Succeeding in psychology
Between the COVID-19 pandemic, the impacts of climate change and global instability, Australians are feeling the pressure. In June 2021, one in five Australians reported high or very high levels of psychological distress. Even more concerningly, a recent survey found that four out of five young Australians had experienced mental health issues since the start of the pandemic.
There’s strong demand for skilled psychologists in a range of professional settings including health, education and corporate, and it’s expected to continue for at least the next five years.
Whether you want to work with clients as a registered psychologist, or use your expertise in a different sector, psychology skills make you highly employable. Build on your previous studies or work experience – in psychology or another discipline – with a graduate diploma or honours. From there, you can take those skills straight into a non-clinical career or continue your studies to pursue registration as a general psychologist, or with a specialisation.
Psychology industry in Australia
Studying psychology means looking closely at the human mind and behaviour. And when you develop an understanding of human behaviour, you unlock a huge range of professional options.
If you want to practise as a registered psychologist, a master’s degree in psychology is essential. The job outlook for psychologists is strong: job postings increased by 17.5 per cent from 2020 to 2021 and are projected to grow by over 45 per cent in the next 10 years.*
Data from the Australian Government’s JobOutlook shows that while most (70.7 per cent) psychologists work in health care and social assistance, over 17 per cent are employed in education and training. Top employers include state and national government and corrections groups. As a practising psychologist, you’ll earn a median yearly salary of over $103,000.
Postgraduate study in psychology isn’t just for those who want to consult with clients. Demand for psychology skills is growing in a range of people-focused fields – from education and human resources (HR) to marketing and user experience research and design.
The Australian Government Department of Education, Skills and Employment (DESE) predicts strong growth in a number of fields that may benefit from psychology expertise. Employment is projected to increase approximately 29 per cent for social workers, 15 per cent for HR professionals, and 25 per cent for management and organisational analysts. That’s compared to an all-jobs average of just 8.3 per cent.
If you want to be a sought-after professional in a psychology setting – or any other field centred around people – postgraduate study in psychology can help you achieve your goals.
Skills gained and learning outcomes for online psychology postgraduate studies
Online postgraduate study allows you to prepare for the next stage of your career without interrupting your day-to-day responsibilities.
Postgraduate study in psychology will build on your existing skills and introduce you to new ones. Topics covered include the following:
- Psychology theory:
Explore theoretical perspectives of psychology, from cognitive, social and emotional development to environmental psychology and neuroscience. Examine the scientific foundations and methodologies of theories, and how they’ve developed over time.
- Diversity and cultural awareness:
Learn how cultural differences effect how we conceptualise and express psychological health and wellbeing. Take a closer look at the psychological challenges that diverse communities face in regional, national and global settings.
- Scientific inquiry: Cultivate a scientific approach to understanding psychological health and wellbeing. Understand and evaluate research, and learn to identify ethical issues.
- Data analysis: Use technology and statistical methods to do research, care for clients and drive positive outcomes. Prepare to succeed in an increasingly data-driven field.
- Application of theory and evidence: Review, evaluate and apply psychology theory and evidence to solve research problems. Apply legal and ethical frameworks to psychological practice and research.
- Professional practice: Get hands-on experience with industry technology, work on community-based projects, and undertake non-traditional assessments that reflect the application of psychology in the workplace.
- Communication: Design, evaluate and share information and initiatives to promote good mental health, resilience and wellbeing in culturally diverse and geographically dispersed contexts.
Passionate about a specialisation in psychology? If you pursue a clinical pathway, you’ll have the opportunity to become an endorsed:
- clinical neuropsychologist
- clinical psychologist
- community psychologist
- counselling psychologist
- educational and developmental psychologist
- forensic psychologist
- health psychologist
- organisational psychologist
- sport and exercise psychologist.
The skills and experience you gain studying postgraduate psychology can give you a winning edge in a non-clinical setting or support your journey towards registration as a practising psychologist.
Pathways to practising psychology
The pathway you take through your psychology studies will depend on your career goal. If you want to become a practising registered psychologist, you must meet the standards and complete the milestones required by the Psychology Board of Australia.
To pursue general registration, you’ll need to:
- complete a fifth year of psychology study
- complete a year of supervised practice
- pass the national psychology examination with the Psychology Board of Australia.
To become a registered psychologist endorsed to practise in a specialist area, you’ll need to:
- complete a two year Masters with one or more specialist areas of practice endorsement (AoPE)
- gain general registration
- complete a Psychology Board of Australia registrar program
- Gain general registration with an AoPE
Career outcomes for postgraduate online psychology courses
Qualified psychologists are highly sought after in the current job market, and continued strong growth is projected.
Choose a specialisation that aligns with your interests and enjoy a fulfilling career. Or, if your goals lie within a different person-centred field, use your psychology expertise to bolster your employability and progress along your chosen career path.
If you’d prefer to work for yourself, you'll also have the option of setting up and operating your own private practice or consultancy.
Your career options may include the following roles, all of which have very strong growth projected by JobOutlook:
- Average salary $110,000/year, median salary $103,000/year
- Clinical psychologists work with clients to assess and treat psychological problems
- Specialised postgraduate qualifications and supervised practice are essential for becoming a clinical psychologist
- Average salary $130,000/year, median salary $121,000/year
- Organisational psychologists help organisations function more harmoniously and effectively
- They apply their psychological expertise to improve organisational structures, address performance issues and help promote better morale and motivation
- Specialised postgraduate qualifications and supervised practice are essential for becoming an organisational psychologist
- Average salary $135,000/year
- Educational psychologists help learners thrive in educational settings
- They analyse student abilities and strengths and help teachers develop strategies to optimise learning
- Specialised postgraduate qualifications and supervised practice are essential for becoming an educational psychologist
There are many possible career paths other than registered psychologist, depending on previous study and experience, and how far you go, including:
- Human resources
- Behavioural science
- Life/career coaching
- Marketing research and strategy
- Customer experience and/or user experience specialist
Choosing the right postgraduate online psychology course for you
Studying psychology online gives you future-focused skills you can apply to a range of different careers. With no requirement to attend campus, there’s no need to pause your current career. And best of all, you’ll graduate sooner than traditional part-time study allows.
Master’s degrees allow you to build skills and knowledge across different areas of psychology – for example, diversity and cultural awareness and data analysis.
Graduate diploma qualifications often have graduate certificates embedded within them, so you can work toward your desired outcome at your own pace or exit early having acquired new skills and a career-boosting qualifications.
Choose a university that offers both specialist and generalist graduate certificates that all lead to a master’s degree, and look into the electives you can do. If life gets busy, you can always take breaks as required.
Before you choose a grad cert, check out the grad dip or master’s degree it's embedded within. Some graduate certificates are specialist, others are generalist.
Make sure you enrol in a program that’s appropriate to your needs – reach out to the university’s student admissions advisors to help you decide what’s best for you. If you want to start with a graduate certificate with the option go on to complete a master’s, you should confirm that pathway is available.
To make the best possible decision for you, start by reviewing the courses on offer in detail. If you need more information than what’s available online, have a chat with an enrolment advisor – they will help you understand which course is right for you.
Compile a list of the key questions you seek to answer while deciding which course to do. This list might include (but is not limited to) the following:
- How do the various courses on offer differ from one another?
- How do the providers differ? What are their points of difference that are of value to me?
- Does this program give me skills and knowledge I need to progress my career in psychology?
- If I pick a specialisation/major, can I change my mind part-way through and study a different specialisation or take a generalist path?
- If I wanted to come back and study again in the future, does this degree offer me pathways?
- What support do the universities offer students?
- Are there any additional fees?
- Who teaches the course?
*According to reporting by Esmi (formerly Burning Glass International Inc., an analytics company providing real-time job market data.