How to become a clinical psychologist

Clinical psychologists do more than toast to the values of happiness and good health — they help people achieve them. Using treatment methods including expert counseling, these psychologists target mental issues such as depression and anxiety, substance abuse and serious mental disorders such as schizophrenia. Few professionals have the potential to impact personal well-being as deeply as clinical psychologists. In addition to the satisfaction of guiding patients toward health and happiness, psychologists also have access to a growing career path with solid earning power. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) forecasts 14 percent growth in the 2016-26 decade, with especially strong opportunities in health facilities and geriatric care.

How to become a clinical psychologist

The requirements to become a clinical psychologist are very strict. While some employers ask that you have earned a master's degree, a doctorate is the preferred degree for most positions. Aspiring psychologists can choose between two different doctoral degrees:

  • Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Psychology
  • Doctor or Psychology (Psy.D.)

Once you have earned one of these degrees, there are other steps to pursue toward licensure in the state where you plan to practice. In order to get licensed, you will have to complete the following:

  • A doctoral degree program
  • A yearlong internship
  • 1-2 years of supervised clinical experience
  • A passing score on the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology

Continuing education is another important part of being a clinical psychologist. As new therapy techniques and research are uncovered, it is imperative that clinical psychologists stay up-to-date on current practices and procedures.

How much can clinical psychologists make?

This career path is a relatively lucrative one, with the BLS reporting that the mean annual wage for clinical psychologists in 2016 as $78,690 nationwide, which is significantly higher than the national average for all occupations. The states with the highest mean annual wages for clinical psychologists were:

  • New Jersey: $94,650
  • South Dakota: $93,760
  • California: $90,210
  • New York: $87,170
  • Oregon: $87,170

Where can clinical psychologists work?

Many clinical psychologists go into private practice, but not all. The American Psychological Association points out that there are career options in several locations, with some of the most common being:

  • Counseling centers
  • Government agencies
  • Military
  • Schools
  • Hospitals
  • Health care organizations

Learn more about clinical psychology careers by checking out the following visual or by checking out the best colleges for psychology.

Article Sources


Article Sources
  • About Clinical Psychology, American Psychological Association, http://www.apa.org/divisions/div12/aboutcp.html
  • Occupational Employment and Wages: Clinical, Counseling and School Psychologists, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, May 2016, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes193031.htm
  • Psychologists, "Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition," Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/psychologists.htm#tab-1
How to become a clinical psychologist
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