How to Become a Counseling Psychologist

Graduates of an accredited psychology degree program can become a counseling psychologist. In this field of psychology, individuals provide therapy and advice to those who have troubling, yet oftentimes short-term needs. These psychologists also diagnose and treat mental disorders, learning disabilities, and cognitive/behavioral/emotional problems by using individual, child, family, and group therapies.

What degree is required to become a counseling psychologist?

Counseling psychologists need to earn a degree in psychology at least at the master’s level, although many complete their doctorate degree. These individuals must earn their degree from an accredited institution that offers programs in counseling psychology. Once an individual has completed their degree in psychology, they must then obtain licensure. The procedure for licensure varies from state to state, but typically requires a doctorate degree, an internship, and one to two years of relevant experience, along with passing an exam, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

If the individual obtains his or her doctorate degree in psychology and obtains their state license, they may go into independent practice, or eventually be allowed to work in a supervisory position in a clinical setting, after they have acquired the appropriate experience. In addition, although professional certification may not be required by an individual’s employer, it is often considered to be a valuable asset for a career in psychology. The American Board of Professional Psychology (ABPP) offers certification exams that cover competency in a variety of areas, including assessment, intervention, consultation, and ethical issues.

How long does it take to become a counseling psychologist?

An individual who is pursuing their counseling psychology degree requirements can generally complete the doctoral degree in psychology in between four and seven years. However, the overall time frame will depend upon a number of different factors, including whether a student opts to attend their educational program on a full-time or a part-time basis. The completion of the individual’s dissertation will also take time, as well time allotments for any potential clinical and/or internship requirements. In addition to on-campus learning, there are many online psychology programs that may help in fulfilling a student’s degree requirements. These programs could help an individual to obtain their degree in psychology faster, as the time allotted for course work and study may be more flexible. The time it takes to become a counseling psychologist will also vary depending upon the individual’s licensing requirements.

What is a counseling psychologist’s salary?

The median annual wage for psychologists overall as of May 2010 was $68,640. However, a counseling psychologist in May 2011 was, on average, earning $73,090 according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). This, however, can vary by the individual’s work obligations, as well as demographic area. For example, counseling psychologists in New Mexico earned a mean annual wage of just more than $65,000 in 2011, whereas those in New York earned more than $84,000 per year, and those in Idaho earned closer to $61,500.