Psychologist workforce

In 2018, an estimated 27,027 psychologists with full registration were working in Australia. Provisionally registered psychologists did not complete the NHWDS survey and were therefore excluded from the analysis presented below. According to figures from the Psychology Board of Australia, there were an additional 5,014 provisionally registered psychologists in Australia in 2018 (Psychology Board of Australia 2019a).

State and territory

At a national level, there were 92.3 FTE psychologists per 100,000 population working in Australia in 2018. Rates ranged from 67.6 FTE psychologists per 100,000 population in South Australia to 163.5 in the Australian Capital Territory (Figure WK.10). In terms of time spent working as a clinician, 67.9 clinical FTE psychologists per 100,000 population were employed in Australia, ranging from 49.4 in the Northern Territory to 112.7 in the Australian Capital Territory.

 
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Description of figure WK.10 - Source data: XLS DownloadMental health workforce tables (489KB XLS)

Remoteness area

Over 8 in 10 FTE psychologists (83.2%) were employed in Major cities in 2018 (72.0% of the population lived in Major cities in 2018). There were 106.5 FTE psychologists per 100,000 population working in Major cities, 62.5 in Inner regional, 45.6 in Outer regional, 38.3 in Remote and 25.5 in Very remote areas (Figure WK.11).

 
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Description of figure WK.11 - Source data: XLS DownloadMental health workforce tables (489KB XLS)

Hours worked per week

Psychologists reported working an average of 32.4 total hours per week in 2018, with an average of 23.8 clinical hours. Average total hours worked per week ranged from 31.5 hours per week for psychologists working in Victoria to 36.9 hours per week in the Northern Territory (Figure WK.12). The average clinical hours worked per week ranged from 22.9 hours per week for Victorian psychologists to 25.4 hours per week for Tasmanian psychologists. Male psychologists worked on average more total and clinical hours than female psychologists did (males: 35.7 total hours per week and 25.2 clinical hours per week; females: 31.6 total hours per week and 23.5 clinical hours per week).

 
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Description of figure WK.12 - Source data: Mental health workforce tables (489KB XLS)

Over time

Nationally, there has been a 5.5% increase in the supply of psychologists from 2014 to 2018, from 87.5 FTE per 100,000 population in 2014 to 92.3 FTE per 100,000 population in 2018. The proportion of female psychologists has also increased over this period from 77.6% in 2014 to 79.3% in 2018.

The average total hours worked per week by psychologists has remained relatively stable at just under 33 hours per week each year from 2014 to 2018. Since 2014, the average total hours worked per week by male psychologists has reduced slightly (from 36.7 in 2014 to 35.7 in 2018) but remains higher than that of females (31.6 hours in 2014 and in 2018).

Characteristics

Half of all psychologists were aged 45 and over (51.4%) in 2018, with more than one-quarter (27.9%) aged 55 and over (Figure WK.13).

 
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Description of figure WK.13 - Source data: Mental health workforce tables (489KB XLS)

Work characteristics

The majority (88.1%) of FTE psychologists reported their principal role at work to be clinician, followed by administrator (4.6%) and researcher (3.5%). The main area of practice (principal area of main job) nominated by almost 2 in 5 (39.3%) FTE psychologists was counselling, followed by mental health intervention (28.8%) and psychology management/administration (4.4%). The most common work setting was solo private practice (18.8%), followed by group private practice (17.1%) and school (10.8%).

It should be noted that the principal area nominated by a psychologist does not imply that they hold area of practice endorsement. To be eligible to apply for an area of practice endorsement and use the associated title, a psychologist must have advanced training (an accredited qualification in the area of practice followed by a period of supervised practice) in addition to the requirements for general registration (Psychology Board of Australia 2019a). In 2018, over one-third (38.7%) of psychologists held an area of practice endorsement. The most commonly held endorsement was as a Clinical Psychologist, held by about 1 in 4 (21.5%) of all psychologists (endorsed and non-endorsed), followed by Counselling Psychologist (1.8%) (Psychology Board of Australia 2019a).