How Long Does it Take to Become a Psychologist?

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Pinpointing exactly what psychologists specialize in is not as an easy feat, simply because there are many different areas that fall under the umbrella of psychology, and there are many different labels associated with them. They often work in a variety of fields and environments such as counseling, schools, industrial, social, clinical, educational, behavioral, forensics, and more. Psychologists are very keen on helping others understand their minds and behaviors, as well as work through conflicts that affect either. Becoming a psychologist entails many possibilities, but there is generally a pretty clear cut path for most people that are aspiring to become psychologists and how long it takes.

Education Time Frame

According to BLS.gov, to become either a counseling, clinical, or research psychologist, a doctoral degree is typically required by most employers. Depending on whether the student is working towards a Ph.D., a Psy.D., or an Ed.D., the process for obtaining this particular type of degree can take anywhere from 3 to 7 years. The Ph.D. generally takes longer to obtain than the others. However, it is argued to be the most respected out of the lot.

Licensing and Certification Time Frame

To practice as a psychologist, all states, including the District of Columbia, require individuals to be licensed. Depending on the specific requirements of the state and how long it takes to complete the certification process, it can anywhere from a short amount of time to a long one for the individual to become officially licensed. Because psychology degrees open the door for many different types of jobs, the type of license required is not going to be the same for everyone.

Training Time Frame

An aspiring psychologist can expect to devote at least 1 to 2 years of professional experience before they can officially practice in psychology. Additionally, many degrees have internship requirements that must be completed. The details and time frame concerning the internship often rely on where the internship is held and how long it’s specified to last.

Licensing often requires a bit of previous work experience in the psychology field. Experience that is often approved for the license includes postdoctoral or predoctoral experience under supervision, internship experience, or some sort of residency program. School psychologists must particularly complete a one year long internship under supervision to qualify for a license.

Overall, becoming a psychologist takes a bit of time to complete, but the rewards are infinite. Anyone that aspires to become a psychologist can expect to devote at least five years to their journey of becoming one. Not only is adequate time and experience required to officially earn the right to practice, but an individual must also exhibit various qualities such as analytical skills, patience, people skills, communication skills, and more. If becoming a psychologist seems like something you’d like to do, don’t be afraid to do a bit more research on it!

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