Step by step guide to becoming a psychologist

Psychology can broadly be defined as the study of the human mind and how it informs behavior. Professions for psychologists are as diverse as human behaviors, ranging from counselors and clinical researchers to criminal profilers.

Making career decisions is never easy, but the following guide is designed to assist aspiring psychologists by discussing industry basics, degree paths, primary responsibilities, and skills shared by all psychology professionals. Anyone interested in psychology can use the information provided as a starting point to see if the career options contained within this field are right for them.

What does a psychologist do?

Psychologists investigate human behavior, delving into how people think, how they learn, and how they develop emotionally and socially. They use a wide range of methods to conduct research on large groups, specific populations and individuals. A psychologist may control lab experiments, assess clients on-site, or evaluate school tests for learning disabilities.

Psychologists also assist people suffering from trauma, mental disorders or substance abuse problems. They may work with individual clients to understand root causes and offer treatment. Most research psychologists work in universities or government agencies. Depending on career goals, professionals may opt to move into a specialty area that fires their imaginations and promises fulfilling work.

What kind of skills are required?

  • Psychologists tend to be highly inquisitive and compassionate.
  • They may also be process-oriented, with the ability to diagnose, create a patient plan, and provide treatment for cognitive, learning and behavioral disorders.
  • Those working directly with clients need to learn effective and ethical ways of treating people in distress.
  • It also helps to be an excellent listener and lifelong learner. Most psychologists are committed to ongoing education in order to stay informed on emerging research and treatment methodologies in the field.
  • Psychologists also need to know about health care, patient rights and reporting protocols.

The steps to becoming a psychologist

  1. Decide what type of psychologist you want to become
  2. Choose your specialty
  3. Find a school
  4. Earn your Bachelor’s Degree
  5. Consider earning your Master’s Degree
  6. Get experience
  7. Pass your license exam