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Occupational Psychologist

What is an occupational psychologist?

An occupational psychologist is a professional who applies their knowledge of psychology to the workplace, with the aim of improving the wellbeing and productivity of employees, and the overall effectiveness of organisations.

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What does an occupational psychologist do?

Occupational psychologists focus on a number of areas including:

  • Developing and administering selection tests and assessments to help organisations with recruitment.
  • Designing and developing training programs to help employees develop new skills and improve their job performance.
  • Develop systems to manage performance, helping organisations measure employee performance and provide feedback for improvement.
  • Provide training in leadership and management for senior staff, to engender effective leadership styles in the workplace.
  • Design, develop and implement workplace wellbeing initiatives, and interventions to improve the mental health and wellbeing of employees, including identifying and addressing workplace stressors and developing interventions to promote work-life balance.
  • Occupational psychologists may support organisations undergoing significant changes, such as mergers or restructuring, by developing strategies to help employees manage the transition.

How to become an occupational psychologist?

To become an occupational psychologist in the UK, you will typically need to follow these steps:

  1. Obtain a British Psychological Society (BPS) accredited undergraduate degree or complete a postgraduate conversion course.
  2. Complete a BPS accredited postgraduate degree in occupational psychology. This can be either a master's degree or a doctorate.
  3. Gain practical experience in occupational psychology through an internship, placement, or work experience opportunity. This can be through a relevant industry, consulting firm, or academic institution.
  4. Register with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) as a practitioner psychologist.

What skills do you need to be an occupational psychologist?

Occupational psychologists need a range of skills and abilities, which include:

  • Analytical skills in order to analyse complex data and draw insights that can inform organisational decision-making.
  • Communication skills to communicate effectively with individuals at all levels of an organisation: employees, managers and executives. They need to be able to present their findings and recommendations clearly and persuasively.
  • Interpersonal skills to build relationships with people from diverse backgrounds, and work collaboratively as part of a team.
  • Organisational skills to manage their workload effectively, including managing multiple projects and deadlines.

Where do occupational psychologists work?

In the UK, occupational psychologists work in a variety of settings, including:

  • Consulting firms, which provide services to organisations such as recruitment and selection, employee training and development, and change management.
  • Government and the public sector: occupational psychologists may work for government agencies or public sector organisations, such as the National Health Service (NHS), providing services related to employee wellbeing, organisational development and training.
  • Occupational psychologists may work for non-profit organizations, such as charities or advocacy groups, providing services related to employee wellbeing and organisational culture.

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