There are career opportunities for psychology graduates in a variety of contexts including health, community agency, private practice, research, or in one of many industries that build upon psychology studies.
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Psychologists study human behaviour, conduct research and apply research findings in order to reduce distress and behavioural and psychological problems, and to promote mental health and rational behaviour in individuals and groups. They work on a broad range of issues with clientele including children, adults, couples, families and organisations.
To be eligible for provisional registration as a psychologist in Australia, the first step to becoming a psychologist, it is necessary to complete four years of approved study in psychology. This normally comprises a bachelor degree (or graduate diploma) with a three-year APAC accredited major in psychology, followed by an accredited Fourth Year course in psychology. In order to be eligible for general registration as a psychologist, a further minimum two years of approved study must be undertaken at Masters or Doctoral level (as recommended by the Melbourne School of Psychological Sciences) or alternatively two years of supervised practice.
The Australian Psychological Society webpage provides a number of resources on pathways for those with a qualification in psychology.
All career and further study opportunities advertised specifically through the Melbourne School of Psychological Sciences website front-page. There is also a resource available with specific recruitment and business opportunities for psychologists available through the Psych Exchange website.
What can I do with a 3 year major - alternative graduate study
If you are not going on to 4th year studies in Psychology, your options are to go on to other graduate study to prepare for an alternative career, or to seek employment.
Skills acquired in a Psychology major
A good starting point in considering your next move is to understand what you have gained through completing your major. This assists with decisions about what you might do next (think about what you have enjoyed most), and also with representing your skills to employers.
- Apply psychological principles to personal, social and group issues
- Plan, implement and evaluate research
- Think critically and creatively, and use scientific methods to solve problems.
- Communicate effectively in a variety of formats and settings
- Act professionally within an ethical framework
Source: Australian Psychological Society
Graduate study leading to other careers
Graduate study may lead to careers that build directly on Psychology studies. Alternatively, graduate study may take you in very new directions. Many diverse careers can be accessed via graduate study open to all Bachelor graduates e.g. Urban Planning, Information Systems, Journalism, Law, Communications, Accounting.
For information on graduate courses at Melbourne visit the Course Search page.
Careers that build directly on Psychology studies:
- Community services and personal development – Social Work, Counselling/Psychotherapy, Rehabilitation Counselling, Careers Counselling, Genetic Counselling, Community Services (e.g. Youth Work, Alcohol and Other Drugs, Disability)
- Protective services – Police, Community Corrections, Youth Justice, Child Protection, Defence forces
- Health – Speech Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Nursing (bridging course in Anatomy required), Medical Imaging/Radiation Therapy (Science required), Audiology (Science required), Health Information Management, Public Health/Health Promotion, Genetic Counselling
- Business – Market and Applied Social Research, Advertising, Public Relations, Human Resources, Occupational Health & Safety/Ergonomics, Management Consulting
- Education – Early Childhood, Primary, Secondary Teaching, Integration Aide
Further Information on these careers:
Professional Associations often have excellent careers information. Below is a list of some relevant associations; the list is not definitive – search online for fields not listed:
- Australian Association of Social Workers
- Counsellors’ and Psychotherapists Association of Victoria
- Australian Human Resources Institute
- Australian Society of Rehabilitation Counsellors
- Career Development Association of Australia
- Speech Pathology Australia
- Occupational Therapy Australia
- Audiology Australia
- The Australian Society of Medical Imaging and Radiation Therapy
- Health Information Management Association of Australia
- Health Promotion Association of Australia
- Public Health Association of Australia
- Public Relations Institute of Victoria
- Australian Market and Social Research Society
- Communications Council (Advertising)
Government departments with service delivery roles:
What can I do with a 3 year major - employment options
There are two types of employment for new graduates: positions found in the general job market, and positions in Graduate Employment Programs
Positions found in the general job market
Positions which make particular use of Psychology skills and knowledge are commonly found in:
- Market and social research
- Human resources and recruitment
- Program, policy and research support in community organisations / non-government organisations
- Student services in higher education (e.g. disability support, student advising)
- General management – typically via management trainee programs
- Sales and marketing
- Customer service in human service organisations (e.g. welfare non-government organisations, TAC, Centrelink)
- Employment consultants (associate) in job network agencies
Other areas of employment are always possible depending on experiences, interests or qualifications.
Note that casework/counselling roles are generally not possible without specific training. Exceptions might be if a graduate has significant relevant volunteering experience; or where training is provided on-the-job.
Examples of positions acquired by recent graduates with a Psychology major:
- Human Resources Consultant (local government)
- Management Trainee (bank)
- Research Assistant (university; hospital; health products company)
- Market research analyst (market research company)
- Retail Account Manager (fast-moving-consumer-goods)
- Project Assistant (mental health support organisation)
- Disability support worker (NG)
- Management consulting associate (big 4 firm)
- Sleep Scientist (Hospital)
- Tutor (Residential college)
- Science Demonstrator (High School)
- Weight Loss Consultant (consultancy)
- Project Coordinator (Youth mental health support organisation)
Positions in Graduate Employment Programs
These employment programs are offered by some employers – generally large commercial organisations and government. Recruitment for these programs takes place early in the year (around March-May) and final year tertiary students of any course level and recent grads can apply.
Organisations which typically recruit Psychology majors:
- Large commercial organisations and corporates such as Qantas, Shell, Telstra, major banks typically for roles in human resources, marketing or general management
- Consulting firms e.g. management consulting or market research
- Government departments
Graduate Program positions acquired by recent graduates from the Melbourne School of Psychological Sciences:
- Australia Post
- PriceWaterhouseCoopers (large financial advisory/consulting)
- Department of Families, Housing and Communities
- Forethought Research (market research)
- Australian National Audit Office
- The Nous Group (Management Consulting firm)
For more information on Graduate Employment click here.
What can I do with a Graduate Diploma in Psychology?
Graduate Diploma students have access to the opportunities discussed above for Bachelor graduates with a three year Psychology major. In addition, because graduates will have a range of backgrounds, perhaps including previous professional careers, they will have additional options.What is possible will vary from individual to individual. Discuss your situation with teaching staff to receive further advice.
Some of the ways in which recent Graduate Diploma graduates have made use of their Psychology studies:
- Taking on a data analysis role within a financial services organization where previously employed in customer service
- Moving from office administration to consulting within a human resources consultancy
- Adding Psychology teaching area to secondary teaching role
What can I do with a 4th year in Psychology?
If you are not going on to postgraduate study in Psychology, your options are either to go on to other graduate study, or to seek employment.
Fourth year graduates have access to the same employment opportunities and careers via graduate study as three year grads (see above).
Fourth year graduates have more developed research skills, so there are more opportunities for working in research – both academic research and applied social research in consultancies. Examples of organisations where recent 4th year grads found employment in research:
- Murdoch Children’s Research Institute
- Australian Bureau of Statistics
- Australian Council for Educational Research
- Southern Synergy
- University of Melbourne
- Department of Justice
- Neuroscience Research Australia
- National Ageing Research Institute
- Turning Point (Alcohol & Drug Centre)
- Defence Science & Technology Organisation
- Cancer Council Australia
Fourth year graduates may also find employment in university level tutoring.
Presentation slide: What (else) can I do with a major in Psychology