How to Become a Psychologist in 5 Steps

Explore the career requirements for 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 Psychology degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Does a Psychologist Do?

Psychologists talk to patients and gather data from lab tests, surveys and interviews in order to gain an understanding of human behavior. They sometimes publish their research findings and often discuss treatment and behavior modification plans with patients. They seek to get further understanding of how humans relate to one another and how they operate in various environments. The following chart provides an overview about becoming a psychologist.

Degree Required Master's or doctoral degree
Field of Study Psychology
Key Skills Observational skills, problem-solving, communication, patience
Certification or Licensure All states require psychologists to be licensed; professional certification is available in over a dozen psychology specialties
Job Growth (2014-2024) 19%*
Median Salary (2015) $72,580*

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

What Is a Psychologist?

As a practicing psychologist, you'll often need to determine how people deal with stress, death, divorce, chemical imbalances and many other mental health issues. There are a number of specializations that you can choose from including clinical, counseling, industrial-organizational, educational, developmental, experimental and social psychology. Should you specialize in clinical psychology, you'll be likely to work in counseling centers, hospitals or clinics to help patients cope with emotional and mental health issues.

Step 1: Research Psychologist Education Requirements

Psychologists must have a bachelor's degree in psychology or a similar discipline. In order to practice, a master's degree in psychology and a license are also required. A doctorate degree is often required for independent practice, teaching, counseling or clinical and research positions at universities, colleges and healthcare facilities.

Step 2: Earn a Bachelor's Degree in Psychology

As an aspiring psychologist, you must have a Bachelor of Science in Psychology or a related degree. According to College Board, you may expect to take courses in cognitive psychology, personality development, abnormal psychology, biological psychology, social psychology, learning and memory development (www.collegeboard.com). Once you have graduated, you'll be able to assist psychologists in mental health centers and rehabilitation offices.

Step 3: Get a Master's Degree in Psychology

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) states that to become a psychologist, you must earn a Master of Science in Psychology or a similar field (www.bls.gov). A few classes you may take are psychopathology, social psychology and assessment of personality. With a master's degree, one job option is working in the industrial-organizational psychology field as an assistant to a research psychologist.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Some related careers are school and career counselors, and sociologists. School and/or career counselors assist in the development of academic and vocational goals. Sociologists examine groups and social institutions to understand society and social behavior.

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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