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Unexpected career paths in psychological science

Many students emerge from high school interested in a career in psychology, only to realise that the path to become a registered psychologist takes around six years of study, including a year of honours followed by two years of supervised training. Making the commitment to study for such a long time is a big ask. Deakin University Senior lecturer in psychology Sandra Hooper says there are plenty of career paths available to students that complete a shorter three-year undergraduate degree in psychological science. Non-registered psychology specialists are in demand in many industries, and can always go on to register later.

Promoting wellbeing in the workplace

Wellbeing might be a modern buzzword, but it’s becoming increasingly important in business. ‘Wellbeing is a big growth area in human resources,’ Hooper explains and adds that this is opening many opportunities for psychological science graduates, such as counselling of staff. ‘If stress is causing them mental health issues, they would have to see a registered psychologist, but counsellors can be the first point of contact and put them in touch with support services,’ she explains. Other roles include being an intermediary between a staff member and a manager, or working as a training and development manager.

Alternatively, graduates might work on strategy and planning for overall health programs in the workplace, such as implementing processes to reduce excessive working hours. Hooper adds that positions in the wellbeing space will continue to grow and many jobs haven’t even been created yet. ‘Wellbeing will expand in ways we can’t even imagine,’ she says.

Predicting human behaviour in marketing

Although psychological science students don’t often see an immediate link, there are many opportunities in the field of marketing. ‘A lot of marketers use statistical analysis to develop marketing programs,’ Hooper points out. Because students develop research and statistical skills during their degree, they’re well placed to assess human behaviour and motivation in order to deliver marketing outcomes. ‘You can often find graduate roles in that area,’ she adds.

'Wellbeing is a big growth area in human resources. Wellbeing will expand in ways we can’t even imagine.'

Sandra Hooper,
Senior lecturer in psychology, Deakin University

Understanding criminal minds  

There’s an array of jobs suitable for psychological science graduates in the justice system, such as community corrections officers, prison officers, and victims of crime support. There is also the opportunity to become a forensic disability residential worker, helping offenders with disabilities. Those looking for a different employment experience might work in residential housing services. ‘Workers need to live in the house with low risk offenders, manage their rehabilitation and make sure they go to appointments,’ Hooper says.

There are so many choices that Hooper teaches an employment preparation unit at Deakin to enable students to establish which industry is right for them if they don’t plan to become registered psychologists. A 140-hour period of placement in third year also helps students to establish their strengths and interests. ‘We do focus on it because we’re aware that students leave at the end of third year and might not be aware of where to go next,’ she says.

Psychological scientists can also go on to have great careers in research. Find out from a Deakin psychology researcher what her role involves

Are you interested in a career in psychological science? Consider studying psychology at Deakin

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Sandra Hooper
Sandra Hooper

Senior Lecturer in Psychology, Deakin University
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