Becoming a Clinical Psychologist can be an intellectually challenging, emotionally fulfilling and prosperous career choice. But it takes hard work, determination and a whole lot of commitment to get there. As such, we’ve put together a few tips to better prepare you for the road ahead.
Due to the highly important nature of the work, previous years have seen as few as 15% of applicants being accepted onto doctorate courses. Which is an essential step to becoming registered.
Certain titles within psychology are legally protected, and Clinical Psychologists are one of them. This means the role is regulated and protected by law, to ensure the public are treated by registered professionals.
As such, you need to complete an undergraduate degree accredited by the British Psychological Society (BPS). Then a Clinical Psychology doctorate before you can register with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC).
With psychology being the second most popular degree in the UK, entry requirements are high. And competition for places on doctorate courses are fierce.
But those who qualify spend their working lives helping others overcome their challenges to lead more positive lives. And can be paid handsomely for their time. So, it’s well worth persevering to reach your goal.
If you’re an aspiring Clinical Psychologist, read on for our tips on how to stay motivated and get ahead.
Know what you need to achieve
If you’re going to make the move towards this career, you need to start working hard from the get-go. Applying for your doctorate may be years away. However, the work you put in now will play a big part in getting accepted.
Don’t be tempted to coast through your degree and just get by. Look ahead and find out what doctorate programmes require as a minimum. Many will only consider candidates who get at least a 2:1 or a score above 65% in their undergraduate degree. So, failing to put the work in now could stop your career progressing before it’s even started. Be smart and plan ahead, so you can tick the boxes you need in the lead up to applying.
Complete a placement year
Aside from high grades, many doctorate programmes stipulate candidates need one year’s clinical experience supervised by a qualified Psychological Therapist. If you didn’t realise this beforehand, you’d need to work for an entire year after your degree before applying. Adding at least 12 months to your already lengthy path to qualifying.
Therefore, consider a ‘sandwich degree’ as these enable you to take a placement year between the second and third year. Giving you that typically essential year in industry experience.
Get varied experience
Many aspiring Clinical Psychologists seek paid or voluntary experience alongside their studies to get ahead. Often working in roles like a Research Assistant or Assistant Psychologist.
The competition for doctorate placements and subsequent roles necessitates candidates have as varied experience as possible. In this case, try to move into another area of work within the clinical psychology domain after 12 months. Spending longer in your role won’t yield as much return as gaining another 12 months experience in another area.
Gaining experience in a research role be quite helpful in this instance. As it can open your eyes to many avenues of the field and potentially help shape your future career. In this case, try to find volunteer opportunities with clinically oriented researchers.
Ultimately, the broader your CV is when it comes to applying, the more likely you’ll stand out against others.
Practice for interviews
When you make it to the interview stage, the last thing you want to do is fall at this important hurdle. Research the questions you may be asked in doctorate programme and job interviews and prepare answers ahead of time.
You need to work hard to sell yourself, so practising in advance means you’re more likely to communicate your knowledge effectively. Consider the experience you have and how that could be applied. Research the programme or job you’re interviewing for. So you can determine things like who the interviewer is and what their area of interest is. Plus, anything about the company or institution that will help you shape your answers.
The same can be said for your applications. Research and tailor each application for the role, course or facility you’ll be working in. Making sure the hiring manager or enrolment officer sees why they should hire you and why you’re the perfect fit.
Consider other disciplines
In light of the sheer volume of aspiring Clinical Psychologists, open your mind to other psychology disciplines. So long as your undergraduate degree is BPS accredited, you could pursue work in other therapeutic areas. Pathways for Counselling Psychology and Forensic Psychology, for instance, are open to Clinical Psychology graduates.
There will be more opportunities
At times you’ll feel up against it when trying to meet the high standards and requirements of the industry. But remember, just as the competition is fierce, so is the demand for Clinical Psychologists.
There is a nationwide shortage of Psychologists and vacancy rates are on the rise. Which has seen more be done in recent years to get people the clinical help they need.
The introduction of the IAPT initiative and the Clinical Associate Psychologist role is helping get more people in related careers. The IAPT initiative providing greater access to psychological interventions for individuals with mild-to-moderate anxiety and depression. Where you can work in roles like Psychological Wellbeing Practitioner or a High-Intensity CBT Therapist.
Whereas the proposed Clinical Associate Psychologists apprenticeship aims to qualify psychology professionals to undertake psychological assessment and formulation. As well as deliver psychological interventions.
So, while the road ahead may seem tough, more opportunities are becoming available in the field. What’s more, once enrolled on the programmes, doctorates see a 99.4% retention rate in students. With 95% of these employed within a Clinical Psychology role within the first year after graduating.
Get started with an Access to HE Diploma
Which such high rates of employment, it’s well worth pursuing your goal of becoming a Clinical Psychologist.
If you’d like to get started but don’t have the qualifications for university, we can help. Stonebridge Associated Colleges is the leading UK distance learning provider. With many online courses to help you reach your career goals.
Our Access to Higher Education Diplomas provide profession-specific education and stand in place of A Level qualifications.
We have numerous options related to social science available. Giving you the choice of studying Access to HE Diplomas in psychology, combined courses in psychology and sociology or psychology and criminology. All of which provide you with the foundational knowledge you need to study psychology related degrees at the undergraduate level.
What’s more, each course is studied online, from home, allowing you to learn with minimal disruption to your schedule.
Online learning also allows you to move through the course at your pace. Which helps shorten your initial study time ahead of the lengthier process of completing your degree and doctorate. Most of our students complete their Access to HE Diplomas and are applying to university within a year.
Find out more about getting the foundational knowledge you need for psychology related degrees. Simply click below to view or Access to Higher Education (Psychology) in more detail.