Is it realistic as a career changer? And MSc advice.

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Is it realistic as a career changer? And MSc advice.

Postby Laura2017 » Sat May 27, 2017 7:10 pm

Hi -

This is my first post, although I have been browsing for a while.

I am 29 and considering a career change. I have a (high) 2.1 (68) in History and Philosophy from a decent uni and have the start of an ok career in marketing/communications but never intentionally decided to work in this field and have never really enjoyed it.

I have decided its now or never to pursue something new, and (clinical) psychology really appeals. However, I'm very unsure as to whether it is actually realistically to start on the route of an Msc/ conversion course, with the expectation that I would eventually get onto CP training (without bankrupting myself). And although I would very much like to enjoy the journey, I'm not sure I can afford to do the masters for its own sake (instead of pursuing something with a slightly less appealing but more definite outcome).

I am thinking of postponing applying for the masters until 2018 and working to hopefully add to my savings enough to pay for the course outright. In this time I also aim to start volunteering, perhaps Samaritans, a) to start to verify my choice and b) to start accruing the very beginnings of some useful experience.

However, I am still going to have to work to some degree, at the least part time, during my masters. Is there anyone who has either:
- studied part time, worked full time
- studied full time, worked part time
- studied and worked part time
and if so, did you feel it had any negative impact on you results/grade (I understand this is important?).

Moreover, I don't see how, given that I don't have the option to move back home (have a mortgage etc), it is possible to work for two years after the masters for very little money - many of the support worker roles I have seen advertised are minimum wage. Are there other options that allow for a little more financial security? I think I would enjoy working as an RA, but are these just as competitive as AP posts and would this be less useful in terms of CP applications?

Sorry, this has turned into a bit of a ramble. I suppose what I am really looking for is success stories from career changers who have actually made it to CP training, without any support from parents and/or a partner/ husband?

Thanks
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Re: Is it realistic as a career changer? And MSc advice.

Postby Roz93 » Sat May 27, 2017 8:43 pm

Hi Laura!

I'm not a career changer, but i might still be able to offer some help on some of your other points - I'm currently studying a masters (in biology) full time alongside a 20 hr/week job (as I'm not receiving support from family/partner). It's difficult, so youll have to be prepared to make some sacrifices I.e. You'll be working late to catch up on stuff that many other people will be doing while you're at work. It is rewarding though!!

I'm in an almost opposite scenario to yourself - upon completing my psychology degree, I thought I wanted to change into neuroscience and the biology behind psychiatric disorders - I now realize that clinical is where my passion truly lies, and I'm finding myself really far behind all my peers within the psychology 'sector', if you like.

With regard to it being worthwhile - it may well be a tough couple of years, but not impossible. Realistically, I have less than a years worth of experience in clinical - and so I could only really apply to Lancaster this year. They focus on 'competencies' rather than prior experience, and judge you entirely on whether they think you have the 'potential' to become a leader in the field. For reference, it's my first year applying and I'm sitting st the top of the reserve list - so definitely not an impossibility! It's a good place to start after completing the conversion course and while still getting experience to build on the following year. I'd also definitely second your suggestion of getting some experience in the field next year - you could also use 'find a psychologist' on the BPS website and try to organize shadowing? Just so that you're absolutely sure you want to work towards clinical.

Good luck!! I'm hardly an expert, but my inbox is open if you need to chat about anything. (Ps sorry about spelling/formatting, I did this on mobile after a glass or two!) :lol:
"Imagine others complexly" - John Green.
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Re: Is it realistic as a career changer? And MSc advice.

Postby Laura2017 » Sun May 28, 2017 5:27 pm

Thank you Roz93, that is helpful (and reassuring).

I had assumed shadowing a clinical psychologist wouldn't be possible but I suppose it worth an ask, even if it just leads to a coffee!

I wondered if anyone could point me in the direction of any other books/ blog posts/ resources etc that would help me investigate more about the possibility of careers in psychology and clinical in particular?
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Re: Is it realistic as a career changer? And MSc advice.

Postby lingua_franca » Sun May 28, 2017 9:07 pm

The only careers book I know of is Alice Knight's 'How to Become a Clinical Psychologist: Getting a Foot in the Door', but it has a bibliography of useful articles for further reading.

In answer to your other questions, a lot of conversion courses condense their full-time teaching into a couple of days each week rather than spreading the class time out, to make it easier for people to work alongside the course. There are distance-learning options too. I think how many hours you can work each week will depend on what you're like as a student - some people love having a ton of different things to do and thrive off that, but for others it's tiring and stressful to juggle a course and a job. You know yourself best. It also depends on how you feel about the course content. I chose to do my conversion course over two years part-time because I was under-confident with quantitative research methods and wanted to make sure I had proper time to devote to this.

Regarding costs, bear in mind that courses will sometimes allow you to pay in instalments (with my course you just paid for the modules you studied that year) and that they vary a lot in price. An awful lot. :shock: For example, Manchester are charging £9,000 for their conversion MSc this year, but at Leeds Beckett it's just over £5,000. Make sure you compare the fees at your potential universities to be sure you aren't signing up to a hugely expensive course unnecessarily.
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Re: Is it realistic as a career changer? And MSc advice.

Postby Laura2017 » Sun May 28, 2017 10:35 pm

I had noticed that regarding course fees - I looked at Edinburgh but that seems ever so expensive! My most local course at present is Oxford Brookes which seems to be in the more reasonable half cost wise, but Oxford is quite an expensive place to live so I had thought about moving somewhere a bit cheaper.

The quantitative research is definitely going to be the newest part for me and I'm interested in research so would like to really get to grips with it - I hadn't thought of going part time to allow more time for that but it's a valid point.

More to mull over!
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Re: Is it realistic as a career changer? And MSc advice.

Postby workingmama » Wed May 31, 2017 12:47 pm

Hi Laura,

I did a full time job whilst doing the OU degree over four years (one course some years, two courses other years) and parented, and it didn't impact on my grades. So long as you get into a good routine (I did relatively little in the year 2 modules, but did more on the year 3/4 modules), and just keep going for it a bite at a time, then it's manageable. The conversions are quicker, but as you say, more expensive, and OU means you don't have to make a leap until you're ready (whilst earning your usual money). I did think about not doing the full degree, but I wanted the classification, rather than the Masters Pass/Merit that some uni's use.

Hope this helps.

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Re: Is it realistic as a career changer? And MSc advice.

Postby lingua_franca » Wed May 31, 2017 1:02 pm

workingmama wrote:The conversions are quicker, but as you say, more expensive, and OU means you don't have to make a leap until you're ready (whilst earning your usual money).


I was surprised that a second undergraduate degree might be cheaper than a conversion, even if it's distance-learning, so I went to the OU website to check. These days they are charging £17,184 in total for their three-year degrees, so their price for each year of the degree is equal to that of a full conversion course. :shock:
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Re: Is it realistic as a career changer? And MSc advice.

Postby workingmama » Thu Jun 01, 2017 7:39 pm

Wowsers! It cost about £4k for my spouse and I each to do the OU 2006-2011. Inflation's added up a bit quick there, hasn't it! :shock:

Just looked it up. For someone with a first, non-psychology degree (like me and the OP here), you needn't do the first year of the degree. To do the remaining 240 credits, it is now £11, 456. A very steep price rise indeed, sadly. This route was a good route for many friends who worked towards clinical psychology (and succeeded in gaining training places, and qualified). I'm sad to see that this is now effectively priced out of the market for many. Spouse and I would not now be clinical psychologists if this had been the case for us.
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Re: Is it realistic as a career changer? And MSc advice.

Postby Laura2017 » Fri Jun 02, 2017 5:14 pm

Wow - that is a big hike! Shame as could have been a good option.
Still - where there is a will, there is a way! It's just a very daunting path to start on.
Workingmama - it is encouraging to hear that you have (presumably) now qualified as a CP as a second career?
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Re: Is it realistic as a career changer? And MSc advice.

Postby workingmama » Sat Jun 03, 2017 3:27 pm

Laura2017 wrote:Wow - that is a big hike! Shame as could have been a good option.
Still - where there is a will, there is a way! It's just a very daunting path to start on.
Workingmama - it is encouraging to hear that you have (presumably) now qualified as a CP as a second career?


Indeed, both workingspouse and I qualified as career changers, and we OU trained with three others who did the same (and qualified also). It felt like an excellent route for us.
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Re: Is it realistic as a career changer? And MSc advice.

Postby CurlyHair » Wed Jun 07, 2017 9:42 am

That is quite some change in price. I am a career changer, I worked in publishing full time while I did the OU undergrad which helped fund it. I don't think I could have afforded it now though given the increase, which is a real shame as I always thought the strength of the OU was that it was accessible.

It was a really good option for me though, towards the end of my undergrad I left my well paid job to work in the voluntary sector, which was terrifying financially (which I did myself with no support) - but was totally worth it in terms of being happy at work and also it eventually leading to me getting onto the course (via a MSc and a few more jobs!).

The Alice Knight book is a good start, although it was published a while ago. I found it really helpful to talk to ClinPsychs about their route to training and also this forum, obvs :D
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Postby forefoam » Sat Jun 17, 2017 8:58 pm

Little late to this discussion but perhaps I can give some feedback.

I'm 27, currently doing a FT conversion (2/3s in) and have switched careers. If I'm being brutally honest, it's hard work.

Financially, I saved up about £4-5,000 prior to my masters and life seemed to vacuum that all up. However there is further support from postgraduate loans now so you can pull through. My advice would be to save enough that you can work one-two days and still be comfortable or you'll ensure a meltdown midway through your course.

The course itself is an upward curve. If you fall behind it's really difficult to keep pace. For instance, and this may be course specific, one stage of the assignments was four weeks of four assignments, roughly around 2000-3000 words each.

With regards to support work, the pay royally sucks but you do get some vital experiences. I'd probably look into specific areas you want to try - supported living, rehabilitation, prisons etc. Look into HCA roles too, I found getting on bank shifts an easy route into the role.

Any questions just throw me a message.

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Re: Is it realistic as a career changer? And MSc advice.

Postby raglangirl » Sat Jul 22, 2017 10:53 am

Hi laura 2017

Just wondering what you decided to do? I'm in a similar position to you, I'm 30 and have been going back and forth whether I should do a conversion course and start gaining experience to work towards becoming a CP! Like you its the time it could take me (if I ever get on to it) and the money too.
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Re: Is it realistic as a career changer? And MSc advice.

Postby Laura2017 » Tue Jul 25, 2017 2:42 pm

To be honest, I haven't really made a decision!

My sister is a support worker in an inpatient mental healt unit and to be honest, it feels like she isn't always treated especially well by her employer. The thought of having to work in this kind of role does put me off a bit, if I'm honest.

I'm also struggling with the changes I'd have to make to my lifestyle. I never thought I earned a particularly great salary but I'd still be realistically taking a bit cut for the couple of years it would take to get the necessary experience.

My original degree was in philosophy and as much as I enjoyed studying it as a subject, I have found myself frustrated with a degree that isn't at all vocational. It scares me that again a psych degree wouldn't actually qualify me to do anything, if that makes sense.

I also have wondered if I am considering going through the effort for clin psy, whether I should also be considering Graduate Entry Medicine - at least once you are on the course, you're on the course! Although I'm not convinced that path is for me.

I've also considered OT but I would only being going that route to access jobs within mental health/ psychological
Therapies rather than to practice as an occupational therapist. However again at least it is a more certain path. Unfortunately I couldn't afford to do a psychology conversion as well as potentially 2 yrs ft OT conversion, otherwise I think that would be my back up plan if clin Psy didn't work out.

Sorry that's a bit of a ramble and not very helpful- typed on my phone so sorry for any typos!
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Re: Is it realistic as a career changer? And MSc advice.

Postby lingua_franca » Thu Jul 27, 2017 4:55 pm

Have you considered mental health nursing? The postgrad route is the same length as an MSc in OT and it's a well established core profession for training in psychological therapies post-registration. I've met quite a lot of nurse therapists, both through my work and as a service user. If what you want to do is therapy above all, while still retaining some job security, nursing is perhaps a quicker and less uncertain route. Medicine is a long slog that extends well beyond the four years on a GEM program (presumably you'd want to specialise in psychiatry or neurology?), and I can't imagine investing the best part of a decade in reaching a specialty unless I was 100% committed to it.

If in your heart of hearts you feel more inclined towards CP but are worried about the path to get there, I can reassure you a bit on the support work front. I have experience in different types of support work (a residential college for young adults with learning disabilities, an acute adult mental health unit, a supported housing project for adults with MH difficulties, an adolescent psychiatric intensive care unit, and a ward for older adults with dementia) and my time in all these places has been very rewarding, with the notable exception of the acute adult ward. I left there very soon after joining as I felt that patients were not being prioritised and that one support worker on her own could not change the dominant culture on the ward. I'm not saying that everywhere else was Mary Poppins-style perfect (staffing levels were a major issue as funding cuts bit deeper, which was obviously stressful) but all the teams I worked in were supportive and friendly. So don't look at your sister's experience in isolation, and remember that there are many and varied settings in which you could get experience - it doesn't have to be inpatient. If money is an issue, could you look for part-time work and balance it alongside a better paid job in your current field?
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