How to Become a Psychologist


A psychologist works with clients, analysing their emotions and behaviour to study their mind and help make positive changes in their life. There are many specialisms in psychology, and the work of a psychologist will vary depending on their niche.

Psychologists study the mind and implement positive changes in individuals and society using their insight and knowledge. It is a very varied career, with trained psychologists specialising in many different fields. 

These fields can include: 

  • Clinical – helping individuals with mental health problems using talk therapy, typically in a designated mental health clinic. This can also include counselling. 
  • Occupational – assisting businesses with improving their employee’s performance through psychology.
  • Educational – helping children with mental health issues and improving their performance in education. 
  • Neuropsychology – treating people with brain injuries and difficulties. 
  • Forensic and criminal – investigating crimes using psychology, as well as rehabilitating criminals. 

Due to the range of different specialisms, a psychologist’s day to day work will vary greatly. However, the duties of all psychologists involve staying up to date with psychological theory and using it to make suggestions to the individuals or teams in their care. Psychologists can only offer talk therapy and their treatment is wholly based on psychological research; psychiatrists, on the other hand, have a more medical perspective.

Psychologist education requirements are to have a masters level degree. Having an undergraduate degree in psychology is the easiest and quickest way to get accepted on a masters programme, although there are other steps to become a psychologist – some graduates take a conversion course and then continue to postgraduate education. During tertiary education, a psychologist will decide on their specialism; although they can change this while working. Many higher-ranking psychologists also have a PhD, which is recommended to progress in the field.

Psychologists must be sensitive and understanding, and have excellent people skills. However, they must also be firm and assertive, and show resilience as they will often find themselves dealing with emotionally challenging situations.

Psychologist’s salaries are as varied as their job descriptions; wages can change depending on their experience, sector, specialism and location. However, most psychologists have a higher wage than average, and this increases as they become more experienced and specialised.

Some psychologists work 9-5, whereas others will work evenings and weekends; when help is needed most or around their client’s schedules.

What degree is most commonly held by a Psychologist?

  • Master in Psychology
  • Master in Clinical Psychology
  • Master in Counselling Psychology
  • Master in School Psychology
  • Master in Educational Psychology
  • Master in Counselling Psychology
  • Master in Forensic Psychology
  • Master in Organisational Psychology
  • Master in Occupational Psychology
  • Master in Health Psychology
  • Master in Industrial and Organizational Psychology

Career Transportability across Countries

Transportability: Medium
Mental health and the need for psychological intervention are felt by people all around the world. There are psychology openings across the globe, however, some countries require psychologists to have degrees licensed from that country only.   Some re-education might be needed to gain the appropriate qualifications, and candidates must consider cultural and language difficulties, as they will be working directly with the public. In cities with many expats, some psychologists will work within the expat bubble.

What is the Salary of a Psychologist?

Experience Average salary | year
Psychologist 1-2 Years $72,490 £49,808 $90,000
Manager (Psychology, Counselling & Social Work) 3-7 Years $110,000 £62,000 $110,000
Director (Psychology, Counselling & Social Work) 8+ Years $175,000 £96,849 $140,953

What skills are needed to become a Psychologist?

  • Psychology
  • Mental Health
  • Psychotherapy
  • Psychological Assessment
  • CBT
  • Treatment
  • Group Therapy
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Counseling Psychology
  • Adolescents
  • Clinical Supervision
  • Clinical Research
  • Family Therapy
  • Research
  • Therapists
  • Mindfulness
  • Mental Health Counseling
  • Stress Management
  • Psychological Testing
  • Public Speaking
  • Teaching
  • Interventions
  • Crisis Intervention
  • Post Traumatic Stress
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Psychologist Courses

For those wondering how to become a psychologist, a great way to begin is to take some supplementary courses. At FutureLearn, we have some great courses about mental health and sensation and perception with psychology, which can be studied alongside a candidate’s psychology training.
  • Psychology and Mental Health: Beyond Nature and Nurture

    Learn how a psychological understanding of our emotions and behaviour gives us new ways to improve mental health and wellbeing

  • Introduction to Psychology: Sensation and Perception

    Learn how our sensory systems work together to help us to perceive and respond to the world around us

  • Introduction to Psychology: Biological Psychology

    Understand the link between behaviour and human biology and learn how genes and the environment influence our behaviour

  • Introduction to Psychology: The History and Science of Psychology

    Investigate the history and science of psychology while mastering the basic principles of the scientific method

  • Introduction to Psychology: Developmental Psychology

    Examine the physical cognitive and social development we undergo throughout our lives

  • Introduction to Psychology: The Psychology of Learning

    Explore how new behaviours are learnt by examining different types of psychological conditioning

  • Introduction to Psychology: The Psychology of Personality

    Explore the complex factors and influences that help shape our personality and examine what makes us different and why

  • Introduction to Cognitive Psychology: An Experimental Science

    Learn how to use cognitive psychology experiments to explore the internal workings of the mind with this online psychology course

  • What is a Mind?

    Explore the most pertinent scientific and philosophical concepts for understanding our own minds with this free online course

Psychologist Microcredentials

  • Impact of Trauma on Mental Health

    Get expert insights into the effects of trauma and establish an understanding of psychological wellbeing and its promotion

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