California State Licensing Requirements

psychology-degree-californiaIf you want to work towards a psychology degree in California, you should be pleased with its impressive list of options.

Whether you live in the Bay Area, greater Los Angeles, San Diego or the Central Valley, there are psychology schools to suit every need.

Listing all of the great choices for earning your psychology degree in California would be a huge task, but suffice it to say that whatever field you’d like to work in (counseling, clinical, developmental, educational, sports, neuropsychology, and more), you’ll find colleges and universities large and small all over the state.

These schools teach all different theoretical orientations, so therapists, counselors, social workers and psychologists will learn about the most popular methods today: cognitive-behavioral therapy, psychodynamic, humanistic, and more. Being exposed to all options will let you use the one that’s most appropriate given a particular client’s needs. And you’ll learn all about these, and more, in the great psychology schools that you’ll find all across the Golden State.

California Job Market

Those who are using their psychology degree in California are likely to be paid higher salaries than in other states, which should help to counteract the state’s higher cost of living. Below is a list of the median annual salaries in California for common psychology-related professions:

Psychology Career Average Annual Salary
Psychologist $89,550
Mental Health Counselor $46,290
Social Worker $64,390

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics 2016-17 Occupational Outlook Handbook, Psychologists, Mental Health Counselors, Social Workers

*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.

Licensure Requirements in California

In order to use your psychology degree in California in a clinical setting, you will need to obtain licensure from the state. A criminal background check and passing scores on both the national examination and supplemental California examination for your area of study are all necessary components of any type of license. Read below for the additional requirements for each field.


  • A doctoral degree in psychology
  • Completion of a 3,000-hour work experience under supervision, half of which must be fulfilled post-degree

Professional Counselor

According to the California Coalition for Counselor Licensure, the state recently passed a law that went into effect on January 1, 2010. The new law requires professional counselors to be licensed, and California’s Board of Behavioral Sciences is still developing the regulation procedures. Applicants who require licensing prior to 2012 and do not qualify for “grandparenting” must meet the following requirements:

  • A master’s degree in counseling or psychotherapy-related content
  • Completion of 3,000 hours in a supervised work experience, of which 1,750 hours must be direct client contact and 150 hours must be in a hospital or community mental health setting

Marriage and Family Therapist

  • A master’s degree in marriage and family therapy
  • Registration as a marriage and family therapist intern prior to post-degree work experience
  • Fulfillment of 3,000 hours of supervised work experience
  • Passing score on the MFT Written Clinical Vignette Examination upon passing the national examination

Clinical Social Worker

  • A master’s degree in social work
  • Registration as an association clinical social worker prior to post-degree work experience
  • Completion of 3,200 hours of supervised work experience
  • Passing score on the LCSW Written Clinical Vignette Examination upon passing the national examination


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