1. Helping people to perform at their best in a given situation
As a psychologist, you’ll help people to understand why they behave in a particular fashion, or to overcome negative patterns of behaviour that could prevent them from reaching their full potential.
In an educational setting, this could mean developing a learning programme for a child having problems at school or advising social services.
In a sporting context, this could be supporting an athlete coming back from injury, or helping maximise performances during the pressure of competition. The English Institute of Sport sent a team of ten psychologists out to Rio to support Team GB during the 2016 Olympic Games. Expect a similar approach in Tokyo.
2. Becoming a chartered psychologist
To become a chartered psychologist, you will need a British Psychological Society (BPS) accredited degree (or a BPS conversion course if you’re a non-cognate) leading to/qualifying you for Graduate Basis for Chartered Membership (GBC).
Once you have GBC, you can progress on to BPS approved postgraduate training in a specialist area of psychology. This could be a society-accredited doctorate, an approved training programme, or a BPS recognised masters and a period of supervised practice depending on the particular field of psychology.
A number of psychology specialisms have legally protected titles. For example, to practise under a protected title like forensic psychologist, you must register with the UK regulatory body, the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC).
3. Specialising in a particular branch of psychology
The British Psychological Society offers established training routes for psychologists who would like to practise in:
- Health psychology
- Clinical psychology
- Educational psychology
- Occupational psychology
- Neuro psychology
- Sports and exercise psychology
- Forensic psychology
- Counselling psychology
For researchers, the study of the human mind and behaviour offers a veritable feast of choice. From cockpit design to the impact of stage fright on theatre performers or criminal reoffending, academic research evolves as sub-disciplines develop from research in established branches of the subject or interdisciplinary work.
4. Taking an understanding of behaviour into other specialisms
About 20% of psychology graduates complete further training and become psychologists. Others use their psychology background in a number of related careers including art therapy, counselling, social work, occupational therapy and physiotherapy.
Some psychology students apply their knowledge in areas like marketing and UX to understand consumer and user behaviour.
Psychology and behavioural science has clear applications in advertising and media, human resources and teaching, but it can play an important role in less obvious careers too like forensic accounting.
Psychology is becoming increasingly popular in business; in recruitment, spotting and nurturing talent as well as gaining a competitive advantage by bringing the best out of a workforce or team. A number of universities offer postgraduate courses in business psychology.
5. Helping to save the planet
Psychology has an important part to play in understanding the link between consumption, identity and encouraging more environmentally sustainable behaviours.
This could be work on developing environmentally considerate behaviour at a local level or advising government on the psychology behind novelty consumerism and encouraging change in throwaway societies to sustain the world around us.