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How to Become a Psychologist

Master's degree

School psychologists are required to be licensed and certified. Many require a specialist or doctoral degree in psychology or possibly a master's degree for certain positions. School psychologists may test students with a variety of psychological testing.

Education & Training

A doctoral degree is often needed for most research, counseling and clinical psychologists. Commonly, psychologists complete a Psy.D or Doctor of Psychology degree or a Ph.D. in psychology. A Ph.D. in this field is a research degree that includes a dissertation based on original research and a comprehensive exam.

For school, counseling, clinical or health service settings, students often complete a 1year internship as a portion of their doctoral program. The clinical Psy.D. Degree is typically based on examinations and practicum work in place of a dissertation.

In order to obtain licensure to work, school psychologists require an advanced degree and certification. The specialist degree or Ed.S is one of the most common advanced degree. It requires 1200 hours of supervised internship and a minimum of 60 semester hours. A master's degree or a doctoral degree in school psychology is required in certain cases. Training for school psychologists' includes courses in both psychology and education since their work revolves around mental health and educational components of developing students.

Graduates who obtain a master's degree in psychology may work as industrial organized psychologists. Master's graduates may work under a doctoral psychologist's supervision, or become psychological assistants in research, counseling or clinical environments. Courses for master degree programs include: statistics, research design and industrial-organizational psychology.

The majority of master's degree programs require courses in statistics, experimental psychology and introductory psychology; however, do not require an undergraduate major in psychology. Certain doctoral degree programs prefer applicants to have their master's in psychology, while others will accept individuals who have a major in psychology along with a bachelor's degree.

Graduates who have their bachelor's degree in psychology commonly find work in other fields including education, sales or administration.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Certification or licensing is required in order to use the title "psychologist" and to practice psychology. Those who wish to independently practice need licensure. There are various licensing laws depending on the job position.

The majority of counseling and clinical psychologists require an internship, a doctorate degree in psychology, successful completion of the Examination of Professional Practice in Psychology and at least 1-2 years of professional experience. Continuing education is often required to keep licenses active.

Specialty certification may be obtained in a variety of areas such as: rehabilitation, clinical health, psychoanalysis and couple/family counseling. Board certification is not always required; however, it can showcase professional expertise. Some clinics and hospitals do not require certification. Candidates may have licensing and certification along with a doctoral degree in psychology.


To complete the licensing requirements, psychologists need to have completed at least one or more of the following:

A) Residency Program

B) Internship

C) Post-doctoral or Pre-doctoral supervised experience

Skills and Qualities that will Help

Analytical Skills: Psychologists need to accurately examine the information they obtain in order to determine a logical conclusion.

Communication Skills: Strong communication skills are required by psychologists as they spend copious amounts of time speaking with and listening to patients.

Observational Skills: Behavior and attitude are studied at each patient session. Being aware of client's interactions, body positioning, facial expressions and actions are integral components to each session.

Patience: Patient treatment and research may be time consuming. Psychologists need to be patient with individuals who have behavioral issues or mental disorders.

People Skills: Studying people and helping them is what psychologists specialize in. Working with patients, medical professionals and clients is ongoing.

Problem-Solving Skills: Problem-solving skills are required in order for psychologists to find effective solutions and adequate treatment options for behavioral problems.

Trustworthiness: Patient's issues need to be kept in confidence. Psychologists often deal with sensitive and painful personal issues and patients have to feel trusting in order to open up and facilitate their healing process.