What Are the Steps in Becoming a Licensed Psychologist?

What Are the Steps in Becoming a Licensed Psychologist?

Apr 12, 2015 | 12:00 pm

In order to obtain a license to practice, a psychologist must earn a degree from an accredited university or college. Even after one has earned a degree, it is also very important for one to complete the necessary requirements needed to obtain professional licensure in the state where one wishes to practice their profession.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)’s Occupational Outlook Handbook, psychologists usually need to have a specialist or doctoral degree in psychology, having a master’s degree is satisfactory to apply for some positions. A practicing psychologist will also need to have a certification or license. A lot of students most times find the whole concept of licensing, accreditation and other certifications quite overwhelming. But, here is some helpful information to help you in becoming a licensed psychologist.

Step One: Have the Necessary Skills

The United States Department of Labor recommends that psychologists need to have the following important skills:

•Emotional stability
•Good at being able to deal with people
•Detail oriented
•Strong leadership quality
•Willing to work as a team
•Capability to work independently

Step Two: Enroll in an Accredited Degree Program to Become a Licensed Psychologist

For those who plan to become counseling, clinical or school psychologist, then it is very important to ensure that they earn a degree from an APA accredited program. For those working towards getting a master’s degree in psychology, they will need to make sure that the program they are enrolling in is an accredited one – the program must be accredited by a regional accreditation board.

•Currently, the APA (American Psychological Association) accredits doctorate program in 3 fields:

-Counseling psychology
-School psychology
-Clinical psychology

The APA is also known to offer accreditation to schools that provide doctoral internships in the aforementioned three areas.

•With the support of the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education, the National Association of School Psychologists is also involves in accrediting advanced degree programs in school psychology.

Step Three: Know the Professional Licensing Requirements for Psychologists

According to the BLS Occupational Outlook Handbook, the psychologists who works in independent practice or one who offers any kind of patient care – this includes counseling, clinical and school psychologist – must meet licensing or certification requirements in his or her state.

It is important to understand that licensing laws vary from state to state, and that professional certifications and licenses require psychologists to practice solely within the range/scope of their expertise – their education and training would have prepared them for this.

For counseling and clinical psychologists, having a doctorate degree in psychology is typically required. In addition to having a doctorate degree, the psychologist will also need to have an approved internship experience and 1 to 2 years of professional experience is also required. Every state also requires that an applicant must pass an exam. In most cases, the exam consists of standardized test run by the state’s licensing board. There are cases were applicants are required to complete additional essay or oral questions. There are states that require continuing education in order to renew the license.