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MSc in Psychology or CIPD

(41 Posts)
LittleMissBrainy Thu 23-Jul-20 19:28:31

If you had the choice of doing an MSc in Psychology or a CIPD qualification which would you choose?

I am looking at a range of options that suit my skills and experience which include:
Counselling, Psychology, HR, Learning & Development, Corporate Social Responsibility or anything else in that sort of 'people skills' area. I was wondering which qualification would be the most flexible.

Background is mainly offenders having recently left the Probation Service after 15 years and Youth Offending Service before that.

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ChocolateCoffeeCake Thu 23-Jul-20 19:34:23

Ooo this is interesting. I have a degree in Psychology and went into teaching. I then left teaching and have spent the last few years in an office job (enjoyable but not where I see my future) and having children. I have often thought that HR would suit me and I think its something I could do well. It will be interesting to see the other responses you receive.

LittleMissBrainy Thu 23-Jul-20 19:46:11

Thanks @ChocolateCoffeeCake. Teaching was actually another option I thought very carefully about. But I don't think I want another front line job (unless I'm working for myself).

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MutteringDarkly Thu 23-Jul-20 20:28:06

If you want to do HR or L&D, you're going to end up doing CIPD at some stage - but you might possibly be able to get an employer to co-fund it.

I think I might do the psychology but try and get some experience in HR-related work, so you keep your options open while finding out which you enjoy.

LittleMissBrainy Fri 24-Jul-20 20:48:27

Thanks @MutteringDarkly, that's definitely something to think about.

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sadonfriday Fri 24-Jul-20 20:53:07

Leaving HR to do MSc Psychology....

ItWillBeFridaySoon Fri 24-Jul-20 21:11:10

Depends what you want to do with psychology. Speaking from experience...if you are wanting a job in psychology you will need to do the msc plus more but that's no reason to not do it!

dooratheexplorer Sat 25-Jul-20 22:16:05

They're pretty different paths.

Psychology is very competitive and it's quite a long road until you get there.

I don't think HR is particularly altruistic. Do you have experience? What appeals to you about that?

What do you like and what are you good at?

SpeedofaSloth Sat 25-Jul-20 22:20:57

CIPDis more vocational and will get you work. My own MSc Occupational Psychology is really only an interesting footnote to my core skill set (H&S).

LittleMissBrainy Sun 26-Jul-20 08:55:38

@dooratheexplorer thanks for your reply. Really thought provoking.

From the research I have done into the courses, they look like different ways to get to similar career paths, such as counselling, coaching, etc. I have got this from the 'further careers after the course' sections and I am seeing a job coach. I'm happy to be corrected.

I am after suggestions of other things I could do in a similar field, not necessarily Psychologist, although I'd love to be a psychologist, I'm not sure I have it in me for the doctorate required! I'm not after a particularly altruistic career as I want to earn a decent wage.
What do you like and what are you good at?

This is my issue, all my skills tend towards being good with people which seems to only be suitable for jobs that don't seem to pay that well! I am good at being able to say the right thing, I can motivate people around me, I am great at hearing what is not being said and putting it back to the person in basic words. (I hate a word salad). I enjoy strategic management, but not line management which is why I though HR would be a good route. I have no experience in it, other than having had some really awful HR managers in the past.

OP’s posts: |
SardineJam Sun 26-Jul-20 08:57:09

There are MSCs in HR that get you CIPD level 7, so you get both...

dooratheexplorer Sun 26-Jul-20 10:27:17

In terms of HR, I think you need to research that a bit more to understand exactly what it entails. It is working with staff but it is quite process/policy orientated. In my experience, HR have a bit of a hard time as they are the middle man between management and staff. General perception where I worked previously was that they didn't do an awful lot but I don't know if that was purely down to mysogny (male dominated environment with female HR department!!!).

A business environment is where the money is but the type of job you describe (i.e. motivating people, hearing what is being said, putting those word back simply) lend themselves more to a healthcare or social care environment.

I've done the opposite to you (worked in business and now NHS). The difference in environments is pretty stark. I am also very similar to how you describe yourself and I've always found business to be pretty heartless. There is not always a lot of caring for staff and the focus is always on the bottom line.

What about occupational therapy? You could do a masters in that and it would tie in well with what you've done previously.

My0My Wed 29-Jul-20 08:54:53

I did CIPD but didn’t actually ever work in HR! However you do need to understand (and some people really don’t get this) that HR is about effectively managing the staff from a business expense point of view. Counselling and talking to staff it isn’t. HR look at job structures, recruitment, redundancies, performance management, grievances, disciplinary issues, competency procedures, absence management and lots more I’ve probably forgotten! So it’s everything about employees that keeps a company working effectively and keeping within their budgets. They are seen as business partners rather than welfare officers.

I would always say CIPD is a must. You might find you can get a trainee job but don’t forget recent grads are after them too so it’s competitive. A local authority might suit you.

MSc in Psychology has the same problem. To be a psychologist you need a training position and the world and his wife are after them and all have psychology degrees from top universities. I think this is the much riskier route regarding a career because the MSc isn’t a professional qualification in the same way CIPD is.

I think you need to do more research into the career path for both but HR isn’t really what you think it is.

My0My Wed 29-Jul-20 08:57:31

Actually occupational therapy is a great shout. My Dsis is one!

fromcitytocountry Wed 29-Jul-20 09:00:12

You mentioned counselling quite a few times but neither a psychology nor CIPD will qualify you to be a counsellor or go into a counselling role.

Whilst it's an unprotected term, it's unethical for someone to call themselves one without going through the appropriate training including many client hours.

If you want to link into counselling you'd need additional training specifically in this area

My0My Thu 30-Jul-20 00:49:27

There are many people who call themselves counsellors who don’t have any professional qualifications at all. There are numerous courses and they are not regulated like CIPD or a degree. CIPD is a portable qualification issued by a Chartered Institute. That’s very different to “counselling” courses.

LittleMissBrainy Thu 30-Jul-20 16:58:47

Thanks Everyone, Sorry it took a while to come back, I didn't realise others had replied. There is a lot to think about and I certainly won't try to be a counsellor without the proper qualifications.
I guess the reason I have suggested those careers is because I'm looking for something that is related to Probation officer, as that is where my skill set is and it means I won't have to retrain from the absolute start.

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My0My Thu 30-Jul-20 17:38:30

Social worker is very obvious! Look at teaching - work in a special school of PRU. Both portable qualifications. The problem with counselling is that there is no recognised single professional qualification.

dooratheexplorer Thu 30-Jul-20 17:52:44

I think it's pretty hard to do something new without doing some sort of retraining. The jobs that don't normally have a glut of applicants.

I don't know for certain but I get the impression that there are a lot of counsellors around. To be legit, you do have to do a bit of training for that and I think it costs a bit too.

My0My Thu 30-Jul-20 19:10:25

I find it difficult to think that “a bit of training”is good enough when talking about people trusting you with their inner secrets and worries. It’s too flimsy for me.

I worked with a senior educational psychologist who also was a counsellor for Cruse bereavement care for families. I would have totally trusted him but he had years of experience of dealing with family educational issues and was highly qualified in that field.

The jobs I suggested above take a lot of effort but they have vacancies. There are also jobs in some schools in pastoral care. In addition look at whether your local authority runs services for vulnerable young people or youth work.

LittleMissBrainy Thu 30-Jul-20 20:19:39


I completely agree with both of you. I certainly don't want to take any short cuts and hope I don't sound like I do. The reason I suggested counselling is because Probation work can often turn into something similar in my own experience of being a probation officer and having lots of counselling! I'm just not sure which way to turn hence all the questions!! It might be that neither course is the right way forward. Counselling and/or psychotherapy and PGCE are other options I've considered to. I'm just not sure if it's worth starting any of these courses without a work placement already in place.

Basically I've lost my current job due to Covid and I am in an extremely fortunate position where I could afford not to have to go to work for a year or two, so I thought I'd look into retraining as something. I feel it makes sense to utilise my current experience if I can.

I'm really appreciating your advice though, it's certainly making me look at thing on different lights.

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feelingfragile Thu 30-Jul-20 20:30:30

Occupational Therapist in forensic mental health services. You can do an MSc or BSc, you will have to do placements in different areas but once you've qualified you'll be able to work anywhere

My0My Thu 30-Jul-20 21:02:15

Oh yes. I can see why you thought about counselling but it’s a bit of an unregulated area. I’ve tried to suggest areas of work that will take longer to acquire qualifications but when you do, you are professionally qualified. My Dsis was an OT and that could be a great shout too.

dooratheexplorer Fri 31-Jul-20 07:18:03

'A bit of training'

I didn't explain myself very well there! I actually meant you have to do quite a lot! It's not a shortcut.

Do have a look at occupational therapy. It's a great job and would be a good progression from what you've done to date. There are lots of different areas you could work in. OTs work with people whose lives have changed temporarily or permanently through illness or an accident. A fair proportion of their time will be spent chatting to people and helping them to come to terms with things. It's also about motivating people to engage in activity and basically 'get on with life'. It does tick your boxes for working with people, counselling, training, teaching, etc.

dooratheexplorer Fri 31-Jul-20 07:21:53

If you got a job as a Band 3 OT Assistant in the NHS you could dip your toe in the water before you decide to commit to further training. It would help towards your university application if that's the way you want to go.

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