Becoming a psychologist

To call yourself a 'psychologist' in Australia you are required by law to be registered (in the same way that medical practitioners or solicitors must be registered). The organisation that oversees this process of registration, and keeps a register of psychologists, is the Psychology Board of Australia. Other states and territories have similar bodies. When considering whether to register you, the Psychology Board will consider all of your relevant education, training and work experience.

To register, you will need to have graduated from a four-year undergraduate course that is accredited by the Australian Psychology Accreditation Council, such as La Trobe's Bachelor of Psychological Science three year degree plus the Bachelor of Psychological Science (Honours), or our integrated four-year degree, the Bachelor of Psychology (Honours).

This four-year sequence is followed by an accredited two-year Masters level professional postgraduate degree (such as La Trobe's Master of Psychology degrees) after which graduates can obtain registration as a psychologist. La Trobe (and other universities which La Trobe graduates can apply for) also offer doctoral level postgraduate programs. Further routes to registration after completion of fourth year are to undertake two years of pre-approved supervised training and experience acceptable to the Board or a combination of further training and supervised practice.

When looking at job advertisements for psychologists, you may have noticed something like the following: 'Applicants must be eligible for membership of the Australian Psychological Society (APS). The APS is the national professional association that represents the interests of Australian psychologists. Within the APS are a number of Colleges, which represent the major areas of professional interest in Australian psychology. There are currently nine Colleges which match areas that the Psychology Board of Australia endorses psychologists who have specific training:

  • clinical
  • clinical neuropsychology
  • community
  • counselling
  • educational and developmental
  • forensic
  • health
  • organisational
  • sport

Membership in the Colleges or endorsement in these areas by the Psychology Board of Australia indicate that psychologists have completed additional specialist training and experience beyond the minimum required for registration as a psychologist and APS membership.

Job prospects for psychologists

The Australian Government Job Outlook initiative provides and updates data on the job prospects for a full range of professions including for Psychologists.  The data published in 2015 included:

  • Employment for this occupation has risen strongly in the past five years and rose very strongly in the long-term (ten years).
  • Looking forward, employment for Psychologists to November 2019 is expected to "grow very strongly" (in the top 10% of all jobs).
  • This is a large occupation (25,000 psychologists in November 2014) suggesting that opportunities should be available in many regions.
  • Earnings are "above average" - in the top 20% of all jobs.
  • Unemployment for Psychologists is "below average" (in the bottom 20% of all jobs).

Visit the Australian Psychological Society website for more information about careers in psychology.