Job in occupational psychology

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Wayne Turner is an occupational psychologist working for Jobcentre Plus, which is part of the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). He works throughout the Tayside and Fife region of Scotland. He assesses the work-related needs of unemployed clients who have complex disabilities or health issues.

What do you do?

My key role is to deliver an assessment service to unemployed disabled and disadvantaged people. I work with clients with a wide range of health conditions such as head injuries, mental health problems and dyslexia.

I conduct tests and practical tasks to assess clients' work capabilities, including reasoning skills, literacy, numeracy, dexterity and memory. I also advise clients and help them to set realistic targets and progress into work.

How do you help clients into work?

I offer advice and guidance to Jobcentre Plus advisers to help them progress their disabled and disadvantaged clients towards work. This involves developing and delivering training activities to Jobcentre Plus staff, including topics such as interviewing skills, team building and health conditions awareness.

What hours do you work?

I usually start work around 8.30am and finish around 5pm, although times can vary depending on where I am and what I am doing.

What skills do you need to work as an occupational psychologist?

Good communication and listening skills are essential. If you're going to help your client, you need to communicate effectively with them and be able to develop rapport and trust with them quickly.

What are the positive aspects of occupational psychology?

The best moments are when you feel that you've made a positive impact on someone's life, no matter how small. I also enjoy the fact that the job offers a degree of independence in how I work, and it constantly challenges me with new problems to resolve and things to learn.

What are your aims for the future?

In the short term, I aim to become a chartered occupational psychologist through the British Psychological Society (BPS).

Wayne's route to his job in occupational psychology

  • A levels in biology, chemistry and politics, and Highers in English, biology, chemistry and maths.
  • Degree in Psychology.
  • Master's degree in Occupational Psychology.

Wayne's occupational psychology tips

  • Try to get as much work experience as you can before applying for jobs, even if it's just work shadowing a psychologist for a couple of days.
  • If you undertake any project work in your degree, try to gain practical experience in occupational psychology.

Occupational psychology related jobs

  • Careers adviser
  • Counsellor
  • Human resources officer/manager
  • Training manager

Salary of an occupational psychologist

  • Graduate trainee occupational psychologists working for the DWP earn from £18,130 to £21,430.
  • Higher occupational psychologists earn from £22,170 to £27,700.
  • Senior occupational psychologists earn from £27,820 to £36,010.
  • Salaries are slightly higher than this in London.

Job in occupational psychology

  • To enter the DWP as an occupational psychologist you first need a psychology degree.
  • To achieve chartered status, this must be followed by either an MSc in Occupational Psychology, accredited by the BPS, followed by two years' supervised work experience, or by at least three years' supervised work experience and the BPS's Postgraduate Certificate in Occupational Psychology.

Modified: 16 June 2013

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