How to Become a Clinical Psychologist
Why Study Clinical Psychology?
How Long Does it Take to Become a Clinical Psychologist?
Clinical psychologist education requirements
- Undergraduate degree
- Master’s degree
- Doctoral degree
- Additional training and licensing
4 Steps to Becoming a Clinical Psychologist
While every journey is different, the American Psychological Association outlines the following common steps to become a clinical psychologist:
- Earn a Bachelor’s Degree
Many clinical psychologists begin by earning a bachelor’s degree in psychology. This provides the fundamentals, preparing you for the degrees you’ll pursue next. Some graduate programs will require a bachelor’s degree in psychology, while others may be open to bachelor’s degrees in other fields. If you know you want to become a clinical psychologist when you enroll in a bachelor’s degree program, pursuing a program in psychology may mean you’ll be able to choose from a wider selection of master’s degree programs than if you major in another field.
- Earn a Master’s Degree
You’ll have a few choices when it comes to your master’s degree in clinical psychology. It’s possible to complete a master’s degree and then pursue a clinical psychology doctoral program. You may also be able to enroll in an undergraduate program that results in a master’s degree so you can graduate more quickly and get started on your doctoral program. Some doctoral programs also allow you to enroll directly without earning a master’s degree.
- Earn a Doctoral Degree
Doctoral degree programs usually take five to seven years to complete, depending on your program and its requirements. Be prepared to write and defend a dissertation. Most programs culminate in a comprehensive examination you’ll have to pass to earn your degree. It’s also common for a doctoral program in clinical psychology to require a one-year internship.
- Get Training to Become a Licensed Clinical Psychologist
Clinical psychologists must be licensed in most states, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports. Licensing requirements vary depending on your state and the type of position. In most states, a clinical psychologist must meet the following requirements:
• Have a doctorate in psychology
• Complete an internship
• Have at least one to two years of supervised professional experience
• Pass the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology
Once you have your license, you will likely need to take continuing education courses to renew that license throughout your career. The Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards provides additional information on state licensure requirements.
8 Skills Clinical Psychologists Use Every Day
Strong communication talents
A long-term viewpoint
Sensitivity to and awareness of cultural differences
Ability to develop trust
Devotion to ongoing learning
Clinical Psychology Careers and Salary
- The large aging population will need psychological support to deal with the changes that come with aging.
- Veterans coping with war trauma and survivors of other forms of trauma will need mental health support.
- Increased awareness of how mental health and learning are connected will drive more need for school psychological services.
- Businesses and organizations will continue to rely on psychologists to help with challenges in employee retention, workplace productivity, and supporting workplace morale.