How to Become a Licensed Clinical Psychologist: Career Roadmap
Learn how to become a clinical psychologist. Research the education, training and licensure information and experience required for starting a career in clinical psychology.
Requirements for Becoming a Clinical Psychologist
Clinical psychologists can work in out-patient and in-patient mental healthcare facilities, private practices and academic settings. Common job duties for these professionals include diagnosing patients' mental or behavioral health disorders and developing treatment plans. Clinical psychologists who work for a college or university often take on additional teaching and research responsibilities. To begin a career in this field, it's necessary to complete a doctoral degree program and meet experience requirements for state licensure.
The following table contains the core requirements for a job as a clinical psychologist:
|Degree Level||Either a Ph.D. or a Psy.D. is required*|
|Degree Field||Clinical or counseling psychology*|
|Licensure||State licensure is required to practice independently as a clinical psychologist*|
|Experience||Varies by employer, can range from 1-2 years**|
|Key Skills||Good communication, observation and analytical skills; the ability to work well with others and maintain patient confidentiality**|
|Computer Skills||Familiarity with statistical and testing software; knowledge of medical software, such as UNI/CARE Pro-Filer***|
Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **Job postings by employers (July 2012), ***Occupational Information Network.
Step One: Earn a Bachelor's Degree
An undergraduate degree in psychology typically fulfills most of the admission requirements for a doctoral program in clinical psychology. However, many graduate programs also admit students with a bachelor's degree in a related field, provided they've completed prerequisite coursework. To meet these requirements, consider taking classes in research methods, abnormal psychology and behavioral statistics while enrolled in a bachelor's degree program.
- Look for opportunities to gain research experience. Undergraduates who work as research assistants have the opportunity to learn about scientific methods, explore their research interests and develop relationships with professors who can write letters of recommendation for their graduate school applications. Some schools also offer independent study options and honors programs to students who would like additional research experience.
Step Two: Complete a Doctoral Program
A Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.) or Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) program can take 4-5 years to complete and should be accredited by the American Psychological Association (APA). A Psy.D. program is traditionally chosen by students who want to emphasize practice over research, while a Ph.D. program might be beneficial to students who want to work in academia. Both of these doctoral programs give future clinical psychologists opportunities to expand on their research and develop clinical skills in such specialty areas as geropsychology or child and adolescent psychology. An internship lasting up to 2,000 hours is a common component of a doctoral psychology program.
Step Three: Gain Field Experience
Many schools offer post-doctoral fellowship programs that allow students to provide clinical services to both groups and individuals under the supervision of faculty. These programs' seminars and clinical rotations usually take a year to complete and are designed to help students gain the work experience necessary for licensure.
- Read about licensing requirements while enrolled in a post-doctoral program. Requirements vary from one state to the next, and some have specific demands as to how many hours of patient contact or work experience are needed for licensure. Finding out about these stipulations early on can allow students to adjust their training schedules accordingly.
Step Four: Get Licensed
Clinical psychologists who want to practice independently must be licensed. Most states require the completion of a doctoral program, a state-approved field internship and 1-2 years of professional experience. Applicants will also need passing scores on the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology.
Related to How to Become a Licensed Clinical Psychologist: Career Roadmap
- Recently Updated
Clinical Psychologist: Job Description and Information About Starting a Career As a Clinical Psychologist
A Clinical Psychologist must earn a doctoral degree, either a Psy.D. or Ph.D., and then study psychology in a clinical...
Clinical psychologists use knowledge acquired from graduate school and professional experience to diagnose and treat...
Research the requirements to become a clinical health psychologist. Learn about the job description and duties, and...
Clinical sociologists develop and apply techniques to change human behavior, usually in a group setting. Rather than...
- Clinical Immunology Scientist: Job Description, Duties and Requirements
- Clinical Pharmacologist: Job Description, Duties and Salary
- Clinical Geneticist Education and Training Program Overviews
- Top Ranked School for the Medical Assisting Field - Atlanta, GA
- Teaching Degree: Top Ranked Teacher Education Program - Santa Ana, CA
- Top School for a Career As a Veterinary Technician - Omaha, NE
- Libraries on Life Support: Funding Cuts Threaten Services
- Clinical Embryologist: Job Description, Duties and Outlook
- Clinical Hypnotherapy Job Options and Education Requirements
- Top University with a Master's Degree in Health Administration - Birmingham, AL
- Top Ranked Business Marketing Degree Program - Houston, TX
- Helping Kids Learn to Love Reading: My Own Book's Burton Freeman Talks to Education-Portal.com