How to Become a Health Psychologist

Those who fulfill the requirements of an accredited psychology degree program will be taking an important step towards becoming a health psychologist. This type of psychologist specializes in the relationship between a person’s physical and psychological health. The American Psychological Association states that health psychologists are concerned with understanding how biology, behavior, and social context influence health and illness. A health psychologist may work in such settings as a medical center, university, corporation, counseling firm, and/or government agency. Also, some health psychologists are licensed to provide such clinical services to clients as coping with a serious illness or the cessation of smoking.

What degree is required to become a health psychologist?

The education that is required in order to become a health psychologist is extensive and will typically require the obtaining of a doctorate in psychology. This includes either a Ph.D. or a Psy.D. degree in psychology. In many cases, an individual will pursue an undergraduate psychology degree in general psychology and then specialize in health psychology in graduate school. Some programs offer degrees specifically in health psychology as well.

Those who will be pursuing their license after fulfilling their psychology degree will need to check with their specific state with regard to the licensure requirements, as they may differ from state to state, and they may include the taking of an exam such as the Examination for Professional Practice of Psychology and practicing under the supervision of another psychologist. There may also be a minimum work or internship requirement. In addition, the American Board of Professional Psychology offers voluntary board certification in clinical health psychology.

How long does it take to become a health psychologist?

It can take anywhere from four to seven years to complete a doctoral degree in psychology. Whether a student opts to attend their educational program on a full-time or a part-time basis, however, can have a big impact on the total amount of time that is required. In addition, many students in the field of health psychology will also be charged with the completion of a dissertation, as well as a period of time that must be spent fulfilling any required 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 that it takes one to become a health psychologist may also depend on any of the specific health psychology-related licensing requirements.

What is a health psychologist’s salary?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for all psychologists as of May 2010 was $68,640. This, however, can vary a great deal depending upon the psychology degree that is obtained by the individual, as well as the specific job requirements and the individual’s demographic location. Clinical, school, and counseling psychologists earned a median of $66,810, the BLS notes. Health psychologists earned an average of $98,000 annually.