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How to Become a Psychologist in Australia in 2021: A Complete Guide!

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Are you considering if studying psychology is the right decision for you? The short answer is that it depends. Psychology may or may not be the best profession for you, depending on what you’re looking for in life and in a job. However, if you enjoy helping others, taking on new tasks, learning, and growing, psychology is definitely the right career for you! But how can you become a Psychologist in Australia?

By following the 4 steps you can become a registered Psychologist in Australia and start your career in this field. These steps are: Step 1.Complete an Accredited Three-year Undergraduate Psychology Sequence Step 2: Complete an Accredited Fourth Year Sequence, Step 3: Complete Postgraduate Study or an Internship Program to Obtain General Registration and Step 4: Apply for a Registrar Program for Area of Practice Endorsement. 

To understand better these steps, and everything you’ll have to know to start in this exciting career, continue reading below!

Introduction to being a Psychologist in Australia

Australia offers great opportunities for Psychologists looking to start their career, including great salaries and a fulfilling career. Most of the tasks and responsibilities of psychologists are the same as in other countries.

Tasks and Duties

A Psychologist’s main duties and tasks in Australia are:

  • Learning information about the client and understanding their cognitive, behavioral, and emotional issues.
  • Counseling clients in order to help them in improving their behavior.
  • Detecting and diagnosing neurological, behavioral, and emotional disorders.
  • Conducting research by interviews and observations.
  • Providing counseling in a group or individual session.
  • Conducting and interpreting diagnostic assessments and creating treatment plans.
  • Consult with other professionals about cases and discuss treatment plans.
  • Analyzing student’s behaviors and traits, and recommending educational programs that can benefit them.
  • Conducting surveys and research studies on work morale, motivation, supervision, and management.

 How Long Does It Take to Become a Psychologist In Australia?

In Australia, you must have a minimum of six years of psychology education and training to work as a Psychologist.

Also, If you want to become a Clinical Psychologist, you will have to undergo six years of study plus two years of supervised practice to work in the field.

4 Steps to become a Psychologist in Australia

Step 1 – Complete an Accredited Three-year Undergraduate Psychology Sequence

As the first step, you will have to study an APAC-accredited 3 years undergraduate Bachelor’s degree in psychology to complete the 3-year sequence.

If you have previously completed a Bachelor’s Degree in a different subject, an APAC-accredited Graduate Diploma with psychology subjects will allow you to complete this sequence.

Graduates with a bachelor’s degree in psychology will be able to apply what they have learned to personal, social, and group issues.

Also, in this program you will learn to plan, conduct, and review research, think critically and creatively, solve problems through scientific methods, and much more!

Exit point 1: Undergraduate psychology graduates often find work or pursue further education in fields such as:

  • Community services.
  • Education.
  • Health services.
  • Protective services.
  • Graduate programs.

As you pursue one or more of these careers, you can keep up with the latest studies and advances in psychology by joining the Australian Psychological Society(APS) as an Affiliate.

Step 2: Accredited Fourth-Year Sequence

In order to achieve the fourth-year sequence, you need to complete an APAC accredited Postgraduate Diploma or Honours degree in Psychology. Candidates must have completed an APAC-accredited three-year undergraduate sequence to be able to enroll in one of these courses.

 An applicant must successfully complete the fourth year study sequence before pursuing further paths (see Step 3) to gain general registration as a psychologist with the PsyBA,

Exit point 2: There are several career opportunities open to you if you decide to finish your psychology studies after a fourth year or take some time off before continuing your education in psychology.

Exit 1 describes the jobs and research opportunities open to third-year graduates, but those are also open to fourth-year graduates. Some fourth-year students often chose to serve as research assistants.

Gaining experience in occupations that are related to psychology (e.g., research assistant, telephone counsellor) will help you develop knowledge and expertise as well as support your application if you choose to seek more psychology training down the road.

Step 3: Obtain General Registration through an Internship Program or Postgraduate Studies

After Step 2, graduates of the fourth year have three options for obtaining a general registration as a psychologist:

Pathway 1: APAC-accredited Postgraduate Psychology Degree

Fourth-year graduates must complete a two-year postgraduate degree (also known as the fifth and sixth years of study) that is approved by APAC.

Fourth-year graduates who are accepted into an APAC-approved sixth-year program will be able to apply for provisional registration with the PsyBA, allowing them to engage in supervised psychological practice.

Applicants must apply for general registration as a psychologist via PsyBA after they have completed their postgraduate psychology degree.

APAC currently accredits Masters and Doctorate degrees, which include a thesis, coursework, and placements.

These degrees are available in the following areas:

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Health Psychology
  • Counselling Psychology
  • Forensic Psychology
  • Organisational Psychology
  • Community Psychology
  • Sport and Exercise Psychology
  • Clinical Neuropsychology
  • Educational and Developmental Psychology

*Note: Admission to postgraduate programs is extremely competitive. As a result, make sure to contact the university of your choice to learn more about their courses and admissions criteria.

 Pathway 2: A 4+2 Internship Program

To be eligible for the 4+2 internship pathway, you must complete a two-year supervised practice internship approved by the PsyBA, obtain provisional registration with the PsyBA, and pass the National Psychology Exam.

Also, you will be able to apply for general registration as a psychologist via PsyBA after successfully completing the two-year internship program.

To get more information about this pathway, visit the PsyBA website.

Pathway 3: A 5 +1 Internship Program

The 5+1 internship pathway involves obtaining provisional registration with the PsyBA, completing an APAC-accredited one-year Graduate Diploma in Professional Psychology, passing the National Psychology Exam, and completing a one-year supervised practise internship supervised by the PsyBA.

You can find more info on the PsyBA website.

Step 4: Register Program for Area of practice endorsement 

You have the option of enrolling in registrar program for area of practice endorsement after completing your postgraduate degree. This program allows you to work under observation in one of the nine PsyBA-approved areas of practice.

The following are the requirements for different areas of practise qualification in a registrar program:

  • MPsych: Graduates of this programme complete two years of supervised work, as well as 80 hours of continuing education (Continuing Professional Development).
  • MPsych/PhD: Graduates of this programme complete one and a half years of supervised work, as well as 60 hours of continuing education.
  • DPsych: Graduates of this program complete a year of supervised work, as well as 40 hours of ongoing training.

*Note: you can only apply for the registrar program if you have earned an MPsych, DPsych, or MPsych/PhD. Furthermore, Doctoral degree candidates can only begin the registrar program and apply for early general registration after they have made significant progress on their thesis and met all of their degree coursework requirements.

Colleges and Institutions offering Psychology Courses

Many institutions offer accredited programs in Psychology in Australia. Some of the institutions that offer APAC-accredited programs which are currently active and taking enrollments are: 

You can download the full list of APAC accredited programs through the link below

Working as a Psychologist in Australia

Career Overview

The demand for psychologists is increasing, with a 20% rise in work opportunities expected in the next five years! Over the last five years, the number of people employed as Psychologists and Psychotherapists (as their primary occupation) has increased, from 22,600 in 2014 to 26,800 in 2019.

See below statistical information about this profession:

  • Location: Psychologists and Psychotherapists work mostly in NSW and VIC
  • Industries: Most work in Health Care and Social Assistance, Education and Training, Public Administration and Safety.
  • Full-time: Around half work full-time (52%, less than the average of 66%)
  • Hours: Full-time workers spend around 43 hours per week at work.
  • Age: The average age is 44 years (compared to the average of 40 years).
  • Gender: 80% of workers are female (compared to the average of 48%).

Salary

Psychiatrists and Psychologists earn an average $1,857 per week, which is approximately $90,000 per year.

Career Opportunities

Today’s psychologists can have a variety of specializations. The following are 6 of the most common:

  • Clinical psychologists help clients with a variety of treatments to help with short-term personal issues as well as long-term illnesses such as depression. Patients are interviewed, diagnostic tests are administered, and psychotherapy is provided. When needed, these professionals refer clients to psychiatrists. Also, this type of psychologist often concentrate on a specific client group, such as infants, teenagers, or the elderly.
  • Neuropsychologists are interested in the effects of brain injuries, infections, developmental disabilities, and how mental conditions affect patients’ actions and thought habits.
  • Health psychologists study the relationship between behavior and physical illness. Their main goal is to inform both clients and health care professionals on how psychological problems can impact an otherwise healthy person. Health psychologists also create programs and strategies to assist clients in quitting smoking or losing weight.
  • Counseling psychologists use talk therapy to help people understand and deal with difficulties in their lives such as relationship issues, job issues, depression, and anxiety. Also, they help their clients in identifying abilities that they can use to handle and solve problems.
  • Forensic Psychologists work in the legal and criminal justice systems. They help judges and prosecutors better understanding the psychological complexities of a case. They are required to appear in court on occasion.
  • Educational psychologists work with schools and the local government to improve children’s learning environments. They use their counseling skills and experience of child development to assess learning challenges that children may be experiencing.

Migrate to Australia as a Psychologist

Psychologists in Australia currently have a variety of migration opportunities. For this reason, if you want to work in this field, see below 3 Steps to Migrate as a Psychologist in Australia.

Step 1 – Assess your qualifications

As a psychologist working in Australia, you will need to undergo a Skill Assessment to be able to migrate using your profession.

The Australian government has nominated the Australian Psychological Society (APS) as the assessing autorithy for psychologists applying for migration to Australia under the Skilled Migration categories.

This means the APS is the only body in Australia that can assess psychology qualifications for migration to Australia under these categories.

The 4 main categories of Psychologists that are considered for migration purpose are:

  • Psychologists nec;
  • Organisational Psychologist;
  • Clinical Psychologist;
  • Educational Psychologist;
How does ACAP assess your qualifications?

If you want to obtain a positive skill assessment to migrate under the Skilled Migration Scheme, you will have to:

  • Have completed qualifications equivalent to six years of psychology study in Australia, as well as meet the English language proficiency criteria.
  • OR, at the time of application, hold unconditional general registration as a psychologist in Australia.

Also you will have pay the APS assessment application fee. You can find more information about the qualification assessing process for a Psychologist in Australia on this link.

Step 2 – Understand your visa options

A Psychologist in Australia is eligible for a many visa options due to the demand for this profession.

For this reason, these visas may be of interest in case you want to work in Australia as an Psychologist:

You can find below the migration opportunities for each of the careers in the in the psychology field in Australia:

ANZSCO CodePositionVisas (Subclass
272399Psychologists nec186 – Employer Nomination Scheme visa189 – Skilled Independent 190 – Skilled Nominated 407 – Training visa485 – Temporary Graduate489 – Skilled Regional 482 – Temporary Skill Shortage 494 – Skilled Employer-Sponsored Regional 491 – Skilled Work Regional
272313Organisational Psychologist186 – Employer Nomination Scheme visa189 – Skilled Independent 190 – Skilled Nominated 407 – Training visa485 – Temporary Graduate489 – Skilled Regional 482 – Temporary Skill Shortage 494 – Skilled Employer-Sponsored Regional 491 – Skilled Work Regional
272311Clinical Psychologist186 – Employer Nomination Scheme visa 189 – Skilled Independent 190 – Skilled Nominated 407 – Training visa485 – Temporary Graduate489 – Skilled Regional 482 – Temporary Skill Shortage 494 – Skilled Employer Sponsored Regional491 – Skilled Work Regional
272312Educational Psychologist186 – Employer Nomination Scheme visa 189 – Skilled Independent 190 – Skilled Nominated 407 – Training visa485 – Temporary Graduate489 – Skilled Regional 482 – Temporary Skill Shortage 494 – Skilled Employer Sponsored Regional 491 – Skilled Work Regional

Step 3 – Start the migration process

Once you have researched the migration path and opportunities for your profession, you can start the migration process.

For this reason, as some of the visa options will require knowledge of the process and can often be complex, make sure to get in touch with a registered migration agency or education agency that will guide you through the process.  

This overview of how to become a Psychologist hopefully has given you a better idea of the qualifications you’ll have to meet in order to be registered in Australia and begin practising in the sector. 

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