Clinical psychology is one of the largest specialty areas within the area of psychology. People with a passion for discovery, listening, and learning are part of what it takes to be a good psychologist who delivers the best counseling and clinical services.
It is not always an easy road and there will be many obstacles that you need to cross before becoming a psychologist.
The clinical psychologist schooling time varies from person to person as it solely depends upon the person how long it will take him to complete his education, the specialty, and the career path he has chosen.
On average it takes somewhere between 8 to 12 years to become a licensed clinical psychologist.
If you are thinking of becoming a clinical psychologist then it is very important for you to know about the schooling and basic requirements so that you can become a licensed clinical psychologist.
Let’s have a look at the basic clinical psychologist schooling and training requirements and after that analyze your goals and how to conquer the obstacles that might come on the road to success.
Clinical psychologist schooling requirements
If you want to become a clinical psychologist you must have an undergraduate degree in psychology or any other relevant field such as anthropology, education, sociology, or social work. After completing your undergraduate degree, you can decide if you want to pursue a career in clinical psychology or not, if you want to then you need to go for a doctorate degree in psychology.
It is important to decide the final career choice at this level because you might not find psychology as an option in a master’s degree.
Most clinical psychologists take the route of earning an undergraduate degree and then spend about 4 to 7 years working on the doctorate degree. Specialization can also be done in this field which will take another 8 to 12 years.
If you are not interested in starting the doctorate immediately after the undergraduate degree then you can always opt for other master’s degree programs that are relevant to clinical psychology such as social work or counseling.
Clinical psychology is a very vast field with a lot of options for specialization, you can select any one you are done with and opt for it.
If you are planning to pursue a career in psychology then it is best to study psychology for your bachelor’s degree. But if you decide later and have already opted for any other related field of psychology for a bachelor’s program, even then it is fine. Once you have studied any social science subject in an undergraduate program you need to complete a few certifications so that you are acceptable to continue psychology in your undergraduate degree.
These prerequisite certifications or courses are termed mandatory for a student who has not studied psychology as a major subject in his bachelor’s program.
Studying psychology at the master’s level determines that the person is serious about pursuing it as a career and full-time job after the completion of education. However, sometimes you might not find the subject of interest in a master’s program and want to get a terminal master’s degree in any other field relevant to psychology such as school psychology, social work, or counseling.
These subjective terminal master’s degrees will allow you to enter the field immediately and start earning as soon as possible.
A master’s degree is a step toward a doctorate or specialization. People also opt for Ph.D. or Psy. D, after completing their master’s degree.
Doctorate degrees can be very long. It depends on varied factors such as the specialty that you have chosen as well as whether you are ready to do all the extensive work mandatory for a doctorate degree or not.
In order to become a psychologist and practice in the field with a license, you have to get a doctorate degree such as a Ph.D. which is a doctor of philosophy or a Psy. D which stands for doctor of psychology.
The doctorate degree will take you a step closer to your goal of becoming a practicing psychologist.
If you want to pursue a career in the field of research then Ph.D. would be a more suitable choice as compared to the Psy.D. the Ph.D. has better programs that will assist you in conducting experiments, different methodology understanding, research work and even training the young graduates to become scientists.
On the other hand, if you plan to start your own private practice in psychology then Psy.D. would be a better choice.
The Psy.D. offers more options that are centered on clinical work and professional practice as well as assisting and helping the young graduates to make a career in mental health and its importance.
In addition to the doctorate degree, it is mandatory for you to complete a year-long training program as a postdoctoral so that you can get a license to start practicing privately.
A degree in psychology allows you to become a practicing and licensed clinical psychologist but it is not necessary to work in the psychology field only.
A degree in psychology can get you in a lot of fields and different career paths such as sports psychology, forensic psychology, research, development psychology, etc.
To pursue a career in psychology is time taking and a person should be committed to giving a long time to the field to get a license to practice later but it is a very rewarding career in the end.
If you think that you would be an amazing psychologist and this is the career you want to pursue then acknowledge your resources and goals as well as keep in mind other alternative career paths as well to save you from disappointment if plan A doesn’t work just in case.
A career as a clinical psychologist is very rewarding in terms of inner peace and income but it takes time, so choose wisely and then enter this field!