Clinical psychologist


Career outlook for clinical psychologist

UK Salary Ranges





Currently employed in Scotland


Salary information is provided by the "National Careers Service". "Oxford Economics" supplies job forecasts and employment figures. Due to COVID-19 the jobs market is constantly changing. Some of the information may not reflect the current situation.

What's it like?

You would help people with mental and emotional difficulties to make positive changes in their thinking and behaviour.

Your clients may experience psychological difficulties such as anxiety, depression, phobias or eating disorders.

You’d listen to them and help them understand their thoughts and actions. You’d use therapy, counselling or advice to help them overcome their distress or learn how to live with it and manage it.

You would:

  • Assess people's needs through interviews, psychometric tests and observations
  • Decide on the most appropriate form of treatment
  • Plan a treatment programme and work with clients in groups or one-to-one
  • Write reports about your cases and explain your approach at case conferences with colleagues

You would work closely with other professionals, such as doctors and probation officers, to achieve specific goals for your clients. For example, you might help an ex-offender with rehabilitation so they can successfully join the community or provide specialised counselling and support for carers.

With experience, you could be involved in producing legal reports and acting as an expert witness in court. You could also go on to specialise in working with a particular group, such as children, young offenders or older adults.

You might also do research and publish your findings.

You could work for the National Health Service (NHS) or in the private sector. The NHS salary for this role is covered by the the NHS Agenda for Change pay rates. You can see information about the pay and conditions on the Clinical psychologist page on the NHS Careers website.

Working conditions


You would normally work from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday. You may sometimes need to work an evening or weekend shift, and you could be part of an emergency out-of-hours rota system. Part-time work and job sharing may be possible.


You could see clients in hospitals and local health centres, within mental health and disability services, in schools, and within the judicial system. Sessions may take place at an office, treatment room or the client’s own home.

UK employment status





Self employed


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  • Listening
  • Verbal communication
  • Written communication
  • Observation
  • Empathising
  • Social conscience
  • Developing a plan
  • Time management
  • Making decisions
  • Understanding

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Entry requirements for courses can change. Always contact the college, university or training provider to check exactly what you'll need.

Foundation Apprenticeships

Choosing a Foundation Apprenticeship as one of your subjects in S5 and S6 can help you get a head start with this type of job.

You'll get an SCQF level 6 qualification (the same level as a Higher) plus valuable work placement experience and skills you can't learn in a classroom.

Interested? Find out what's on offer at your school on


You need to get Graduate Basis for Chartered Membership of the British Psychological Society (BPS). To get this you need to complete a psychology degree (SCQF level 10) which is BPS-accredited or do a conversion course (one to four years) and complete a BPS-accredited doctorate in clinical psychology (SCQF level 12). 

For entry to a honours degree in psychology you usually need National 5 qualifications and three to five Highers. Some universities ask for qualifications to be gained in one sitting. 

You can also enter a degree with a relevant Higher National Certificate (SCQF level 7) or Higher National Diploma (SCQF level 8). With Advanced Highers, HNC or HND qualification you may enter the second or third year of some degree courses.

You can study psychology combined with other subjects such as law, economics, languages or sport. For entry you may need a mix of qualifications refelcting both subjects. 

With a suitable honours degree and relevant experience you can apply to a masters (SCQF level 11) and then a doctorate course (SCQF level 12).

Useful subjects

Most courses require:

  • English 
  • Maths 
  • at least one science subject

Social subjects such as psychology, religious, moral and philosophical studies, and care may also be helpful.

You will also need

 All practising psychologists must register with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC).

You will need to be approved for membership of the Protecting Vulnerable Groups (PVG) Scheme run by Disclosure Scotland.

Helpful to have

Qualifications and experience that show understanding of counselling, care and health and wellbeing such as the Foundation Apprenticeship in Social Services and Healthcare (SCQF level 6) or Social Services and Young People (SCQF level 6).