Becoming a psychologist is a rewarding career. It is one where you may be making a profound impact on a person’s life, the way they view life and the way they feel about themselves. This is not just a career pathway but a way of life if you are doing it for the right reasons. It may also serve to be a very lucrative career if you should decide to go into private practice. Here we will get you prepared for what to expect from your educational requirements to your personality and assist you in making an informed decision as to whether or not this career pathway is for you.
What are the education and licensure requirements for becoming a certified psychologist?
First, you will want to take extra care to choose a school which is accredited by the American Psychology Association (APA) and if you are going for a master which is the preference then you will want to watch that accreditation as well because you will want to make sure your internship goes towards your master’s program. The APA will also accredit doctorate programs in three areas and that is clinical psychology, school psychology and counseling. They will also accredit many institutions that offer that doctorate program so this is something to research carefully before you step into any program. It is not a decision not to be made in haste.
Certified psychologists working in an independent practice
In the realm of clinical psychology, school psychology and counseling the psychologist must in all states in the union be licensed and certified in whichever of the above areas of psychology. The psychologist must also understand that they are only to practice in the field of psychology for which they are licensed. In other words, if you are licensed for the state of Florida and you are certified in that state for school psychology, you cannot begin to practice clinical psychology unless you are also certified in that area of psychology. You may be certified for as many fields of expertise as you like in the psychology genre but there may be limitation set forth by each state as to whether or not you can combine practice. For the most part you shouldn’t have an issue but to avoid fines and blight on your license, it is worth it to check with the APA about the laws governing your state.
Which area of psychology requires the most education?
This would be clinical psychologists and counseling psychologists. For both of these a doctorate is required as well as an internship which is accredited, again check the APA and at least two to three years of professional experience at an institution or clinic is preferred. Yeah, you really need to want to do this as this is set to take up much of your life. This is why we said that this is a way to make a mark on society, it is a way of life, not just a career pathway. If you begin your education at age 21 as you begin college, you will be practicing by maybe age 28. This is four years of study then another three or four for a doctorate depending on the program whether it is accelerated or not and then 4,000 hours of internship and two years’ work experience you are looking at five to seven years. It is almost like becoming a surgeon, in fact if you like the sciences you may want to consider that before you invest time and money in psychology.
What personality traits do I need to have to become a successful psychologist?
This is why we are letting you know who you need to be in order to successfully complete the program. Because it is such a time investment that something else that takes as much time may be best for you. To be a successful psychologist you need to possess people skills. You have to be an active listener and possess a non-judgmental personality. A quick word on that for a minute; you can judge a person in a good way by agreeing with them as well. As a psychologist you must be neutral, not agreeing or disagreeing which can be hard for some people but it has been psychologically proven to be more comfortable for the patient.
Lastly you need to be compassionate and empathetic. These are but a few of the most important qualities you must possess to be a success. Make your choice wisely and with good council.