How Long Does IT Take to Become a Clinical Psychologist? - Requirements & Education

The following article explores the requirements to become a clinical psychologist. Find out more about the education and licensing requirements, as well as the salary and potential job growth, in order to see if this is the right career for you. Schools offering Clinical Psychology degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Career Information At a Glance

Clinical psychologists work with individuals with a variety of mental, behavioral, and emotional disorders. The amount of time needed to become a clinical psychologist can vary highly depending on your of specialization, but the journey can last 10 years or more.

Degree Required Doctoral Degree in Psychology
Training Required Supervised Professional Experience (number of hours vary from state to state)
Education Field of Study Clinical or Counseling Psychology
Key Skills Problem-solving, communication, analytical, and interpersonal skills; Patience and integrity
Licensure & Certification State License required; optional speciality certifications available
Job Growth (2016-2026) 14% (for all clinical, counseling, and school psychologists)*
Median Salary (2017) $75,090 (for all clinical, counseling, and school psychologists)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

What Is a Clinical Psychologist?

Clinical psychologists use their knowledge to help individuals or groups of people by assessing and treating various behavioral and mental disorders. A lot of clinical psychologist's work depends on their specialty area. Some psychologist help individuals manage stress and overcome depression while others might work exclusively with older adults or children. Clinical psychologists also work in various other work settings, such as academic or healthcare environments, where they diagnose and research various psychological problems.

What Does a Clinical Psychologist Do?

According to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), a clinical psychologist not only diagnoses or assesses mental and emotional problems but also formulates the best treatment for people dealing with severe long-term chronic conditions and short-term personal issues. In some state, they are even eligible to prescribe medicines as a part of the treatment. Essentially, they focus on working with individual patients with more severe psychopathology and their approach is based on the clinical application of skills.

Do I Need a Degree?

Clinical psychologists must complete a doctoral program. Students have the option to choose between two doctoral degrees based on their career goals. For individuals who wish to work as a practicing psychologist, it is advisable to opt for Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.) centered on examinations and clinical work. Individuals who wish to develop, conduct and apply research could opt for Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Psychology as it is more research-oriented and requires submission of a dissertation and clearing of a comprehensive exam. Students are also required to complete a one-year internship as a part of their doctoral program. According to the American Psychological Association (APA), it can take up to seven years for students to finish their doctoral degree.

Do I Need to Be Licensed or Certified?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, a license is required before practicing clinical psychology. Licensing requirements vary from state to state as well as the field of specialty. Apart from a doctorate in psychology and an internship, most clinical psychologists must pass the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology as well as complete 1-2 years of supervised professional experience to obtain a license. Many states also require licensed psychologists to complete continuing education courses to retain their license. Additionally, while not required, board certification is available from the American Board of Professional Psychology. The ABPP awards specialty certification in 15 specialty areas of psychology, such as clinical psychology and clinical health psychology, couple and family psychology, and rehabilitation psychology.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

A few related jobs with very similar career prospects include industrial/organizational (I/O) psychologists, school psychologists, counseling psychologists, rehabilitation psychologists, and forensic psychologists. All of them require the same educational requirements except I/O psychologists, who can start working after the completion of a master's degree specialized in industrial-organized psychology. These professions have overlapping course modules and work together in various work settings.

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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