Psychology Conversion, MSc - Job opportunities

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JHJ
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Psychology Conversion, MSc - Job opportunities

Post by JHJ » Mon Aug 05, 2019 4:26 pm

Hello all,

I have a couple of questions regarding taking on a Psychology Conversion Masters.
I am looking to do a conversion degree which BPS accredited this year or next, however I am worried about job opportunities if I fail in gaining a place on NHS clinical psychology training.

Has anyone here completed a conversion degree and gone on to any type of job that is related psychology?
Is so, what is your role?

Thank you for all those who reply!

Kind regards,
JHJ.

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Mathan
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Re: Psychology Conversion, MSc - Job opportunities

Post by Mathan » Mon Aug 05, 2019 5:43 pm

I’ve been in your position of contemplating a conversion degree in psychology. I even got halfway through before deciding on a different path.

There are maybe 600 or 700 new jobs a year in the UK that specifically require a degree in psychology (obviously excluding those requiring a doctorate in psychology). Those jobs include IAPT workers, registered intermediaries in the court system and young people’s advocates,, as well as psychology teachers. So a psychology degree doesn’t necessarily make you that much more employable than whatever your current degree makes you and do bear in mind also that many of those jobs are highly competitive.

If you want to become a clinical psychologist you have to remember that the psychology degree is only a very small piece of what you will need to get there. If you’re wanting to do a job related to this role there are many other master’s programmes I would recommend you consider first which will make you much more employable and open up a wider range of roles to you, whilst not ruling out the clinical doctorate long term.

If you’re at the stage of contemplating a conversion degree with a very clear aim of getting on the doctorate, ask yourself this: what if you didn’t or could never get onto the doctorate? What would you want to do instead? If that something is still related to psychology, such as mental health nursing or speech and language therapy, then do that and do it first. You could always have a crack at the doctorate from that position once you qualify there but you won’t have wasted an opportunity to train for a job you will really love.

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miriam
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Re: Psychology Conversion, MSc - Job opportunities

Post by miriam » Sun Aug 11, 2019 11:32 pm

That sounds like quite cynical advice. We have many members who have got onto training in clinical psychology after doing a conversion. If you have relevant experience beforehand, then you may need little after. If you have no relevant experience then you will be at the same starting point as the psych graduates, so it is important to get the best mark you can and then to gain some relevant experience. However, getting onto clinical training is far from impossible if it is what you really want to do, and plenty of people go on to use their psychology qualifications in related roles if clinical doesn't work out. So I wouldn't let the narrative of impossible competition put you off.
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Mathan
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Re: Psychology Conversion, MSc - Job opportunities

Post by Mathan » Mon Aug 12, 2019 6:42 am

I'll admit it is cynical advice. However, it's based on seeing a lot of people with psychology degrees languish around in their twenties (and thirties, come to that) for a very long time doing low paid jobs and volunteering in pursuit of the doctorate before inevitably peeling off to do something else that, in retrospect, they wished they'd just done in the first place. During that time, they fell behind their friends in terms of life milestones that, particularly for women, were quite important to them and they regretted it. Furthermore, having attended a psychology conversion course myself, I know that the turnover for success on conversion degrees is very low and that quite a few graduates just ended up rotating back into the general flow of employment they'd had before doing it. Most of the rest followed that familiar track of trying for a few years before moving on to different things. Yes, there were people who got on with both the EP and the CP routes, but they tended to either have the family backing to able to do that grind for a few years or they were highly experienced before starting the doctorate, with the psychology degree just being the very last thing they needed to make the switch. For the CP route, the one who really stood out to me was a mental health nurse. She had decided to do it the other way because she wanted to get straight on with work and she took this exact advice from the start. If you couldn't be a CP, what you be? So she did that and kept CP as a long-term goal. Her example was instrumental in pointing me in my direction when I knew that a change in my personal circumstances wouldn't allow me to do low paid work for years without a guarantee of a job at the end of it.

When you're doing a conversion degree, you're laying out a lot of cost upfront without a certain return on your investment and without many alternative employment options that weren't already open to you as a graduate. The postgraduate loans are a one time only offer and don't allow any second chances. If you don't get the employment you're looking for, it becomes very difficult to afford to train in something else that's related if you've already used up that loan option, especially now that the NHS bursaries have been cancelled for other training courses. If you're going to do a psychology conversion, better to do it from a place of secure employment at band 5+ where you can probably afford it, I would say.

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Re: Psychology Conversion, MSc - Job opportunities

Post by Iggy1 » Mon Aug 12, 2019 9:08 am

Mathan I think your first sentence is a naive one, you might have seen people 'languish around' but what they were actually doing was gaining experience with different client groups, learning more about their own therapeutic style or working in different types of services to get a feel for where they might want to work when qualified. I understand your stance RE taking out a post graduate loan but I don't think there's a degree out there where there's a 'certain return on your investment'. Ultimately people are investing in themselves to hopefully pursue something that means a lot to them, certainly not for the money.

Although I agree that there is a lot to consider, my advice to JHJ would be to not give up before you're even off the starting block!

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Re: Psychology Conversion, MSc - Job opportunities

Post by miriam » Mon Aug 12, 2019 11:08 am

I've known plenty of people get onto clinical training one or two years after gaining their GBC qualification, and plenty of those have been after conversions. I'd be very wary of jaded people perpetuating the narrative of how long it takes and how poor your chances are, when plenty of people don't find that (but find it hard to say so, when they want to be modest and not make people having a tougher time feel bad). Our polls show that the time from graduating and the number of years of experience do not fit with the small sample of people who make loads of noise about their arduous and extended journeys.

But if your mindset is like Mathan, and you won't enjoy the journey of gaining experience, I think that might be a flag that this isn't the right profession for you.
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Re: Psychology Conversion, MSc - Job opportunities

Post by Mathan » Mon Aug 12, 2019 12:49 pm

The word languish is taken directly from the lips of quite a few people I’ve known in this position. It is dispiriting watching other people progressing in their careers and meeting life’s milestones such as buying houses and having children – both of which require job security and a good income to do – whilst you linger in low paid jobs for a very long time with no real chance of progression apart from to move sideways. What one friend of mine described in particular as being depressing was feedback year on year telling her that her application was strong but that other people’s were stronger. In other words, it didn’t really matter what she did as someone else was probably always going to be better or to sell themselves better. In the end she made a pragmatic choice to switch to something less competitive. But she is a lot further behind where she would have been if she’d just done it from the outset and she regrets that now. She spent four years trying to get on the doctorate before switching to mental health nursing and her argument is that that’s four years of her fertility, mortgage payments and career development that she simply can’t get back. The experience she’s gained as a nurse would have put her on good stead for the doctorate and she’d have been paid better for it. She got into nursing before the bursaries were slashed but she was telling me a while ago that there’s no way that she could afford to do it anymore after having done the psychology conversion degree already and she’d be faced with a choice probably moving on from a mental health career altogether in order to afford any kind of decent lifestyle or of just plugging away at it in the hope of getting on, chasing sunk costs.

It’s not that she didn’t enjoy her experiences in support work etc. But she was at the point where she knew honestly that she was under employed for her skills and knowledge and that her itchy feet were a natural response to that. Working with little chance of progression in the role itself and having already got out of it and similar roles as much as you can is quite depressing. I’ve seen plenty of posts on here asking for what to do having been stuck gaining experience for years now and watching life pass them by. Given that the doctorate isn’t exactly going anywhere it’s not exactly unsound advice to switch plan A around with plan B and do it in that order instead.

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Re: Psychology Conversion, MSc - Job opportunities

Post by Spatch » Mon Aug 12, 2019 1:35 pm

It is dispiriting watching other people progressing in their careers and meeting life’s milestones such as buying houses and having children – both of which require job security and a good income to do – whilst you linger in low paid jobs for a very long time with no real chance of progression apart from to move sideways. What one friend of mine described in particular as being depressing was feedback year on year telling her that her application was strong but that other people’s were stronger. In other words, it didn’t really matter what she did as someone else was probably always going to be better or to sell themselves better. In the end she made a pragmatic choice to switch to something less competitive.
I actually think that this is a fair point and a good example of having a Plan A, Plan B and Plan C. I also think there is something savvy about engineering your clinical experiences that make you suitable for multiple pathways such as nursing or medicine, even if a DClinPsy is your preferred outcome. In that case having something like nursing which pays for CPD may be a smart move.

While there is some truth in gaining relevant experience at junior levels and enjoying the journey, I also see that people can quickly fall into the trap of putting their life on pause while waiting for a training place. We know it helps to be mobile and flexible when it comes to gaining relevant experiences or PWP/AP/PhD places so this can be a significant factor to consider. I am aware that students starting the journey now also have increasing levels of debt and housing in the major cities has changed a lot since many of the now qualifieds were in a similar situation. I suspect if I was starting out now I would be way more mindful about opportunity costs and time, and far less laissez faire than I was in the early 2000s.

This isn't about putting people off, but about developing ways where people can have additional opportunities if their first choice doesn't work out. When you think about it the common degree/Conversion->Experience->DClin pathway is a risky venture, with far less certainty than something like OT or SALT.
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Re: Psychology Conversion, MSc - Job opportunities

Post by miriam » Mon Aug 12, 2019 4:21 pm

True, but for many people it works out just fine and leads to a better paid and more secure professional status, doing something they care about more than the alternatives.
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Re: Psychology Conversion, MSc - Job opportunities

Post by Punkgirluk » Mon Aug 12, 2019 11:19 pm

I don’t think it is unreasonable to think about practicalities or to have a plan B in mind.

However I have colleagues who did conversion courses and are now qualified PWP’s and HI’s and they had no sense that that route was a handicap.

The other option (which I took) is an undergrad psychology degree using credit transfer. I did mine via distance learning so was able to work full time and because my previous career was well paid, it minimised personal debt and meant that I was then able to take poorly paid or fixed term jobs to build learning and experience. I also feel (although this may not be true for everyone) that I benefited from a broader background of knowledge.

I also set myself a maximum of 2 attempts for application to the doctorate. Partly based on how long I could afford to live on a fixed term band 4 salary with no guarantee of contract renewal but also because I figured after one application I could learn plenty from the process and how to improve my application, but if I was unsuccessful a second time I would have to question if I could make further significant improvements. That approach may not be for everyone as I can see how it may increase pressure, but I found it useful to prevent me getting stuck in that never ending spiral of application after application and ending up disillusioned and feeling like I had failed (which I have seen happen- but by no means exclusively in those who have done the conversion)

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Re: Psychology Conversion, MSc - Job opportunities

Post by PinkFreud19 » Tue Aug 13, 2019 9:46 am

Something that strikes me from reading this is just how individual the emotional experience of pursuing clinical psychology actually is; our satisfaction with our journeys is biased by all sorts of internal and external factors.

To illustrate, my university friends completed degrees in highly desirable subjects (physics and biochemistry) both with master's degrees. My physics friend took nearly two years to find a job and even then is only on a similar salary to me. My biochemistry friend worked in WHSmiths for a year and is now paying to privately train as an accountant and earns about the same as me too. We're all 26. This context made me feel quite comfortable on my band 4 salary. I'm living within my means (just about!) and have been doing a job that I enjoy. The fact that I'm now about to experience a two-band pay rise means that, financially, I will actually be doing better than my friends* in a profession that one does not go into for the money. This made my pre-doctorate experience quite enjoyable, for the most part.

I do, however, understand that it is harder for women because they also have to contend with the biological clock problem, which I deeply sympathise with. I also acknowledge that I'm privileged to have been able to move anywhere and have no dependents to care for, so it was actually a lot easier for me to avoid a sense of being languished. Those privileges aside, I do not necessarily think it's a bad plan to invest in a conversion if you're viewing the pre-doctorate stage as something to be enjoyed and simply part of life experience. A slightly longer path, then, is not going to feel as if you've wasted precious years or that you're falling drastically behind your peers.

One other comment about conversions. My master's degree (not a conversion) offered clinical experience, which ultimately led to me gaining my AP role. I think people who choose to complete conversion degrees are at a disadvantage in the sense that they are probably then less likely to splash out on another master's degree in a subject that will be clinically relevant and enhance their application, as I was able to.


*NB: Not that it's a competition, I'm just trying to illustrate a point.

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Re: Psychology Conversion, MSc - Job opportunities

Post by workingmama » Thu Aug 15, 2019 1:08 pm

miriam wrote:
Mon Aug 12, 2019 11:08 am
I've known plenty of people get onto clinical training one or two years after gaining their GBC qualification, and plenty of those have been after conversions. I'd be very wary of jaded people perpetuating the narrative of how long it takes and how poor your chances are, when plenty of people don't find that (but find it hard to say so, when they want to be modest and not make people having a tougher time feel bad).
I've not ever posted on the 'my experience before I got a place' thread, because as Miriam so perceptively stated, no-one wants to rub in an 'easy' journey when there are so many posters struggling to get on. For the record re. this thread:

Conversion with distance learning OU (finished Oct 2011, got exam grade Jan 2012).
Applied Dec 2011. Interview April 2012. Place starting Sept 2012. First time applicant.

The years 'languishing not doing clinical psychology' involved having children (lots of them, and it made things harder but I never regretted waiting and worrying about the kids issue); doing some jobs in which I had some of the best fun of my life (LOVED being a youth outreach worker at 21, hunting kids down on the dark wintery streets of Leeds at 10pm at night, met some brilliant teenagers who I hope went on to make a mark on their world); worked (and managed) in some women's drug services with some of the bravest most inspirational survivors I'll ever have the pleasure and privilege of meeting - I work with children now and my knowledge of that area shapes so much of the help I can offer; worked giving training on sex based violence (child sex abuse, prostitution, pornography, FGM) to the NHS, police, and social work - the most humbling post I've had in so many ways and shaped me as a human being in ways that were worth so much more than the salary, which was, btw higher than I earned as a CP so I certainly didn't starve on my route here. I've been touched and moulded and humbled and privileged to meet the fellow humans whose paths crossed mine in the years before I came to CP training. I can remember dozens of the people whose stories I was entrusted with and I think regularly about where they are, are they safe, what burdens did the world send them after I moved on. I have never earned less than an AP (never been an AP), and mostly substantially more so I took a good sized drop in salary to come to CP. I never felt that I was working at less than my intellectual capacity, was challenged every day, and learned more than I could have imagined on my way here. I wanted to train as a CP, and I feel very lucky to have had the opportunity but if I hadn't come here it wasn't going to be the defining feature of my life and I would have been a fiery one-woman rocket of passion, social justice, enthusiasm, energy, and love wherever I ended up. Languishing isn't even in my dictionary.

Think I probably better go for a cup of tea and a wee sit down now :lol:
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Re: Psychology Conversion, MSc - Job opportunities

Post by lakeland » Thu Aug 15, 2019 2:05 pm

I think workingmama's post probably summarises quite nicely how the experience you have prior to the conversion course is likely to make a difference in how quickly following course completion you get on training. I imagine it's easier for someone who has done a lot of work with people in some sort of caring or research capacity to write a good form and get interviews and a place (like workingmama!).

Not dissimilar to people who do a first Psychology degree and gain work experiencing during the degree, as paid work or part of a placement.

The qualification is a formality - what matters is what you've learned from the experience you've had (wherever that experience comes from).

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