Want to know how to become a psychologist in Australia?

If you’re interested in science and psychology, understanding why people think, feel and behave the way they do, and using that knowledge to make a positive impact on the world, then you might like to become a psychologist. But before you choose, let’s look at what a psychologist does, what careers are available and how to become a registered psychologist in Australia.


What does a psychologist do?

Psychology is the science of studying human behaviour and how we think, act and feel. There’s a broad range of careers in psychology available allowing you to pursue your area of interest – from psychological tests and psychological research, studying the human brain and social change, to diagnosing disorders and psychotherapy, and more. You can choose to become a registered psychologist or enhance your career prospects in many other fields with a psychology degree.

Skills of a psychologist

Psychologists seek to understand why we do what we do and use this knowledge in their areas of expertise. Psychology is a very diverse field that can lead to hundreds of career paths. Many psychologists work to care for people, helping clients with mental and emotional disorders, but the skills of a psychologist can be used in all kinds of settings, from research to business.

The skills needed to be a psychologist extend beyond psychological theory and include good research skills, communication skills, questioning skills, sensitive listening, observational skills, critical thinking, analytical skills and even numeric skills.

How long does it take to become a psychologist?

A minimum six-year sequence of education and training in psychology is required to become eligible for registration as a psychologist in Australia.

How to become a psychologist in Australia

It’s important to have the right qualifications to become a registered psychologist in Australia. All psychologists in Australia hold general registration with the Psychology Board of Australia, meaning they meet high standards in education, training, supervised practice, ethical and professional standards, and ongoing professional development. To be registered, you need to complete the appropriate study and training. So, what qualifications do you need to be a registered psychologist? It starts with the right graduate and postgraduate study.

Step 1: Complete an undergraduate psychology degree

Your pathway to becoming a psychologist typically begins with a bachelor’s degree in psychology. A Bachelor of Psychology provides a comprehensive understanding of the main discipline areas of psychology and will develop your research, analytical and communication skills.

At UNSW, you can study a Bachelor of Psychology (Honours), a Bachelor of Psychological Science or a Bachelor of Science with a major in Psychology.

If you have already completed an undergraduate degree in another discipline, you can complete a Graduate Diploma of Psychology to begin your pathway towards becoming a registered psychologist. 

Step 2: Complete an accredited four-year sequence

In addition to your bachelor’s degree, you will also need to complete a year of honours. At UNSW, you can complete this as part of the integrated four-year Bachelor of Psychology (Honours) program, or as a stand-alone one year Bachelor of Psychological Science (Honours) program following completion of a Bachelor of Psychological Science or a Bachelor of Science with a major in Psychology.

If you obtained an alternative undergraduate degree, you can complete a year of honours at UNSW after you have completed a Graduate Diploma of Psychology.

Once you have completed your honours year, you will receive provisional registration from the Psychology Board of Australia.

Step 3: Complete postgraduate study

The next step towards a professional career as a registered psychologist is at a postgraduate level, completing a master’s degree in psychology. A Master of Psychology helps you develop the tools for diagnosing, assessing and treating people with a range of psychological issues or disorders.

At UNSW, you can study a two-year Master of Psychology (Clinical) or Master of Psychology (Forensic), depending on which area of practice you would like to pursue. With this academic pathway, you need to complete these 2 years of postgraduate study to obtain General Registration from the Psychology Board of Australia.

The Psychology Board of Australia also provides an internship pathway, which requires graduates of a 1-year Masters program to complete a one-year internship and sit the National Psychology Exam to obtain General Registration.

Step 4: Apply for a registrar program

You’ll now have the skills and knowledge you need to achieve your General Registration with the Psychology Board of Australia. You can now practice as a registered psychologist or, if you completed the academic pathway, you can also choose to complete the relevant registrar program and earn your Area of Practice endorsement.

Careers in psychology

Many psychologists work in a care setting, helping people with mental and emotional disorders. But psychologists deal with more than just mental health – they apply their knowledge to relationships, workplace stress and financial challenges. There is a wide range of psychology jobs in Australia and there are lots of different jobs you can get with a psychology degree.

Career opportunities for psychologists are available across the public and private sector in a range of industries and roles including:

  • public, community and occupational health
  • welfare and youth work
  • counselling
  • developmental care
  • education
  • childcare
  • management consultancy
  • recruitment
  • industrial relations
  • marketing
  • market research
  • retail management
  • statistical and data analysis
  • banking
  • training and development
  • journalism
  • sport

Jobs in psychology

  • A career in health is a logical place to start for many psychology graduates. Health psychology can include chartered psychologist, psychotherapist, clinical psychologist and rehabilitation counselling.

  • Community health psychology is an opportunity to help people going through difficult times. It can include working as a counsellor, but a psychology degree is also helpful in other community-based roles such as being a social worker.

  • If you’re interested in crimes and criminal behaviour, forensic psychology, and related fields such as criminal psychology, legal psychology, forensic neuropsychology, and clinical forensic psychology, give you an opportunity to apply your knowledge of human behaviour to help understand, solve and prevent crime.

  • There are a lot of opportunities for psychology graduates in education. They include educational therapy, educational psychology, guidance counsellor, career counselling, psychoeducational assessment. Psychology is also valuable if you want to become a teacher. And of course, teaching psychology is also a possibility.

  • Understanding human behaviours is obviously helpful in a business setting. There are direct roles working with people, such as working in the human resources department as a human resource manager. And more broadly, applying insights into human behaviour can also benefit careers in IT, finance, sport, the legal sector, government administration, media, advertising, marketing and market research.

  • With a degree in psychology, you can discover your own path. The skills and knowledge you learn can be applied in just about any role, from marketing specialist to probation officer.


  • A psychology degree helps you understand why people think and act the way we do. There is a wide variety of career opportunities for psychology graduates available across the public and private sector, including in health, business, journalism, retail, education and research.

  • You need to complete at least six years of undergraduate and postgraduate study to become a psychologist. You then need to register with the Psychology Board of Australia.

  • There are no pre-requisite subjects to study psychology, however you may be asked to provide evidence of your English proficiency. If you’re completing an Australian Year 12 qualification (e.g. NSW HSC or equivalent), your qualification will be used as evidence of your English proficiency.

  • Psychology is the science of studying human behaviour and how we think, act and feel. Many psychologists work to care for people, helping clients with mental and emotional disorders, but the skills of a psychologist can be used in all kinds of settings, from research to business.

  • Psychologists help people with life issues and mental health problems. They provide a range of treatments, including psychological therapy (psychotherapy or talking therapy), practical advice about managing mental health problems and information to help patients understand their symptoms and treatments.

Step one starts here

At UNSW, you'll find a range of programs to lead you toward a career in psychology. Explore your study options at the School of Psychology. 

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