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9 types of psychologists: which career is right for you?

The first step to becoming a psychologist with a special endorsement is to determine which area of psychology you want to study at a postgraduate level.

By GlobalHealth Education Published 06/04/2023

When you think of a psychologist, what comes to mind?

Many people will be most familiar with a clinical psychologist, sitting with a patient one-on-one to discuss matters surrounding their general mental health.

While this is one path for psychology graduates to pursue, it certainly isn’t the only one. In fact, there are nine different types of psychologists, and with the right postgraduate degree, your psychology career options are abundant.

The 9 different types of psychologists

Depending on your interest, you can become a psychologist with general registration or a particular specialisation. Let’s explore what these areas are and what kind of career outcomes they lead to. While this is not an exhaustive list, it highlights the diverse and important roles that psychologists play in understanding and improving human behaviour and well-being.

1. Clinical neuropsychology

A clinical neuropsychologist specialises in how the brain’s structure corresponds to behaviour. They focus on the evaluation, diagnosis and treatment of psychological disorders and conditions that relate to the brain.

From assessment and treatment to rehabilitation services, clinical neuropsychologists may also provide rehabilitation services, including cognitive and behavioural interventions, to help individuals with brain injuries or disorders to improve functioning and quality of life.

A clinical neuropsychologist commonly works in hospitals but may also work in a private clinical practice, government agency, academic setting or in research.

2. Clinical psychology

A clinical psychologist focuses on mental health. They work with clients to assess, diagnose and treat mental, behavioural and emotional problems.

Clinical psychologists work with individuals of all ages, and use a variety of techniques, such as psychotherapy, cognitive-behavioural therapy, and other evidence-based approaches, to help their clients manage symptoms, develop coping skills, and improve overall well-being.

A clinical psychologist may choose to work in private practice, research, or various public sectors, including health and government. They may also choose to specialise further and work exclusively with certain disorders, such as depression, anxiety, schizophrenia and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), among others.

3. Community psychology

A community psychologist works with vulnerable groups of people within the community to improve their wellbeing. Their focus goes beyond mental health and encompasses social, cultural, political and economic influences.

Community psychology emphasises the importance of collaboration and empowerment, and works to promote positive change at the individual, community and societal levels.

A community psychologist will usually work within the public health and human services sector at a local, state or federal level.

4. Counselling psychology

A counselling psychologist provides therapeutic services to people in areas such as grief, life transitions and relationship difficulties.

Counselling psychology is an important field that helps individuals improve their mental and emotional health, and enhances their ability to cope with the challenges of daily life.

A counselling psychologist can work in private practice, various public sectors, including health and government, or corporate organisations.

5. Educational and developmental psychology

Educational and developmental psychologists complete accredited child psychology courses to work with children, adolescents, parents, carers and educators. They work towards treating young people’s social, behavioural and developmental issues.

Educational and developmental psychologists dive deep into how individuals develop and learn, and how to optimise educational and developmental outcomes accordingly.

Educational and developmental psychologists can work within private practice, the public sector, schools and organisations.

6. Forensic psychology

A forensic psychologist combines their expertise in psychology, research and the law to help people and organisations navigate the legal system. Forensic psychology is an important field that helps to inform and improve legal proceedings, promote public safety, and enhance the mental health and well-being of individuals involved in the legal system. To find out more about forensic psychology courses and the best pathway for your career, speak to a Student Enrolment Advisor.

Forensic psychologists may work in a variety of roles, including as consultants, expert witnesses, and researchers, and may work with individuals involved in the legal system, such as defendants, victims, and law enforcement officials.

7. Health psychology

A health psychologist helps people with matters that impact their health, such as chronic pain, trauma and disability.

Health psychologists study how psychological factors, such as stress, coping strategies, and personality, can impact physical health outcomes, such as the development and progression of disease.

Health psychologists can often design public health programs. They can also work in private practice or the public sector.

8. Organisational psychology

An organisational psychologist works with companies to bring a psychological perspective to recruiting, training and professional development.

Organisational psychologists study topics such as employee motivation, job satisfaction, leadership, team dynamics, and organisational culture. Organisational psychologists may work in a variety of settings, such as corporations, consulting firms, and government agencies, and may collaborate with other professionals, such as human resources and management personnel, to improve organisational outcomes.

To find out more about organisational psychology courses and ideal career pathways, contact our Student Enrolment Advisor.

9. Sport and exercise psychology 

A sports psychologist works with athletes on injury management, performance, anxiety, team building and burnout, among other conditions.

Sports psychologists work with athletes of all levels, from amateur to professional, and may help with a range of concerns, such as improving motivation, managing anxiety and stress, enhancing focus and concentration, and developing coping strategies. They may also work with coaches and teams to improve communication and team dynamics.

To find out more about sports psychology courses and the opportunities on offer, contact our Student Enrolment Advisor.

How to become an accredited psychologist

By completing advanced qualifications, you can become eligible for an Area of Practice Endorsement (AoPE). This endorsement certifies that you have completed advanced training in a specialist area and allows you to use the protected job titles above.

To receive an AoPE, you must complete:

  • a master’s or doctorate qualification accredited by the Australian Psychology Accreditation Council (APAC) 
  • a period of supervised practice

Our step-by-step guide to becoming a psychologist can help you start on your career pathway. 

Lifelong learning is a core part of a psychologist’s job

Continued education benefits all types of psychologists, their teams and their clients.

Peter Hayton is a Senior Psychologist at The Banyans Healthcare Group and has been practising psychology for over 20 years.

“Psychology is a lifelong career. We need to engage in learning beyond our undergraduate and masters,” says Peter.

In fact, not only is professional development encouraged, it’s essential.

“As part of our registration, there’s mandatory professional development,” says Peter. “What this involves will depend on your speciality.”

With so many types of psychologists, which speciality should I choose?

Peter explains that while clinical psychology is the most common career choice for a psychology student, it’s important to consider the different types of psychologists, including specialising or being a generalist.

“In 2006, the Medicare services came in. What that meant was a focus on clinical psychology because there’s a 30 per cent higher rebate for a clinical psychologist.

“I think psychologists should step outside of the Medicare world, as it’s not our only source of funding,” continues Peter. “Schools employ educational and developmental psychologists; businesses engage organisational psychologists; and I have many colleagues who supervise other psychologists and health professionals.

“Clinical psychology seems sensible, but if you are passionate about another area, do that. The demand is there.”

How to become one of the 9 types of psychologists

GlobalHealth Education offers online psychology courses for people who want to take the first steps towards becoming a practising psychologist.

If you haven’t studied psychology before, you can start with a graduate certificate and work towards a graduate diploma. From there, you can go on to complete a master’s degree and set out on the path towards a fulfilling career in one of the most in demand jobs in Australia.

The variety of flexible postgraduate degrees online at GHE, from Australia’s leading universities, means you can further your career while working full-time.

Take the next step in your psychology career

Speak to one of our friendly Student Enrolment Advisors today to find out which psychology course can help you kickstart or further your psychology career.