As mental health continues to become less of a taboo, its practitioners continue to be in high demand. As a result, many young individuals aspire to become psychologists and psychiatrists.

If you are one of them and need help with where to begin your Psychology schooling, wondering how long it will take to become a psychologist and similar other questions, you’ve come to the right place.

Continue reading to find this comprehensive blog that answers all your questions on how long does it take to become a psychologist.

First things first, there is no shortcut to becoming a licensed psychologist. Working as a psychologist will probably take at least eight years of study. The typical route is to complete a 4-year degree in Psychology, then a 2-year Master’s degree, and then a Doctorate.

Some people pursue a 5-year undergraduate and then go straight to acquiring a doctorate. This is acceptable for most areas of specialization in Psychology.

The process is lengthier if you want to be a private, independent clinical psychologist. You will need to complete your Doctorate and then pursue a year-long training, after which you will be allowed to establish a private practice in your state.

Let’s discuss the educational requirements in detail.

1. Bachelor’s Degree to Pursue a Career in Psychology

The traditional route is to get a 4-year long undergraduate degree in Psychology. You can also choose to get a degree in one of the social sciences and still get into your desired graduate school. You can choose to major in sociology, anthropology, or social work and then pursue Psychology at the graduate level.

Some schools allow graduate studies in Psychology even if you have a degree unrelated to Psychology. Nonetheless, to be on the safe side, you must check out the requirements of your desired school. The schools that allow this usually ask students to complete the prerequisites and then enroll in the Master’s level Psychology program.

To become a professional clinical psychologist, you will need the following:

  • An undergraduate degree (4-5 years of college)
  • Doctorate (4-7 years of graduate school).

For this area of specialty, most people spend between 8 to 12 years in higher education.

Of course, individuals can pursue other psychology careers with less formal education.

For example, you could become a licensed family and marriage therapist with a Master’s degree, which generally requires 2-3 years of graduate study.

2. Master’s Degree to Progress Your Career in Psychology

You should start researching different Master’s degree programs in psychology or related fields like counseling or social work if you decide not to pursue a Doctorate at this time.
If you decide to pursue Psychology and get a Doctorate-level degree, then you can continue your journey of Psychology schooling by earning a Master’s degree.
This could be your stepping stone to your Doctorate, or you could choose to get a terminal Master’s degree which allows you to enter the workforce. This degree is offered in counseling, social work, and related branches. You cannot practice as a clinical psychologist with just a Master’s degree.

3. Doctorate Degree to Become an Independent Psychologist

To start counseling privately and in other specialized fields, you will have to get a Doctorate in philosophy (Ph.D.) or Psychology.

If you are interested in practicing private therapy, it is recommended that you pursue a Doctorate in Psychology as it focuses more on preparing students for on-ground professional practice and clinical work.A Doctorate in philosophy is better for those who wish to conduct research as it trains more on aspects like research, analysis, experimental methods, and others.

A Doctorate usually takes 5-8 years to complete. The duration is longer if the chosen field requires great specialization and if the individual got straight into a Master’s from the undergraduate level.
The APA (American Psychological Association) guidelines state that one should enroll in an accredited program as it guarantees that the specific institute meets the criteria and quality standards.

Even after completing your Doctorate from such an institute, you will be required to devote a year of training which will lead you to become a fully licensed practitioner. You can now start practicing in your state.

We are sure you must be overwhelmed if you have read up to this point. It is alright if you can’t decide as quickly as you had imagined. If you have an undergrad level ahead, you have to consider whether you want to pursue Psychology. The rest, you will figure out as you go.

Generally, it can take between 8-12 years of schooling for a psychologist to become licensed by the state. How many years to be a psychologist also depends on whether you choose to pursue a Master’s degree or jump from an Undergraduate to a Doctorate degree, and how specialized your area of interest is.

Check out the following list of the minimum education requirements in some of the fields so you can get a fair idea.

Social Worker4-5 years long Bachelor’s degree
Licensed Counselor2-3 years long Master’s degree
Sports Psychologist2-3 years long Master’s degree
Industrial Organizational PsychologistPsychologist: 2-3 years long Master’s degree
Forensic lab psychologist2-3 years long Master’s degree
Criminal psychologist2-3 years long Master’s degree
Health psychologist4-7 years long Doctorate degree
Social psychologist5-7 years long Doctoral degree
Child psychologist5-7 years long Doctoral degree

What comes to your mind when you think about the places where psychologists work as counselors and lecturers? While these are the two most commonly known professions that psychologists can choose, they are only two of several subfields and professions they can choose from.

If you wish to pursue Psychology, you can either go into practice or research and theory. Often, the research and theory are overlooked. Psychologists continue to research human minds and behavior and add to the knowledge. The information they gather from experiments and research help in understanding how humans learn and how parents and teachers can enhance learning, how children learn behaviors, and how attitudes affect behavior and vice versa.

Psychologists can work in rehabilitation centers and help drug addicts, and alcoholics end their addictions and return to living a healthy, satisfying life.

So, in a nutshell, psychologists can work:

  • In hospitals, as counselors
  • Independently by establishing their practice
  • In schools to help students and teachers
  • In rehabilitation centers
  • In offices, they can help employees avoid burnout and remain motivated

Psychologists typically have a bachelor’s degree in psychology, although some may hold a Master’s degree or Doctorate. This can affect their salary, as those with higher levels of education may earn more than those with only a bachelor’s degree.

A psychologist’s average salary is between $75,000 to $90,000 per year. However, salaries can vary depending on experience, education, and location. For example, psychologists in private practice may earn more than those in hospitals or clinics. Psychologists who work in cities may also earn more than those who work in rural areas.

1. Industrial-Organizational Psychologist

An Industrial-Organizational Psychologist is someone who uses their expertise to navigate through workplace issues. They guide employees in increasing motivation and productivity and help them avoid and overcome burnout. They can also help in recruitment, assessing which candidate might be the most suitable and for what department and job type. They also conduct market research surveys that can help employers make better decisions.

A Master’s degree holder can enter the workforce as an Industrial-Organizational Psychologist. It’s important to note that the packages offered to Doctorate holders are usually more lucrative.
They are also hired at schools and universities, where they help students manage their emotions and tackle anxiety and uncertainty regarding their careers and the future ahead.

Average Salary of Industrial-Organizational Psychologist:

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, those hired at schools and universities earned an average of $110,070 a year. Those Industrial-organizational psychologists hired in industries and conducted scientific research earn $122,660 per annum.

2. Clinical Psychologist

A Doctorate in Psychology and at least one year of training is required to start working as a licensed clinical psychologist.

Average Salary of Clinical Psychologists:

Clinical psychologists assess, diagnose, and treat mental health disorders and issues. Their average salary is around $80,000 a year.

3. Neuropsychologist

A Neuropsychologist has a specialized degree. They require a degree in neuroPsychology or clinical neuroPsychology as they work closely with the brain. They run brain scans, deal with brain injuries, and see how drugs and alcohol impact the nervous system.

Universities, hospitals and clinics, rehabilitation centers, labs, and research centers require neuropsychologists on board.

Average Salary of Clinical Neuropsychologist:

On average, neuropsychologists earn $90,000 a year.

4. Forensic Psychologist

Forensic Psychology requires a Doctorate degree just like clinical counseling.

Forensic Psychology requires a Doctorate degree, just like clinical counseling.
The job description of a forensic psychologist entails dealing with issues related to the law. So they may create psychological profiles of criminals, investigate if a child is subjected to abuse, provide testimony, prepare witnesses to deliver testimony in the courts, and train law enforcement personnel.

Average Salary of Forensic Psychologist:

They earn, on average, around $60,000 a year as reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

5. Sports Psychologist

Sports psychologists specialize in the psychological components of sports. A Master’s or Doctorate degree holder in clinical Psychology can work as a sports psychologist.

They work closely with athletes and focus on how they can motivate them to give their best performance and jump back from injuries or poor performance.

Average Salary of Forensic Sports Psychologists

Sports psychologists earn between $60,000, but those who get the opportunity to work with professional athletes can easily earn six digits a year.

If you study at a college and a university in your state with an average fee, the tuition fee for eight years of studying would cost around $70,000.

If you opt for an out-of-state institute, the cost can rise to $180,000.

You can calculate an estimated range of tuition fees to get an idea of how much it would cost.

Here’s how you can do so:

  • Choose three to five accredited Psychology programs in universities you wish to attend in your state.
  • Choose your dream school, two to three in the mid-tier and one lower on the Psychology school list.
  • Look up their annual tuition fee for an undergraduate program.
  • Multiply the annual tuition fee by four, as an undergraduate program usually takes four years to complete. Do this for all five colleges on your list to get a lower and upper range of an estimated fee.
  • Then, look up the annual tuition fee for the Doctorate.
  • Multiply the annual tuition fee by 5, assuming you can finish your Doctorate degree in 5 years. This will give you an idea of how much nine years of studying Psychology would cost.

Most psychologists complete an undergraduate degree and a doctorate, which takes about 8 to 12 years. Many states also require licensure, which often involves completing 1 to 2 years of clinical experience. Some psychologists also pursue postdoctoral training, which can take an additional 2 to 4 years. Although the path to becoming a psychologist is long, it can be very rewarding, personally and professionally.

In this detailed blog, we talked about how long it takes to become a psychologist, how you can calculate an estimate of the tuition fee for your psychology schooling, and how much psychologists in different areas and expertise earn per year.

If you want more information, you can search our site and reach out to us with any questions.

Q: Is psychology a hard major?

Psychology is one of the more difficult majors and degrees. It requires a lot of reading, assignments, and paperwork.
If you want to become a mental health practitioner, like a clinical psychologist, you will need to study and train for at least five more years after your Bachelor’s. That requires motivation, a lot of learning, and training to assess, diagnose and treat mental health issues.

Q: Is it worth becoming a psychologist?

As difficult and emotionally draining as it could get, becoming a psychologist is also extremely rewarding. Imagine you can help someone overcome their fear and live freely. You can help individuals overcome anxiety and depression and live fulfilling lives. You can help people in dealing with their trauma and much more.

Q: Is a psychologist a doctor?

Psychologists, or clinical psychologists, have completed their Doctorates and earned the title of a doctor. They, however, are still not medical doctors and cannot prescribe medicine. They assess, diagnose and treat mental health disorders through therapy.It’s important to note that unless a person goes to medical school after their undergrad degree in Psychology and becomes a psychiatrist, they are not a doctor.