How to become a registered psychologist

Psychologist working with child in education room

Becoming a registered psychologist in Australia takes a minimum of six years, but there are a few different options to get you there.

When people say “I’m a psychologist”, it means they’ve completed a minimum of six years study and work experience, and are registered with the Psychology Board of Australia (PBA). Just like doctors, nurses and lawyers, it’s a legal requirement to register before you can practice as a psychologist.

A six year investment may seem like a lot, and while it does take serious dedication and commitment to becoming a psychologist, the reward is in your future career. From helping society’s most vulnerable to working with people to unlock success, you could enjoy a wide range of roles spanning fields such as health, business, education, forensics and community services.

So how do you become a psychologist? 

Illustration of how to become a psychologist

1. Complete your undergraduate degree 

All psychologists must successfully complete an accredited three year psychology major that’s recognised by the Australian Psychology Accreditation Council (APAC). You’ll gain a foundation in psychological theory and scientific knowledge, as well as learning the technical research skills you need for postgraduate study. 

Ready to start your undergrad degree? Explore our Bachelor of Science in Psychology or a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology. 

Already completed an undergraduate in another area of study? Don’t stress, you can complete an accredited graduate diploma that is the equivalent to a three year major in just one year (full-time). Be careful with terminology though – some graduate diplomas are three year equivalents; and some serve as a fourth year of study.  

2. Aim to get into honours to complete your fourth year

After your undergraduate degree, all budding psychologists need to complete a fourth year of study. Usually this is by studying an honours year as part of your undergraduate degree, so aim to achieve at least a distinction average throughout your course to give yourself the best chance of being accepted. 

We offer honours programs in both the Bachelor of Science Honours in Psychology and the Bachelor of Arts Honours in Psychology courses. 

If you don’t get accepted into an honours program, you can also complete a graduate diploma in psychology that is recognised by APAC and the PBA as an accredited fourth year, like our Graduate Diploma in Psychology. 

3. Choose your registration pathway 

Once you’ve got an accredited four year degree (or the equivalent), you can apply for provisional registration with the PBA. You’ll then need to undertake at least another two years of training via one of four pathways.  

Doctoral Degree 

If you love research, this is the path for you. By undertaking our Master of Applied Psychology + Doctor of Philosophy,  you’ll complete four and a half years of postgraduate training that combines seminars, supervised practical work and applied research. 

Standard higher degree (Masters) 

If you’re not ready to commit to a full three and a half year program, an accredited two year Master’s degree is a great option that combines coursework, practical placements and research components. Check out our Master of Applied Psychology (Clinical) to find out more about this pathway. 

5+1 pathway 

The 5+1 pathway gives you the best of both worlds – postgraduate level training at university, and on the job training in an internship. First you will complete a one year Master’s program including coursework, practicum and research, before moving into a one year supervised internship.
If this sounds ideal to you, explore our Master of Applied Psychology (Professional).

4+2 pathway 

If gaining experience on the job sounds like the best way for you to learn, you can undertake a two year supervised internship as a provisionally registered psychologist. The internship must be approved as an accredited pathway, and all requirements for full registration need to be met during training. The PBA may be making changes to this pathway in 2019, so be sure to check their website for any updates or talk to your supervisor to make sure your training is not affected.

So whether you’re passionate about research, or prefer more hands-on learning, there’s a pathway towards a career in Psychology that’s right for you.
Posted on:

25 Jan 2019

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