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.
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.
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.
Complete an Internship
All general psychology programs require you to do an internship. Psychology internships must generally be approved by the American Psychological Association.
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.
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.
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:
Clinical, Counseling & School Psychologists
All other Psychologists
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics 2018-19 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.
Employment of psychologists is expected to grow 14 percent through 2026. 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.
Here are some other fields you might like if general psychology isn’t exactly what you’re looking for:
Related General Psychology Reading
- Top 5 Online Psychology School Programs
- What Are the Major Psychology Careers?
- Top 10 Graduate Schools in Counseling and Psychology
- Put Your Psychology Major to Work
- Psychology vs. Psychiatry: Do You Know the Difference?
- Psychology Specialties
- Online Psychology Professor Profile
- Differences Between a Therapist and Psychologist
- Counselor and Psychologist Salary Ranges
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