How To Become A Psychologist

Interested In Becoming A Psychologist?

If you’ve decided that you want to become a psychologist, you’ll find that your days are going to differ. One day you could find yourself inside the walls of a high security prison working face-to-face with notorious criminals such as child offenders, rapists and murderers. In the same instance you might have to guide young offenders and help them integrate back into society. You could also find yourself working in a boardroom with the CEO and other executives for a multi-million dollar international company. Or you might find yourself working closely with some of the country’s most elite athletes as you try to motivate and push them to get them in their peak mindset for performance. In other cases you could also find yourself spending hours upon hours in schools, dealing with kids who have been bullied or perhaps those who’re doing the bullying…yes, there’s a lot more to being a psychologist than simply just sitting in a clinic listening to people.

Of course you have to like people if you want to become a psychologist, but that’s not enough. As a psychologist you’ll need to show 110% commitment to the job right from the time you decide to enroll in your bachelor’s course. It does take a certain kind of person, and in some cases, like in the prison setting, you might not like the people you have to deal with, but as a professional, you’ll need to put those feelings aside and get on with your job, helping people in whatever capacity they need helping!

Like with all jobs, there are positives and negatives about being a psychologist, but the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages.
How To Become A Psychologist

What Are Some Benefits Of Being A Psychologist?

Being A Psychologist Is Rewarding

Being a psychologist is one of the most rewarding professions. There’s nothing like the feeling of helping other people overcome all the challenges they face in their everyday lives. Ask any psychologist you know, and they’ll be quick to tell you that you’ll have a lot of job satisfaction helping others improve the quality of lives. In today’s world so many people struggle with debilitating disabilities and mental disorders, but as a psychologist, you’ll be able to help them learn to deal with whatever difficulties they’re facing – you’ll ultimately be one of the key figures in their life as you help them overcome challenging mental and emotional problems. Of course, being a psychologist can be extremely stressful and trying at times, but at the same time it’s also very gratifying.

Psychologists Can Have Job Flexibility

Many psychologists put in extremely long hours, especially at the beginning of their career, but as they gain more experience and become fully licensed, they’ll have more freedom, meaning they’ll be able to more flexible with the hours they choose to work.

When you have your own psychology practice, you’ll have the freedom to set your own hours (within reason of course) and also have enough vacation time to de-stress and forget about work for the time being. As an established clinical psychologist, you’ll be able to still get to spend a lot of quality time with your loved ones, which is rare in any profession these days. Psychologists, who work in hospitals, don’t usually have as much flexibility in their schedule, however, they do have control over it.

Psychologists Have Generous Earning Potential

While a newly qualified psychologist might only earn an average of $50,000USD a year, there’s still a high earning potential. Over the years, as you gain more experience, and perhaps even specialize, you could see your salary double. If you own your own private practice, your potential yearly net income could be closer to $200,000 per year. Of course, this shouldn’t be the main motivator for becoming a psychologist, but it is an attractive benefit to throw into the package.

Opportunities for Self-Employment As A Psychologist

If you’ve also got a bit of an entrepreneurial spirit as well as being a psychologist, it’s a great combination. Even without much experience in psychology if you’ve got a business head on your shoulders, you’ll definitely prove yourself in the field within no time. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics state that almost 35% of all psychologists in the US are self-employed, with most of them owning and/or running their own psychology practice. Being self-employed might not be your thing, and that’s fine as well, but it is one of the advantages of being a psychologist – you’ll have more control and greater earning potential too!

Meet New People Every Day

This is one job where you’ll get to meet and work with people from all walks of life, backgrounds and cultures. The people you help will vary greatly; this includes children, veterans, the elderly, adults, offenders, couples, and people of different nationalities. In a nutshell, you’ll reap the rewards of helping all these people achieve their full potential, which is a great reward that outweighs any negatives the job entails.

So What Do Psychologists REALLY Do?

The field of psychology is very broad. There are so many fascinating aspects to it. In short, psychologists study behaviors, emotions and patterns, and work together with other professionals to treat and help people, depending on what the situation is.

If you become a practicing psychologist, you’ll have received all the necessary professional training and clinical skills to help others learn and deal with various life and mental health problems. Your number one aim is to help people, but the scope is broad.

Although visiting a psychologist can still hold negative connotations and be taboo subject, it is becoming more and more popular. Today, mental health is getting better press, and thanks to better awareness and education, people aren’t as afraid to call on a psychologist for help and guidance.

A person might use your services to discuss a variety of problems. They may have been feeling depressed, anxious, angry or nervous for a long period of time. They may have been suffering from a chronic condition or illness that’s been interfering with their mental and/or physical health. Some others may visit you because they’ve come to a crossroads and are facing short-term problems that they need guiding through, such as grieving the death of a loved one, dealing with divorce, coping with stress from work or battling addiction.

Testing and assessments are also a big part of a psychologist’s job. You’ll administer numerous tests and interpret them so you can easily diagnose a condition or learn more about how a person feels, thinks or behaves.

Being a psychologist can be stressful, but at the same time it can be very rewarding. It takes a lot of resilience and it does take a special kind of person. But one thing’s for sure – no day will be the same, and you’ll find your job varied and extremely satisfying.

A Step-By-Step Guide To Becoming a Psychologist

It takes time to become a fully qualified licensed psychologist. There’s a lot of education and practice involved, and then there are the various state tests to actually become a licensed psychologist. But like in all medical professions, the total length of time to qualify as a psychologist will depend a lot on which direction you want to go and the area you’d like to specialize in.

To start with, you’ll need to gain a bachelor’s degree in psychology, which typically takes 3-5 years. This is where you’ll learn the basics – the fundamentals of psychology, such as human learning, behaviors, and emotions. If you want to stop after doing your bachelor’s there are limited career options for psychologists. These include working for nonprofit organizations, social services, advertising agencies, and market research firms.

To have more career options as a psychologist, you’ll have a few more years to go. You’ll also need to do a Master’s, so you can easily add another 1-3 years on to your initial studies. In your psychology Master’s program you’ll be able to select electives that focus on particular fields of psychology. Once you’ve successfully completed your MA you’ll be able to pursue and secure positions in the government, education, healthcare, mental health, human services, and marketing sectors. Your MA also acts as a great stepping-stone for your Doctorate.

What’s more, the majority of US state psychology licensing boards require candidates to also hold a Doctorate, which depending on the time you have to dedicate to it can take you anywhere between 4-7 years. There are a few doctorate paths you can take, and this will depend on what your final career goals are. In addition to the doctorate degree, a number of states require candidates to have at least one year of post-doctoral training to their name as well. The good thing is you’ll be able to work as an unlicensed psychologist and complete your Doctorate at the same time, which will mean you’ll still have an income. Your work experience will also be invaluable to your further studies in psychology.

If you’re wondering what’s the difference between a PsyD and a PhD is, a PsyD places more focus on clinical work and practice whereas a PhD focuses on research and how to conduct it. These are the two typical Doctorate paths psychologists tend to follow.

Of course there are a few great psychology routes you can take that don’t need years and years of education, but there are far greater benefits of becoming a licensed clinical psychologist, which includes better job satisfaction in the end, the ability to really help people to your full potential, and of course a greatly deserved higher salary.

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The Many Roles And Types Of Psychologists

One of the most interesting things about being a psychologist is that you’ve got so many different options and you could find yourself working in a variety of different environments, such as:

  • Hospitals
  • Private clinics
  • Government
  • Consulting firms
  • Businesses
  • Nursing homes
  • Schools
  • Social services
  • Rehab centers

The best psychology schools will ensure their students are exposed to the widest psychology services available. The more exposure, the more competent students will become!

There Are Many Different Types of Psychologists

Depending on your area of interest, you’ve also got a wide range of specialist areas to choose from.

Child Psychologist

This takes a certain kind of person, a person who can empathize and understand children and adolescents. If you choose this path, you could find yourself helping young people deal with a variety of different stressors they suffer from such as death, divorce of parents, family problems, and school. A Child Psychologist Orange County works with children who may be dealing with a wide array of mental health issues. Read More About How To Become A Child Psychologist……

Clinical Psychologist

This is a licensed professional, who’s qualified to offer their direct services to their patients. The work varies and you will most likely have to interpret different kinds of tests, such as cognitive and personality tests, diagnose mental illnesses, such as bi-polar disease and schizophrenia, create specialized treatment plans, and also conduct psychotherapy.

Consumer Psychologist

This is an interesting branch of psychology, and it’s all related to the consumer and what drives them to purchase. You’ll have the exciting task of taking a closer look at the psychology of consumerism and analyzing decision processes, attitudes, changes, and cultural differences to help the retail industry satisfy their target groups better.

Community Psychologist

As a community psychologist, you’ll work with others to help find solutions to community problems, which could include working together with local mental health providers, or helping people integrate into the community, such as ethnic minorities and ex-offenders.

Educational Psychologist

Educational psychologists research aspects of learning and the factors that contribute to learning. They assess motivators, both intrinsic and extrinsic, and generally look at the science behind learning. You might work directly with children to help them overcome behavioral issues or your skills might be used in writing and administering assessments.

Forensic Psychologist

Forensic psychologists are probably the highest earning psychologists, and they generally work within the legal system. It is the forensic psychologist’s job to assess those who have been charged with a crime and to evaluate whether they’re of a sound mind to stand trial or not. In many cases the forensic psychologist will have to appear in court as an official witness to give their testimony so the judge can make a final decision. They don’t just work with criminal cases, their work varies and they could find themselves dealing with personal injury claims, liability claims, and custody and neglect cases.


This is another high paying psychology specialism. This type of psychologist focuses on the brain. Their work could vary from looking at how lesions on the brain affect behavioral differences to helping a patient psychologically overcome a brain trauma.

Marriage and Family Psychologists

A marriage or a family psychologist works with families. Their work is mainly related to social work, and it involves helping couples overcome marital problems, improving child-parent relationships, and assisting with the traumas related to family breakups or deaths. In Southern California, an Orange County therapist may be a psychologist, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, or a licensed MFT.

Rehabilitation Psychologist

These types of psychologists help individual patients that have disabilities or suffer from chronic illnesses. You’ll be required to carry out neurological and psychological assessments and work together with neuropsychological specialists to find the right treatment program. Your patients will vary and will include stroke sufferers, war veterans and the elderly.

School Psychologist

If you choose to become a school psychologist, your main responsibility will be to help support the academic and emotional needs of children through formal assessments measuring a child’s emotional functioning, achievement and cognitive ability. Some school psychologists will look at the school as a whole and also help improve poor performance amongst students and in some cases help raise awareness regarding teen pregnancies, drugs, school violence and bullying.

Engineering Psychologist

An engineer psychologist’s job is to focus on advancing and modifying different technologies, equipment, and working environments to improve employees’ behavior, emotions and capabilities while at work. This subfield of psychology is closely related to the area of ergonomics, which is basically the science of planning, designing and developing things that people can use while at work to improve their safety and efficiency.

Psychiatrist Vs Psychologist

A psychiatrist is a medical doctor, who specializes in treating mental disorders. The job of a psychiatrist and that of a psychologist is often confused. Yes, there are numerous similarities, but at the same time there are also notable differences.

The biggest difference between a psychiatrist and a psychologist is that a psychiatrist will have attended medical school and holds a medical degree in their field of psychiatry. A psychiatrist, unlike a psychologist, can prescribe drugs to treat and control serious psychological disorders. Also, just like a physician, a psychiatrist can, if needed, carry out physical exams on their patients and order diagnostic tests.

A psychiatrist might have their own private practice, but generally they work as part of a mental health team, working together with the patients’ primary physicians and psychologists.

What Is The Average Psychologist Salary?

While they say you should do a job for the love of it, the salary is just as important. Like most jobs, salaries among psychologists vary. The average psychologist salary depends on a number of different factors such as your education, experience, specialism, locality and so on.

A clinical or research psychologist just starting out in their profession will generally earn anywhere between $45,000 and $55,000USD.

The above stated is the base salary for a psychologist, and if you’re looking to get a bit more of a bump in your yearly income, you’re going to have to study for it and become licensed, which is typically what most people aim to do.

Once you’ve graduated from college, you won’t automatically become a licensed psychologist. This process typically takes between one and two years, and again it depends on your state. To become a fully-fledged psychologist, you’ll need to pass all the criteria first, and then apply.

These days, a graduate psychology degree isn’t enough. All states require this and a doctorate degree. So, basically you’re looking at anywhere between 8 and 12 years of formal education. On top of this, you’ll need to swat more. Yes, your testing isn’t over just yet. All applicants, who wish to become a licensed psychologist, must pass the EPPP, a grueling 225 multiple-choice test, which tests the core areas of psychology.

Your Doctorate in psychology will open more doors of opportunity. There are a number of research opportunities to be had in specialized clinical areas. And while the salary may not be as attractive (usually between $25,000 and $35,000USD), it’s an opportunity to train further and gain invaluable direct experience in specialized areas that you most likely didn’t cover at grad school.

Roll on 5-10 years. By this time you’ll have gained a lot of the necessary experience in specialized cases. Of course your time and experience will be rewarded and psychologists, who’ve been practicing for this length of time, will enjoy a salary between $64,000 and $90,000. After ten or twenty years in the business, you can earn up to $150,000USD. Usually, this is as high as your salary will get unless you’ve specialized in an area such as forensic psychology or neuropsychology. If you’re looking to earn big in psychology, these are the areas to work in as these highly trained psychologists earn mega bucks, which means their salaries often go into six digits.

Again you location can influence your salary. There are some cities in the US that have a notably higher cost of living, such as NYC, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Boston. If you’re practicing as a psychologist in one of these areas, your salary could be between 10% and 25% higher than the median psychologist salary elsewhere.

The Best Psychology Schools – Where To Study

You can find reputable accredited psychology schools in every state. Even if you want to study psychology at a doctoral level, you shouldn’t have a problem finding one. But like with every school you choose, there are a number of factors that might determine the final outcome. These factors might include:

  1. Location
  2. Cost of living
  3. Length of program
  4. The faculty
  5. Tuition costs
  6. Assessment
  7. Pre-entry criteria
  8. Career goals
  9. Tutorial programs

You’ll get quality education no matter which college you choose to study at as long as you successfully pass the graduate degree program. With your degree in hand, you’ll be able to work as a psychologist in healthcare facilities, private clinics, schools, and the government. But of course there are some top-rated psychology programs that will put you in good stead for the future. If you’re considering an online psychology degree, make sure the program is properly accredited.

These days, you’re not limited when it comes to finding a good psychology program. There are even a number of options to study psychology online. This takes more dedication and self-motivation, but if you’re considering online studies in psychology, you already know this. The main thing to check is that you’re doing your program through an accredited school and that you’ll also have an opportunity to have real-life practice. Some accredited US schools that offer online psychology programs include:

  1. Grand Canyon University
  2. Capella University
  3. Kaplan University
  4. Walden University

Psychology Degree – Your Future

So, if you’ve already made the decision to take the next step and study towards becoming a psychologist, that’s great. There are so many rewarding aspects to this job, and despite what people think there are many career options. There’s no so such thing as a ‘typical’ day as a psychologist – every day is different.

How To Become A Psychologist 3

It is a job that will keep you on your toes, and despite the lengthy time it takes to become a licensed psychologist, your learning will never stop, which keeps the job interesting and even more rewarding. Research in the field of psychology continues, and there are many ways to keep abreast with the latest psychology news whether it means joining some established and reputable psychology associations, such as the American Psychological Association (APA) or the Association for Psychological Science (APS) or frequently keeping up to date with the latest psychology news through online periodicals such as psychPORT™, American Behavioral Scientist (APS), American Psychologist, and the Journal of Applied Psychology. There are also a number of interesting and informative annual psychology seminars and events, most of which can be found listed on the American Psychological Association’s website.

But before you jump the gun, you’ll need to research the best School of Psychology for you. Look at all the different factors, entry requirements, and your own personal needs and goals, and make an informed decision based on these things.

Studying to become a fully qualified licensed psychologist will take a number of years. It will also cost you financially. But at the end of the day it will all be worth it, because like they say, psychology is more of a vocation rather than a job, and what’s more, after a number of years of practicing, you’ll be also financially rewarded.

Another important thing to consider if you’re interested in embarking on a career in psychology is what field you’d like to specialize in. The number of different career paths in psychology is overwhelming, so if you can’t visualize yourself always remaining inside a clinic or some other environment, you don’t have to. You could work in numerous places from hospitals, government services, prisons, schools, and even corporate businesses.

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Studying to become a psychologist is fascinating. You’ll learn everything there is to know about human behavior and what makes people tick. You’ll discover methods to ensure people always get the best help and care while helping them to become happier, more efficient and productive members of society.

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