Is psychology really a successful field

Social affairs, economics or research? This is what possible occupational fields look like:

As a psychologist, you have a very wide range of activities open to you. In principle, you are allowed to treat people psychologically or to take up a job, such as in research. In addition to research, career opportunities open up for you in the clinical and health sector, at advice centers, in the education and training sector, in business and human resources, in the communication, media and advertising industries as well as in the fields of transport, law and sport. According to the graduate tracking of the University of Vienna, 3 years after completing their studies, psychologists can mainly be found in the following sectors:

  • Social affairs: 29%
  • Public administration (justice, ministries, etc.): 13%
  • Health care (hospitals, medical practices, etc.): 12%
  • Education and teaching (universities, schools, etc.): 10%
  • Retirement and nursing homes: 5%

Bachelor or do you prefer a Master?

In order to work independently as a psychologist in Austria, a corresponding master’s degree is a basic requirement. A successful bachelor's degree only entitles you to work under professional guidance. Furthermore, a master’s degree enables you to set a specific focus. As a rule, you can choose from areas such as work and organizational psychology, clinical psychology, neurosciences or counseling - often you can also set an individual focus. As is the case with medical specialists, after completing your master's degree you can specialize in further psychological training, such as clinical psychology or health psychology.

Career opportunities that you can strive for with a bachelor's degree in psychology arise primarily in the private sector. 8% of the Bachelor's graduates work in corporate management and consulting. So that you can assert yourself against the competition from business administration and other fields of study, you should complete suitable internships during your studies and aim for targeted part-time jobs.

This is what the job market promises for psychologists

The rush to study psychology is great - nevertheless, according to the AMS, there is sometimes a lack of psychologists in Austria. One reason for this is the growing proportion of foreign students who only stay in Austria to a small extent. As in the past in medicine, there is now a large number of German students in psychology. This can be explained by the strict admission criteria in Germany. 79% of the new students at the University of Innsbruck are German. The University of Salzburg provides a similar picture - only in Vienna and Graz it looks different.

Employment is expected to continue to grow in the social sector. This is because the increasing number of clients with social problems (addictions, poverty, indebtedness, etc.) means that well-qualified workers in the social sector are in great demand. However, this occupational field is strongly influenced by political decisions on the design of health, social or teaching systems. Jobs close to the labor market also show a particular increase (e.g. looking after unemployed people).

Further growth areas are psychotherapy as well as clinical psychology and health psychology. The number of jobs in these areas has risen continuously over the past 20 years. In August 2017, 10,338 health psychologists, 10,422 clinical psychologists and 9,041 psychotherapists were licensed. The proportion of freelance workers in these fields is constantly increasing. It is believed that this shift is related to the stagnating supply of jobs in institutions.

Additional training and atypical employment relationships: Does starting a career end in a dead end?

The growth areas "Psychotherapy" and "Clinical Psychology and Health Psychology" mentioned above are independent training courses that have nothing to do with the psychology course per se. A psychotherapist training is also available to non-academics, while a psychology degree is a prerequisite for the postgraduate training in clinical psychology. According to the Psychologists Act, this means that graduates in Austria who have not completed additional training as clinical psychologists and health psychologists are not allowed to independently examine or treat mentally ill people. The postgraduate training includes a theoretical and practical part lasting approx. 1 to 2 years with accompanying supervision. You can find out here how expensive this training can be and what salary you can expect against it.

For psychologists, starting a career is often associated with atypical employment relationships (a mixture of part-time employment, project work and self-employment). These are generally increasing among psychologists. In the field of research and science, too, psychologists are often confronted with fixed-term contracts. Flexibility, professional mobility and a high level of commitment are therefore required from this professional group.

As in other areas, psychologists start their careers through personal contacts that were made, for example, during internships or additional training. You can often find suitable job advertisements in daily newspapers. With attractive job advertisements, you have to expect fierce competition - sometimes more than 200 applicants apply for them. Therefore, early professional orientation, practical experience, willingness to continue training and commitment significantly increase the chances of a satisfactory job.


Note: The information on the psychology degree and the associated areas of activity and possible additional training relate exclusively to Austria.