How to Become a Psychologist in Australia

If you feel like you’d like to learn more about the mind – if you are fascinated by human nature and want to understand peoples’ behaviour on a deeper level, perhaps you might also be considering a career as a psychologist. 

There are actually multiple possible educational paths that you can consider if you’re interested. How to become a psychologist in Australia largely depends on which one you choose. The process can be a bit confusing at first, but it can be quite easy to understand with a little patience. 

How to Become a Psychologist in Australia: The Process

Step 1: Accredited Undergraduate Psychology Sequence 

The first step of higher studies in psychology would be the undergraduate psychology sequence. Your program has to be accredited by the Australian Psychology Accreditation Council (APAC) in order for you to become eligible for the further studies you’ll need to pursue a career in psychology. This is usually a 3-year program.

Examples of these programs are accredited Bachelor of Psychology or Psychological Science degrees. If you happen to be a student that’s in the middle of or already done with your undergraduate studies in a different field, you could also acquire a graduate diploma in psychology that has been accredited by APAC to make you qualified for further studies. 

Step 2: Accredited Fourth Year Psychology Sequence 

This step is 1 year of postgraduate studies in an APAC-accredited postgraduate diploma or honours degree program in psychology. Both the initial 3-year as well as the 4th year sequences will give you a couple of work opportunities in health or community services, business, education, and a couple of other fields. 

More importantly however, completing your postgraduate fourth year will let you work as a psychological research assistant and apply for provisional registration with the Psychology Board of Australia. This will be needed for your internship and training as a psychologist. 

Step 3: Provisional Registration, Internship, and Training 

You have two options for this next step. You could complete a Master of Professional Psychology program, which lasts 1 year, followed by an internship, which also lasts for 1 year. This is called the 5+1 Internship Plan. If you choose this option, you will have to take the National Psychology Exam to prove that you were able to develop the proper competencies needed to hold a practice. 

The internship year will require you to be provisionally registered as a psychologist, so that you can practice under supervision. The requirements include 1500 hours split into supervised psychological practice (majority), direct client contact, mentoring from a more senior practitioner, and professional development activities. 

Your second option is to pursue a Master of Psychology degree, which lasts for 2 years, or a PhD in Psychology degree, which can take 3-4 years. These programs have their own sets of requirements. When compared to the 5+1 program, this program has a heavier research component. After this 

After completing a masters or doctorate degree program, you will be qualified to apply for what is called a registrar program. These are programs that will allow you to practice under supervision in your specific chosen field of psychology. 

The 4+2 psychologist Program

In the past, a 4+2 program was offered. It consisted of the first three years of undergraduate studies followed by the same honours or postgraduate diploma in psychology would be followed by 2 years of practice under a supervisor. 

This is in comparison to the 5+1 program, in which the fifth year would be a Masters in Professional Psychology program, followed by 1 year of practice under a supervisor. The 4+2 program will be discontinued, effective June 30, 2022. You can learn more about it here

Frequently Asked Questions about Becoming a Psychologist in Australia 

How long does it take to become a psychologist in Australia?

It takes at least 6 years to become eligible for general registration as a psychologist in Australia, starting with your undergraduate studies. The longest path to becoming a psychologist is the route with a combined Masters in Psychology and Doctorate degree, taking at least 9.5 years. 

What qualifications do psychologists need in Australia?

The qualifications differ depending on the route taken, but all paths that you can choose include an undergraduate degree in psychology from an accredited program, and a fourth year of psychology studies in a postgraduate diploma or honours program. After that, requirements during the provisional registration period differ. 

Is psychology a good career in Australia?

Psychology is a good career in Australia, as demand has been rising and is expected to keep rising over the next couple of years. Psychologists in research, education, and professional care are all needed and will continue to be needed for the foreseeable future. 

Do psychologists get paid well in Australia?

On average, psychologists earn around AU$65-95k per year. This can differ depending on what kind of psychology you want to practice, as well as the performance of your individual career. You can make a comfortable living as a psychologist in Australia. 

Becoming a Psychologist in Australia 

The road to pursuing a career in psychology can be long and difficult. However, it has come to be a very fulfilling choice of career for many. If the human condition is something that you have a strong interest in, psychology is a wonderful way to understand and help people. 

There are lots of updates on the Australian Psychology Board website if you are interested in learning more about how to become a psychologist in Australia.  

References

https://psychology.org.au/training-and-careers/careers-and-studying-psychology/studying-psychology/study-pathways (195 words)

https://www.sydney.edu.au/science/study/study-areas/psychology/becoming-a-registered-psychologist.html (301 words)

https://online.adelaide.edu.au/blog/how-to-become-a-psychologist (876 words)

Samantha J. Newell, Anna Chur-Hansen, Peter Strelan, A construct validity analysis of the concept of psychological literacy, Australian Journal of Psychology, 10.1080/00049530.2021.1922069, 73, 4, (462-474), (2021).