Clinical Psychologist Careers, Education Requirements, Salary, Information

Help, psychologist, doctor.What Is Clinical Psychology?

Everyone has off days when they just don't feel like themselves. For the majority of people, these feelings are normal, and they don't last long at all. For some, however, these feelings are more serious, and they could indicate a mental or emotional problem.

Clinical psychology is a broad branch of psychology that focuses on diagnosing and treating mental, emotional, and behavioral disorders. Some of the more common disorders that might be treated include learning disabilities, substance abuse, depression, anxiety, and eating disorders.

The field of psychology became more recognized during the second half of the 19th century, although clinical psychology wasn't recognized until the end of the 19th century. It was around this time that Lightner Witmer first helped treat a boy with a learning disability. In 1896, Witmer opened the first psychology clinic, which catered to children with disabilities. In 1907, he coined the phrase "clinical psychology" in his new psychology journal, called The Psychology Clinic.

Although his ideas were somewhat slow to catch on, Witmer is now credited with being one of the founding fathers of clinical psychology. His progress in treating that one child helped pave the way for the future of clinical psychology.

What Are the Education Requirements to Become a Clinical Psychologist?

Every state in the country requires that anyone who earns licensure and wishes to call themselves a clinical psychologist must first have a graduate degree (almost always a Master's degree) in some form of clinical psychology. The majority of psychologists have a doctorate in clinical psychology, though some jobs are available for those with a Master’s. To qualify for most graduate programs, students need to have a Bachelor’s degree in psychology. There are two doctorates available.

  • A PhD in Psychology, or a Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology, which focuses on science and research
  • A PsyD, or Doctor of Psychology, which focuses on clinical work.

Getting a doctorate takes five to seven years, plus a one-year internship in most cases. Continuing education is required. Many choose to become board-certified.

Spotlight Clinical Psychology Degree Offerings

Read more about an online clinical psychology degree.

What Does a Clinical Psychologist Do?

Clinical psychologists work in many areas, depending on the population they choose to treat. A psychologist can specialize in chronic illness like diabetes or obesity, mental problems like depression and anxiety, and psychological problems like bipolar or schizophrenia. They work with children and adults with ADD or Asperger's Syndrome.

In a school setting, they can help children with learning disabilities. At a university, they can help students make career decisions, stay emotionally healthy and achieve success academically. In community-based facilities, they can help culturally diverse and economically disadvantaged populations. As the country ages, many are working with seniors.

Others do research into mental health issues, policies and training, represented by the Society for a Science of Clinical Psychology.

Here is a look at a few of the areas where clinical psychologists can be found:

  • Research at a university
  • School psychology
  • Health service psychology
  • Physical health psychology
  • Work with the elderly
  • Work with children and university students


Where Does a Clinical Psychologist Work?

Individuals pursuing clinical psychology careers will often find that they will be able to secure employment in a number of different healthcare facilities, such as hospitals and mental health facilities.

Depending on their specialties, clinical psychologists might also be able to find employment with a number of other private and government run organizations. Universities often employ clinical psychologists, for example, to perform research and help steer eager young minds toward clinical psychology careers. Schools, police departments, and military branches are also usually in need of professional psychologists as well.

Many clinical psychologists also choose to open their own private practices and work for no other boss but themselves. Opening a private psychology practice can often be expensive and difficult but can also be very rewarding and lucrative as well.

What Is the Annual Average Salary of a Clinical Psychologist?

As with many other psychology careers, the salaries of clinical psychologists vary depending on a number of factors including location, experience, popularity, etc.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics the annual average salary for clinical psychologists was $76,040 in May of 2015. Elementary schools, hospitals and private practices are the primary employers of clinical psychologists and the annual average pay at those places ranges from $74,130 to $84,020.

Influential Clinical Psychologists
  1. Sigmund Freud is often credited for "inventing" talk therapy and modern psychoanalysis.
  2. Albert Ellis founded Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT) and several cognitive behavioral therapies, which are often the most popular types of treatment in clinical psychology today.
  3. Lightner Witmer was the first psychologist to use and coin the term clinical psychology.

Additional Resources and Further Reading