How to become a Psychologist

Are you interested in becoming a Psychologist and analysing why people do the things they do? In order to work as a Psychologist in Australia, there is a certain level of experience and study you’ll need to become registered and nationally recognised.

As a Psychologist, there are a range of areas you can specialise in such as developmental, neuroscience, cognitive and social psychology. Once you've become qualified, you can work in any one of these areas in an academic, clinical or corporate setting. Read more about the job description of a Psychologist.

What technical & professional skills do I need to become a Psychologist?

There are firm requirements needed to register and work as a Psychologist in Australia.

As psychology is considered a science, you must be properly trained to hypothesise, observe and replicate behavioural trends.

Registered Psychologist and Swinburne Online Director of Psychology Programs, Associate Professor Nikki Rickard, explains that to become a Psychologist you need to obtain registration with the Psychology Board of Australia. 

"Registration ensures that the Psychologist has the necessary skills, knowledge and experience to conduct their duties responsibly and ethically,” adds Nikki.  

General registration typically requires:

  • 6 years approved study or equivalent, with a minimum of a Master’s degree in Psychology OR
  • a 4 year accredited sequence of study (e.g. Bachelor of Psychological Sciences followed by an accredited Honours year) PLUS a 2 year internship (approved supervised practice in psychology).

Provisional registration can be provided after 4 years to enable supervised practice.

Can I work in psychology with less than 6 years of study?

If you’re not sure you can make a commitment to 6 years of study, an online psychology course such as the Bachelor of Social Science (Psychology) can help you gain an insight into the industry and allow you to work in a related field.

"With a three year degree in Social Science (Psychology), graduates might expect to work in areas related to psychology, such as those that value critical thinking skills, data analysis ability, report writing and general knowledge about human behaviour,” says Nikki.

"This might involve jobs such as a social or market researcher, counsellor, community services officer, human resources consultant or research assistant.”

A psychology degree can also be a useful basis for further study in areas such as health and community services, public relations and teaching. There are also many organisational roles where understanding human behaviour is a great advantage.

Should I become a Psychologist?

To be a successful Psychologist, you will need to have:

  • an interest in human behaviour
  • acute observational skills
  • an inquisitive mind
  • the capacity to think analytically, critically and logically
  • the ability to challenge status quo

While psychology is a career that requires technical expertise, SEEK Learning Consultant Sasha Jurac says the first thing she notices in potential students is an inherent interest in discovering more about human behaviour.

"Many prospective psychology students already have a predisposed passion to delve deeper into learning the ‘nuts and bolts’ of the mind, as opposed to merely having an inclination to heal or help people,” says Sasha.