What Are the Requirements for a Clinical Psychologist?


Clinical psychologists constitute the largest portion of the psychology profession, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and are involved in the assessment, diagnosis, treatment and prevention of mental disorders. Clinical psychologists can specialize in a certain area within the field of psychology such as health psychology or child psychology, but there are general requirements that all clinical psychologists must meet in order to practice.

Degree Requirements

  • To become a clinical psychologist one must have graduated from an accredited institution with a Ph.D. or Doctor of Psychology. This degree involves five years of graduate course work and studies, ending with a dissertation based on original study in the field of psychology. To become a clinical psychologist, the graduate must also complete a year of supervised work in the field.

Licensing Requirements

  • Clinical psychologists are required by the state in which they reside to become a licensed psychologist before beginning practice. Certification and licensing requirements vary from state to state but typically include passage of a state licensing exam and proof of education, internship and supervised experience in the field following degree completion. Failure to meet licensing requirements of the state renders the practice of a clinical psychologist illegal with punishment including fines, a jail sentence and the inability to reapply for licensing.

Specialty Certification

  • The American Board of Professional Psychology offers a specialty certification in 13 areas of psychology, including clinical psychology. Obtaining certification requires that the psychologist meet all requirements to become a clinical psychologist: state certification and licensing requirements, additional criteria established by the American Board of Professional Psychology in the specialty field and passage of a specialty board exam.

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