Psychologists who provide any type of direct patient care or have their own independent practice – including counseling, clinical and school psychology – are required by state and federal law to meet specific certification or licensing requirements.
Licensing requirements often vary from state to state and by psychology specialization so it's important to find out exactly what your state's requirements are before you pursue a degree program in preparation for a career in psychology. Most state psychology licensing will only allow psychologists to practice psychology within their scope of expertise and that they have the necessary education and training to professionally perform their duties.
While education requirements for obtaining a license may vary, most states require that clinical and counseling psychologists obtain a doctorate degree in psychology. Once require education has been completed, all states require applicants to then pass an examination. The exam typically consists of a standard test that is administered by the state licensing board. The exam may be limited to standardized questions but may also include a verbal response component and essay section.
In addition to passing an exam, many states also require that psychologists obtain two years of post-graduate hands-on psychology experience via an approved internship or residency program.
Below we've compiled a comprehensive directory of the organizations and agencies responsible for psychology regulation and licensing on state by state basis. As laws and licensing requirements may change, contacting your local licensing authority is the most reliable way of making sure that you comply with all licensing requirements before preparing to become a psychologist in the state where you intend on practicing psychology.