General Psychology

Education and Careers

Psychology is the science of the mind and human behavior. Slightly over half of all psychologists are involved in psychology as a helping profession, but psychologists also do research, teach, or work in business and industry.

What They Do

There are many different types of psychologists, but they generally fall into one of two categories: clinical (or counseling) psychologists and research psychologists.

Clinical psychologists meet with clients to identify problems—emotional, mental and behavioral—and formulate treatment programs to best address each client’s needs.

Research psychologists work in all fields of psychology: social, experimental, clinical, developmental, you name it. Most work at universities as faculty or as full-time researchers. They develop hypotheses, test their theories, interpret the data, and publish their results.

Skills You Need

Learn which personality traits and professional skills you’ll need to be a successful clinical or research psychologist.

You Should Have

  • Strong verbal and communication skills
  • Good writing skills
  • Goal-setting skills
  • High ethical standards
  • Clear boundaries

How to Become a General Psychologist

Psychologists must be licensed to practice in their state. Generally, you’ll need to have a master’s, and then a doctorate in psychology and two years of clinical experience under the guidance of a mentor to qualify for licensure.

1

Get a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology

Before you specialize in psychology, you’ll need the general knowledge and skills of every undergraduate student. To do this, get a BA or a BS with a psychology major.

2

Get an Advanced Degree in Psychology

To get into a graduate program in clinical psychology, most schools look at GRE scores (aim for above 1200), a GPA of 3.5 or higher, and some experience in the field.

3

Complete an Internship

All general psychology programs require you to do an internship. Psychology internships must generally be approved by the American Psychological Association.

4

Pass the Psychology Exam

You’ll need to pass the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology. Contact the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards, if you have questions.

5

Apply for Licensure in Your State

To practice psychology you must be licensed by your state board of psychology. Most states require two years of supervised experience after you earn your PhD or PsyD.

Salary Comparison

Psychologists make a good living, but salaries for psychologists vary greatly depending on where you practice, your area of expertise and other factors.

Compare psychology salaries below:

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics 2016-17 Occupational Outlook Handbook.

*The salary information listed is based on a national average, unless noted. Actual salaries may vary greatly based on specialization within the field, location, years of experience and a variety of other factors. National long-term projections of employment growth may not reflect local and/or short-term economic or job conditions, and do not guarantee actual job growth.

Job Growth

Employment of psychologists is expected to grow 19 percent through 2024. Greater demand for psychological services in schools, hospitals, mental health centers, and social services agencies should drive employment growth. National long-term projections of employment growth may not reflect local and/or short-term economic or job conditions, and do not guarantee actual job growth.

Related Occupations

Here are some other fields you might like if general psychology isn’t exactly what you’re looking for:

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