How to Become a Psychologist

Among the many career paths in Human Services, Psychologist is one of the most versatile and lucrative fields. Whether you want to work in private practice as a counselor, or within the medical industry you will be able to craft your career once you have your degree and licensing in Psychology. Starting on your career in Psychology means you need to get a solid education and have a specialization in mind as you work on your degree.

Finding a focus for your studies in the form of degree specialization is very important as a Psychologist in the Human Services field. There are a variety of career paths you can take, but most require that you have a special emphasis in your education. We will present you with a few examples so you can see how important it is to wisely select your specialization.

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Substance Abuse/Addiction Psychology

A specialization that has a wide application in the Human Services sector is substance abuse or addiction psychology. This specialization focuses on the treatment and recovery of people who have substance abuse problems. The problem of substance abuse is widespread and affects many people in a wide variety of settings. By specializing in this area you gain the knowledge, tools and understanding you will need to help free people from addiction. Whether working in a public health setting, private practice or as a counselor for substance abusing youth, this degree has a profoundly positive impact on the individual and the community.

Child Psychologist

If you have an interest in helping children based on an understanding of child development, you may wish to pursue a degree with a focus on child psychology. As has been discovered in the past few decades children suffer from many of the same mental illnesses and hardships that plague adults. This degree has quite a bit of flexibility in career paths. By concentrating on child psychology during your education, you are positioning yourself to have a hugely positive impact on both children and their parents.

Marriage Counselor

Helping couples who are on the brink of divorce to get to the root of their grievances, open up communication and heal from their emotional wounds is a noble enterprise. By focusing your studies on the newest techniques in marriage counseling you will gain the knowledge and toolset you need to help couples work through their problems. A marriage is a precious thing and giving couples a second chance is a tremendous gift indeed.

Procedure to Become a Psychologist

To become a licensed psychologist, you will need to plan your education in advance and learn your local state licensure process. In most states you will be required to have earned your doctorate in psychology and have worked a specified number of hours (usually 1500+) under the direct supervision of a licensed psychologist. Then you can apply with your states psychology board for your license. You will have to pay the licensing fee, provide letters of reference and pass a criminal background check. Once the background check is completed you be required you to pass exams based on the license and title you wish to hold.

You will need to meet the following requirements in certain states. Be sure to check with states requirements.

You must submit the following:

  • Submit an updated Criminal History Record Information Report (CHRI) from the state where the applicant resides completed by the State Police (see specific information above).
  • Submit an updated Child Abuse History Clearance completed by the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare, Child Line.
  • Provide proof of post-doctoral experience began on or before December 5, 2010 – you must submit documentation of 1500 hours of acceptable post-doctoral experience on the Board’s Verification of Post-Doctoral Experience form.
  • You must then sit for and pass the Psychology board exam for the State of Pennsylvania.

Once you have met the requirements and passed the background check you have to pass your exam. Once you have passed the exam, congratulations you are a licensed Psychologist!

Educational Requirements

You will need to have planned out your educational pathway to as great a degree as possible if you wish to fast-track to becoming a Psychologist. As early as post-high school graduation, it is important to begin volunteering with Psychology organizations to make your application for graduate school stand out. When applying for your Bachelor’s program it is important to make sure that you are in a good school with an educational plan to attain your doctorate.

Narrowing the focus of your degree as early as possible is a wise idea as the graduate and doctoral programs are competitive. You are also wise to continue to volunteer in your spare time and between semesters as this will help your application for graduate school stand out. Once you have completed your graduate degree you will take the all-important step of choosing your doctoral program.

When choosing your doctoral program you should not only find a specialization that resonates with your personal goals you need to make sure the program is accredited. In order to attain your license you must complete a doctoral program that is accredited by the American Psychological Association (APA) or designated by the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards (ASPPB)/National Register Designation Project.

Here are a list of schools for your degrees in psychology:

  • Bachelor’s programs
  • Graduate programs
  • Accredited Doctoral programs

Exams To Prepare For

Once you have attained your degree you will need to apply for your license and sit for your exam with your state’s board of psychology. After the challenge of your doctoral program you should be well prepared for your exam. However, understanding the material on your state’s exam is of paramount importance. You’ve come this far and you want to nail that exam on the first attempt. Check out your local state’s psychology board website to find out more information on the exam.

The process towards becoming a licensed Psychologist is involved and lengthy, but the rewards are also great. From the satisfaction one will gain from helping their fellow humans to the substantial monetary compensation a career in psychology is very rewarding.

Due to the complexity of the process and schooling required its best to plan ahead and start working hard towards your goal. There is no time like the present to seize control of your destiny and take the first step on the path towards your career in psychology!