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How to become a psychologist

Becoming a psychologist in the UK is a long road, especially if you want to specialise and become chartered in a particular area, such as educational psychology or clinical psychology. In this article, you’ll discover the steps you need to take to gain those qualifications.

Graduate basis for chartered membership

The first stage in the process is to gain the Graduate Basis for Chartered Membership ( ”GBC”) from the British Psychological Society. The British Psychological Society (“BPS”) is responsible for accrediting all professional psychology training and for regulating the profession in the UK and only they can grant GBC. The easiest way to gain your GBC is to complete a psychology degree which they have already accredited. If you haven’t been to university before, then a fully accredited psychology degree would be the route to take. Bear in mind that psychology degree requirements include English and Maths GCSEs at Grade A-C and good "A" level results: psychology is a popular undergraduate degree. If you already have a degree, but it isn’t in psychology, then taking an accredited conversion course will be your fastest route to gaining GBC. These vary in length between 12 and 18 months full time (with part time options available) according to how much psychology you’ve studied before. Their effect, as the name suggests, is to convert your existing degree into one in which psychology predominates. If you’ve already got psychology qualifications, but gained them outside the UK, then the British Psychological Society is still your best point of contact, because only they can advise you on whether your existing qualifications are sufficient for you to gain the Graduate Basis for Chartered Membership (or indeed, full Chartered Membership in a particular area of psychology, as discussed below).

Becoming a chartered psychologist

Gaining the Graduate Basis for Chartered Membership allows you to proceed to work towards gaining actual chartered status in a particular area of psychology. You’ll need this further graduate study in psychology if you want to work in the UK in any number of specialist psychological fields as a clinical, forensic, health or educational psychology. If you specifically want to work with children or young people, then opportunities to do so exist within any of these fields. As with the first step in this process, gaining chartered status involves taking training either accredited by or provided by the British Psychological Society depending upon the exact qualification you seek. The process of become a psychologist is as demanding as the job itself. But if you are fascinated by people and want to help them in a powerful and scientific way, being a psychologist could be the career for you.

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