I’ve been inundated with emails and enquiries from fellow Psychology professionals (mostly Psychometrists in South Africa) about my move across to the United Kingdom. In an effort to support my peers as far as I can, I decided to create this blog to answer your questions collectively.
This article is by NO MEANS a piece to try and sell the UK to you. Not at all. However, given the sheer volume of emails I’ve received, I thought it best to share all my learnings with you. This article is simply here to give you the ins and outs of what your registration looks like here in England, and what your work prospects may look like.
Before we dive in, however, one of my core values as a Psychology Professional and Entrepreneur, is believing that doing good is good business. In fact, I coined this belief into a hashtag, and proudly display it on many of my posts… #DoingGoodIsGoodBusiness. It was this belief that initially led to the publication of my first book, Chasing the Dream: A Guide to Practice Management in the South African Context. I subsequently created the FREE Facebook group, which goes by the same name. The ambition behind the group was to provide support, advice and work leads for my dear colleagues (alongside some great resources under the ‘files’ section). I’ve also got a free resource section on my business website to support Health Professionals, Jobseekers and the general public.
So my only favour to you to reward me for my time in putting together the below, is that if you find this article useful, please share it with your network far and wide.
A bit about me…
When I first started out as a Psychometrist all those years ago, I had one of the most powerful sessions with a Professional I look up to: Dr. Charmaine Elliot. I was in my final year of University about to embark on the BPsych qualification through UNISA, and I had scoured the internet looking for an organisation to complete my practicum. Dear Charmaine agreed to meet with me early in 2009.
I was put through psychometric assessments, and what followed has to be one of the most profound engagements of my life. If you know me professionally, or at least my social persona, you may have a view that I am a tenacious, self-confident, successful professional. And I am. But if you get to know me personally, you’ll understand that I suffer with severe imposter syndrome, and self-doubt. However, the difference is that I make an effort every day to fight my negative self-thought, and in fact use my lack of internal confidence to propel me forward. As the cliché says… Feel the fear and do it anyway.
As a fresh faced 20-something year old, Charmaine told me I had the “X Factor” and that I had far greater things to accomplish in my young life. However, she said if I wanted to disregard her advice, she would reluctantly offer me the internship.
I accepted her reticent offer.
Charmaine and I didn’t work together for long as she moved on and progressed in her career, but we are still in contact over a decade later. I’ll eternally be grateful to her for her wisdom, and the seed she planted in me.
Getting back to my point; Charmaine had warned me that the realm of Psychometrics was a narrow one, and I’d do far better in a more polymath role than that of a Registered Psychometrist. Not surprisingly, I temporarily gave up my entire career in Psychometrics two years later and went off to manage a national radio station!
In my late-20s, I was hungry for more complexity in my life (and experienced a shift of my values after falling pregnant). I resigned and went into private practice in 2014, but it was only in 2015 that Holistan was officially born.
In 2019, my husband and I decided to make the move across to the UK. It was a long and arduous process, with my dear hubby still finishing off work in SA at this moment in time – but we (my son and I) made it in December 2020.
Charmaine’s words ring true to me to this day: Psychometrists back home in South Africa are part of a collection of highly educated, competent professionals in a flooded market. Unfortunately. It was this realization that compelled me to write my article Your Role as a Registered Psychometrist is Under Threat.
Please keep in mind that all the information provided is based on opinion as well as my personal and professional experience. Any advice given should be verified by immigration specialists. I cannot accept any liability on any decisions based on the provided information.
Psychometrists don’t exist in the UK
Don’t let that statement shock you! Although your designation as a Registered Psychometrist does not exist in the United Kingdom, you still have an abundance of work prospects here (and in the rest of Europe).
Typically, you’ll be referred to as an Assessment Consultant, or Psychometrician.
The Good and Bad news
This is all a matter of perspective. Let’s start with the bad news, or negative interpretation.
Your BPsych course, which probably took you around 6- 12 months to do (if we include the time around waiting to write your Board Exam with the HPCSA), will take about 2-3 days to do in the UK! You’ll be able to be added to the Register of Qualifications in Test Use (RQTU) – and this is split into occupational ability and occupational personality instruments. You can check out the register here: https://ptc.bps.org.uk/register-qualifications-test-use-rqtu/search-rqtu
See our section on the BPS for more information around this.
You can also choose to look at this in a positive way; when negotiating your USP (Unique Selling Point) with a potential employer in the UK, you could express that your knowledge being a Registered Psychometrist is far more detailed and comprehensive compared to someone who is on the RQTU.
Counselling in the UK
There are currently no laws in the UK regarding counselling and psychotherapy! However, guidelines recommend that, in order to practice, counsellors should have completed at least an appropriate diploma, or completed a course that was a minimum of 400 hours therapy training.
The regulatory body in the UK is known as the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP).
Unlike in South Africa, one does not have to become a member. Instead, they encourage you to become a member as clients and prospective employers may find it attractive if you are part of a formal regulatory body.
The BACP set their own standards for training in counselling and psychotherapy as there are no compulsory training courses or qualifications for therapists.
More information can be learned here: https://www.bacp.co.uk/membership/home/.
For additional information around counselling as a career in the UK, click here, here, or here.
If you are a Counsellor entering the UK and seeking job prospects, you (along with anyone with a Psychology background) will be highly eligible to gain employment as a Mental Health Support Worker. Such a professional will visit clients in their homes, and offer their support (much like a Carer, but from a mental health perspective).
The British Psychological Society (BPS)
The British Psychological Society is a membership organisation that accredits qualifications leading to membership as a Chartered Psychologist. The title Chartered Psychologist (CPsychol) is the benchmark of professional recognition for psychologists in the UK. It reflects the highest standards of knowledge and expertise.
If you would like to become a member of The Society application forms and more information is available at: www.bps.org.uk/membership. The Society does not automatically accredit any international qualifications, so applications are assessed individually on receipt of an application form and supporting documents. Generally speaking, the requirement for Chartered membership is Doctoral level or equivalent i.e., Masters plus at least 2 years full time equivalent supervised experience (completed outside of the UK).
If you, like me, completed a post-graduate in Psychology, you will be eligible to register with the British Psychology Society (BPS) as a Graduate Member. You’ll need ORIGINAL academic transcripts from your respective university for each year of study, which you can obtain from your University.
If you completed courses that were assigned codes (like “PSY471S”), you’ll need the transcript to include the actual name of the course (like “Research Methodology”). This is the case with the UNISA course. See below as examples of what your transcript will look like.
The Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC)
If you have been practicing as a Psychologist in South Africa, you may be eligible to practice in the UK. The list of Psychology professionals who are regulated include:
The Health & Care Professions Council (HCPC) is the regulatory body responsible for statutory regulation therefore you may need to apply to join their register if you wish to practice using one of their specialist titles.
Keep in mind that typically Psychologists hold doctorates in the UK, but if you have your MA and have some years’ experience, you may be eligible to register with the HCPC as they will use your practical experience to convert your qualifications.
The cost of joining the registrar is £ 495.00. It’s important to note that this fee is non-refundable, so even if you are not granted membership, you will not be reimbursed.
It may be a good idea to understand if you meet the UK standards of proficiency, reading the following article to ascertain your best chances of success: https://www.hcpc-uk.org/standards/standards-of-proficiency/. In some instances, you may be invited to attend a test of competence, where your skills will be assessed directly, or you may be asked for more paperwork to demonstrate proof of your competence. If relevant further information is not received and a test of competence would not be appropriate, your application may be refused. If this is the outcome you will have the option to appeal this decision.
All applicants applying for registration via the international route will be subject to background checking of their identity, qualifications and employment history before they are allowed to join the Registrar.
The international application for registration form can be downloaded here: www.hcpc-uk.org/apply/international/forms/
For further information please visit: www.hcpc-uk.org.
You can also email firstname.lastname@example.org.
There is a great Facebook Page that is called South African Psychologists in the UK if you’re interested.
Job prospects in the UK as a Psychology Professional
Just like any other sector, one does not walk straight into a job here in the UK. However, there certainly are opportunities.
Depending on your expertise and qualifications, you may be eligible to apply for positions in the UK such as:
Assistant Psychologist (within the NHS or in the private sector)
Client Solutions Manager
Customer Relationship Manager
Customer Success Manager
Learning and Development
Human Capital Manager
Talent Acquisition Manager
In terms of companies, any major organisation will have a part of their HR Department dedicated to Talent, such as Red Bull. There are literally thousands of the big corporates with these types of opportunities (although very competitive to get into). Google and LinkedIn are your friends here.
You may also consider the big search firms, known as the SHREK firms (Spencer Stuart, Heidrick & Struggles, Russell Reynolds, Egon Zehnder and Korn Ferry).
A few other companies you may want to consider include:
Bailey and French
The National Assessment Agency
Human Factors International
Knight Chapman Psychological
Occupational Psychology Services Ltd
Pearson TalentLens UK
Saville Assessment Ltd
The above are just a handful of THOUSANDS of consultancies which specialise in Psychology and / or Psychometric assessments.
I hope that I have provided you with information to arm your search as you endeavour to enter and practice within the United Kingdom.
A fantastic resource is the site Psychology at Work, which is all around Occupational Psychology and related topics in the UK.
If you need additional support, I have published an incredible resource (at least I think so!) called A Foreigner’s Guide to Finding Work in the United Kingdom. This e-book is rich with information, such as tips around your CV in the UK format, your Cover letter, right through to insider insights, and information to aid your assimilation into the UK market. To purchase the book, simply click here.
I would love your feedback, thoughts and comments – so please drop them in below. Also, stay connected with me on social. My handles are:
As for me? Well, after 15 weeks of touching down on British soil, I’ve landed my dream job! Although I will remain a non-executive Director of Holistan, I’m absolutely thrilled to start this new chapter in my life, fully immersing myself into my new role here in England. Keep your eyes peeled to my LinkedIn Profile when the press release goes live.
Marzenna Almendro (MBPsS)