Psychologists make $80,000 to $120,000 a year on average. This makes psychology one of the highest-paid professions in the US. Besides, It’s an interesting job. You need to handle people who are going through mental trauma and depression. You need to understand their thought process and take action to correct it. So, how to become a psychologist?
Today, we’ll discuss a step-by-step path to becoming a professional psychologist. Even if you have no background in medical science, this guide will help you.
Let’s get started.
Table of Contents
What Does a Psychologist Do?
The scope of work for psychologists can vary. You can be a pillar of emotional support for someone. You might even need to deal with suicidal clients. In all, psychologists help people cope with stressful situations. They specialize in treating people with psychological disorders. These include addiction, psychosis, bipolar disorder, etc, and treating the clients accordingly.
Even though psychologists are doctors, they can’t prescribe medications. It’s because they don’t pursue MD or MS, which is required to prescribe treatments. Only a psychiatrist can do that.
Here are some benefits of becoming a psychologist:
- Opportunities for advanced education
- Opportunities to advance in the field
- You can go into research and development
- Work closely with your clients
- Collaborate with other health professionals
Educational Qualifications to be a Psychologist
You can become a psychologist with several degrees. A bachelor’s degree in sociology, psychology, or social work is essential. You’ll then need a master’s and/or doctorate in psychology. Thereafter, you’ll be a qualified psychologist.
Some popular psychology degrees are:
- Master’s Degree in Psychology
- D. in Psychology
- PsyD in Psychology
- EdD in Psychology
- EdS in Psychology
Lately, many schools have started providing psychology degrees online. It’s because psychology studies need minimal physical interaction. Verbal interaction comprises a significant part of a psychologist’s job. Thus, getting an online degree in psychology is a workable option.
How to Become a Psychologist: A Step-By-Step Process
We have discussed the educational qualifications of a psychologist. Now, let’s delve into the steps you need to follow to become a psychologist. We’ll give steps that people of all education and experience levels can follow.
So, follow these steps to get started.
Understand What a Psychologist Does
You shouldn’t become a psychologist because the career prospects and salary are good. Being a psychologist is challenging. You need to work with different people and nail down their personalities. Psychologists need to have good people skills to understand their clients well.
Develop Interpersonal and Intrapersonal Skills
Interpersonal skills are the ability to communicate effectively with other people. It’s an essential part of your job as a psychologist. However, few people realize that psychologists also need to have good intrapersonal skills.
Intrapersonal communication refers to the conversation happening within your head. Clarity of thought and good intrapersonal skills will help you succeed as a psychologist.
Complete Your Education
There are a lot of professions in the world that don’t need a college degree. But a psychologist isn’t one of them. You need a doctorate degree (or a master’s degree) to qualify for a psychologist’s license.
So, complete your education first. This includes a bachelor’s, master’s, and preferably a doctorate in psychology.
What if you’re a working professional who wants to become a psychologist but doesn’t have the time to go to college? In that case, you can opt for online degrees in psychology. Various platforms like Coursera, UFL, and Maryville offer online degree programs in psychology.
Complete a Post-Doctoral or Internship Program
After your education, you’ll need to complete a postdoctoral program or internship. It’s like the training you do in companies after completing college. Most states require at least 1-2 years of supervised experience and 1,500-1,200 hours of training.
Get a State Licensure and Certification
After completing the internship, you’ll be eligible for state licensure. Each state has its own license requirements. So, ensure that you study in the state where you want to work. In most cases, you’ll be eligible for a license after completing the education and internship.
Many psychology positions require you to get a certification. Several agencies provide certification services in each state. Be sure to get both a license and certificate to practice as a psychologist with no hassles.
Apply for a Psychologist Position
After the above steps, you can apply for a psychologist position or start your clinic. Both paths have their pros and cons. If you start your own clinic, it’ll take time for you to get clients and earn a decent income. On the positive side, once your clinic takes off, there’s no limit to earning.
Thus, if you work as a psychologist in a clinic or company, you won’t have to worry about getting clients. You can get a job that pays well without many initial requirements. But the growth potential is limited when you work for someone else. So, it’s a decision you need to make.
Keep Improving Your Skills
Lastly, psychologists need to keep sharpening their ax. As discussed, you need to have strong interpersonal and intrapersonal skills. Keep working on them and getting better at what you do.
However, remember that you don’t prescribe medications as a psychologist. You need to create a favorable experience for your clients. And you can do that by counseling them. Your success or failure will be determined by your ability to bring your clients in the right state of mind
To conclude, becoming a psychologist requires time and practice. You need to get degrees, licenses, and hours of supervised training experience. If you’ve already spent some time in a profession, switching to psychology may not be right for you. Hence, it’s ideal for new graduates who want to choose a career path.
While the path of becoming a psychologist is challenging, the career is rewarding. You can get a highly paid job. Every company hires psychologists to make sure that their employees are mentally stable. So, once you become a psychologist, career opportunities are endless.
Therefore, you can have a successful career as a psychologist.
So, do you want to be a psychologist?