Ministry of Business and Innovation - Occupation Outlook

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Counsellors and Psychologists

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Income
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Fees
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Job Prospects

Job Prospects... At a glance

In general, job prospects for psychologists are good, as there are more positions available than there are psychologists to fill them. In particular, there are shortages of educational psychologists and clinical psychologists.

On the other hand, it is hard to get into psychology courses due to high entry requirements, with only a limited number of people being accepted each year.

Job prospects for counsellors are below average. Cuts in public funding have made it harder to find work for new counsellors. Many counsellors only work part-time.

How to become a psychologist

What they do

Psychologists are trained to understand the human mind and behaviour. Most psychologists work with people to help them function more effectively in life – for example, by helping them deal with stress or depression, improve their relationships, or improve their work performance. Psychologists’ clients may include individuals, families, organisations and communities.

Psychologists can work in a range of areas, including schools, health centres and hospitals, community and sports organisations, the workplace, non-governmental organisations, Police and defence services, research institutes, as well as private clinics. A number of psychologists also provide kaupapa Māori psychology services support to individuals and communities.

Counsellors use talking therapies to help people work through their problems and deal with their feelings. Career counsellors help students make decisions about their future careers. Becoming a counsellor does not require the same level of education as it does to become a psychologist.

Qualifications needed

To practise as a psychologist, you will need:

  • a master’s degree (or higher) in psychology
  • at least 1500 hours of practical training accredited by the New Zealand Psychologists Board (an internship, usually in the form of a postgraduate diploma)
  • to be registered with the Board
  • to have a current Annual Practising Certificate.

There are no formal requirements needed for you to call yourself a counsellor, but most employers and professional bodies require their employees to hold at least a Level 6 diploma in counselling or a degree in psychotherapy. From 2019, the New Zealand Association of Counsellors (NZAC) will require new members to have a bachelor’s degree. 

Career counsellors are usually teachers with special courses in career counselling.

Cost of study

Bachelor's degree majoring in psychologyMaster's degree majoring in psychology
$18,600 over three years $16,000 over two years
Postgraduate Diploma in PsychologyDegree in counselling
$24,000 over three years $16,000 over three years

Average costs in 2015 for a domestic student. Costs vary between institutions. Further costs include student levies, administrative fees, materials, textbooks and accommodation.

Rents vary from place to place. Estimated market rents by region, city and suburb are available on the MBIE Tenancy Services website.

The StudyLink website provides general budget advice for students, and the Sorted website provides help with detailed budget planning.

Tenancy Services: www.tenancy.govt.nz/rent-bond-and-bills
StudyLink: www.studylink.govt.nz
Sorted: www.sorted.org.nz/calculators/money-planner

Where to study

Psychology courses are available at most New Zealand universities, including:

  • University of Auckland
  • Auckland University of Technology (AUT)
  • Massey University
  • Victoria University of Wellington
  • Otago University
  • Canterbury University
  • University of Waikato.

Counselling courses are available from AUT and from several polytechnics and private training establishments.

Registration

Practising psychologists need to be registered with the New Zealand Psychologists Board, and have a current annual practising certificate. For more information, see the Board’s website.

Counsellors are usually registered with one of the professional organisations for counsellors: New Zealand Association of Counsellors (NZAC), New Zealand Association of Psychotherapists (NZAP), and New Zealand Christian Counsellors Association (NZCCA).

New Zealand Psychologists Board: www.psychologistsboard.org.nz
NZAC: www.nzac.org.nz/home.cfm
NZAP: http://nzap.org.nz
NZCCA: www.nzcca.org.nz

Completed qualifications

The number of students who completed a master’s degree in psychology was 170 in 2014, an increase from 160 in 2013.

Qualification completions chart

 Source: Ministry of Education

Income and employment prospects

Income

The salary of psychologists depends on specialisation, experience and employer. In general, the salary of a psychologist covered by the District Health Board Multi-Employment Collective Agreement ranges from $66,565 to $109,971 (2013) or more if they own their own business.

Graduate psychologists can earn between $61,000 and $64,000 a year, while those with three to 10 years’ experience can earn up to $97,000 a year. Psychologists with senior management or advisory positions can receive up to $120,000 a year.

Source: New Zealand Psychological Society www.psychology.org.nz

The hourly rate of those in private practice, depending on their area of specialty and seniority, ranges from $85 to $180.

Counsellors’ incomes are generally lower than that of psychologists, sometimes much lower.

The average annual income for psychologists and counsellors is $55,000.

Estimated Average Income
$55,000

Source: MBIE estimates based on Statistics NZ Census and Labour Cost Index

Employment and skill shortages

Counsellors and psychologists’ employment

HistoricProjected Growth
2006 2013 2020 2025
5,682 6,507 7,837 8,692
  2.0% 2.7% 2.1%

Source: Statistics NZ Census and MBIE projections. Percentages are compound annual growth rates.
*Growth projections are for the broader category “Social and Welfare Professionals.”

The number of counsellors and psychologists increased by 2.0% yearly from 2006 to 2013. Growth is expected to continue at more than 2% out to 2025.

In 2015, there were 2527 psychologists with annual practising certificates.

Employment chart

Source: Statistics NZ Census and MBIE projections

Outcomes after qualification completion*

OverseasIn further studyReceiving a benefitIn employmentMedian Salary
25% 41% 0% 48% $55,000

Source: Ministry of Education. “S” means data is supressed because of low numbers.
*Two years after completion of Masters - Behavioural Science. ‘Overseas’ refers to the percentage of ALL graduates completing this qualification. Other indicators refer only to graduates living in New Zealand.

Two years after degree completion, most graduates with a master’s degree in the broader category “Behavioural science” were in employment or in further study. Some were overseas, and almost no one was receiving a benefit. The median salary was $55,000 two years after qualification completion.

Demand for psychologists is greater than the current supply, particularly in clinical and educational psychology. These two specialisations appear on Immigration New Zealand's long-term skill shortage list. If a job appears on the list, it means the government is actively encouraging skilled people in these jobs to come and work in New Zealand. A full list is available on the Immigration New Zealand website.

Immigration NZ, skill shortage list: skillshortages.immigration.govt.nz

Where to find job vacancies

The number of online job vacancies for psychologists has recently increased after being fairly steady for several years. The number of ads was about 30% higher in April 2016 than in April 2008.

Jobs advertised chart

Source: Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment

Counsellor and psychologist vacancies are advertised through public media such as the Trade Me Jobs, Seek, and Kiwi Health Jobs websites.

Trade Me Jobs: www.trademe.co.nz/jobs
Seek: www.seek.co.nz
Kiwi Health Jobs: www.kiwihealthjobs.com

Career path

Psychologists can move into, amongst other areas, research, teaching, policy development, clinical work, advisory and management roles. Some psychologists go into private practice after some years in the government sector.

Psychologists usually specialise in an area such as:

Clinical psychology
Clinical psychologists assess and treat people’s behavioural and mental health problems. They may work in primary or secondary health care, in other welfare agencies, or in private practice.

Counselling psychology
Counselling psychologists assess and help children, young persons, adults and their families in areas related to emotional or mental health, or developmental or behavioural problems.

Forensic psychology
Criminal justice psychologists work with offenders to help them make changes in their lives and reduce their risk of reoffending.

Educational psychology
Educational psychologists work with students, parents, educators and mental health services to develop supportive environments for students with difficulties that affect their learning and well-being.

Organisational psychology
Organisational psychologists investigate workplaces and recommend ways to improve workers' effectiveness and efficiency.

Health psychology
Health psychologists work to understand how biological, social and psychological factors influence health and illness. They use psychological theory and research to help patients manage chronic disease, avoid preventable diseases, and maintain healthy lifestyles.

Community psychology
Community psychologists seek to understand the quality of life of individuals, communities and societies through research and action. They may develop, put in place, and evaluate action-oriented, community-based programmes, and help build relationships between individuals and communities.

Child and family psychology
Child and family psychologists work with children and families to diagnose and help resolve issues causing emotional or behavioural problems. They can work in research or policy, or engage in behavioural support work, and provide counselling and therapy.

Counsellors can specialise in different areas of counselling such as grief or abuse. Counsellors often work for public organisations or are self-employed. Many counsellors only work part-time.

Related occupations

The following occupations are related roles or alternative titles. Some of the roles may require a higher level of skill than entry-level counsellors and psychologists.

  • Career Consultant
  • Community Worker
  • Minister of Religion
  • Psychotherapist
  • Social Worker
  • Teacher

Other information

Links

More information on psychologists is available on the Careers New Zealand website, through the "Just the Job" videos, and on the websites of relevant professional organisations.

Careers New Zealand: www.careers.govt.nz
New Zealand Psychological Society:www.psychology.org.nz
New Zealand College of Clinical Psychologists: www.nzccp.co.nz
New Zealand Association of Counsellors: www.nzac.org.nz
Just the Job video clip: A Career as a Corrections Psychologist and Programme Facilitator
Just the Job video clip: A Career as an Educational Psychologist

ANZSCO

The Australian New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (ANZSCO) is the official classification of occupations in New Zealand.

The occupation of counsellors and psychologists has been coded to the following ANZSCO codes for the purpose of this report:

2721 – Counsellors
2723 – Psychologists