stradeaway
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I've thought countless times about what I want to be when I'm older - always ending with the same result. That I want to be a clinical psychologist or a psychotherapist. However, I'm young enough to go into any career, so I'm not sure if being determined to work in this field is as good as it sounds in my head. I know it's competitive - hard to get into, even harder to get out of with a job. I've heard many stories that people who've wanted to work with psychology all their lives have gotten their degree and ended up working in retail or something. It is truly my dream to work as a clinical psychologist or psychotherapist - I really can't see myself in any other career. I already get grade 9s in psychology (in my year 10 mocks) and I'm planning on doing it for a-level and eventually in uni. I am willing to put in the work and I have already spent the start of my summer doing nothing but study (I'm self-isolating, so don't worry about my social life). But, wherever I go, people are regretting their choices, advising against it... Am I destined to remain jobless or will I work so hard for nothing?
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veampleo
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(Original post by stradeaway)
I've thought countless times about what I want to be when I'm older - always ending with the same result. That I want to be a clinical psychologist or a psychotherapist. However, I'm young enough to go into any career, so I'm not sure if being determined to work in this field is as good as it sounds in my head. I know it's competitive - hard to get into, even harder to get out of with a job. I've heard many stories that people who've wanted to work with psychology all their lives have gotten their degree and ended up working in retail or something. It is truly my dream to work as a clinical psychologist or psychotherapist - I really can't see myself in any other career. I already get grade 9s in psychology (in my year 10 mocks) and I'm planning on doing it for a-level and eventually in uni. I am willing to put in the work and I have already spent the start of my summer doing nothing but study (I'm self-isolating, so don't worry about my social life). But, wherever I go, people are regretting their choices, advising against it... Am I destined to remain jobless or will I work so hard for nothing?
i think with fields like psychology and others like law (which is where i’m at), because it’s so competitive, academics isn’t enough. what is absolutely essential if you want to get a career in it is networking and work experience. since you’re only in year 11 now, you have PLENTY of time to sort that out, so do make the most of it.
e.g. in year 10 i worked in a county court, and in 6th form i worked in a law firm. although it’s not much, it’s already a lot more than a good chunk of people in my subject who won’t be doing any work experience until now (in university).
as you’re currently self isolating, i’d say now is the perfect time to do some digging online and try to find places that offer relevant experience. the closer the experience is to what you want to do the better but remember you can always make other things work e.g. if it’s child psychology etc you could gain work experience in a school working with children or young people since it relates - the link to the field of psychology is still there.

hope that helps!
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random_matt
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Very hard work, three years UG and then work experience, preferably within those three years. Then likely finding an assistant psychology job, but you also need a masters. Finally you will need a doctorate, you can then apply for a very competitive job. Probably like seven years in university is needed.
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stradeaway
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(Original post by random_matt)
Very hard work, three years UG and then work experience, preferably within those three years. Then likely finding an assistant psychology job, but you also need a masters. Finally you will need a doctorate, you can then apply for a very competitive job. Probably like seven years in university is needed.
Yeah, I've heard. So are you advising against it or merely letting me know how hard I'll have to work?
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stradeaway
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(Original post by veampleo)
i think with fields like psychology and others like law (which is where i’m at), because it’s so competitive, academics isn’t enough. what is absolutely essential if you want to get a career in it is networking and work experience. since you’re only in year 11 now, you have PLENTY of time to sort that out, so do make the most of it.
e.g. in year 10 i worked in a county court, and in 6th form i worked in a law firm. although it’s not much, it’s already a lot more than a good chunk of people in my subject who won’t be doing any work experience until now (in university).
as you’re currently self isolating, i’d say now is the perfect time to do some digging online and try to find places that offer relevant experience. the closer the experience is to what you want to do the better but remember you can always make other things work e.g. if it’s child psychology etc you could gain work experience in a school working with children or young people since it relates - the link to the field of psychology is still there.

hope that helps!
I've been researching this for a while, but it seems like work experience is so hard to gain, especially at my age, due to the nature of the work. When I become 16 (in December) I'm looking to volunteer at a mental health charity like Mind and also I'll apply for experience with the NHS.
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random_matt
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(Original post by stradeaway)
Yeah, I've heard. So are you advising against it or merely letting me know how hard I'll have to work?
If it is what you truly want to do, then do it. Just requires tenacity, strong will and hard work.
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random_matt
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(Original post by stradeaway)
I've been researching this for a while, but it seems like work experience is so hard to gain, especially at my age, due to the nature of the work. When I become 16 (in December) I'm looking to volunteer at a mental health charity like Mind and also I'll apply for experience with the NHS.
It doesn't have to be restricted to mind and what not, working in a care home or hospital is more than adequate.
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ashtolga23
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If you do a psychology degree then you have more chance of making it to your dream career than if not! Also remember there are so many fields of psychology, even if you don't make it to clinical psychology then your degree will feed into various things (e.g. business or HR). It's not just like you'll be stuck in retail.
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veampleo
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(Original post by stradeaway)
I've been researching this for a while, but it seems like work experience is so hard to gain, especially at my age, due to the nature of the work. When I become 16 (in December) I'm looking to volunteer at a mental health charity like Mind and also I'll apply for experience with the NHS.
yeah most places will definitely need you to be 16 but at least you’re not going to have to wait too long for that. again, bear in mind you still have plenty of time and volunteering is always a good shout!
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Lord Asriel
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(Original post by stradeaway)
I've thought countless times about what I want to be when I'm older - always ending with the same result. That I want to be a clinical psychologist or a psychotherapist. However, I'm young enough to go into any career, so I'm not sure if being determined to work in this field is as good as it sounds in my head. I know it's competitive - hard to get into, even harder to get out of with a job. I've heard many stories that people who've wanted to work with psychology all their lives have gotten their degree and ended up working in retail or something. It is truly my dream to work as a clinical psychologist or psychotherapist - I really can't see myself in any other career. I already get grade 9s in psychology (in my year 10 mocks) and I'm planning on doing it for a-level and eventually in uni. I am willing to put in the work and I have already spent the start of my summer doing nothing but study (I'm self-isolating, so don't worry about my social life). But, wherever I go, people are regretting their choices, advising against it... Am I destined to remain jobless or will I work so hard for nothing?
Taking a step back and from the position of someone who has made that journey, I think there are a couple of things to consider.

If you are in school you will have a very limited perspective of what you will want to do, what you are capable of doing and what your opportunities are. The reality is that there will be a range of other jobs beyond clinical psychologist and psychotherapist that will be suitable for you. Without having been out in the working world, seeing various other roles in different contexts you won't have the scope and perspective of all of the options. Similarly, you are unlikely to know the ins and outs of a career as a clinical psychologist. Hell, I have been qualified now for over 10 years and I am still getting to grips with this.


One of the most important attributes is the toleration of uncertainty and the development of self awareness. That may be self awareness about whether you are able to complete a professional doctorate (which is not the same as doing exam based subjects at school). The uncertainty comes from the fact that in my daily job there are so many things that are uncertain and may not be worth it -and you still have to have the mental fortitide to stay with it. I have worked damn hard and people have still died, and that is part of the job (and probably why I am able to do what I do).

If you want that level of certainty, psychology or therapy probably isn't the route for you. Try medicine, nursing or other vocational paths where things are mapped out. However, if you are that way inclined and can bet on yourself and tolerate the fact that you may not get your desired outcome and still be fine with that, then psychology isn't a bad option to consider as one of several.
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Nerol
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(Original post by stradeaway)
I've thought countless times about what I want to be when I'm older - always ending with the same result. That I want to be a clinical psychologist or a psychotherapist. However, I'm young enough to go into any career, so I'm not sure if being determined to work in this field is as good as it sounds in my head. I know it's competitive - hard to get into, even harder to get out of with a job. I've heard many stories that people who've wanted to work with psychology all their lives have gotten their degree and ended up working in retail or something. It is truly my dream to work as a clinical psychologist or psychotherapist - I really can't see myself in any other career. I already get grade 9s in psychology (in my year 10 mocks) and I'm planning on doing it for a-level and eventually in uni. I am willing to put in the work and I have already spent the start of my summer doing nothing but study (I'm self-isolating, so don't worry about my social life). But, wherever I go, people are regretting their choices, advising against it... Am I destined to remain jobless or will I work so hard for nothing?
If it is what you really want to do, go for it! Be prepared to work long and hard. Step 1 is a BPS-accredited bachelor degree in pscychology, so start there and see how you like it and get a better idea of if it's for you.

I'm working towards a career in clinical or counselling psychology (still undecided) and it has been a long journey so far. I've loved every step and none of it has put me off going for what I want. I have my second interview for an assistant psychologist role next week, and luckily it has popped up within the company I already work for, which I think puts me in a good position!

While I understand your concerns about how competitive the field is, there are other careers in the field of psychology, or even semi-relevant jobs, that you can get into while on your journey. For example, I am a complex case worker in a substance misuse service, which has given me amazing experience. I've done this alongside a postgraduate qualification and current training as a counsellor. It's definitely been a long road, but I'm willing to keep going as long as it takes.
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chazwomaq
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The question you need to ask yourself is this - would you be happy to go as far as you can studying psychology, but then end up in a different career? Because that is the reality for the vast majority of psychology graduates. Most will never become clinical psychologists, or professional psychologists of any sort.

If the answer is no, then I would consider something else. Other competitive careers like medicine are kinder in a sense because the bottleneck is before you start your degree. With psychology it's after you've finished your degree and try to get on a doctorate so you've already spend many years of your life.

If you can only consider clinical psychology as a career (psychotherapy is different btw), then I would suggest you need to broaden your mind. Unless you want to study a vocational subject, you should be more flexible in your approach to careers because you don't really know what they entail, and your interests, and the world might change.
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Turning_A_Corner
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The problem with psychology is not that it’s competitive. It’s that it’s oversaturated. Medicine is competitive but once you’re in, you’re guaranteed a job at the end of it. Psychology is not competitive to enter. It’s the easiest degree in the world to get onto if you have half a mind to do it. Unlike medicine, you graduate qualified to do only the generic graduate roles that every other graduate is, and of course that most elusive of roles: assistant psychologist, along with a spattering of others. On top of subgraduate employment, that is, which is what a lot of people aiming for psychologist careers end up doing for a number of years, working in jobs they’re overqualified for with the aim of getting on the doctoral programmes with no guarantee of success. You have to budget up to ten years from leaving school to fully qualifying and this can be frustrating.

You can always go for it and try your luck. But explore alternatives. Have plans B through H set up. What else would you do? Are any of those careers potential platform careers that you could do instead in order to be able to apply to clinical psychology from a secure base later? Occupational therapy and mental health nursing are obvious candidate careers (both feed into IAPT roles as well), as well as speech and language therapy and even medicine itself. Unlike psychology, these fields are not oversaturated and they all utilise psychological principles in the work. Just something to be aware of.
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