Education isn’t just about the qualification you’ll gain at the end of your studies, but the invaluable knowledge and skills you’ll acquire along the way. It’s often these assets which are most appealing to an employer, and if you’re considering studying psychology you’ll develop several essential traits necessary for success in the world of work.
By Grant Longstaff. Published 26 July 2022.
Skills are often broken down into two categories, hard skills and soft skills. Hard skills are often linked to a particular job or field of work. Soft skills more likely relate to the individual and are universally recognised. Below, we look at both the hard and soft skills gained from studying psychology and explore how they can help you throughout your career.
Academic Skills (Hard Skills)
Clinical reasoning is the ability to analyse evidence or a situation and make critically informed decisions as a result. This is a crucial skill in psychology, as your actions can have a real impact on the lives of clients. That said, the usefulness of clinical reasoning extends far beyond the profession and can be useful in many workplaces.
Psychology and cognitive science fundamentals
Understanding how the brain works is one of the key principles of psychology. Learning how and why people think the way they do, and comprehending the theory behind it, can be invaluable. Recognising the patterns and behaviours which affect us all will not only improve your communication skills, but also influence your own personal growth.
Quantitative and qualitative research
Along with clinical reasoning, psychologists often use quantitative research to inform their practise. You don’t need to be a mathematician, but you will need to record and analyse data and interpret the results. However, this knowledge is not limited to psychology, the mathematical skills you will develop are a great foundation for numerous careers.
Psychologists often carry out their own experiments or research, and there are numerous opportunities for development throughout the process. First, an experiment requires the generation of an idea or a theory to test. You’ll then design and organise the testing, and finally you’ll collate and interpret the results. Overseeing an experiment from conception to completion could show a potential employer your skills in both project management and leadership.
Experiential learning simply means learning by doing. Sometimes practical, hands-on experience can be much more valuable as it provides an opportunity to not only understand why something is done, but also how. Taking part in experiential learning, whether you’re working on your own or with your colleagues, will develop skills such as time management, problem solving and critical thinking.
Whether it’s breaking down potentially complex information to clients, or sharing knowledge and data with your colleagues, effective communication is one of the most important elements of psychology. During your studies you’ll refine your communication skills to a level highly beneficial in both your professional and personal life.
The ability to critically review data or results, and form logical, evidence-based conclusions, is another cornerstone of psychology. You’ll regularly need to interpret your findings and use it to plan your next steps. However, this analytical approach can be useful in various roles, not just as a psychologist.
Listening is a huge part of communication, but in psychology the importance of listening is even greater. When consulting with clients you’ll need to give them your complete attention to fully interpret what they are trying to say and ensure you offer the most appropriate advice. Again, this is an attribute which extends beyond the workplace. Ultimately, if you’re a more effective listener, then you’ll become a more effective communicator.
Empathy is the ability to discern and recognise the emotions of others, and you’ll need it abundance to become a successful psychologist. If you can show genuine compassion and understanding, regardless of the person or situation, you will be able to offer more effective support and advice. This can have a positive impact on all your relationships, not just your professional ones.
Creative problem solving
Psychology can help improve your problem-solving abilities by making you consider new strategies and introduce creative ways of thinking. Looking at problems from different angles, with unconventional thinking, can help generate new ways of addressing old problems. Again, this is a useful skill in many walks of life, not just your career.
These are just a few examples of the attributes which can be learnt and enhanced by studying psychology. Whether you want to work as a psychologist or purely develop a range of competencies which can enhance you and your career, the transferable skills in psychology can ultimately help shape you into a more well-rounded, and employable, individual.