Steps to Become A Clinical Psychologist

Clinical psychologist work in mental healthcare facilities, academic settings and private practices. These professionals study the behavior and interpret their client’s behavior through different processes. As per the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, job opportunities for psychologists are expected to increase by 14% between 2018 and 2028.

The steps to become a clinical psychologist are listed down in this article but before that, here are their job responsibilities.

What Does a Clinical Psychologist Do?

Clinical psychologists are expected to have excellent communication and analytical skills so they can communicate with their patients and analyze their behavior. They perform the following duties

  • Studying human behavior
  • Diagnosing mental disorders and develop treatment plans
  • Using their findings to improve behavior of their clients
  • Identify emotional patterns
  • Discussing treatment procedure with clients
  • Writing reports, articles and research papers
  • Supervising clinicians and interns
  • Counselling professionals
  • Teaching at a college or university

Steps to Become a Clinical Psychologist

The following steps highlight the process of becoming a clinical psychologist

  1. Undergraduate Degree

Candidates have to earn an undergraduate degree with a major in psychology to pursue their career as a clinical psychologist. However, there are many doctoral programs that accept students from related majors provided they have completed the prerequisite courses. Taking courses like research methods, behavioral statistics and abnormal psychology will help you meet these requirements.

Students are also recommended to gain work or research related experience.

  1. Doctoral Program

Completing a doctoral program is the second step towards becoming a clinical psychologist.  Doctoral programs take 4-5 years to complete and is required to be accredited by the American Psychological Association (APA). Those students who choose Doctor of Psychology program want to practice, while a Doctor of Philosophy program may benefit students who want to stay in the academic field. Both of these programs help students expand their knowledge and research skills in specialty areas like child psychology, adolescent psychology, etc.

  1. Field Experience

Students have to gain practical experience to be able to obtain licensure. Many schools offer fellowship programs which allow students to provide services to individuals and groups. These clinical services take place under the supervision of the faculty members and last for a period of one year. These seminars, programs and clinical rotations help students gain the necessary work experience.

  1. Obtaining Licensure

Professionals need to obtain their license if they want to practice independently. Most states require candidates to finish their doctoral program, complete state-approved internship and earn the required 1-2 years of professional experience. They are also required to sit in the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology and earn the required numbers.

  1. Continuing Education

To maintain their license, psychologists are expected to complete the Continuing Education courses. Even though most states do not require them, taking these courses help with career advancement.

How Much Does a Clinical Psychologist Earn in the US?

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistic, Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychologists earned an annual mean salary of $87,450 in the year 2019. The top paying state was Oregon paying $112,010. That was followed by California paying $111,750 and District of Columbia paying $106,900.

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