analysis, and theoretical interpretation.

Data analysis and statistical techniques
You will develop knowledge and skills in a range of statistical tests and their applications to relevant research questions. You will become proficient in using the industry-standard SPSS statistical software, and gain experience of NVivo software for analysing qualitative research data.

Careers in psychology

If you wish to pursue a career as a professional psychologist, you need to study a degree which is accredited by the British Psychological Society (BPS), offering the Graduate Basis for Chartered Membership (GBC). Our programmes are accredited by the British Psychological Society as conferring eligibility for the Graduate Basis for Chartered Membership, provided the minimum standard of Lower Second Class Honours is achieved. This is the first step towards becoming a Chartered Psychologist and/ or practicing psychologist The BPS is the professional body for psychologists in the UK, offering careers advice, training and ethical guidelines for all professional psychologists.

Training to become a practicing psychologist can take a number of forms which vary for different branches of professional psychology. These include studying for accredited Masters Degrees and periods of supervised work experience. See the BPS careers resources for further information on training and experience necessary to follow your chosen career path.

The BPS offers specific advice for following careers in all of the main areas of psychology:

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Counselling Psychology
  • Educational Psychology
  • Forensic Psychology
  • Health Psychology
  • Occupational Psychology
  • Sport & Exercise Psychology
  • Teaching and Research

Improving Access to Psychological Therapies Programme

The Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) programme was launched in May 2007. It aims to improve the availability of psychological therapies in the NHS, especially for those with depression or anxiety disorders. There are increasing opportunities for psychology graduates to apply for 'low intensity' posts where they will be given training to assist clients suffering from mild to moderate conditions. A psychology degree is often cited as desirable, though evidence of having worked with people who have experienced a mental health problem is often essential. If you have, or gain such experience whilst undertaking your degree, you could be eligible to apply for such posts.

Finding relevant work experience whilst studying

The Division of Psychology has an active work experience opportunities scheme (see student employability) designed to assist students in gaining relevant experience whilst studying. Working in partnership with the Psychological Therapies Network of Bradford District Care Trust the Division has developed a voluntary work experience scheme for students on its BSc psychology courses. The Division also participates in the British Psychological Society's Research Assistantship Scheme.

Psychology as a good basis for many careers

A degree in psychology offers a range of skills that are useful in many professions. The Prospects website lists possible career paths including counselling, personnel/human resources, psychotherapy, management, and careers/personal advice.