Master's in Clinical Psychology: Salary and Career Facts

Explore the career requirements for clinical psychologists. Get the facts about education, salary, licensure requirements and potential job growth to determine if this is the right career for you. Schools offering Clinical Psychology degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is A Clinical Psychologist?

When a person is coping with psychological issues, such as depression, behavioral problems or anxiety, they may see a clinical psychologist. Clinical psychologists evaluate the patients and implement a treatment plan. Clinical psychologists need excellent communication skills, and they also need to be good listeners. Since they may work with patients who are suffering from a traumatic brain injury or other physical disabilities it is important that clinical psychologists understand the body's biological processes; these patients may also have a hard time fully expressing themselves and clinical psychologist may need to find strategies to effectively determine the nature of the client's issues and how to effectively treat them.

Degree Required Master's degree
Field of Study Psychology
Certification or Licensure All states require psychologists to be licensed; professional certification is available in over a dozen psychology specialties
Job Growth (2014-2024) 20%* (for clinical, counseling, and school psychologists)
Median Salary (2015) $70,580**

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS); **ONETOnLine

What Types of Educational Programs Are Available?

There are two categories for a master's degree in clinical psychology - the Master of Arts (M.A.) and Master of Science (M.S.). M.A. and M.S. programs usually cover the same topics, allowing graduates to apply to doctoral programs or begin clinical practice after graduation. In many schools, the master's degree in clinical psychology prepares you for licensure in a specific concentration, like neuropsychology or school psychology. You may complete a master's program in 2-4 years, and can often choose whether or not to write a final thesis.

In most programs, you'll enroll in an independent study project and gain experience through a supervised practicum at a school-approved site. You can expect to complete courses that teach psychotherapy techniques for individuals and groups of all ages, prepare you to diagnose and treat psychological issues and enable you to evaluate or perform your own research. Many schools offer part-time, evening and weekend schedules.

What Would My Duties Be?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), clinical psychologists often focus their work in a specific area, like marriage and family counseling, child psychology or psychological disorders (www.bls.gov). You'll often help individuals cope with personal issues, emotional problems or traumatic events. As a clinical psychologist, you'll be responsible for assessing and diagnosing patients to prevent and treat mental problems. You'll also administer psychological tests or facilitate therapy sessions for groups and individuals. You might teach at the college level, though most 4-year schools only hire professors who've obtained a doctoral degree.

How Much Can I Earn?

In a 2016 Payscale.com salary survey, clinical psychologists reported annual earnings between $47,182 and $123,246. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that from 2014-2024, there will be a 20% rate of job growth rate in the field, resulting in 30,500 job openings (www.bls.gov). Salaries typically varied by location, specialization and level of experience.

What Professional Organizations Exist?

There are a number of professional organizations that provide certification and continuing education assistance, like the American Psychological Association (APA) or the American Board of Professional Psychology (ABPP), according to the BLS. The APA acts as an advocate for practicing psychologists in legislative and legal matters and offers continuing education programs for certification purposes (www.apapracticecentral.org). The ABPP provides certification and continuing education opportunities for psychologists in a range of specialties, including child and adolescent psychology, health psychology and neuropsychology (www.abpp.org). The American Academy of Clinical Psychology (AACP) is another professional organization that offers certification and continuing education options (www.aacpsy.org).

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Mental health counselors and marriage and family therapists and substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors have professions that are similar to that of a clinical psychologist. Mental health counselors may work with individuals with a mental or emotional disorder. Marriage and family therapists work with couples and families who are trying to resolve issues. Substance abuse counselors may work with individuals who struggle with drug or alcohol or another addition. Behavior disorder counselors may work with individuals who have an eating disorder or another behavioral issue. A bachelor's degree is required to work as a substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselor, while mental health counselors and marriage and family therapists need a master's degree. All of these professionals meet with patients to determine their specific issues and then implement treatment plans to help them address their problems. Like clinical psychologists, they need excellent communication skills and knowledge of a range of treatment options that may help their patients.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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