How to Become a Psychologist

A career in psychology means you will be studying the human mind, how the mind functions, human behavior, feelings and alternative methods of mental health care. A psychologist “investigates” their clients thoughts and feelings in order to provide therapy or other methods to help them deal with mental health issues. The field of psychology is a broad, one with a wide range of career options and the steps to becoming a psychologist will depend on the specific field of psychology you would like to specialize in. The subfields of psychology include training in social psychology, abnormal psychology, research, clinical psychology and a vast array of other options.

Choosing the best psychology program for you starts with knowing what your field of interest in psychology is. There are several different psychology courses that are prerequisites for becoming a psychologist that you can begin taking as early as high school such as chemistry, biology, English and a basic introduction to psychology. Following high school you may opt to earn an associate degree and then continue to a bachelor program or you can forego the associate degree and concentrate solely on the four year degree. The courses in psychology during the first four years of your education will include classes such as an introduction to psychology, abnormal psychology, social psychology, developmental psychology and a variety of elective courses. You will also be required to take several biology classes, chemistry, statistics and other mathematic classes. During this part of your education you should have a general idea of the field of psychology you are interested in, in order to work towards either a bachelor of arts degree or a bachelor of science degree.

Once you have earned a bachelor degree in psychology, you will need to continue your education and earn a masters degree. To become a licensed psychologist you will also need to earn a doctorate degree. Choosing the best psychology schools to attend for earning graduate degrees, will be beneficial in both getting an education that is geared toward psychology and it will help when you begin your search for employment. The majority psychology courses you take while earning your masters degree will be those that pertain to the field of psychology you wish to specialize in. If you are intending to work in a field of research psychology, while attending a masters program you should also take electives that relate to writing your dissertation as well as research and methods classes. While you can work in interesting fields of psychology with a masters degree, you will not be able to work as a practicing psychologist unless you earn a doctorate.

In order to work independently and have a private practice, you have to continue your psychology education and earn either a PhD or a PsyD. There are psychology colleges that offer excellent online course for earning a doctorate degree in psychology which makes it easier those who prefer to work with a masters while earning their doctorate degree. Also if you have a good GPA, pass the required exams and can prove your commitment to studies, there are several psychology schools, such as Argosy, that allow you to forego a masters degree and go directly into a doctorate program with only a bachelors degree. If you intend to work in research, you should earn a PhD, however, if you are more interested in doing clinical work, you could work towards a PsyD. To earn a PhD you will have to complete a dissertation, however, with a PsyD you will need to complete the specified number of clinical hours required by the university you are attending.

After completing your education requirements and earning a doctorate degree, you will continue your training with an internship, have two years of practice and then you will be required to take a state exam to become a licensed psychologist. The exams vary by state, however, the majority of states require you to take a written exam as well as face to face interview/exam with members of the state board. After becoming licensed, your psychology training will be ongoing with yearly courses known as continued education units. These courses will be required for as long as you practice psychology.