CareerExplorer’s step-by-step guide on how to become a psychologist.
Is becoming a psychologist right for me?
The first step to choosing a career is to make sure you are actually willing to commit to pursuing the career. You don’t want to waste your time doing something you don’t want to do. If you’re new here, you should read about:
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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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
How to become a Psychologist
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.