An occupational psychologist studies what affects people at work. They aim to find ways of increasing job satisfaction and motivation and making organisations more successful. They might also counsel workers who are made redundant, are about to retire, or looking to return to work after long term illness.
They may also be known as work psychologists.
You could be:
designing psychological or psychometric tests to choose the right staff for the job
checking the recruitment process to make sure it is fair and effective
working with management and trade unions to improve industrial relations
interviewing individuals and giving group talks
training managers in appraisal systems and leadership skills
training workers in teamwork, communication and assertiveness
assessing the design of the working environment, such as the layout of work stations, suitability of lighting and effect of noise levels, and making recommendations
advising workers how to deal with problems such as stress or situations such as business restructuring
helping the firm develop an image which sends the right message and support the rights of groups such as ethnic minorities, women and people with disabilities.
The figures below are only a guide. Actual pay rates may vary, depending on:
where you work
the size of the company or organisation you work for
whether you are self-employed.
Starting salaries for occupational psychologists are between £20,000 and £25,000 a year, rising up to £48,000 with experience. Senior posts can be around £70,000 a year or more.
You work in an office but may have to travel between different offices in the region.
You work mainly office hours with occasional evenings and weekends.
You would work towards registration with the British Psychological Society (BPS).
To be eligible for the Graduate Basis for Chartered Membership (GBC), you need either a BPS recognised degree (first or second class Honours) in psychology, or a degree in another subject plus a BPS recognised conversion course.
To do an Honours degree in psychology you usually need 4-5 Highers.
Paid or unpaid work experience is advantageous.
After your degree you would find relevant paid or voluntary work experience (at least 12 months) ideally as a psychology assistant or research assistant, before choosing your speciality.
In order to qualify as an occupational psychologist, you must complete a BPS accredited MSc in Occupational Psychology. There are no universities in Scotland offering this course, however there are several universities in England that offer it on a distance learning basis.
This is followed by the BPS Qualification in Occupational Psychology Stage 2, involving 2 years of supervised practice.
All practising psychologists must register with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC).
You will require a satisfactory criminal record check from Disclosure Scotland to show that you are suitable for this type of work. Contact Disclosure Scotland for details on the type you would need.
Opportunities are available in the public and private sector, but most jobs are in the private sector. The second largest employer of occupational psychologists is the civil service. You could work in human resources management or in market research. You could also get a job in a research organisation.
The Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) is the UK-wide regulatory body responsible for setting and maintaining standards of professional training, performance and conduct in the following health care professions: Arts Therapists; Audiologist; Biomedical Scientist; Chiropodist and Podiatrist; Clinical Scientist; Dietician; Dramatherapist; Occupational Therapist; Operating Department Practitioner; Orthoptist; Paramedic; Physiotherapist; Practitioner Psychologist; Prosthetist and Orthotist; Radiographer; Speech and Language Therapist. (The HCPC may regulate other healthcare professions in the future.) The HCPC website contains a register of all approved courses in the above professions.