How to Become a Clinical Psychologist-10 Best Steps

Searching for how to become a clinical psychologist? You are on the right path. Evolution, changes, population, and many more affect the increasing need for therapy.

This is also a result of a  lot of mental straining issues like political unrest, violence, and world problems like climate irregularities and pandemics.

The idea of therapy though is being stigmatized in some areas while being welcomed in others.

Psychology is the study of humans, their experience, and general behavior in the areas of language, conscience, consciousness, mental health, memory, etc, in relation to the human brain.

Thus, its segmentation into different studies focuses on educational psychology, counseling psychology, clinical psychology, developmental psychology, cognitive and the rest.

Clinical Psychology is therefore an area of psychology that focuses on the diagnosis, assessment, management, and treatment of brain-related issues and diseases, mental instabilities, social problems, and behavioral issues.

Psychology as a course helps in preparation to become a clinical psychologist. 

They get to receive specialized training to aid them in diagnosis, treating, and managing behavioral and emotional illnesses, use psychoanalytic for ease in therapy, and conduct cutting-edge research and project testing.

They help their clients to develop resilience where needed, make positive changes and improve their strengths.

Interest in human behavior and curiosity about how and why humans react the way they do to things like sound, humor, and actions usually spores the zeal to pursue psychology as a course toward a career in clinical psychology.

Clinical psychologists provide services like counseling and medical treatment using variants of methods that are usually patient-specific.

Some specialize in areas of practice in learning disabilities, school psychology, and hospitals.

Clinical psychologists employ the use of a humanistic, psychodynamic cognitive behavioral perspective as an approach to treatments.

Becoming a clinical psychologist requires grit as a student, motivation, and a high degree of commitment because you’ll be spending a long 13 years of academic life to become a clinical psychologist.

A lot of people are in the dark and In this article, we’ll be discussing and listing basic steps on how to become a clinical psychologist.

How to become a clinical psychologist

  • Early prep/plans

  • Obtain a bachelor’s degree

  • Obtain a master’s degree

  • Internships/Pre-Doctoral Fellowship

  • Earn a doctorate

  • Fellowship (post-doctoral)

  • Apply for licensure

  • Seek to volunteer

  • Apply for a job/practice

  • Complete your Continuing Education (CE) Courses

Early Prep/plans 

This step involves a lot of work, experience, and events.

You’re probably a high school graduate preparing for University or still in high school researching courses that will benefit you studying psychology, looking for a University that suits your style and finances, and reading psychology journals and related works. 

If in the latter, you should get involved with the guidance and counseling department and seek advice on course selection and in-school programs that will benefit you.

You’ll be having to look into a calculative course like math, social courses like social studies and communication arts, and also history.

These courses will help develop your skill in research and statistics, understanding brain functions and behaviors, Interactions and social relationships, etc.

Also, psychology is a logical course that involves thinking and analytics so you’ll be getting a series of tests in University and every level of learning you attain. So getting yourself ready mentally should also count. 

Read, and study lots of materials available to you, and maintain a very high GPA as it would be used in evaluation during your admission process.

Requirements like an aptitude test on science and non-science based subjects, proficiency in humanities, A levels, and many others would be required from you during your admission process.

Gaining admission to the university is one of the most important steps so make sure you get admitted by making early preparations.

Earn a Bachelor’s degree

Welcome to Uni !!

At the university, you’ll be completing a four-year degree in any course of your choice but most preferably psychology.

Most clinical psychologists began by earning a degree in psychology to set up foundational knowledge and have the opportunity to choose from a wider range of Master’s degree Programs.

You’ll be taught and engaged in Many university programs which will help you develop yourself in every way possible.

While in the University, you’ll get a wider range of general and specific knowledge, all you’ve been reading before university education will start making more sense, and you’ll get a more concise knowledge base.

While preparing for your next degree, you’ll also be preparing for the requirements to be able to enroll for a master’s degree, intentionally seeking to develop skills like communication, interactive skills, and understanding as they are part of the needed fundamental skills.

Remember the aim of your study is human beings, so as you gain educational skills, people skills should be built at a very great length.

Earn a master’s degree

Master’s degree programs should be the next step to take as it would be a stepping stone towards becoming a psychologist.

This is a prerequisite for enrolling in doctorate school and especially for those wanting to work in clinical psychology or counseling psychology roles.

Master’s programs require two years of full-time study and introduce students to doctorate-level courses, topics, and programs. 

It is entirely your choice to enroll in an on-campus or online program depending on your preference and how beneficial it would be to you. 

Depending on your area of specialized interest and training, you can pursue a Psychology license upon earning a master’s degree as a master of arts or master of science, then choosing between a practical degree for prospective counselors, a doctor of education(EdD), a doctor of psychology (PsyD) or educational specialists (EdS).

Also, Choosing a degree suitable for you would also require checking your state/district requirements as it’ll help to know and filter the limited master’s degree choices available to you.

Internships/Pre-Doctoral Fellowship

Internships, fellowships, practicums, and other field training are very vital and mandatory parts of becoming a licensed psychologist.

State licensure usually depends on the number of hours of experience in internship/shadowing as a clinical psychologist.

You’ll have to work/shadow an already licensed professional in clinical psychology and other healthcare specialists, learn how to schedule counseling with patients, manage client progress reports and create treatment plans for them.

You would have gathered a wealth of experience and completed your required Field work hours or whatever requirement that determines completion before graduating from your master’s program.

Earn a Doctorate Degree 

Doctoral degree Programs run for a usual span of 5-7 years depending on individual programs and their requirements.

Sometimes, a comprehensive test is organized, and a dissertation defense is set.

Completing your degree program requires a lot even before acceptance.

like a typical one-year internship, a master’s degree in clinical psychology, a bachelor’s degree in clinical psychology or a related field, and a host of other requirements.

The Doctor of Psychology (PsyD) degree is designed to prepare, train and test psychology students for direct practice as licensed clinical psychologists upon graduation.

During this degree program, you are prepared to apply for careers in psychology and also for the clinical psychologist certification.

A Ph.D. program in psychology is research focused and is mostly found in professional schools rather than research universities.

Fellowship (post-doctoral)

A postdoctoral fellowship is a 1-2 year fellowship program that prepares the fellow for licensure in psychology and an occupancy position in academia.

Qualified candidates should have doctorate degrees in education, public health, or other related disciplines by their start dates, clinical, and school.

Postdoctoral fellows are recent Ph.D. recipients who have met all requirements for fellowship like completion of thesis defense and wanting to further their research careers with a complementary research interest in faculty labs. 

Apply For Licensure

For you to become certified, you need to research the requirements of your district to get all the necessary documents required of you from your district or state of service.

Generally, a degree doesn’t qualify you to commence practice as a clinical psychologist. So while getting those documents ready, these are some of the general requirements not minding the district; State approved internship, state certification for fieldwork training, must have completed your doctoral program (Ph.D. or PsyD), and other varying requirements.

Also, State certifications act as evidence that you truly went through the training that’s required for the practice of counseling in your district.

Seek to Volunteer

This broadens your experience to a greater length than most already practicing clinical psychologists because most volunteer jobs under clinical psychology demand traveling abroad to people deprived of basic life needs by war.

You get to learn new languages, connect with big names in the profession, understand humans from the perspective of a new culture and meet people with very extreme psychological issues to offer help.

The wealth of experience you gain is second to none and leaves a big impression when seeking an actual job.

You can even apply to the military if volunteer work sends you to a war zone that needs a clinical psychologist for either military personnel or civilians around. Remember this is optional, it’s mainly for those seeking to have a wider range of experience and those it interests.

Apply For a Job/practice

Upon licensure and some volunteer jobs to gain more experience (if you chose to), you can start practicing immediately as a clinical psychologist.

You will have to think about where exactly you would want to work and  submit a resume or an application to the following places:

  • Government agencies

  • VA Hospitals and clinics 

  • consulting firms

  • Marketing research firms 

  • Nursing homes

  • Rehabilitation centers

  • Schools and universities

  • Social service organizations

If you have entrepreneurship skills, maybe setting up a private practice might be beneficial as two-thirds of the world’s psychologist population are self-employed and continue in private practice.

Complete Your Continuing Education(CE) Courses 

Upon licensure, it’s an important and necessary requirement in most districts to go through the Continuing Education Courses to keep your license.

It helps to expand the knowledge base of a clinical psychologist in psychology, helps maintain certification and licensure, and helps to enlighten on the recent and growing trends in the clinical psychology profession.

Since psychology is one dynamic field, practices, trends, research and treatments change over time. This helps clinical psychologists to stay up-to-date on recent developments to be the best in their field while providing excellent client services.

Post Graduate Degrees:

1] Ph.D. (Doctor of Philosophy):

Places a leveled emphasis on research and clinical training. They are offered in normal universities and have a high competition rate.

2] PsyD (Doctor of Psychology):

This degree is offered by professional schools of Psychology, are practical degrees, and the institutions where they are studied places more emphasis on clinical practice than research. It also has a less competitive atmosphere.

3] EdD (doctor of education):

This degree is usually pursued by students hoping to develop better skills and also their pay upon employment in educational institutes rather than private practices.

4] EdS (educational specialist):

This degree is offered by departments of education in Universities. It’s a non-doctoral degree in psychology practice and is usually for those employable in school psychology.

Related Careers

  • advice worker
  • counselor
  • education consultant
  • human resources officer
  • marker researcher
  • neuroscientist
  • play therapist
  • psychotherapist


What is a Clinical psychologist’s salary in the US?

There are many job opportunities and offers open to Clinical psychologists and because of the rapid rate at which their services are needed, they have an annual, high pay rate/salary of over $80,000.

Although the national average annual wage of a psychologist is around $85,000 and can vary between states.

Where do clinical psychologists work?

A clinical psychologist can work in places like Government agencies, VA Hospitals, clinics, consulting firms, Marketing research firms, Nursing homes, Rehabilitation centers, Schools and universities, Social service organizations, etc.

How many years to become a clinical psychologist?

Becoming a clinical psychologist requires grit as a student, motivation, and a high degree of commitment and because of the nature of their academics and the training they’ll be receiving, one would naturally spend a long 13 years of academic life to become a clinical psychologist.

Can you become a clinical psychologist with just a master’s degree?

Yes, it is highly possible to get licensure with a master’s degree, but that will require you to check in with the requirements of your province as it’s solely according to their certification standard. 

But generally, you’ll be needing a doctorate to get licensed.

How to become a clinical psychologist with a degree in psychology?

To become a clinical psychologist, you’ll need to Obtain a four-year bachelor’s degree, Obtain a 2-4 years master’s degree and Earn a 5-7 years doctorate.

What are the types of psychology?

Psychology is an academic discipline with many types of it and they are:

  • Developmental psychology
  • Counseling psychology
  • Clinical psychology
  • Forensic psychology
  • Social psychology
  • Cognitive psychology
  • Health psychology
  • Educational psychology
  • Neuropsychology
  • Industrial Psychology
  • Abnormal psychology
  • Community psychology
  • Educational psychologist
  • Psychometrics
  • Environmental psychology
  • Cross-cultural psychology
  • Evolutionary psychology
  • School psychology
  • Experimental psychology
  • Behavioral neuroscience
  • Personality psychology

Which field in psychology makes the most money?

For psychology majors, choosing among the different types of psychology careers can be overwhelming. Whatever job opportunity you find yourself doing in this field is rewarding. Below are five of the five high-paying jobs for psychology majors:

  • Outpatient Care Center Psychologist
  • Industrial-Organizational Psychologist
  • Forensic Psychologist
  • Military Psychologist
  • Psychiatrist

Outpatient Care Center Psychologist

As some of the highest-earning psychologists, those who work in outpatient care centers make an average salary of $133,660, according to the U.S.Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Industrial-Organizational Psychologist

According to the BLS, industrial-organizational psychologists make an average salary of $96,270 a year, which is higher than the median annual wage for all psychologists combined ($82,180).

Forensic Psychologist

The average salary for forensic psychologists is around $71,382, according to PayScale. However, some of the highest salaries top $120,000.

Military Psychologist

The average military psychologist’s salary depends on their rank, the branch of the military, and their service record. In some cases, the salary is above $70,000 according to the APA.


 The average military psychologist’s salary depends on their rank, the branch of the military, and their service record. In some cases, the salary is above $70,000 according to the APA.

Which country pays psychologists the most?

According to the International Monetary Fund, Qatar’s per capita GDP is $130,475. With $116,808 in second place, Luxembourg is a long way ahead. Despite being geographically smaller than Yorkshire, having the world’s third-largest natural gas and oil reserves surely helps.

The average annual pay for clinical psychologists in Qatar is $150,233 and a senior-level clinical psychologist with 8+ years of experience earns an average salary of $237,297.

The highest paid clinical psychologist can be found in Qatar and there’s no disputing that. Other high-paying countries include:

  • Switzerland
  • The United States
  • China
  • The United Arab Emirates
  • Canada
  • Norway
  • France
  • The Netherlands
  • Denmark

Do psychologists get a DR title?

No, you can not be called a doctor as clinical psychologists are people who have earned a master’s degree in clinical psychology. Those with a Master’s degree in psychology, cannot use the title “Dr” until they have a Doctorate.

Does psychology need math?

No doubt, there are certain specializations in psychology that being good at math is useful. However, it is not a requirement.

It is important to note that psychologists who go into research or social psychology usually end up dealing with a lot of statistics and other analytical techniques that are math-driven.

Can a clinical psychologist diagnose?

Both Psychiatrists and clinical psychologists can diagnose mental health problems.


Getting certification for practice in Clinical psychology can be a tough game. There are degrees to obtain, programs to enroll in, field works and practices to be part of and multiple academic requirements to achieve.

But then, what is a good job without a worthy process?

Remember you will be dealing with humans and center your expertise on their control as living elements.

 So to be able to achieve such height and to be evaluated to be trusted to handle this highly sensitive part of human beings, more than just a simple test would be required from you.


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