I wanted to provide a clearer insight into what type of job roles aspiring psychologists should look into. For anyone seeking clinical/research experience after university (regardless of whether you are an undergraduate/postgraduate student), this post is for you!
I will list a few job ideas for you to think about, which could help you gain experience within the field of psychology, and lead you to successful careers.
1). Teaching Assistant (TA)
If you want to support young people and adolescents within a psychological setting, then you would need to demonstrate that you have some experience working with children in an educational or community setting. Teaching assistants help provide a hands-on role in helping children learn in both a one-on-one setting or in groups. This would be perfect for anyone interested in pursuing a career in clinical or educational psychology.
Ny’s Tip: Some schools may offer pastoral care or interventions to help support a child’s mental wellbeing. Furthermore, some schools may have good links with outside services who provide support for young people experiencing mental health problems. It is definitely worth asking for volunteer roles within this particular service to gain a better understanding.
2). Healthcare Assistant (HCA)
As a healthcare assistant, you support the medical staff in wards and departments throughout the hospital. You carry out a wide range of duties to care for, support and provide information to patients and their families. You will also have access to a variety of disorders that will develop and enhance your clinical experience.
Ny’s Tip: There may be possible opportunities for you to shadow a psychologist, which could ultimately give you a better understanding of how psychology is applied into such settings. Always look out for such opportunities, and never be afraid to ask.
3). Support Worker (SW)
This is another role that provides support to individual and their families who need help, both emotionally and practically. Your main focus is to empower those to address various challenges, reducing problems and risks and provide assistance with a range of social and personal issues. With this role, you are able to implement interventions under the supervision of a clinician.
Ny’s Tip: Similar to a HCA role, lots of opportunities for you to learn from a qualified psychologist, and also a great chance to learn and familiarise yourself in psychological therapies and interventions.
4). Assistant Psychologist (AP)
AP roles are the best in terms of gaining an understanding of what psychologist do. The role includes getting involved in therapeutic interventions, standardised outcome measures and psychometric assessments.
Ny’s Tip: AP’s are one of the most competitive roles within the UK. Why? Because you are up against those who have years of clinical experience, or those who have an MSc. Unless you have experience, my advice would be to apply for the first 3 roles previously listed above. Furthermore, apply for honorary (unpaid) AP’s roles which may lead to more opportunities.
5). Research Assistant (RA)
Another competitive role – sometimes only available to those who have clinical/research experience, or those who have a PhD or a MSc. Unless you have useful connects that can get you into such role, chances of you obtaining such role are very slim unless you have research experience.
Ny’s Tip: I know RA’s roles are competitive, but if you give off the right impression, and make a good connection with your tutor/lecturer/dissertation supervisor, this can ultimately boast your chances in being offered such a role (paid or unpaid). You really have to stay optimistic, and at the same time eager to learn more – you never know what doors may open for you. It is also a good career option for anyone who wants to pursue a career in academia.
6). Psychological Wellbeing Practitioner (PWP)
As a PWP, you will support individuals of all ages who are experiencing common mental health difficulties. You apply as a Trainee PWP (which is a one year training course) within an IAPT service; 2 days teaching, and 3 days of low-intensity clinical work. once completed, you will be qualified PWP, set at a Band 4 and Band 5.
Ny’s Tip: PWP is a fairly a new role, but equally good for psychology graduates. This will improve your clinical experience, and expose you to low-intensity clinical work with a range of mental health disorders. I have spoken to a few individuals who are currently PWP’s and have found it difficult to find work after completing the course. Bare this in mind. Furthermore, contact the NHS Careers website for more information.
Please note: None of the jobs I have listed above are in order of importance, or more favoured. I have ranked each job according to how accessible they are. If you are someone who has no experience whatsoever, jobs such as a TA or HCA is probably better for you. However, if you are someone who has somewhat experience (paid/unpaid), and wants to develop yourself professionally, jobs such as a SW, AP or a RA are your best options. Experience is experience at the end of the day. It’s how you utilise the experience to help get you onto the next stage is the most important thing.
Additionally, working alongside mental health charities are equally good. It’s an amazing experience helping individuals to take control of their lives and achieve their goals. This could be within policy and management, working alongside campaigns, being an advocate, recovery workers/peer support coordinator etc.
I hope this helps anyone out there who is unsure of which pathway to take. Do not hesistant to message if you need further help.
Just remember, your pathway is unique and doesn’t need to be the same as everyone else’s 🙂