A career as a psychologist is rewarding, diverse and challenging. Are you considering studying to become one? Discover the benefits it offers.
Psychology is the study of the mind and human behaviour, and psychologists are the experts that can help people to better understand how and why they think, feel and behave. Although most people understand the positive impact a psychologist can have on their clients, the advantages of pursuing a career as a psychologist aren’t as widely discussed.
So, why study psychology? Those exploring this career path often say that the opportunity to make a difference and an impact on people’s lives are key reasons for their choice. There are also several other benefits worth considering. This article examines these and how postgraduate qualifications and online learning can help you enter the field of psychology.
What is psychology?
Psychology is the scientific study of human behaviour and the mind. It covers a wide range of topics, including understanding how people think, feel and act. It also explores the underlying processes that shape human cognition, emotion, motivations and interpersonal interactions.
As a psychologist, there is the opportunity to become registered or practice in one of the many areas of psychology, becoming a specialist as one of the nine types of psychologists. Additionally, deciding not to become a registered psychologist or work in an area of practice could be more appealing to some, instead choosing to study psychology for the knowledge and understanding in human behaviour it provides.
When considering the reasons to study psychology, understanding the possible areas of practice endorsement can help. Some of these include:
- Clinical psychology
A clinical psychologist uses a range of techniques and therapeutic approaches to address a range of challenges. They assess, diagnose and treat mental illnesses, psychological concerns and emotional disorders.
- Community psychology
Typically working in public health, these psychologists work with groups of people within the community. In addition to providing mental health services and support, they consider cultural, economic and social impacts on clients.
- Organisational psychology
With a focus on human behaviour in the workplace, these psychologists support individuals and their organisations. They may utilise behavioural interviewing, psychological testing and conflict resolution techniques.
- Forensic psychology
These professionals help people navigate the legal and criminal justice systems. They work with individual clients and organisations, applying the practice of psychology to the law.
As such a diverse field, the options are endless for those planning to study psychology in Australia. Clinical Psychologist and Director of the Centre for Clinical Psychology, Jon Finch, explains just how diverse the career can be.
“Psychologists do many things,” he says. “They’re involved in research, policy development, work in sport, or organisations. Many do clinical work, providing treatment to help people fix problems in their lives.” Regardless of the area they work in, psychologists provide an invaluable service.
Why is psychology important?
Psychologists are an essential profession in Australia’s healthcare system.
“For some mental health conditions, behavioural treatments delivered by psychologists are the first line of treatments that make a change,” Finch says. “Psychology is an important component of a whole system.”
Psychology can also lessen a patient’s need or reliance on additional health services. According to Finch, in some cases, patients who received psychological treatment were less likely to present to the emergency department for a mental health crisis.
People who have the support of a psychologist can also gain a better quality of life. “I’ve seen many people return to work because of a psychologist’s input,” Finch explains. “Others become improved at contributing to the community, participating with their family and getting out more.”
As demand for psychology services continues to increase, having more trained professionals to assist is vital. According to the Australian Psychological Society, 88 per cent of psychologists in Australia have experienced this demand since the pandemic. It is just one of the reasons worth considering this essential profession.
5 reasons to study psychology
The path to becoming a psychologist can be challenging and complex. However, there are many reasons people pursue the profession. Why study psychology? These are some of the most significant benefits — during studies and as a registered psychologist.
Enjoy a varied career
Psychologists can be endorsed in an area of practice that aligns with their interests. “It’s a career that has a level of flexibility,” Finch says. “You can start in one area, undertake further learning, and move into another.” Additionally, it’s a career that offers diversity. “Most of my days are different, so it’s not every day doing the same thing,” he adds.
Make a difference
By supporting the health and wellbeing of Australians, you’re also positively impacting the broader community. Those seeking a rewarding career with a genuine opportunity to make a difference may wish to study psychology.
Understand people better
Through the study of human behaviour and minds, psychologists gain a deeper understanding of people. “You get to understand what makes people tick,” Finch says. “For those interested in seeing a change in people or learning how the psychology of a situation might contribute, it’s a fascinating career.”
Have an in-demand skill set
The demand for workers in this field is set to grow with 35,100 psychologists expected to be needed by November 2026. The demand for these mental health specialists is clear. If you’re looking for a pathway to start your career as a psychologist, a postgraduate qualification in psychology, like James Cook University’s Graduate Diploma of Psychology (Bridging), can set you on the pathway to becoming a psychologist.
The flexibility of online learning
The most crucial step to becoming a psychologist is gaining a recognised qualification. Online learning makes it more accessible, particularly for postgraduate students. Professionals who are already working and pursuing an alternative career path at the same time can continue working while they study.
Studying where and when it suits the student is another benefit, according to Finch. “Many people find it easier to concentrate online. You can review notes, revisit lectures and set an intent to listen to a lecture or study.”
After completing the minimum six-year sequence of education and training in Australia, graduates can apply for general registration as a psychologist and begin this rewarding career.
A study path to suit your goals
With the right qualification, a satisfying and diverse career as a psychologist awaits.
The courses below are listed by qualification level, from lowest to highest.