As a psychology graduate you will be equipped with a range of subject-specific and transferable skills that are highly valued by employers enabling you to enter a wide range of careers.
Nationally, the most popular job areas psychology graduates enter are: childcare, health and education (15.3%), legal, social and welfare professions (15.3%), business, HR and finance (9.5%), marketing, PR and sales (6.1%) and education professionals (5.9%).
Source: HECSU - What do Graduates do 2018/9
The psychology degree at Nottingham is accredited by the British Psychological Society and you will need this accreditation to work in professional psychology.
What skills will I gain during my degree?
In addition to your subject specific knowledge, your psychology degree will equip you with a range of transferable skills including:
- written, verbal and visual communication skills
- the ability to offer and receive constructive criticism
- understanding human behaviour
- handling data and statistics
- proficiency with using information technology
- problem solving
- project management
How can I develop my skills and gain experience during my degree?
Due to the range of career options and sectors open to you, it is important to consider your options early on in your course and look for opportunities to gain relevant experience and skills. As well as improving your CV, gaining experience can also help you to make choices about your future career.
Depending on what area of work or role you might be interested in, and where, there will be specific strategies, from speculative applications to formal processes you need to be familiar with.
Nottingham Internship Scheme
We work closely with a huge variety of local and national businesses to bring you an exciting range of internship opportunities, for both current students and recent graduates
There are lots of opportunities to volunteer locally through the Students' Union's Student Volunteer Centre and volunteering centres in the city and beyond.
Nottingham Advantage Award
The Nottingham Advantage Award offers interesting extracurricular modules to develop your employability. With over more than 200 modules across our three campuses in the UK, China and Malaysia, you're bound to find modules that appeal,
There a number of modules specifically for you including Psychology Internships, Engaging the Public With Psychology and Career Skills for Psychology Students.
Get involved in a society or sports club whether you are a team member, treasurer or marketing officer, you'll gain valuable skills and experiences that employers will love!
Students in Classrooms
There are three initiatives which will give you the opportunity to work in a local educational setting. These initiatives support the academic attainment and raise the aspirations of primary and secondary pupils, whilst developing the skills and employability of those involved.
These are excellent opportunities for students considering teaching, youth work or community engagement as a career.
You could build your communication, commercial awareness, problem- solving and teamwork skills through part-time jobs. Unitemps is our recruitment service for part-time and temporary work on campus and in the local area.
How can I find a year-long placement?
All psychology students have the opportunity of taking an optional placement year as part of their studies. It will be your responsibility to find and apply for a placement but there is lots of support available from us both in terms of internet resources, group workshops and one-to-one appointments.
A psychology-related placement could mean many different things. Have a think about:
- what are you looking to get out of the placement in terms of experience or skills
- what sort of settings and locations are you interested in
- what sort of role are you looking to find
Business-based placements should normally be paid and could include things like human resources, marketing or consultancy.
You are able to apply for any type of placement – there does not have to be a direct link with your academic study area.
It is a good idea to choose a placement in a sector that you might decide to work in after graduation although any year-long work placements should improve your employability.
It is more difficult to find one website which houses all psychology related placements. Some of these opportunities may be unpaid. It could be worth looking for placement roles within organisations such as:
- Home Office
- National Crime Agency
- Metropolitan Police
- Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services
- Centre for Brain and Cognitive Development
- Social Communication Disorders Clinic at Great Ormond Street Hospital
- Youth offending teams
- HM Prisons and probation services
Start your search
What are the range of careers I can enter?
Psychology graduates enter a diverse range of occupations and further study. About 20% of UK psychology graduates become chartered psychologists progressing in fields such as clinical, forensic, educational and occupational psychology. Take a look at the BPS and Careers in Psychology websites.
If you are interested in a professional psychology career it is really important to gain substantial paid or voluntary work experience with the client group you are interested in working with.
Psychology graduates often use their skills to help others within roles such as community work, counselling and advice work, mental health work, research or teaching.
As an alternative to clinical psychology graduates could also investigate careers such as Psychological Well-being Practitioner or High Intensity Therapist, both of these roles are based within NHS IAPT (Improving Access to Psychological Therapy) services.
Some graduates progress to more business related jobs such as marketing, PR and advertising, human resources (HR), consultancy, finance and retail management.
Getting into human resources (HR) and marketing
Using your knowledge and understanding
HR departments are generally responsible for developing and implement policies to ensure staff are used effectively within an organisation. This covers a diverse range of areas, including employment conditions, recruitment, pay, training, working practices and equality and diversity.
A psychology degree involving intensive study of how and why people think and act the way they do is often seem as an excellent course of preparation for working in HR.
For example, understanding theory and concepts behind reward and motivation can inform how staff incentive programmes are developed to encourage productivity and staff retention, not to mention also informing the development of staff wellbeing policies. As another example, understanding how assessments can be used effectively for diverse areas such as testing and interviewing candidates or measuring employee engagement and satisfaction.
Using your skills
Employers will expect students with a psychology degree to be effective listeners, approachable and detail-orientated while possessing excellent written and verbal communication, data handling and problem-solving skills.
All these skills will be useful for a career in HR as you will be working with people, sometimes during potentially sensitive situations where staff will speak to you confidentially about issues that affect them. You will need to ensure policies and activities are followed exactly and records are updated as well as dealing with data and sensitive information (such as as attendance records and pay details) requiring effective data handling skills developed during your degree.
You may also be interested in working as an occupation psychologist. This role entails looking at how people behave at work, and depending on the needs of the organisation can cover broad areas such as counselling, personal development, designing work environments, selecting candidates and employee training and motivation.
To work as an occupational psychologist you will need a British Psychology Society (BPS) accredited masters course such as the University's MSc Occupational Psychology.
Find out more about a career in HR
Marketing essentially involves understanding people’s needs and wants to create marketing campaigns that show how a product or service meets these. Marketing is a common career path for psychology graduates who want to use the skills developed on their degree in a non-clinical setting.
For instance, an understanding of cognitive psychology concepts such as cognitive biases and how people might not trust something ‘new’ and ‘untested’ could be useful when looking to market a new product or service.
As another example, principles of social psychology are commonly used by marketers, for instance creating marketing campaigns that encourage potential customers to gradually change their behaviour and become actual paying customers.
In addition, researching and understanding human behaviour is very relevant to being a market researcher and can be useful in considering and anticipating customer needs in other marketing roles such as creating plans to engage with a particular audience.
Employers are looking for people who have excellent communication skills and creative problem-solving skills, which you will develop during your studies.
Find out more about a career in digital marketing
Destinations of Nottingham psychology students. Includes case study from UoN alumna
In 2017 96.2% of psychology graduates were employed or in further study six months after graduation. Here are some examples of the graduate employment destinations.
Business, HR and finance
- Graduate trainee – finance
- HR adviser
- Recruitment analyst
Childcare, Health and Education
- Assistant psychologist
- Healthcare assistant
- Mental health worker
- Psychology trainee
- Teaching assistant
- Therapy assistant
Legal, social and welfare professions
- Civil servant
- Police officer
- Support worker
- Welfare and equal opportunities officer
Marketing, PR and sales
- Account executive
- Marketing executive
- Customer relationship management (CRM analyst)
- Merchandising assistant
- Buying assistant
- Retail manager
- Retail graduate trainee
Case study - Jessica Fath, 2018 graduate
About one hour after my graduation ceremony, I received a call from my future employer offering me the job I had applied for a few days earlier. I am now working for a charity called Rethink Mental Illness.
They are training me to become a psychological wellbeing practitioner (PWP) which means that I am currently working three days a week in prison and two days a week I am at university learning the skill-sets necessary to become a fully qualified PWP.
Read Jessica's blog post
What are my further study options? Includes video from PhD alumna
Every year 25-35% of psychology graduates choose to build on their undergraduate study by undertaking a psychology related taught masters course.
Graduates have successful achieved places on courses including:
- Brain Imaging
- Health Psychology
- Mental Health Research
- Occupational Psychology
- PGCE courses
- Psychology Research Methods
- Rehabilitation Psychology
Most students who wish to progress to a PhD will have studied at postgraduate taught level. Other students opt to take a postgraduate qualification which will allow them to pursue a particular career interest, such as teaching.
For careers in professional psychology a specific doctorate-level qualification is often a requirement. These doctorate courses offer a combination of academic teaching and service based learning alongside research. Entry is extremely competitive and students should gain as much relevant experience as possible before applying.
Spotlight On: Science into Business
Kiri Granger, PhD alumna and Director of Neuroscience at Cambridge Cognition, talks about her job role and working in a commercial setting.
She explores the differences in working in this type of environment and the activities undertaken to ensure there is a return on investment (ROI) for the company.