Learn more about careers in clinical psychology. Find information on clinical psychology careers, job outlook, salary, and recommended schools. View popular schools that prepare students for careers as clinical psychologists.
Psychology is the study of human behavior and mental processes. Professionals working in this field utilize theory to understand human behavior and utilize their data to help clients or to conduct research. While various areas of specialization exist for psychologists, the largest specialty is clinical psychology. Professionals in this specialization focus specifically patient with mental health issues. Clinical psychologists are trained to assess, diagnose and treat patients. Additionally, clinical psychologists may work with clients to help prevent mental disorders or to help clients address stressful life issues such as divorce or the death of a loved one.
Training for clinical psychologists is quite intense. Individuals seeking to enter into this field must typically obtain a Doctorate Degree (PhD). A Doctorate in clinical psychology typically requires five years of full-time study and the completion of a Doctoral dissertation including original research in the discipline. Students may alternatively opt to pursue a Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.). This degree allows the student to complete practical work experience in lieu of completing a dissertation. Completion of the Doctoral degree is need for licensure. In most states clinical psychologists are required to be licensed.
Careers in psychology include a wide range of disciplines such as industrial psychologists, research psychologists, social psychologists and school psychologists. Clinical psychology is a specific area of specialization in psychology. Professionals that specialize in clinical psychology can work in a number of different practice settings. In particular, clinical psychologists may work in academia where they can split their time between educating students and conducting research. In addition, professionals may seek positions in healthcare organizations. In these roles clinical psychologists will work as part of an integrated healthcare team, providing comprehensive support for patient care. Also, clinical psychologists may be self-employed in private practice. Clinical psychologists that work in private practice typically acquire regular clients that form the basis of practice. Clinical psychologists that are self-employed may also work as consultants for corporations, law enforcement or community organizations. Some clinical psychologists may choose an area of specialization. Examples include: health psychology, child psychology or neuropsychology.
Clinical psychologists typically command high salaries because of the level of education required to obtain their positions. However, the specific salary of the professional will be determined by the professional’s area of specialization and the organization for which the individual works. Median annual salaries for clinical psychologists were $64,140 in 2008. Top earners in the field made $106,840. Clinical psychologists working in organizations commanded the highest salaries. Those working in community and family service organizations had, on average, the lowest annual salaries. Clinical psychologists that are self-employed are often able to obtain higher salaries by working with specific population groups. Consulting work can also be highly lucrative for clinical psychologists. Advancement opportunities for clinical psychologists are limited. Individuals with Doctorate Degrees often enter the field of psychology at the top of their profession. Experience in the field is essential for professionals to obtain higher wages. Many clinical psychologists become self-employed after practicing in the field for several years.
The total number of available positions in the field of clinical psychology will increase by 12 percent through 2018. This growth is average when compared with all other occupations. Clinical psychologists held a total of 170,200 positions in 2008. By 2018 there are projected to be 190,000 positions in this field. Although average growth is expected, competition for open positions will be quite intense. Professionals graduating from top clinical psychology programs that have also completed some work experience in the field will have access to more job opportunities. Job demand in the profession is expected to be fueled in part by expansion of health insurance plans to include mental health treatment and services. Organizations offering employee assistance programs that include mental health supports are also increasing. More professionals will also be needed to address growing numbers of social problems including divorce, stress and the challenges faced by individuals as they age.