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6 Top Careers for Health Psychology MSc Graduates

Thursday, September 16th, 2021

Smiling health psychologist consoling a patient in a therapy session to represent careers for health psychology graduates

What jobs can you do with a Health Psychology MSc?

With a master’s programme like Ulster’s, you learn in-depth knowledge and advanced skills, while also investing in improved career prospects.

If you’re considering an MSc and want to know about the potential careers for Health Psychology Masters graduates, here’s a breakdown of the top Heath Psychology related careers.

Health Psychology jobs in the UK

Roles that Masters graduates can go into include:

  • Health Psychologist (more senior – e.g. Band 8a, 8b)
  • Registered Health Psychologist (after completing Stage 2)
  • Health Psychology Researcher
  • Academic (PhD, teaching)
  • Applied/Chartered Psychologist
  • Psychological Therapist
  • Public Health Expert/Advisor
  • Healthcare Consultant/Trainer

Earning a BPS-accredited Health Psychology MSc is a valuable achievement. You can complete the online, part-time Health Psychology Masters at Ulster University in a minimum of two years. Alternatively, you can study at your own pace, with the flexibility to pause and restart, extending the programme up to four years.

With this investment of time, money and work, you’d expect it to result in better career opportunities, along with an associated salary increase.

Fortunately, the learnings on an MSc in Health Psychology can be applied across a range of healthcare and health-related fields. And with postgraduate experience and knowledge, you’ll become much more competitive in the jobs market.

Let’s explore each career route in more detail.

1. Becoming a Health Psychologist

Distance learning students on our online Health Psychology MSc already have qualifications in psychology. Some are working in another area of healthcare and want to narrow or switch their focus.

Health Psychology as a profession itself is of growing importance as we understand the psychological contexts of health outcomes. If you pursue a career as a Health Psychologist, here’s what you can expect.

What does a Health Psychologist do?

Health Psychologists are employed in hospitals and other healthcare settings. They often work alongside other health professionals, advising clinicians on their care. They also work directly with patients, helping them manage their behaviours and cope with their health conditions.

Some Health Psychologists are self-employed or work as consultants in a variety of organisations. But whether full-time or freelance, they always use the practical and theoretical skills to improve outcomes for patients.

Looking at health and illness from a psychological perspective, Health Psychologists offer an important perspective for other medical professionals to understand the wider context of healthcare.

What skills does a Health Psychologist need?

Communication is essential. Either interacting with patients, or with doctors, nurses, therapists or other hospital staff, Health Psychologists must be able to explain conditions and treatment approaches, in both oral and written form.

Research skills are crucial too – and should be an important aspect of a master’s degree programme in Health Psychology. Developing new approaches to improving patients’ lives from a psychological perspective needs rigorous and analytical research capabilities.

How much does a Health Psychologist earn?

Salaries in the NHS are uniformly banded. Trainee or assistant Health Psychologists (i.e. band 6) earn around £30,000 per year. After an MSc qualification pay can increase to band 7, up to £44,000. The increasing scale to consultant and head of psychology can lead to a salary in excess of £85,000, in line with the Health Psychologist’s experience.

Career progression in Health Psychology

Our online, BPS-accredited MSc provides Stage 1 training towards becoming a Registered Health Psychologist. If that is your goal you can gain Stage 2 training at Doctorate level, approved by the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC).

You can also choose to specialise, which can open new avenues of research and promote particular health and wellbeing outcomes. Specialisms can include drug abuse, addiction behaviours, pain management, aging, and any number of other narrow fields.

Health professional filling in form with patient - representing careers for Health Psychology graduates

2. Health Psychology Researcher

Research is a key element in the development of the Health Psychology field and profession. Some masters graduates go on to further academia and research.

Our own Health Psychology faculty at Ulster University is very research-active and engaged in improving various aspects of the discipline. This is passed on to students on the course. Our distance learning MSc includes an independent project and Dissertation, to prepare you for the necessary research demands of the profession.

So even if you don’t directly treat patients, you can contribute a lot to the industry and public health through research. These roles are often based at an academic institution such as Ulster University.

3. Health Psychology Academic

Lecturers, tutors, supervisors and doctorate students are all part of the university community which opens up further to you with a master’s degree in Health Psychology.

Many of our faculty teach while carrying out research projects and writing papers for the wider profession. This is a vital contribution to both practitioners and the greater public’s understanding of psychology in health and disease treatment.

The Ulster Health Psychology department maintains strong links with Health Trusts and the Public Health Agency for just this reason. If you feel at home in academia, this is a very rewarding route following your MSc.

4. Public Health Advisor

Experts in public health have shown their worth during the Covid-19 pandemic. With a specialised understanding of the psychological causes and effects of health and disease, public health advisors can play a crucial role in the population’s wellbeing.

Advising on issues such as smoking, immunisation, physical exercise and mental health, public health experts can influence policy at a local, regional and national level. Their work can have a real effect on the lives and longevity of thousands of people.

Health Psychology MSc graduates can use their advanced knowledge of behaviours and social contexts to inform public health.

5. Healthcare Consultant

Like public health advisors, consultants need detailed knowledge of health outcomes and how to approach issues. Healthcare consultants might advise on public health issues, or they might be hired privately to direct companies and other organisations on the health-related costs, risks and solutions for facilities and private projects.

6. Applied/Chartered Psychologist

Health Psychology is a particular branch of psychology, but it is still part of that broad umbrella. An MSc in Health Psychology gives you more of a specialism, but it improves your research skills, practical know-how and critical understanding of psychological principles that are useful across the discipline.

A proportion of Health Psychology MSc graduates go on to work in applied psychology, or work towards Chartered Psychologist status in a particular specialism.

These can include forensics, sports, counselling, neuropsychology, organisational and occupational psychology, and other highly vocational paths.

What can I do with a Masters in Health Psychology?

The BPS 2017 Career Destinations Survey showed that 34.7% of Health Psychology graduates chose to work in the human health sector. Others went to areas such as social work, scientific research and development, office support and about a fifth of respondents into further education.

Regardless of your destination, a BPS-accredited Health Psychology MSc programme gives you the tools to find a better job. The value of Ulster’s online MSc is most clear in graduates’ increased efficiency and expertise at work.

The flexibility of paying module by module allows you to continue working while you study. The part-time nature of the masters also means you don’t lose momentum or development in your current role, and it makes it financially easier too.

For long-term security, challenging work and continued development and learning, our programme promises online teaching and exceptional levels of student support from an experienced distance learning institution.

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