If you are a people-person, are interested in the human mind and love to help others then this could be the career field for you.
Psychology is a vast, growing and interesting field. When you become a practicing Psychologist you will deal with people from all walks of life and will have the opportunity to play an integral role in helping them better their own lives.
There are many different fields of Psychology which include:
- Clinical: assess, diagnose and treat patients suffering from mental illness
- Counseling: very similar to Clinical but treat patients with Psychotherapy
- Educational: aid those with learning disabilities or help learners reach their full potential in high school
- Forensic: focus on the relationship between Psychology and the Law
- Indurstial/Organisational: this form of Psychology focuses on applying the study of human behaviour to the workplace
- Health: aim to improve both mental and physical health
- Sport: aim to ensure the athletes are in the correct mental space and are physically fit
Psychology is quite broad career field so you might find one of these specific areas interesting.
If you would like to pursue a career in Psychology then you will need the following subjects in order to study towards this qualification at a tertiary institution:
- Pure Maths (at 50%) OR
- Maths literacy (at 70%) and a bridging Maths course at University
There are a number of tertiary institutions in South Africa that offer high quality education in Psychology, but we recommend the following:
- University of Cape Town (UCT) – Faculty Point Score (FPS) of 450 for guaranteed entrance
- University of Stellenbosch – no APS required
In order to become a qualified and practicing Psychologist, you will need to complete your Masters in Psychology at a tertiary institution. This should take you up to 6 years to complete. Once you’ve completed your Masters and you’re set on your way to begin practicing, it’s advised that you gain practical experience doing ‘pro bono’ work – i.e. charity/free counseling. Many successful Psychologists do pro bono work years into their career.
The following skills are needed in order to be a successful Psychologist:
- an in-depth understanding of the human body, mind and soul and this is gained via your studies
- an eagerness to understand and help your patients
- the ability to listen attentively
- the ability to give clear and concise advice
- the ability to remain detached from your patients’ problems and not get involved personally
Psychologists can work in a number of different spheres of the economy:
And it is important that you find the one that best suits you.
Your working hours will depend on your employment. If you are a private Psychologist then you will decide your working hours and they will be governed by when you see your patients. On the other hand, if you are an Organisational Psychologist and employed by a company then you will generally work according to their working hours.
The field of Psychology is generally associated with decent compensation. This, again, depends on your employment. Here a few examples of average annual incomes in different fields of Psychology:
- Clinical Psychologist: R311 114
- Organisational Psychologist: R264 754
- Counselling Psychologist: R226 801
- Educational Psychologist: R301 541
As a qualified and practicing Psychologist, you should expect a career filled with helping your patients come to terms with their issues in life as well as guiding them on how to best fulfill their capabilities. Psychology is fast becoming an integral link in the chain that leads to happier, healthier and better functioning countries.