Psychologists: Salary, career path, job outlook, education and more

Education Required
Most clinical, counseling, and research psychologists need a doctoral degree. Students can complete a Ph.D. in psychology or a Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.) degree. A Ph.D. in psychology is a research degree that is obtained after taking a comprehensive exam and writing a dissertation based on original research. Ph.D. programs typically include courses on statistics and experimental procedures. The Psy.D. is a clinical degree often based on practical work and examinations rather than a dissertation. In clinical, counseling, school, or health service settings, students usually complete a 1-year internship as part of the doctoral program.
Training Required
Most prospective psychologists must have pre- or postdoctoral supervised experience, including an internship. Internships allow students to gain experience in an applied setting. Candidates must complete an internship before they can qualify for state licensure. The required number of hours of the internship varies by state.
Job Outlook
The projected percent change in employment from 2016 to 2026: 14% (Faster than average)
(The average growth rate for all occupations is 7 percent.)
Licenses/Certifications
In most states, practicing psychology or using the title “psychologist” requires licensure. In all states and the District of Columbia, psychologists who practice independently must be licensed where they work.
Median pay: How much do Psychologists make?
$75,230 Annual Salary
$36.17 per hour

Psychologists study cognitive, emotional, and social processes and behavior by observing, interpreting, and recording how people relate to one another and to their environments. They use their findings to help improve processes and behaviors.

What do Psychologists do?

Psychologists typically do the following:

  • Conduct scientific studies of behavior and brain function
  • Observe, interview, and survey individuals
  • Identify psychological, emotional, behavioral, or organizational issues and diagnose disorders
  • Research and identify behavioral or emotional patterns
  • Test for patterns that will help them better understand and predict behavior
  • Discuss the treatment of problems with clients
  • Write articles, research papers, and reports to share findings and educate others
  • Supervise interns, clinicians, and counseling professionals

Psychologists seek to understand and explain thoughts, emotions, feelings, and behavior. They use techniques such as observation, assessment, and experimentation to develop theories about the beliefs and feelings that influence individuals.

Psychologists often gather information and evaluate behavior through controlled laboratory experiments, psychoanalysis, or psychotherapy. They also may administer personality, performance, aptitude, or intelligence tests. They look for patterns of behavior or relationships between events, and they use this information when testing theories in their research or when treating patients.

The following are examples of types of psychologists:

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