So you want to be a psychologist?


“What is the recipe for successful achievement? To my mind there are just four essential ingredients: Choose a career you love, give it the best there is in you, seize your opportunities, and be a member of the team.”

This is going to be the first in a series of posts concerning becoming a psychologist and what you can do with your psychology qualifications. The first few articles will be general articles and then I will talk through what you need and how you go about becoming a clinical psychologist, educational psychologist, occupational psychologist, forensic psychologist, teacher, and researcher and much more.

We’re getting to that time of year when students are waiting with baited breath for their results. Dreams for the future are flowing fast; but how do you get there? Becoming a psychologist is a rocky and competitive road so best to get it straight now so you know where you’re going. Maybe you don’t want to become a psychologist but you just want to do a psychology degree – if that’s the case then the best place to start is either UCAS or there’s a list of most of the psychology departments in the UK over at

If you want to get ahead of the game or just want to know a little bit more about becoming a psychologist (from people that I’m sure know more about it than me) you could start by looking at Becoming a Psychologist or How to Become a Clinical Psychologist: Getting a Foot in the Door (both available at Amazon).

University Beckons
So, you’re studying for, or have finished your A Levels (I’m aiming this series at A Level students as that’s the main demography who visit the site – if you’re an undergraduate then just skip ahead to what to do after you go to university ;) ) and you’re looking at what to do at University. The vast majority of people who go into psychology have at least a BSc in psychology; if you do something different as a first degree you might find yourself having to do a post-graduate course or some diploma with the BPS.

When you’re choosing which Psychology course to do you will want to ensure that the BSc (or in a few cases BA) course that you’re planning on undertaking is accredited by the BPS or you could find yourself having to do an extra course anyway :( Most universities will state if they are but you can always check out which ones are here. If you’re ever stuck for information the British Psychological Society (BPS) is always a great place to start.


The British Psychological Society
St. Andrews House
48 Princess Road East
Tel: No. 01533 549593

Taking time to volunteer
Volunteer projects can be extremely enjoyable. They offer you a chance to develop skills that are useful for psychology and future employment opportunities and most importantly they make you stand out from the crowd – this psychology lark is a competitive business. Projects are very flexible in terms of the amount of time you are expect to commit and cover a wide range of interests from working with children and the elderly to conservation projects and fundraising. Try to get involved in something as soon as you can… your college or university should be able to set you up with something. There’s also a load of sites out there to help you out: or are good places to start.

The choice is yours …
Over the next few weeks we will be covering what you will actually need to do if you want to become a psychologist and how to get there. Next in this series is “how to become a clinical psychologist” coming soon.

Aug 08: How to be a Clinical Psychologist article written by MyClinPsychLife

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15 Responses to “So you want to be a psychologist?”

  1. kristin April 8, 2008 at 2:07 am #


    Thanks for a good blog. I am currently in my second year on a Psych bachelor sandwich degree, with one year placement in a clinical setting. My aspiration for the future is def to become a clinical psychologist, but I am confused as to the requirements. I’ve read the “so you want to be a psychologist” by BPS and lots of other guides. The BPS clearly states I will need to take a PhD after my bachelor and then(?) work for 3 years before I can get accredited. Other web sites say its suifficient to take a Masters. I am 25 and have about 3 years of work experience with children, but not in the UK (I am an international student). If you could please enlighten me as to what I can expect after I graduate, what I need to prepare now, etc, I would be really grateful. Also, my average is somewhere around 65, either just under or just over. Will this be suifficent? Lots of questions, hope you can answer some of them. Thanks a lot, Kristin

  2. Jamie Davies April 8, 2008 at 9:21 am #

    Hi Kristin,

    As far as I am aware you don’t need a PhD or even a MSc to get onto the Clin. Psych doctoral course, but many people that do have at least a MSc to their name. Experience working in clinical settings is a must really and many clinical psychologists started work as assistant clinical psychologists before they managed to get onto the course.

    You can see the basic entry requirements here:

    You will need to reply through the Leeds Clearing House (it’s like the UCAS of Clinical Psychology). Their website has loads of information on how to apply and what to do:

    Another good resource is a website called psyclick ( which is an excellent resource of information written by a chap who was going through the entire process of applying to be a clinical psychologist.

    Further to this a good place to start is a book called ‘How to be a Clinical Psychologist’ by Alice Knight.

    I hope that helps a little bit and I wish you the best of luck in the future.

  3. chris September 10, 2009 at 5:59 pm #


    All very accurate and helpful. What about after you qualify? Is it normal to start practicing as a clin psych immediately or is there another step? And when you star tare you a clin psych under the supervision of another clin psych?

  4. lesley September 12, 2009 at 4:58 pm #

    can anyone help me ? im a young teen and hope, when i finish school to study social psycology and sociology in america. i would like to know the best universities to do this in, and how to do it. i have no clue on how to be a psychologist ? do you need a PhD, masters degree ? please any info about anything and i would be very grateful if someone could give me the order in which i need to do things eg- PhD masters degree ?

    thanks alot. and sorry to seem to stupid. lesley

  5. Jiajia October 6, 2009 at 11:48 am #

    hai,, I am 30 years old woman majored in economics both for bachelor and master. But at this age i really realize that my insterest is in being a clinical psychologist who studies people while helping them back to normal way. You know economic research training make me have a different prospective comparing with these professional mental doctores. But,,,you know how difficult to get a degree in Psychology field for the person with the background as mine? Has the door been completely shut for me?

  6. liz February 28, 2010 at 11:20 am #


    I have a 2:1 from Nottingham, in politics, I want to get into educational psychology, I understand that a conversion would be the first step, but where is best from there? (Note I have 18minths experience with children in an early year setting).

    I would be really grateful for any help, as you seem to know what you are talking about and I don’t have a clue!

  7. ronelle reid October 27, 2010 at 1:22 pm #

    i would like to become a relationship psychologist i have always had a passion for peoples well-being. but the i have no idea where what is required of me to study and where to go.

  8. Mel Tii February 22, 2011 at 11:02 pm #

    hi, i’m about to start my gcse’s, i know im young but, ever since i was young ive always found psychology interesting, i just love it. my friend had OCD, and i know some people with schitzophrenia, i find it so so interesting. and i just want to find out more, and learn more, and help people. but where do i start? what a-levels should i take? etc.

  9. Sophie Edgecombe February 27, 2011 at 10:21 pm #

    Hi, I am looking to study A level psychology as a home course as I am looking for a career change. Is it possible to give me a break down of the necessary steps to take in order to qualify in order for me to make a career change?

  10. Claire Brooks August 23, 2011 at 9:31 am #

    I only have 1 A-C GCSE from school and no other relevant qualifications to speak of but following that failure as a youngster has pushed me beyond belief, I worked my way up from an office junior to a marketing manager in 3 years but it just isn’t enough for me….. Psychology keeps creeping up on me and I NEED to do something about it… it fascinates me!! My future goal is to be a forensic psychologist… No my question…. Where do I go from here, I am 25 and have a full time job I need to continue… I don’t want to spend the next 6 years studying….So… with no current qualifications and not much time what is the quickest and most cost effective way to obtain a GBC or Degree in Psychology? I have trawled through the internet and I think distance learning is my only option but what courses would be most beneficial to take that will get me to the final Degree I need to work in the industry…. Please please help

  11. London Counselling September 6, 2011 at 7:23 pm #

    To become what you want to be, you need to have a set of goals and objectives to be able to attain one in every step you take. To be a psychologist comes with a great courage, especially to the aspiring ones, from learning, teaching up to doing, indeed is a choice.

  12. Tara Hall January 30, 2012 at 10:20 am #


    i was just wondering what i need to take at A level to become a psychologist and what i need to get to go into uni and what do i need to take at uni to become a psychologist. i think i have to go into a speciality because i want to deal with people who have metal health issues like.. depression bipolar disease.. im just confused on what to take.. can you help me?

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