Health psychologist

Care

Career outlook for

Figures and forecasts for roles at the same level, which require similar skills and qualifications.

Average UK salary

Currently employed in Scotland

Jobs forecast

This information is supplied by LMI For All, where data is currently available for Scotland.

What's it like?

You would work to change behaviour that affects people's health and promote general wellbeing.

You'd study the psychological effects of physical illness. You'd help people who need support with the psychological and emotional aspects of a diagnosis of an illness or  who are living with a health condition. 

The tasks vary depending on where you work but you might:

  • Research how social factors such as income and location affect health
  • Undertake projects to raise awareness about healthy lifestyles
  • Coach healthcare staff on dealing sensitively with patients under stress
  • Give support to patients who are dealing with illness or addiction
  • Explore how mental and physical health affect one another
  • Work with government organsations to improve health policy
  • Interview patients to assess their emotional state during illness
  • Study the relationships between healthcare staff and their patients
  • Find new ways to change health behaviour
  • Study how patients and doctors make treatment choices

You could be based in hospitals or community health facilities or work in a local authority or public health department.

Other roles are in research units and universities where you would do teaching and research.

Working conditions

Hours

You would work between 35 and forty hours a week, Monday to Friday. There may be some weekend work involved. It may also be possible to work part-time.

Environment

You would probably be based in a university, but would spend a lot of time in healthcare facilities.

Travel

You would have to visit patients in hospitals, clinics and possibly at home.

UK employment status

Full-time

Part-time

Self employed

Here are some of the skills that people in this job would be most likely to have:

  • Communicating with people
  • Listening to people
  • Persuading people
  • Being tactful
  • Using computers
  • Finding solutions to problems
  • Researching and investigating
  • Planning and organising
  • Working with numbers
  • Paying attention to detail

Build your skills

Your skills can help you choose the career that’s right for you. You can build your skills through work, study or activities you do in your spare time.

To understand more, have a look at what are my skills?

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Getting in

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

Qualifications

Becoming a health psychologist involves taking a postgraduate training route. 

You'll need the following qualifications: 

  • A psychology degree (SCQF Level 10) accredited by the British Psychological Society (BPS)
  • Graduate Basis for Chartered Membership (GBC) of the BPS. You're accredited degree will qualify you for membership. If you don't have a BPS accredited degree you can gain membership by completing an accredited conversion course

Once you've gained GBC membership, you'll need to complete a BPS accredited Master's in Health Psychology (SCQF Level 11) and one of the following Stage 2 doctoral-level qualifications: 

  • A BPS accredited qualification in Health Psychology Stage 2. This includes two years of supervised practice 
  • A BPS accredited Doctorate in Health Psychology (SCQF Level 12)

In Scotland, the NHS funds a training scheme to recruit Health Psychologists. You would complete the BPS Stage 2 training over two years. The NHS Education for Scotland has more information. 

Your postgraduate training will qualify you for Chartered Membership of the BPS. 

To start work as a health psychologist you'll need to register with the Health and Care Professionals Council (HCPC). 

To enter an Honours degree (SCQF level 10) in psychology usually requires National 5 qualifications and four to five Highers - often in one sitting. 

Useful subjects

  • English (required by many courses)
  • Maths (required by many courses)
  • Sciences (required by many courses)
  • Computing science
  • Geography
  • Psychology
  • Other social subjects
  • Modern languages.

You will also need

To be approved for membership of the Protecting Vulnerable Groups (PVG) Scheme run by Disclosure Scotland.

Once qualified you will need to register with the Health and Care Profession Council (HCPC) 

Helpful to have

Once qualified it may be helpful to become a Chartered member of British Psychological Society (BPS) or become a member of the Division of Health Psychology.