- Support Worker
- Healthcare Assistant
- Psychological Wellbeing Practitioner
- Teaching Assistant
- Research Assistant
- Assistant Psychologist
Are you approaching graduation and still don’t know what you’re going to do after University? Well you’ve come to the right place. In this post we will outline 6 jobs you should be looking at, to gain clinical experience within the field of Psychology. These positions range from Healthcare Assistant roles to Assistant Psychologist posts that many clinicians acquired after they graduated and went on to lead very successful careers. So which of these 6 roles will be your potential next step?
Now I may be a little bias in choosing this job prospect first (seeing as I started out as a support workerJ) however I can’t stress enough how much I learnt by being on the so called “front line”. Even though it was a baptism of fire, I learnt more about human behaviours in that post than I did in 3 years at University. This type of position WILL give you all the clinical experience needed to progress in your career especially if this is within a generic population e.g. older adults or CAMHS. Usually Support workers are the ones that implement the interventions whilst either being supervised or observing the other clinician. These types of positions also teach graduates how to engage a client and trust me, that is around 60% of pursuing a career in Psychology. You can find these positions on NHS Jobs or any popular Job search engines.
Top Tip: This is a massive opportunity to learn as much as you can about Psychological Therapies and Interventions. Whatever service you apply for, see if they have a qualified Psychologist within the team as that can help develop your Psychological skills.
2. Healthcare Assistant
Similar to a Support Worker, a Healthcare Assistant (HCA) is seen as the front line support for clients. Within this role, you will have access to a wide range of populations and disorders that will ultimately develop your clinical practice. Many times have I spoken to Qualified Psychologists that have looked back in fond (and sometimes distressing) memories of their time as a HCA. This was referred to by one Psychologist as the “time that made them” as the learning opportunities were immense. Again you can find these positions on NHS Jobs or any popular Job search engines.
Top Tip: There are always opportunities to gain a little extra money by going on the Bank system which gives you the flexibility to choose when and where you work. There could also be an opportunity to shadow a Psychologist within the service to gain a better understanding and more clinical experience.
3. Psychological Wellbeing Practitioner (PWP)
Please believe me when I say that if I knew about this career path when I had finished university, my life would be completely different right now. It actually shocked me when I was talking to Masters Students and they had never heard of a PWP role before. Basically in a nutshell, you are eligible to apply for these types of roles after you graduate. You apply for Trainee Psychological Wellbeing positions within an IAPT service (Improving Access to Psychological Therapies) around April/May time for September admission (or August/September for January admission) and you spend one year training to become a qualified PWP. The training role consists of around 1 or 2 days of teaching and then 3 or 4 days of low-intensity clinical work (which includes seeing clients with mild-moderate depression, stress etc.). After a year of training (and passing the course), you are eligible to apply for qualified posts. The average starting salary for a training position is set at a Band 4 and Band 5 for a qualified post which compared to other roles in this list, is quite good. If you are a recent psychology graduate or looking for a new challenge, I strongly recommend going down this route as it will greatly improve your clinical knowledge.
Top Tip: After around 2 years of being a qualified PWP you could think about the High-Intensity CBT Therapist role within the IAPT service. Also a little hint, if you are an aspiring Clinical Psychologist; Please do not mention this at your PWP interview as generally this is not looked upon fondly.
4. Teaching Assistant
Now this may not be the most obvious job prospect when thinking of a graduate job; however if you consider the therapeutic skills it takes to survive in a classroom, you start to see how a psychology graduate could be a perfect match. This role is particular beneficial if you’re thinking of pursuing a career in Educational Psychology as it gives you the insight needed to thrive in this setting later on. There are also many opportunities within this setting as many schools now have pastoral care and some interventions that are suggested by an Educational Psychologist would be ideal for a psychology graduate. You can find these jobs on your local authority’s vacancy websites or any popular Job search engine.
Top Tips: This job role could potentially open doors into other career paths such as teaching which could be very rewarding in the long run.
5. Research Assistant
There is a reason why this position wasn’t higher up on the list. The main reason being, the sheer competition for these roles, however what if I told you how most of the research assistants I know got their positions? Besides from their incredible interest in research; a lot of those people had dissertation supervisors that just so happened to need an assistant and who better than their undergraduate. The lesson here is to always make good connections with your lecturers as you never know what could happen. Within these roles you are normally expected to carry out literature searches and to administer the actual research procedures along with analysing the data, all under supervision of course. Being a Research Assistant will also help you if you want to pursue a career in academia as it gives you great insight into conducting psychological research. You can find these roles on any University Vacancy pages or on popular Job search engines.
Top Tips: Try and stay in contact with your university lecturers or Supervisor as they can point you in the right direction for these roles and your alumni status could give you the edge in interviews.
6. Assistant Psychologist
I know what you’re thinking “save the best for last right?” WRONG!! There is a reason why this position was put at the end. If you were to take one message from this post, it would be to seek experience from the first 4 roles before you set your heart on an Assistant position. These positions are by far the most competitive and a lot of the people you are coming up against have MSc’s and years of clinical experience on their CV’s. However, they are the best in terms of gaining an insight into what a Psychologist does (whether it is Clinical/Educational, Forensic etc.) and also therapeutic interventions.
Top Tips: If you are thinking of applying for an Assistant Psychologist role then please check out the 5 Tips on Getting that Assistant Psychologist Job
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Question? Leave a comment and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can or ask me on Twitter or LinkedIn