Psy­chol­ogy jobs abound

Some con­sider it a nar­row field, but psy­chol­ogy grad­u­ates are ev­ery­where, writes So­phie Toomey

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Career One -

IF you’re look­ing for great job prospects you may want to con­sider en­rolling in psy­chol­ogy. Ac­cord­ing to ex­perts, a psy­chol­ogy de­gree is one of the most valu­able when it comes to post-univer­sity em­ploy­ment and can open up vast op­por­tu­ni­ties in both pub­lic and private sec­tors.

And it’s not just at post­grad­u­ate level that the job mar­ket opens up, says Peter Ge­orge, man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of the con­sult­ing group at Ta­lent2 in Melbourne.

‘‘ If you look in the pa­per or on Ca­reerOne for jobs un­der the ti­tle of psy­chol­o­gist you won’t find much at all. But if you’re look­ing for jobs where a psy­chol­ogy de­gree is not only wel­come, but pre­ferred, then you’ll be pleas­antly sur­prised.

‘‘ Pretty much all the grad­u­ate in­take pro­grams for large com­pa­nies and many pub­lic sec­tor or­gan­i­sa­tions will be happy to take psy­chol­ogy grad­u­ates. Gov­ern­ment de­part­ments like the Wheat Board, ma­jor banks and large re­tail­ers are all open to psych grad­u­ates.’’

Ac­cord­ing to the De­part­ment of Ed­u­ca­tion Train­ing and Youth Af­fairs, psy­chol­ogy grad­u­ates are em­ployed in ar­eas as di­verse as pub­lic re­la­tions and me­dia af­fairs, ad­ver­tis­ing and hu­man re­sources and the De­part­ment of Em­ploy­ment Work­place Re­la­tions and Small Busi­ness found there are well above av­er­age job prospects for psy­chol­ogy grad­u­ates. Th­ese in­clude busi­ness in­for­ma­tion, mar­ket­ing, ad­ver­tis­ing, health and so­cial wel­fare.

Ge­orge says that grad­u­ates must get creative with what they are look­ing for, and be pre­pared to branch out. ‘‘ I have been in­vited over the last four years to speak at ca­reer nights for psych grad­u­ates and they can be dour af­fairs as stu­dents are told there are no jobs for psy­chol­ogy grad­u­ates.’’ But Ge­orge says there are. ‘‘ For ex­am­ple, you might have an or­gan­i­sa­tional psy­chol­o­gist who needs to look un­der the job ti­tle of ‘ change man­ager’, where they will find 150 jobs. Psy­chol­ogy grad­u­ates are great at rolling out change in com­pa­nies and also at re­cruit­ment. They have won­der­ful qual­i­fi­ca­tions for those jobs and or­gan­i­sa­tions and are very keen to have them. The ma­jor­ity of psy­chol­ogy grad­u­ates now go into busi­ness.’’

Ge­orge says psy­chol­ogy grad­u­ates are ‘‘ con­sid­ered to have more in­sight into hu­man be­hav­iour as well as be­ing skilled in the ar­eas of quan­ti­ta­tive anal­y­sis and sta­tis­tics. A psy­chol­ogy grad­u­ate is also highly re­garded for their an­a­lyt­i­cal skills and re­search ca­pac­ity. This is very at­trac­tive to em­ploy­ers.’’

Ge­orge says there is some con­fu­sion about what un­reg­is­tered psy­chol­ogy grad­u­ates can do by way of test­ing. ‘‘ Psy­chol­ogy grad­u­ates are the only ones who can ad­min­is­ter psy­cho­log­i­cal tests in or­gan­i­sa­tions, which is a great as­set — but they must first be reg­is­tered for two years of su­per­vised prac­tice.’’

Ge­orge is a qual­i­fied coun­selling psy­chol­o­gist who, af­ter two years in clin­i­cal prac­tice, de­cided to move into the com­mer­cial sec­tor. ‘‘ I found work­ing as a coun­selling psy­chol­o­gist wasn’t for me. I worked with or­gan­i­sa­tions coun­selling long-term un­em­ployed and found it gru­elling lis­ten­ing to eight peo­ple a day with re­ally se­vere is­sues. I was very young, so I went to Morgan and Banks and of­fered to do psych test­ing for them with the aim of get­ting into or­gan­i­sa­tion psych prac­tice.’’

That was 20 years ago and over that time Ge­orge has worked on sev­eral of the largest cor­po­rate change projects in the coun­try. ‘‘ I have worked in projects in Tas­ma­nia that re­quired mov­ing 2800 work­ers when whole towns were be­ing shut down.’’

Ge­orge now man­ages a group of psy­chol­o­gists who im­ple­ment change projects for large or­gan­i­sa­tions, and says his job is a mix­ture of de­vis­ing strate­gies to min­imise stress in times of change, mo­ti­vat­ing work­ers and as­sist­ing em­ploy­ees to adapt to new ways. ‘‘ My role is to look at what’s stop­ping peo­ple cop­ing with change. It might be the im­ple­men­ta­tion of a new IT sys­tem or new com­pany prac­tices. It might be gran­u­lar or big pic­ture. I work with man­agers to help them mo­ti­vate their teams, or with the teams them­selves.’’

Ge­orge says he wouldn’t brand him­self a coun­sel­lor for fear of be­ing con­sid­ered too ‘‘ wishy-washy’’ in a cor­po­rate en­vi­ron­ment. ‘‘ If I in­tro­duce my­self as a coun­sel­lor then I would be con­sid­ered su­per­flu­ous. I would have to over­come peo­ple’s re­sis­tance to be­ing coun­selled. If I say I am a change man­ager who is go­ing to help you achieve your goals, then peo­ple re­ally lis­ten!’’

But he says there is an el­e­ment of coun­selling in his job. ‘‘ I look at a sit­u­a­tion and try to find the best way to look at a prob­lem more op­ti­misti­cally and if some­one ex­presses dis­com­fort then we talk through it.’’

While plenty of grad­u­ates opt out of a pure psy­chol­ogy ca­reer, for those who do wish to stay in the field Ge­orge stresses the im­por­tance of a post­grad­u­ate spe­cial­i­sa­tion. ‘‘ The vast ma­jor­ity of those prac­tis­ing psy­chol­o­gists will have some kind of post­grad­u­ate qual­i­fi­ca­tion.’’

Kate Moore, spokesper­son for the Aus­tralian Psy­cho­log­i­cal so­ci­ety, ex­plains that grad­u­ates at the masters and doc­toral lev­els typ­i­cally con­tinue to work in their field of ex­per­tise.

Moore says the most com­mon ar­eas of psy­chol­ogy prac­tice are clin­i­cal and coun­selling, but that other fields are grow­ing fast. ‘‘ There are sev­eral pop­u­lar spe­cial­ist ar­eas now in­clud­ing or­gan­i­sa­tional and foren­sic psy­chol­ogy. Ed­u­ca­tional and de­vel­op­men­tal psy­chol­ogy is pop­u­lar, too. They help chil­dren with learn­ing dif­fi­cul­ties and prob­lems as­sim­i­lat­ing at school. Or­gan­i­sa­tional psy­chol­o­gists work help­ing com­pa­nies with hu­man re­la­tions, stress man­age­ment and re­cruit­ment of staff. Th­ese are just some of the ar­eas study psy­chol­o­gists can pur­sue.’’

Foren­sic psy­chol­ogy is now one of the fastest grow­ing ar­eas of psy­chol­ogy and one that takes the prac­tice of psy­chol­ogy into the realm of the law and the crim­i­nal jus­tice sys­tem.

Pro­fes­sor Lynne Ec­cle­ston is a foren­sic psy­chol­o­gist who works in the crim­i­nal jus­tice sys­tem and lec­tures at the Univer­sity of Melbourne.

Says Ec­cle­ston, ‘‘ My prac­tice cov­ers as­sess­ment of of­fend­ers and in­ter­ven­tions de­signed to re­ha­bil­i­tate crim­i­nal of­fend­ers. But there are also other ar­eas of re­search such as jury de­ci­sion mak­ing, the role of chil­dren in the court­room and the im­pact of ex­pert wit­nesses.’’

Ec­cle­ston says foren­sic psy­chol­o­gists also pro­vide tes­ti­mony in cases of psy­cho­log­i­cal syn­dromes, such as bat­tered wife syn­drome. ‘‘ They would also be­come in­volved in cases where there are ques­tions about com­pe­tence to stand trial, crim­i­nal re­spon­si­bil­ity, as­sess­ing risk of pris­on­ers, as well as look­ing at trauma suf­fered by vic­tims and the in­san­ity defence.’’ She says there are var­ied ca­reers for foren­sic psy­chol­o­gists and many work as prison psy­chol­o­gists spe­cial­is­ing in re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion of pris­on­ers. Oth­ers work in civil law as­sess­ing those who claim to have been phys­i­cally or emo­tion­ally in­jured, and some work

‘‘ in the area of child pro­tec­tion as­sess­ing such things as tes­ti­mony.

Ec­cle­ston says a typ­i­cal day can in­volve any­thing from teach­ing post­grad­u­ate stu­dents in the masters of crim­i­nol­ogy course to pro­vid­ing train­ing to team psy­chol­o­gists, or edit­ing spe­cial­ist foren­sic psy­chol­ogy jour­nals.

‘‘ I’m also a mem­ber of an ad­vi­sory ref­er­ence com­mit­tee for the Homi­cide Squad of the Vic­to­ria Po­lice and rou­tinely pro­vide con­sul­tancy ser­vices on sex­ual and vi­o­lent of­fend­ers.’’

Ec­cle­ston says pop­u­lar cul­ture has cre­ated some con­fu­sion about ex­actly what foren­sic psy­chol­o­gists do. ‘‘ I find there is of­ten con­fu­sion about foren­sic science and psy­chol­ogy. Shows like CSI are fo­cused on foren­sic science while foren­sic psy­chol­o­gists study of­fender be­haviour­more like the TV show Crim­i­nal Minds .’’

Ec­cle­ston says she loves her work be­cause of its variety. ‘‘ It’s never bor­ing and I love teach­ing and shar­ing knowl­edge.’’ She says, how­ever, that it is not with­out its dif­fi­cul­ties. ‘‘ I am con­stantly jug­gling com­pet­ing de­mands and I am also ex­posed to peo­ple’s tragic life sto­ries, but my job has led me to work with some fas­ci­nat­ing in­di­vid­u­als and cases.’’

While a masters de­gree such as Ec­cle­ston’s equips grad­u­ates for work in their ar­eas of spe­cial­i­sa­tion, Ge­orge says psy­chol­ogy stu­dents can be con­fi­dent that their un­der­grad­u­ate de­gree is suf­fi­cient to po­si­tion them well in the job mar­ket. ‘‘ They are armed with the skills to think crit­i­cally and cre­atively and are skilled com­mu­ni­ca­tors. There isn’t much a psy­chol­ogy grad­u­ate isn’t equipped for.’’

Psych ma­jors, he added, are es­pe­cially well po­si­tioned in the job mar­ket be­cause they are trained to think crit­i­cally and cre­atively and are skilled in com­mu­ni­ca­tions.

‘‘ Psy­chol­ogy of­fers the same skills that you’ll need as a busi­ness ex­ec­u­tive, ar­chi­tect, li­brar­ian or so­cial worker. There are not many jobs that re­quire skills that psy­chol­ogy ma­jors don’t have,’’ says Brewer.

Pic­ture: David Crosling

Tes­ti­mony: Foren­sic psy­chol­o­gist Lynne Ec­cle­ston says work is

never bor­ing’’

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.