How to Become a Psychologist in Washington
If you’re planning to learn and practice psychology in the “Evergreen State,” you’ll be happy to know that there is a thriving job market for psychologists. The Washington State Employment Security Department states that the growth rate for clinical, counseling and school psychologists is about 1.6% per year. This means that new positions will be opening up, and that psychologists will be offered competitive salaries and great benefits.
Psychologists in Washington and all over the country have a similar goal: to help ensure their patients’ mental and emotional health and increase their well-being. This means doing their very best to diagnose and find the best treatment plan for mental disorders and illnesses. In order to do this, the psychologist needs the best possible educational and experience foundation. This is why the state of Washington has such strict requirements in place.
Education Requirements for Psychologist Licensing in Washington
The first step to becoming a psychologist in Washington and satisfying those requirements is to earn a degree from a doctoral program in psychology. The program must be given by a regionally accredited institution. There are a few great programs in the state, including those available from Washington State University, Bastyr University, and Seattle University. You’ll find a full list of online and campus-based doctoral programs here.
If you plan to become a school psychologist in the state of Washington, the doctoral rule does not apply to you. You will need to earn a Master’s Degree with a major in counseling and then you will need to complete a state-approved school psychologist program.
The length of time it will take you to complete a doctoral program will depend upon several things, including your current educational background, the program you choose, etc. Generally though, doctoral programs will take an additional 2-4 years after you've obtained your Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree. If your program includes an internship or supervised residency, it will count toward your supervised experience requirement. Read up on WA psychology degrees and school programs.
Supervised Professional Experience Requirements for a Psychologist
While earning your doctoral degree, you can start earning your supervised experience as well. The state of Washington requires at least 3,300 hours of supervised professional experience and 1,500 of that must be a qualifying internship. This internship must be completed within 2 years to count, and the remainder of the experience must be gained under the guidance of a licensed psychologist.
Examinations for the Psychologist License in Washington
Finally, you will need to take the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP) in order to obtain your psychology license. This test is considered the industry-standard, and is administered throughout the country at various testing sites. It covers the same topics you learned during your doctoral program, from bases of behavior and assessment to intervention and diagnosis. It consists of more than 200 multiple-choice questions.
Note: You may find additional information about how to earn a psychology license in Washington by visiting the Washington State Department of Health.
Psychology Career Outlook in Washington
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that there are approximately 2,000 clinical counseling and school psychologists in Washington, as well as 350 other types of psychologists. In May of 2011, it was reported that the clinical counseling and school psychologists were earning an annual median wage of $74,590 while the other psychologists were earning an annual median wage of $80,550. The BLS defines the median wage as the center line, meaning that “half the workers in an occupation earned more than the amount and half earned less.” The lowest ten percent of psychologists on a national level earned lower than $39,060 and the top ten percent earned an annual median wage exceeding $110,410.