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Careers Centre

Psychology - using your degree


Popular career areas for Psychology students:

A degree from Scotland's first university is an excellent start to any future career. St Andrews has a reputation for excellence and the ability to attract the brightest students world-wide. With this as a starting point you are well on the way to impressing future employers.

Psychology is a very popular subject because of its impact on most areas of life, from health and education, to the economy and crime. The possibilities for careers in psychology are more varied than ever. The range of work available to psychology graduates goes beyond the traditional stereotypes of laboratory researcher or individual therapist. Psychology is an extraordinarily diverse field with hundreds of career paths. Some specialties, like improving the psychological wellbeing of clients, are familiar to most of us. Others, like helping with the design of advanced computer systems or researching how we remember things, are less well known.

The degree could be your route into postgraduate study or entry-level employment in one of the many occupations for which psychological knowledge or skills is a job requirement or advantage: human resources or leadership training, marketing or advertising, research or teaching, psychological services or social work, technical writing or government policy, counsellor or careers adviser, to name a few. However, an individual's employability in one of these areas depends greatly on the person's practical experience, as well as personal attributes, abilities, and skills. By the time you graduate with a degree in psychology, it is important to have developed a CV with work experience attractive to employers or postgraduate admissions teams.

Review your degree skills

The profile below identifies the skills that can be developed through the study of your discipline based on subject benchmark statements developed by UK higher education academic communities:

Where do our Psychology graduates go?

Recent Psychology graduates
Accenture - Analyst CNBC News International - Researcher/Strategy Graduate Intern Healthcare Agency - Account Executive
Derwen College - Behavioural Intervention and Assessment Team Member British Red Cross - New Business Co-ordinator Reach - Rehabitation Counsellor
Graduates who are established in their profession

Cambridge University Press - Assistant Editor

LiliasBell - Senior Leadership Specialist

Weber Shandwick - Executive Vice President and Regional Director

Virgin Atlantic Airways - Commercial Manager

National Deaf Children's Society (NDCS) - Forensic Mental Health Advocate

KPMG Tech Enablement - Testing Services - Analyst

Katie Henderson

Katie graduated in 2011. She is an Assistant Editor with Cambridge University Press.

Read Katie's case study.

Visit the Graduate Destinations page to see what graduates and postgraduates from your School are doing now.

Network with alumni

Many jobs and internships are not advertised. One of the best ways to find out about these ‘hidden opportunities’ is by networking. Networking can also help secure a job that is publicised or is part of a training scheme. Your contacts can open doors, set up meetings, help prepare you for interviews, and provide you with an inside look at a company or industry.

How to contact alumni

There are two main ways to contact alumni on-line:

  1. Saint Connect - brings together alumni and current students to facilitate networking, enable informal mentoring, provide industry discussion groups, and enable graduates and students to stay up to date with their student societies and sports teams.
  2. LinkedIn - most comprehensive resource to connect with alumni is the University of St Andrews LinkedIn – Alumni Tool. There are also many LinkedIn St Andrews Groups, mainly based on location, which you can join to network with fellow students and alumni, eg St Andrews North America Careers Link.

Postgraduate study/research

In 2014, 28.2% of Psychology graduates went on to do further study.
Advisers are able and willing to discuss postgraduate applications - vocational and academic.

The BPS website indicates that about 20% of psychology students in the UK end up working as professional psychologists. To practise as a professional psychologist in the UK it is necessary to have a British Psychological Society (BPS)-accredited undergraduate degree (or conversion course) which gives Graduate Basis for Chartered Membership (GBC), followed by a BPS-accredited and usually a Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC)- approved postgraduate professional training course.

Summer internships/work experience

Campus Opportunities

Work experience is becoming ‘essential’ in the UK when it comes to securing graduate level employment.

During the 2015-16 academic year, more than 90% of the UK’s leading graduate employers offered paid work experience programmes for students and recent graduates. Altogether, 55% of St Andrews finalists had completed some element of work experience with a graduate employer whilst at university – much higher than the survey average. More than two-fifths had a part-time job during term-time and three-fifths had some form of casual vacation work. Source: High Fliers –The UK Graduate Careers Survey 2016.

The How to get experience during your degree section of the Careers A-Z: Psychologist resource lists a number of relevant opportunities both within St Andrews and further afield.

IAESTE arrange international work experience for young scientists in over 80 countries

Case studies

Key links and resources