Prospects from conversion course in psychology (UK)?
September 26, 2019 1:58 PM   Subscribe

I'm just starting an MSc (conversion course) in psychology, and I'm getting very cold feet about it all. I know a lot of possible psychology career paths are super competitive, and I'm not sure about taking this financial gamble. I urgently need to decide whether to stay or not. I'm wondering if anyone here has any thoughts on whether this masters would be beneficial in terms of doing anything I'm interested in apart from the obvious choices. It's been a while since my first undergrad degree (in Maths).

I'm in my early 30s, and I've been lost career-wise for a while, and I just really want to find something that I find rewarding and satisfying, and get on with it and stop being stressed about it all the time.

I am actually also applying to medical school, but I didn't get in last year (I was applying for super-competitive graduate entry, and was finding it very hard to satisfy all their requirements while also struggling to make ends meet as a private tutor, living in unstable accommodation in London). This year I will apply to undergrad programs too (Scottish tuition fees are lower than English ones, so this is financially doable), but I thought I would like to get started on a backup plan so my life feels like it's moving forwards. I didn't want to be a classroom teacher (everyone's suggestion!) but I do find education interesting, so thought educational psychology might be a good idea. It was only when I was already in the process of applying that the course director casually told me, "Oh, you know there's no funding for jobs in educational psychology, right?" I hadn't known. I went ahead anyway, but... I'm having very hefty second thoughts, because of knowing a) how costly a Masters is - I can get government loans, but anything I pay now will make any other future study more difficult to fund / I may not be eligible for loans for another Masters, b) hearing that these conversion masters degrees are very intense, which would mean that this year would be rough in terms of my own life, and also perhaps make it hard for me to find time to prepare for any medical school interviews. Secondarily, I suppose, c) knowing that research would be a difficult option, because I understand that if I'm up against students with full undergrad psych degrees, I'm at a disadvantage.

I'm in Scotland, and I discovered that Edinburgh has a funded Masters program training entrants to become "clinical associates in applied psychology" working with children/adolescents (entry requirements include work experience with children - tutoring might count; I don't know - and GBR in psychology - which this conversion course would satisfy). My understanding is that the job role is a slightly lower level than clinical psychologist. I'm interested, and I do very much like working with people, and always wonder if I'd like being a therapist, but I just don't *know for sure* if I'd like it, both the "being a therapist" part and the "probably mostly applying CBT" part, plus perhaps working mostly with very difficult kids? which is not something I've actually done before. I also don't know how difficult this masters program is to get into!

Clinical psychology is so competitive I'm not even going to think about it. I don't think I want it as much as the people who succeed in it do, not enough to give up many more years of my life to unstable low-paid employment with uncertain reward.

So I'm left with: educational psychology (uncertain prospects), CAAT (uncertain), and also child and adolescent psychotherapy training (don't think it really requires psych background, though it is useful; it is also competitive to get into; it also seems very interesting to me but with many of the same caveats as the CAAT training - better in that it's not CBT-based, but worse in that the training takes place over multiple years, probably alongside another job).

I'm wondering if the masters will enhance my prospects in other slightly less obvious ways. For example, I have heard of people who work in fields like "learning design" for universities. I am interested in education and how to make it work better, so that sounds cool! I have also heard of people who work as "education consultants", apparently doing something like helping school systems in other countries to work better. Also sounds good. I don't know how I'd get into either of those - perhaps another Masters? Which begs the question of whether I should skip this one in order to better fund a more relevant one. I also feel like I half-remember seeing job adverts for some entry-level jobs in interesting "doing good" roles that ask for "research" skills / "social research" skills. I wonder how helpful this masters would be in that direction?

I know that psychology is considered good because it develops statistics skills - I am not very keen on doing anything programming or "data-science-y" because I have had a database-oriented job before and tried coding (having arbitrarily studied Maths at university), and I really didn't do well in those roles - I got bored and couldn't focus. I think I need to be people-facing (I am good at and enjoy tutoring, although need to move on from that lifestyle), or possibly be computer-facing but really enjoying the subject matter of the work - this is hard to be sure of.

I know this is vague and waffly. And long. I'm pretty stressed. I've been trying to talk to my course organiser to see if she can reassure me, but can't get hold of her. Careers advisors require an appointment and it takes time to get one. And I need to make a decision ASAP about whether to commit to staying and paying the hefty costs of this course.
posted by tangerine_poppies to Education (2 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
This course doesn't seem like a good match for you, considering that you actively want vocational training and simultaneously have no idea how you'd put this MA to work. What about a MA in Edicational Design or Instructional Design? There's one local to me that's an MA in E-Learning Design & Development and is online.
posted by DarlingBri at 6:21 PM on September 26, 2019

This course sounds like a terrible idea for you. If I were in your place I'd look for training in any one of a large number of roles that require explaining data to people, from market research to actuarial careers, with the added bonus of better job markets.
posted by StrikeTheViol at 8:25 PM on September 26, 2019

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