Job Duties of a Psychologist

The typical duties of a psychologist, as per the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, are:

  • Conduct scientific studies of behavior and brain function
  • Observe, interview, and survey individuals
  • Identify psychological, emotional, behavioral, or organizational issues and diagnose disorders
  • Research and identify behavioral or emotional patterns
  • Test for patterns that will help them better understand and predict behavior
  • Discuss the treatment of problems with clients
  • Write articles, research papers, and reports to share findings and educate others
  • Supervise interns, clinicians, and counseling professionals

If the work of a psychologist sounds like something you would be interested in, then the following guide on how to become a psychologist and how long does it take to become a psychologist would be of great use to you.

Requirements to Become a Psychologist in the US

Becoming a psychologist is a long and difficult process. So if you want to get into this field, then get ready for a lot of hard work. The requirements to become a psychologist in the US can be divided into the following three sections:

  1. Education Requirements to Become a Psychologist in the US
  2. The minimum level of education required to become an entry-level psychologist in the US is a doctoral degree. This is the basic requirement for most clinical, research or counseling psychologists. Students can get a Doctor of Philosophy (Psy. D.) degree or a Ph.D. in psychology. Typical coursework would include statistics and experimental procedures.

  1. Training Requirements to Become a Psychologist in the US
  2. Most aspiring psychologists are required to have pre- or post-doctoral experience, in a supervised setting. This also includes an internship, which allows students to gain a practical understanding of the subject matter. Completing an internship is also a requirement by state, to qualify for licensure. The number of hours required by the state for internship is usually different for each state.

  1. Licensing and Certification Requirements to Become a Psychologist in the US
  2. In most states, anyone using the credentials of a ‘psychologist’ with their practice must be licensed. Psychologists who practice independently are also required to be licensed by state law. Licensing laws vary from state to state and also depend on the type of position you intend to go for. For instance, most clinical and counseling psychologists would need a PhD in psychology, along with an internship and 1 to 2 years of supervised professional experience. Candidates in this case will also be required to pass the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology.
    A wide variety of certification options are available for psychologists through the American Board of Professional Psychology. The American Board of Clinical Neuropsychology also offers several certifications in neuropsychology.

How to Become a Psychologist

To enter this field, aspiring psychologists will have to follow these steps:

  1. Get a Bachelor’s Degree
  2. Once you are done with your high school diploma, you may enroll in a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology.

  1. Enroll in a Master’s Degree
  2. Aspiring psychologists can get a master’s degree in clinical psychology, though this would not result in licensure. Students can also go for combined programs that result in a doctoral, as opposed to completing separate masters and doctoral degrees. To get into a master’s program, students will need a GRE score, along with letters of recommendation and research experience.

  1. Complete a Doctorate Program
  2. Aspiring psychologists can go for a PhD or the PsyD at the doctoral level. The former is better suited for students looking to work in the research sector, and the latter is more useful for those who want to work in a clinical setting. Students will be required to complete advanced coursework, along with a well-researched dissertation. They will also have to complete one to two years as an intern, under a licensed psychologist.
    When looking for a doctoral degree, it is important to find a program that is accredited by the American Psychological Association.

  1. Complete Training Requirements
  2. Most states would require aspiring psychologists to complete a training program. It is advised that students check with their state’s board of psychology for more details on the specific requirements. Additional training may be required for those who intend to focus their studies on a specialized area such as child psychology, or gerontology.

  1. Get Your License & Retain It
  2. Licensing requirements vary by state but are generally similar in nature. For instance, all states would require a doctoral degree in psychology and a certain number of training and experience hours. Once you have obtained your license, it is very important to retain it as well. Continuing education programs are a vital component in a psychologist’s career, though the exact number would vary by state.

How long does it take to become a psychologist in the US?

To become a psychologist, you will have to invest a substantial amount of time in completing the education and training requirements. You will first need a bachelor’s degree, which will take 4 years to complete, followed by a doctorate degree, which can take 4 to 7 years to complete. If you have a particular specialization, you may need additional higher education. All in all, you are looking at a minimum of 8 to 12 years of higher education to become a psychologist.

How Much Does a Psychologist Make in the US?

As per data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, Psychologists in the US made an annual median income of $79,010 per year, which is approximately $37.99 per hour. The highest paying industry for psychologists was the government, which paid an annual median wage of $96,410, followed by hospitals, which paid $86,530. The highest paying state for Clinical, Counseling and School Psychologists was California, with an annual mean wage of $108,350, followed by Oregon ($103,870) and New Jersey ($98,470).

What Is the Job Outlook for a Psychologist in the US?

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the projected growth of jobs for psychologists is expected to be 14% in the years from 2018 to 2028. This is substantially faster than the average growth for all occupations, which is 5%. Employment growth will be different for different occupations for psychologists.
Demand for psychologists in hospitals, schools, social service centers and mental health centers will be push this high growth. Psychologists will also be needed to provide services to the aging population like assisting people to deal with physical and mental changes that happen with age. Psychological services will also be high in demand for veterans, returning home from war torn areas. Some of these individuals will need psychological help in order to deal with war trauma. Employment for school psychologists is also set to rise because of the increased understanding of the connection between learning capabilities and mental health.