How to Become a Psychologist in Virginia
According to a 2018 ranking by USA Today, Virginia earned a top spot among the best states for business, thanks to its well-educated workforce, low unemployment rate, and a population with a higher-than-average disposable income. So, it certainly didn’t come as a surprise when Amazon announced that Arlington would be the site of its new headquarters. With an investment of $5 billion and more than 25,000 new employees in NYC and Arlington, Amazon’s latest expansion means even more opportunities for the residents of this commonwealth.
And that includes psychologists, whose job opportunities are just as impressive as the economy here. In fact, recent data from the Virginia Department of Health Professions Healthcare Workforce Data Center reveals that 95% of al licensed clinical psychologists in Virginia are actively practicing, whether for clinics and hospitals, government agencies, universities, or in private practice.
But before you can get into this in-demand profession, you’re going to need to meet the educational and experiential requirements set by the Virginia Department of Health Professions, Board of Psychology. Here’s what you need to do to practice clinical psychology in Virginia.
Education Requirements for Psychologist Licensing in Virginia
To become a clinical psychologist in Virginia, you’ll need to earn a doctorate degree in clinical or counseling psychology. The Virginia Department of Health Professions, Board of Psychology requires applicants to complete a doctorate program at a school that holds regional accreditation, while the program itself needs to be accredited by the American Psychological Association.
As a clinical psychologist you would be qualified to work within in-patient facilities with patients suffering from the most severe and acute mental illnesses, assessing patients, proving all appropriate therapeutic interventions, and monitoring progress.
If you earned a doctorate degree in psychology that’s not APA accredited, you’ll need to provide the proper documentation to the Board that the program offers adequate education and training. The program would still need to be accredited by an accrediting body recognized by the U.S. Department of Education or publicly recognized by the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada as a member in good standing.
You must also complete practicum experiences in assessment and diagnosis, psychotherapy, consultation, and supervision as part of your doctorate program. The practicum must include at least 9 graduate semester hours (or 15 or more quarter hours) to ensure a wide range of supervised training and experiential learning opportunities.
If you are interested in practicing as an applied psychologist in any capacity, or as a school psychologist it’s only necessary to earn a master’s in psychology with the corresponding focus from an APA-accredited program. Other experience and exam requirements are also required to be licensed through the Virginia Board of Psychology.
Licensure as a counselor, marriage and family therapist, or to be registered as a qualified Mental Health Professional and work an out-patient basis with ordinary people dealing with addiction, emotional and marital issues, and the trauma and stresses of life requires a master's degree in the corresponding specialty. These licenses are issues through the Virginia Board of Counseling.
Supervised Professional Experience Requirements for a Psychologist in Virginia
You must complete a residency/internship of at least 1,500 hours that’s recognized by the Board.
To do so, you must complete a Registration of Residency application and submit it to the Board for approval. You cannot begin to tally your residency hours until you have received written Board approval that you authorized to begin your supervised field training.
Once you have completed the required internship, you must complete the Verification of Post-Degree Supervision form and submit it to the Board.
Examination for the Psychologist License in Virginia
After fulfilling the required education and experience requirements, the final step is to achieve a passing score on the Examination for Professional Practice of Psychology (EPPP), which is administered by the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Board.
You must first apply for licensure with the Board to ensure you meet the requirements to take the EPPP. Once the Board has issued you approval to take the EPPP, you’ll receive an email with instructions on how to register for the exam. Upon registration, you will receive an EPPP Authorization to Test email that will allow you to set up a testing time at a chosen Pearson VUE test site in Virginia.
Psychologist Career Outlook in Virginia
According to the Virginia Department of Health Professions Healthcare Workforce Data Center, the demand for psychologists in Virginia continues to increase. The number of clinical psychologists working here rose from 2,326 in 2013 to 2,566 in 2017.
BLS statistics show that psychologists in Virginia earn an average salary of $87,090, which is significantly higher than the national average of $77,030.
The Washington-Arlington-Alexandria metropolitan area has the highest employment level for psychologists in the state, and an average salary of $96,830.