With psychology now being one of the most popular bachelor’s degree subjects it is clear that interest in the subject is very high, and competition for careers in psychology is very keen! Clinical psychology is one possible career path for anyone holding such a degree.
How to become a clinical psychologist
A clinical psychologist is a health care professional, and in the U.K. must undertake a three-year doctorate, D.Clin.Psych, which is sponsored by the NHS. The best route towards being accepted for such a doctorate is firstly to gain a BSc Honours degree in psychology, then to gain graduate-based membership of the British Psychological Society, (BPS), and work as either a Research Assistant at a university, or an Assistant Psychologist within the NHS. It’s common for psychologists to apply for the doctorate several times before being accepted due to the numbers of applicants. Having gained the D.Clin.Psych the psychologist must then register with the Health Professionals Council as a clinical psychologist, allowing them to work in this area. The clinical psychologist can work in many areas, including consultancy, forensic psychology and psychotherapy, and will generally specialise in specific areas, such as neuropsychology, sports psychology, or mental health.
What do clinical psychologist do, and what can they expect to earn?
What the clinical psychologist does in their job will obviously vary greatly dependent on their area of specialisation. For example, the forensic psychologist may work closely with the police and probation services and may be required to give expert testimony in courts, the child psychologist may work with schools, and the consultant psychologist may work with businesses. Most will often be called upon to carry out psychological assessments, be they personality tests, clinical behavioural observations, or personality/intelligence tests. A neuropsychological specialist will use brain imaging systems, such as PET scanning, to link brain function to areas or pathways in the brain and will often work with brain-damaged patients following accidents or illnesses. A trainee clinical psychologist can expect to earn around £24000 pa, whilst fully qualified clinical psychologists can earn anything up to around £80000 pa or more dependent upon experience. This reflects the sometimes stressful nature of the profession, as the work may involve dealing with all manner of distressed people, and possible personal risk from patients.