Psychology aims to understand the complexities of the human brain and how it influences our bodies, actions and thoughts. As such, psychology is a broad and exciting field of study.
From interpreting behavioural patterns to understanding mental health issues and how the mind processes emotions and memory, studying psychology opens many fascinating avenues for exploration.
We have made great strides in understanding the world we inhabit, but the human brain remains shrouded in mystery.
Psychology aims to decode who we are and, most crucially, why.
It can help us to better understand ourselves and those around us. We can apply such understanding to helping others lead happier and healthier lives.
It’s no wonder then that psychology is one of the most popular subjects to study and professions to enter.
In fact, there are over 750,000 psychology professionals in the UK alone. Here’s how you can join them.
Becoming a Qualified Psychologist
Working in psychology is a professional career. This means that you need to hold specific qualifications to practise in this field.
To become a psychologist, you will need to have an undergraduate degree in psychology that has been accredited by The British Psychological Society.
This will give you Graduate Basis for Chartered Membership, which is your first step in qualifying as a chartered psychologist.
Being a chartered psychologist will demonstrate that you possess the highest standards of psychological knowledge. This is vital if you want a successful career in the field.
To achieve chartered membership, you will need to apply for postgraduate training once you have achieved your undergraduate degree.
Postgraduate studies allow you to specialise in a certain field of psychology, which will direct where your career takes you.
- Counselling – your focus will be on how to use your psychological understanding to enhance people’s mental health and wellbeing. You could find yourself working within mental health services, schools and GP surgeries.
- Clinical psychology – this specialism aims to reduce psychological distress and enhance psychological wellbeing in those with poor mental or physical health. You will likely work with individuals with depression, drug addiction or relationship issues, amongst others.
- Educational psychology – this branch of psychology is concerned with developmental disorders and learning disabilities that impact children and young people. You will spend your time working with teachers and teaching assistants in schools and early years settings, as well as offering support to carers and parents.
- Forensic psychology – this route is perfect for those who are interested in the workings of the criminal mind and understanding criminal behaviour. You could find yourself working with police to profile criminals and assist with investigations or supporting the rehabilitation of ex-offenders.
- Sport psychology – your focus will be on the application of psychology to increase exercise levels and motivation. You could find work helping athletes to prepare psychologically for the demands of their sport, from training to competition.
Each stage of your training will take, on average, 3 years to complete. Therefore, you can expect to qualify as a psychologist within 6 years of starting university.
To go to university and begin your training, you will need to have at least 2 A-levels and GCSEs in English and maths at grade 4/C or above.
Therefore, you may think that becoming a psychologist without A-levels is impossible.
However, an Access to Higher Education Diploma in psychology will give you the qualification you need to pursue a career in psychology.
Your Access to HE Diploma
Perfect for anyone who lacks the relevant qualifications to study at undergraduate level, Access to Higher Education Diplomas are Level 3 qualifications and therefore equivalent to A-levels.
As such, they offer an alternative route into university for those who didn’t obtain A-levels or get the right grades for university.
To enrol you need a grade 4/C or above in GCSE/Functional Skills English and maths and an internet-enabled device.
Access to HE Diplomas are delivered entirely online. This means that you can study around your commitments and qualify for university in your own time.
You can work towards your psychology career from home at times of your choosing.
There are many Access to HE Diploma pathways to choose from – including psychology and sociology and psychology with criminology – so that you can tailor your studies to your interests and chosen psychology degree.
Each programme is designed with your future in mind. That's why your Access to HE Diploma will equip you with the psychology-specific knowledge you need for your future. It will teach you the academic skills to thrive in a university environment too.
During your diploma, you will also receive support from an experienced tutor who will guide you through the UCAS application process and ensure you’re prepared for higher education.
Once you’ve achieved your Access to HE Diploma, you will possess the skills and qualifications to go to university and pursue your psychology career with confidence.
Most students complete their Access to HE Diploma in 9 – 12 months, although you have up to 2 years to achieve your qualification.
From enrolling on your online diploma to graduating with your postgraduate degree, you can expect to qualify as a psychologist without A-levels in just under 7 years.
Your Career in Psychology
As previously mentioned, the scope of psychology is huge. You can specialise in 9 different areas of psychology, all of which lead to exciting and rewarding career opportunities.
Working as a sport psychologist could see you employed by gyms and sports clubs, whilst specialising in forensic psychology could lead to employment in prisons, rehabilitation units and courts.
You could specialise in health and help those who are ill better cope with their chronic condition in hospitals, GP surgeries or healthcare clinics.
Alternatively, you could work to improve staff performance in the workplace as an occupational psychologist. You could even support the rehabilitation of those with brain injuries by specialising in neuropsychology.
You could also go on to pursue an academic career in psychology, where you’ll contribute to the latest research in the field and inspire the next generation of psychologists.
Just as the brain is multi-faceted, so will be your career.
However, one thing is for certain. Whether you specialise in forensic, sport or health psychology, you can look forward to having a career that changes lives.
If you want to become a psychology professional, why not take the first step towards your career today? Delve into the human brain and become a psychologist without A-levels by enrolling on your Access to Higher Education Diploma now!