Career Attributes

  • $48,281
  • 155,300
  • 3.5
  • 19.7%
  • Doctorate degree
  • Clinical Psychology
More Attributes


Most clinical, counselling, and research psychologists need a doctoral degree. Psychologists can complete a Ph.D. in psychology or a Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.) degree. A Ph.D. in psychology is a research degree that culminates in a comprehensive exam and a dissertation based on original research. In clinical, counselling, school, or health service settings, students usually complete a one-year internship as part of the doctoral program. The Psy.D. is a clinical degree and is often based on practical work and examinations rather than a dissertation.

When working under the supervision of a doctoral psychologist, master’s graduates also can work as psychological assistants in clinical, counselling, or research settings.

How long does it take to become a Psychologist?

The amount of time it takes to complete one's education depends on the psychology specialty area and career interests.

All psychology careers start with a four-year bachelor's degree. After completing a bachelor's degree, the different degree options and requirements for various careers in psychology are as follows:

  • Social Worker - Bachelor's Degree (4 yrs); Master's Degree recommended
  • Industrial-Organizational Psychologist - Master's Degree (6-7 yrs)
  • Forensic Psychologist - Master's Degree (6-7 yrs); Doctoral Degree recommended
  • Sports Psychologist - Master's Degree (6-7 yrs)
  • School Psychologist - Master's Degree (6-7 yrs)
  • Licensed Counselor - Master's Degree (6-7 yrs)
  • Criminal Psychologist - Master's degree (6-7 yrs) Doctoral Degree recommended
  • School Psychologist - Varies by State (6-7 yrs approximately)
  • Health Psychologist - Doctoral Degree (8-9 yrs)
  • Clinical Psychologist - Doctoral Degree (8-11 yrs)
  • Social Psychologist - Doctoral Degree (9-11 yrs)
  • Child Psychologist - Doctoral degree (9-11 yrs)

Steps to becoming a Psychologist

Entry into psychology graduate programs is competitive. Most master’s degree programs do not require an undergraduate major in psychology, but do require coursework in introductory psychology, experimental psychology, and statistics. Some doctoral degree programs require applicants to have a master’s degree in psychology, while others will accept applicants with a bachelor’s degree and a major in psychology.

In most jurisdictions, practicing psychology or using the title of “psychologist” requires licensure or certification. Psychologists typically need previous related work experience. To become licensed, for example, psychologists must have completed one or more of the following: predoctoral or postdoctoral supervised experience, an internship, or a residency program. School psychologists also must complete a year-long supervised internship program to become licensed or certified.

1 Bachelor's Degree

Complete a bachelor’s degree in psychology. Courses include statistics, general psychology, and experimental and developmental psychology. It is also advisable to volunteer and get hands-on experience during this time.

2 Master's Degree

Choose a specialty and complete a master's degree - for example, clinical psychology, counseling psychology, industrial-organizational psychology, research psychology, etc. There are many options to choose from, therefore it is important to research all the graduate programs available to find a master's degree that is best suited for you.

3 Doctorate

Many fields of psychology require a doctorate. Psychology graduate schools look for a GPA (Grade Point Average) of 3.3 or higher, a competitive score on the GRE (Graduate Record Examination), as well as experience in the field (volunteer or paid).

4 Internship

If required in your field of psychology, complete a psychology internship - states typically look for a one- to two-year supervised internship. Note that jobs in mental health such as clinical and counseling psychology may sometimes require an APA (American Psychological Association) approved internship.

5 License

Get licensed. Check your state’s requirements, as all states ask for individuals to fulfill specific requirements. Individuals must pass a national exam and, in some cases, present a case study in front of a board of psychologists.

Should I become a Psychologist?

Many people suffer from depression, substance abuse, anxiety, phobias and mental health issues. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 25% of all U.S. adults have a mental illness and 50% will develop one during their lifetime. Psychologists play a very important part in helping people deal with these types of problems.

If you are considering becoming a psychologist, there are variety of areas in which you can practice. The focus you choose to pursue is up to you. Examples include clinical psychology, research, psychotherapy, personality testing, teaching, and forensic psychology. Regardless of which area you choose to focus on, there are pros and cons to consider before taking the plunge.


  • Having the opportunity to work with people in overcoming their problems
  • Getting the opportunity to meet and help people from all walks of life
  • Seeing positive results can be very rewarding
  • Getting to work in an office type setting
  • No two days will be the same
  • Typically a 9-5 work schedule, with weekends off
  • Once established within a community, one can expect fairly dependable work
  • Getting opportunities to collaborate and network with other professionals
  • The diverse field of psychology offers many opportunities


  • Being privy to distressing information can be emotionally draining
  • Working with difficult clients can cause stress
  • Sometimes long hours are involved
  • Extensive paperwork and dealing with insurance companies can be arduous
  • Private practice can be professionally isolating and can be hard to get established in
  • Direct marketing and business efforts are necessary to advance in private practice
  • Without tenure, university positions have no job security
  • Client results are sometimes hard to see as clients often don't return after first visit

What are Psychologists like?


Based on our pool of users, Psychologists tend to be predominately social people. Take our career test to see what career interest category best describes you.

Psychologists by Strongest Interest Archetype

Based on sample of 1400 CareerExplorer users

Are Psychologists happy?


Psychologists rank highly among careers. Overall they rank in the 69th percentile of careers for satisfaction scores.

Psychologist Career Satisfaction by Dimension

Percentile among all careers

Education History of Psychologists

The most common degree held by Psychologists is Psychology. 31% of Psychologists had a degree in Psychology before becoming Psychologists. That is over 4 times the average across all careers. Clinical Psychology graduates are the second most common among Psychologists, representing 8% of Psychologists in the CareerExplorer user base, which is 66.9 times the average.

Psychologist Education History

This table shows which degrees people earn before becoming a Psychologist, compared to how often those degrees are obtained by people who earn at least one post secondary degree.

Degree % of Psychologists % of population Multiple
Psychology 31.0% 7.0% 4.4×
Clinical Psychology 7.8% 0.1% 66.9×
Philosophy And Religious Studies 6.9% 1.6% 4.4×
Neuroscience 4.7% 0.5% 8.7×
Human Resources 4.7% 1.0% 4.7×
Fine Arts 4.3% 2.2% 2.0×
Studio Arts 4.3% 0.5% 8.1×
Business 4.3% 2.6% 1.7×
English Literature 3.9% 4.9% 0.8×
Counseling Psychology 3.9% 0.4% 10.8×
Criminal Justice 3.0% 1.4% 2.2×
Educational Psychology 3.0% 0.1% 23.6×
Economics 3.0% 4.0% 0.8×
Business Management And Administration 2.6% 6.5% 0.4×
Criminology 2.6% 0.4% 5.9×
Biology 2.2% 3.6% 0.6×
Computer Science 2.2% 2.9% 0.7×
Sociology 2.2% 2.1% 1.0×
Cosmetology 2.2% 1.0% 2.1×
Acting 2.2% 0.2% 13.4×
Marketing And Marketing Research 1.7% 2.2% 0.8×
Secondary Teacher Education 1.7% 0.4% 4.7×
Teacher Education 1.7% 0.9% 2.0×
Music 1.3% 0.9% 1.5×
Cognitive Science 1.3% 0.2% 8.2×
Architecture 1.3% 0.6% 2.2×
Public Administration 1.3% 0.5% 2.9×
Industrial And Organizational Psychology 1.3% 0.2% 8.0×
Social Psychology 1.3% 0.1% 9.7×
Miscellaneous Psychology 1.3% 0.1% 11.6×
International Relations 1.3% 1.5% 0.9×
Web Design 1.3% 0.4% 3.4×
Graphic Design 1.3% 1.4% 1.0×
Women's Studies 1.3% 0.2% 5.9×

Psychologist Education Levels

43% of Psychologists have a bachelor's degree. 33% of Psychologists have an associate's degree.

No education 2%
High school diploma 21%
Associate's degree 33%
Bachelor's degree 43%
Master's degree 1%
Doctorate degree 0%

How to Become a Psychologist

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Further Reading

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Recommended Books

  • Becoming a Psychologist: Is Psychology Really the Career for You?

    Deciding on whether or not to pursue a career in psychology involves a number of factors that one needs to take into account before making this decision. This book is designed to give you a comprehensive overview with everything you need to know about the world of psychology from preparing for a degree in psychology to developing a career within the discipline.

  • Ethics in Psychology and the Mental Health Professions: Standards and Cases

    This revised volume considers many of the ethical questions and dilemmas that mental health professionals encounter in their everyday practice, research, and teaching. The book has been completely updated and is now also relevant for counselors, marriage and family therapists, social workers, and psychiatrists, and includes the ethics codes of those groups as appendices.

  • Research In Psychology: Methods and Design

    The sixth edition provides psychologists with insight into the essential nature of experimental psychology and a solid grounding in its methods and practices. It has been updated to help them develop research ideas, hypotheses, and design studies. In addition, they’ll find out how to carry them out, analyze results and draw reasoned conclusions from them.

  • Ethical Conflicts in Psychology

    Widely adopted as a textbook in graduate psychology courses in ethics and continuing education development, this innovative volume presents readers with over 100 different perspectives on crucial ethical issues and offers possible solutions from an expert ethics educator, psychologist, and former APA general counsel.

  • Psychology, 10th Edition

    David Myers’ bestselling Psychology has reached a wider audience of students and instructors with each new edition. Myers and his team lead the field in being attuned to psychology’s research and the needs of the instructors and students in the course today. Ten million student class testers and thousands of adopting instructors can attest to the quality of this project. True to form, this landmark new Tenth Edition is another vigorous, deeply considered revision.

  • Starting a Successful Practice in Clinical Psychology and Counseling: A Guide for Students in Psychology and New Career Psychologists

    Clinical psychology is a quickly growing profession, yet it is a challenging one: the preparation is arduous, the training is highly selective, and the results – an established and financially successful practice – are not easy to achieve. This book explains how to prepare for and surmount all of the hurdles presented to those who hope to eventually develop a lucrative and rewarding practice in clinical psychology.

Career Attributes

  • $48,281
  • 155,300
  • 3.5
  • 19.7%
  • Doctorate degree
  • Clinical Psychology
More Attributes