A Career in Clinical Psychology

The role of a clinical psychologist is to offer treatment to those affected by a wide range of mental health disorders. Through the useĀ of a wide range of methods and psychological knowledge and research, the psychologist aims to reduce the affect of said disorders and improve the well being of his/her patients.

The range of mental disorders treated by a clinical psychologist is very wide ranging from depression to behavioral, addictive and eating disorders. The range of patients is equally wide ranging from children to the elderly.

Average Workday activities

  • Assessing the needs of a patient through a range of testing techniques.
  • Designing programmes of treatments that will satisfy those needs.
  • Monitoring the effectiveness of said treatments
  • Offering therapy and treatment for the various symptoms of mental illnesses such as anxiety, depression and interpersonal problems
  • Carrying out research in an attempt to add to the knowledge base of psychology
  • Providing consultation to professionals in other lines of work

Education and Experience Required

To become a clinical psychologist, a vast amount of education and experience is required. The first step is to gain a degree in psychology and to achieve a 2:1 or better. This degree needs to be accredited by the British Psychological Society. To become eligible for chartered status, three years of postgraduate level study is then required culminating in a Doctorate in Clinical Psychology.

Entry to these three years of study is highly competitive; it is not unheard of for applicants to be refused several times before gaining entry to the course. A minimum of one year of relevant work experience is required but due to the competitiveness, more than one year is often actually required. A lot of candidates accepted already have a postgraduate qualification of some kind. It is uncommon for anyone to gain entry to the training less than three years after graduating.

The average age of successful candidates is twenty six. Entry is not only based upon experience but on the presence of desired personality traits. Due to the nature of the job, the following characteristics are looked for:

  • empathy and a strong desire to help people
  • capability to handle stress, accept your limitations, to respond positively to difficulty
  • excellent interpersonal/communication skills when around people that are in distress
  • capability to be both critical and analytical
  • To be self motivated but to be able to collaborate with other professionals
  • willingness to comply with strict ethical guidelines.


A trainee clinical psychologist will start off at around 24,000 pounds and this will rise to 27,000 pounds upon becoming qualified. With experience, the salary increases, an experienced clinical psychologist can expect to earn between 30,000 to 50,000 pounds. With managerial responsibilities this can rise to 80,000 pounds per year. All of these figures however refer to a clinical psychologist that is working for the NHS. A clinical psychologist with a private practice can charge anywhere from fifty to one hundred and fifty pounds per hour, and therefore far larger salaries are possible within the private sector. There are also numerous opportunities within commercial consultation as the knowledge acquired through training to be a clinical psychologist can be applicable to a wide range of commercial concerns.


Hours are generally nine to five if working for the NHS. Additional hours in evenings and weekends may be required as well as the potential to be on call to cover potential emergency situations. If self employed, this is obviously not the case. Local travel is common during the working day. Jobs are available throughout the country though the most vacancies are in large urban areas. It should also be noted that due to the nature of the job, a wide variety of people will be encountered who are likely to be distressed in some way, and therefore it can be a stressful job. There is also the possibility that situations in which there is a personal risk could be encountered.

Did you know?

Over the course of a single year, one in four people will experience some form of mental disorder. Within the UK, the most common reason for visiting a clinical psychologist is mixed anxiety and depression. The UK actually has the highest rate of self harm in Europe and within its prison system, only one out of every ten prisoners does not have some form of mental illness.