My child is interested in studying psychology. What next?

The Careers Department

The Careers Department

Sep 23, 2019 — 7 mins read

This post is brought to you by The Careers Department, the interactive online tool that helps you bridge the gap between high school and the options after. For anyone who is trying to make a study or career choice, put down your course guide for now and join The Careers Department to find more stories like this, course comparisons, and real work experiences. For access, head to www.thecareersdepartment.com -it's $45 for both you and your child, and it's the careers department we wish we had in school.

Parents like to give advice. That could be the understatement of the year, right there.

Sometimes it’s spot-on. Mum, you’re right -I shouldn’t have left this packing to the last minute. Dad, you’re right –turns out, nothing on Facebook is really private. Then other times your child just rolls their eyes and mumbles a perfunctory, ‘thank you.’ But when it comes to career choices 89% of current year 12 students look to Mum and Dad as their first source of information, which scarily –has greater implications than last minute packing.

Things have changed a lot since you finished high school and there seem to be a lot more acronyms and concepts to get our head around – ATAR, scaling, early entry…someone please explain.

Industries that didn’t even exist when we left school are now some of the fastest growing in the world – take data analytics or UX design for example, while the once prestigious courses like law are being labelled the ‘Arts degree of this generation.’ Not to mention the large scale advertising budgets that tertiary institutes assign to attract students to courses that may or may not leave them with a clear trajectory to employment at the end of them. So where do you even begin?

Every journey for every child will be different, but this series by The Careers Department, will help you begin to navigate it by sharing the struggles, experiences, and advice from others on the same road and those who’ve come out of it on the other side.

This post, psychology.



What is The Careers Department? The Careers Department is what we wish we had when we were in high school.

As your child's number one influencer when it comes to their career, it's important to ensure your child has access to careers information that will give them real direction. Successfully planning a careers starts with knowing the options, and the realities of them. The Careers Department means your child can explore and plan their future with access to first-hand advice from hundreds of people who are working in industry and who are studying, or have studied, the courses they are considering.

We give them industry exposure and access to the real information they need to make more informed choices, and for you, access to parent specific resources to ensure you're informed and able to support your child during this process. Think virtual work experience tasks, virtual tours of classrooms and courses, video, podcasts and so much more. Put down the UAC guide for now and join The Careers Department.



So first up, my child is interested in psychology. What next?

Psychology is the fourth most popular industry searched on our site. The course is extremely popular with students, but in our experience, students only think of psychology in a ‘healing’ or ‘counselling’ sense; and are not prepared for the reality of the course when they enroll.

Being a clinical psychologist is only one pathway, and there are many other areas or specialisations that they can go down such as neuropsychological research, community psychology, educational and development psychology, forensic psychology, health psychology, organisational psychology or sport and exercise psychology.

Training to be a psychologist can be a very rewarding experience, however it is important that before students decide to the take the plunge, they learn about the process of psychological training first.

Here are a few things to consider;

How long does it take to become a practicing clinical psychologist?

To meet the requirements for registration as a psychologist in Australia, you first need to complete a four-year university program in psychology that is accredited by the Australian Psychology Accreditation Council.

You are then eligible to apply for provisional registration, which is necessary to complete the professional training required for full registration. Full registration requires at least two years of postgraduate study (so this is on top of your undergraduate course) in professional psychology; or one year of postgraduate study in professional psychology plus one year of approved internships; or two years of approved internships (thought this last option, commonly known as '4+2 internship pathway' is being retired, so if your child is yet to begin their undergraduate degree they will miss the cut off for this option).

So that is a minimum of six years.

What do a lot of students think they are getting into?

Jacinta, Bachelor of Psychology, Macquarie University (ATAR: 93, 2010) comments,

“Before I enrolled in the course I wish I had of known how long Psychology will actually take you. When enrolling I thought it was a three year degree, four max – thinking Honours would be the end.

Little did I know, that if you actually want to practice, be registered with Medicare, and earn the better money then you will have to do your Masters. This takes you to a six year minimum degree – a far cry from the 3 to 4 years I was expecting. A lot of people in my course say that if they had of known this before starting, they probably would have tried for Medicine instead.”

Sarah, Bachelor of Psychology, The University of Sydney (ATAR: 99.2, 2013) comments,

“In my opinion, people often mistakenly believe that they will be learning about the counselling components of psychology and perhaps getting practical, hands on experience in psychology training at the beginning of their course.

In reality, you instead spend the first three years learning close to nothing about counselling or doing anything remotely “hands on” at all. This usually comes as a big surprise and shock to many.

When people ask me about the course, I usually say that – A Bachelor of Psychology generically trains you to become a capable scientists who is able to do scientific research in the speciality areas of psychology.”

So your child is interested in psychology and you want to know how to help? Here’s a checklist of things you can do to help.

Remember, the content within The Careers Department is here to ‘challenge’ your understanding of an industry and ensure you know all aspects of it, so use it to help shape your plans.

1. Educate yourself on the length and content involved in obtaining the qualification via our Checklists. e.g. Mathematics is a pre-requisite at most universities 

2. Become familiar with our Facts and FAQs, e.g. understand the differences between psychology and counselling.

3. View the Career Timelines and see someone’s career timeline to becoming a clinical psychologist and other professions within the industry. See how they got to where they are and all the steps they took along the way. Chat to your child about employment expectations that are benchmarked against age.

4. Read the student stories and opinion pieces written by psychology students in our Stories section. This will help your child understand particular courses, their structure, and if it will suit them.

5. Listen to our On The Phone With section – where we recorded our conversations with a range of practicing psychologists in different fields and heard their advice.

5. Assess your child’s understanding and interpretation of these modules, versus yours.

6. Update your child’s Game Plan with them. Consider courses and institutes and if your child is currently selecting subjects for their senior years, research prerequisites and add them to their profile.  

If your child decides that psychology isn’t a good fit for them:

  • Begin looking through the industry folders again. Start with related fields for example, Social work and community, health and medical science, or nursing or midwifery.
  • Less obvious but aligned industries could be government and defence or in business and human resources.

As a parent you’re not expected to know all the answers about every potential industry and job, but The Careers Department means you can find them.



What is The Careers Department? The Careers Department is what we wish we had when we were in high school.

As your child's number one influencer when it comes to their career, it's important to ensure your child has access to careers information that will give them real direction. Successfully planning a careers starts with knowing the options, and the realities of them. The Careers Department means your child can explore and plan their future with access to first-hand advice from hundreds of people who are working in industry and who are studying, or have studied, the courses they are considering.

We give them industry exposure and access to the real information they need to make more informed choices, and for you, access to parent specific resources to ensure you're informed and able to support your child during this process. Think virtual work experience tasks, virtual tours of classrooms and courses, video, podcasts and so much more. Put down the UAC guide for now and join The Careers Department.


psychology career advice parents education
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