Woman speaking to another woman in clinical setting

Clinical psychologist job profile

A clinical psychologist aims to reduce psychological distress and to enhance the promotion of psychological wellbeing.

What is a clinical psychologist?

Clinical psychologists deal with a wide range of mental and physical health problems including addiction, anxiety, depression, learning difficulties and relationship issues.

They may undertake a clinical assessment to investigate a clients' situation.

There are a variety of methods available including psychometric tests, interviews and direct observation of behaviour.

Assessment may lead to advice, counselling or therapy.

Where do clinical psychologists work?

Clinical psychologists work largely in health and social care settings including hospitals, health centres, community mental health teams, Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) and social services.

They often work as part of a team with other health professionals and practitioners.

Most clinical psychologists are employed by the National Health Service (NHS), but some work in private practice.

How to become a chartered psychologist

To become a Chartered member of the society through the clinical training route, you'll need the following qualifications:

  1. Graduate Basis for Chartered Membership (GBC) - achieved by completing a society accredited degree or conversion course
  2. Society accredited Doctorate in Clinical Psychology

Applications for most of the Doctorate courses are made through the Clearing House for Postgraduate Training Courses in Clinical Psychology.

The University of Hull and Queens University Belfast operate their own admissions process.

Please contact the relevant institution for more information.

In order to use the title Clinical Psychologist, you will need to be registered with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC).

This involves completing a Doctorate in Clinical Psychology (or equivalent) that has been approved by the HCPC.

Contact the HCPC for more information on their entry requirements.

Work experience in clinical psychology

The most sought after experience by clinical courses is that of 'assistant psychologist' or 'research assistant'. You will find that some courses lay down more specific requirements or give advice on how to go about gaining experience.

You might also want to contact the Clearing House for Postgraduate Courses in Clinical Psychology.

Their handbook gives information about what sort of work experience is desirable for each course.

Please be aware that competition for assistant psychologist positions is also fierce.

It's important to think about gaining relevant work experience as soon as you decide this is your preferred career path.

Voluntary experience and related paid positions such as nursing assistant, social worker, care assistant or other opportunities in relevant settings will all help to build your skills and understanding of clinical psychology.

How much do clinical psychologists earn?

Clinical psychologists' salaries can vary.

Assistant Psychologists are normally paid on the NHS Agenda for Change Bands 4 to 5. 

In the NHS, all applied Psychologists are employed on the same grades. A newly qualified Clinical Psychologist enters the NHS at Band 7. Progression to Band 8a should occur a few years after qualification.

Progression through the NHS grades is typically achieved through being appointed to new roles.

Band 8b roles should start to provide you with more opportunities to develop your skills to become a Consultant level Clinical Psychologist, which is typically after 6 or more years of practice.

Posts go up to Band 9 for Heads of Psychology Services, with Bands 8c and 8d representing Consultant Clinical Psychologist levels.

The BPS has a National Assessor scheme, which supports organisations to interview and decide when a psychologist has the skills and experience to achieve consultant level of practice.

Details of the most recent salary scales for clinical psychologists can be found on the NHS Careers website.

Jobs in clinical psychology

Jobs advertisements for clinical psychologists may be found in the following locations:

Further information

What funding is available?

Please contact the The Clearing House for Postgraduate Training Courses in Clinical Psychology (CHPCCP) directly for more information on the application process for funded places.

Applications for the doctorate programmes at the University of Hull and Queens University Belfast are managed by the universities themselves. For advice with applications please get in touch with either university directly.

What to do with a 2:2?

Clinical psychology courses will not normally accept graduates with a 2:2, unless they have achieved some higher qualification as well. This would normally involve completing a Masters qualification.

An ideal masters would involve direct patient contact, the collection of psychological data and would be pertinent to clinical problems. A taught Masters would be less relevant unless there is a heavy emphasis on research methods.

Clinical courses are looking for evidence that the person has the necessary academic and research ability.

Usually this means an MSc or MPhil in which the candidate has successfully completed an applied research project, preferably in a clinically relevant area.

The society does not accredit this type of course.

Please contact universities directly for more specific information on their entry requirements.

Find out more about careers in clinical psychology

  • BPS Explore - find a range of clinical psychology publications through our online shop, including 'The Alternative Handbook for Postgraduate Training Courses in Clinical Psychology'