"On an individual and community level, Australians are drawn to the insights that psychology provides." PROFESSOR SIMON CROWE, PRESIDENT OF THE AUSTRALIAN PSYCHOLOGICAL SOCIETY

Psychology can lead graduates into meaningful work in an array of settings.

Businesses and organisations that use psychology training and psychologists include corporations and sporting groups, courts and gaols, hospitals and mental health facilities, universities and schools. There is always an option to work within a private practice as well.

Associate Professor Tim Hannan, President of the Australian Psychological Society, says "As a scientific discipline, psychology employs scientific methods to explore human behaviour – how we act, think and feel, and why we do so.

As a profession, psychology applies this body of scientific knowledge to enhancing people's lives in diverse settings, through the use of evidence- based strategies and interventions to help people to overcome challenges and improve their performance."

The science of human behaviour attracts many people who are interested in brain function, memory, learning, human development and the processes determining how people think, feel, behave and react. Psychologists use the latest research on the factors that influence these processes. They devise and test methods to improve performance, address mental illness, and help people to live happier, healthier lives. Psychology is a health profession, and one that is almost unrivalled in the scope in which it can be applied.

Demand for psychologists is growing, and the outlook for the industry is positive. Career opportunities exist in three main areas:

  1. Research and teaching - the science
  2. Service provision - the helping profession
  3. Beyond the individual - the application of social science at a systems level

Many psychologists move flexibly across these areas. For example, some psychologists might conduct research and provide clinical services in a mental health setting. Others may work in universities as well as conducting private counselling practices. A health psychologist might be involved in health promotion in the community, pain management with individual clients, and research on effective health policy. Psychologists are trained according to a scientist- practitioner model. This means that practitioners must keep up with the latest developments in psychological science, preferably engaging in research themselves, while researchers are expected to test their findings in 'real-world' contexts – or at least to be aware of the limitations of research conducted in artificial or confined conditions.

Associate Professor Tim Hannan is a graduate of the University of Sydney, having completed both an honours degree in psychology and a postgraduate masters degree in clinical psychology in the School of Psychology.

"Psychology graduates have a set of skills and attributes that are highly regarded by organisations and the general community, including advanced communication skills, the ability to design, conduct and evaluate research, and the ability to think critically and creatively about problems," he says.

"Psychology provides graduates with an exciting diversity of professional pathways, guaranteed to satisfy and enrich those who wish to make a difference to their world through enriching people's lives and working for social and community change."

Statistics and salary

In 2012 there were approximately 28,300 registered Psychologists in Australia, with the majority of these working in direct service provision.

Starting salary: $50,000

Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics

Industry bodies

Accrediting bodies

Courses to consider

Consider enrolling in one of the following courses and majors to prepare yourself for a career in Psychology.

Our courses:

Also see the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Health Sciences and the University of Sydney Business School.

Our majors: