Do You Have What it Takes to Become a Psychologist?

Psychologists study cognitive, emotional, and social processes and behavior by observing, interpreting, and recording how people relate to one another and their environments.

While psychologists may be traditionally thought of a profession that is solely in private practice, there are in fact, many job possibilities in this fast-growing career. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job outlook between 2014 and 2024 is predicted to increase by 19% or around 32,500 jobs for those with doctoral degrees.

Benefits of Being a Psychologist

There are several benefits that you will experience as a psychologist, including:
  • Rewarding work: A psychologist helps to solve issues and problems for many individuals everyday. Being able to help people improve their lives is mentally and emotionally satisfying.
  • Good salary: The average salary for psychologists is $73,000 per year with the potential to earn upwards of $100,000 per year, primarily in patient counseling and autism services.
  • Flexible hours: Nearly 1 in 3 psychologists are self-employed, allowing them to run their own practices and set their own hours.
  • Job growth: With substantial growth projected for the field, potential employers include the government, schools, hospitals, private practices, and individuals on a one-on-one basis.
Do these benefits sound appealing to you? Then, read on to learn more about the education and licensing required as well as how to get a psychologist job.

The Education Required to Become a Psychologist

A doctorate degree is required in order to practice as a licensed psychologist. It is important to note that a doctorate degree can take a significant amount of time (4 to 7 years of graduate school) and leave you saddled with student loans. The American Psychological Association (APA) reports debt from graduate studies can range from $30,000 to $120,000. The job can also be emotionally demanding and may require odd hours, even within a private practice.

The doctorate route can be expensive, but there are ways to offset the costs. Many schools offer financial aid, and the APA offers a variety of resources to help students find scholarships, which are offered by the government, private foundations, and the APA.

How to Get a Doctorate Degree in Psychology

There are two primary options for getting a doctorate degree in psychology. One way is through a Ph.D. in Psychology, which has a research focus and requires a written dissertation. The second option is a Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.) degree, which is based in clinical studies.

It is possible to get a job in psychology with only a master’s degree, although these jobs are typically limited to work within companies or schools or as research assistants. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, most programs will accept students who do not have a bachelor’s degree in Psychology, as long as they’ve taken courses in introductory psychology and statistics.

Licensing is Necessary to Practice

In order to practice as a psychologist, most states require individuals to be licensed. Information on specific licensing requirements can be found on The Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards website. In general, the requirements include the following:
  • Completing a doctoral degree in psychology
  • Internship in a professional psychologist environment
  • 1–2 years of supervised professional experience
  • Passing the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP)
In many states, continuing education courses may also be required to keep licenses up to date.

Psychologist Jobs

The National Association of School Psychologists defines the job of a school psychologist as one that supports both students’ ability to learn and teachers’ ability to teach. This requires an Education Specialist degree (Ed.S.), which includes 60 graduate hours and 1,200 internship hours.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the top employers of psychologists are schools (both elementary and secondary) at around 25%, followed by the government at around 10%. Private practices make up another 9%.

There are a variety of jobs available to psychologists in clinical, industrial, and research fields. Clinical psychologists administer counselling, either in a private practice, hospital, or a mental health center. Research psychologists work in higher education, studying the field either individually or on a team.

Industrial-organizational psychologists work within companies and focus on individual and group performance, health and well-being. They are commonly on human resources, talent development, or performance assessment teams. While some can get a start in this career with only a bachelor’s degree, most require a master’s.There is also a wide range of specialized psychology jobs, including:Each individual job has its own specific qualifications, particularly if specializing in one of the careers listed above. There are also a few skills expected of most people entering the field:
  • Patience
  • eople skills
  • Trustworthiness
  • Observation
  • Communication
  • Problem-solving
  • Analytics

Finding a Psychologist Job

When it comes to finding a job, the APA has a wealth of resources, including tips on making CVs, help with grants and funding, and other resources for varying jobs within psychology.

The Society of Clinical Psychology offers mentorship programs, and USAjobs posts government-related psychology jobs, along with other websites like Monster and Indeed.

Are You Ready to Become a Psychologist?

Becoming a psychologist takes a significant amount of time and education, but the job also comes with many benefits, such as a good salary and the ability to help others. If you are interested in becoming a psychologist, there are plenty of schools that offer psychology degrees and there are also many resources available to help you succeed.


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