How to Become a Psychologist in 5 Steps

To become a psychologist, you'd need to earn undergraduate and graduate degrees and attain licensure. Explore these career steps in greater detail, and learn about the job duties, training and certification options for psychologists. Schools offering Psychology degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Psychologist?

Psychologists talk to patients and gather data from lab tests, surveys and interviews in order to gain an understanding of human behavior. As a practicing psychologist, you'll often need to determine how people deal with stress, death, divorce, chemical imbalances and many other mental health issues. There are a number of specializations that you can choose from including clinical, counseling, industrial-organizational, educational, developmental, experimental and social psychology. Should you specialize in clinical psychology, you'll be likely to work in counseling centers, hospitals or clinics to help patients cope with emotional and mental health issues.

Step 1: Research Psychologist Education Requirements

Psychologists must have a bachelor's degree in psychology or a similar discipline. In order to practice, a master's degree in psychology and a license are also required. A doctorate degree is often required for independent practice, teaching, counseling or clinical and research positions at universities, colleges and healthcare facilities.

Step 2: Earn a Bachelor's Degree in Psychology

As an aspiring psychologist, you must have a Bachelor of Science in Psychology or a related degree. According to College Board, you may expect to take courses in cognitive psychology, personality development, abnormal psychology, biological psychology, social psychology, learning and memory development (www.collegeboard.com). Once you have graduated, you'll be able to assist psychologists in mental health centers and rehabilitation offices.

Step 3: Get a Master's Degree in Psychology

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) states that to become a psychologist, you must earn a Master of Science in Psychology or a similar field (www.bls.gov). A few classes you may take are psychopathology, social psychology and assessment of personality. With a master's degree, one job option is working in the industrial-organizational psychology field as an assistant to a research psychologist.

Step 4: Advance Your Psychology Career

If you want to work in a private practice, teaching, counseling or clinical and research positions at universities and healthcare facilities, you must have a doctorate degree in psychology or clinical psychology. A doctorate degree requires 5-7 years of postgraduate work and at least a 1-year internship. You can also advance your career by earning certification from the American Board of Professional Psychology (ABPP), which awards 13 different certifications (www.abpp.org).

Step 5: Obtain a License

The BLS reports that psychologists must have a license to practice in the state in which they work. Licensing requirements vary by state, but all states require you to provide proof of your competency in the specific area of psychology in which you will work. Some common licensing requirements include having a doctorate degree, completing an internship, having work experience in the filed and passing an exam.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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