Clinical psychology is the largest practice area of psychology. It takes much training and education to become a clinical psychologist, but the work can be quite rewarding.
Clinical psychology involves the evaluation, diagnosis, treatment and prevention of mental illnesses. Clinical psychologists most often work in counseling centers, private or group settings, or in hospitals and clinics. Clinical psychologists also work in rehabilitation centers, assisting patients with arthritis, spinal cord injuries or brain ailments. Clinical psychology also helps patients deal with difficult life situations, such as divorce and grief from traumatic events. Clinical psychologists often practice psychotherapy, which is a strategy to help patients modify their thoughts and behaviors to achieve a healthful well-being.
To practice independently as a clinical psychologist, you must have doctoral degree in psychology. This requires five to seven years of graduate study, including writing a dissertation based on your own research. Some doctoral programs involve practical assignments and exams instead of a dissertation. To receive a doctorate in psychology, you also must complete a year-long internship.
You must be licensed by the state to practice as a clinical psychologist. Although each state has its own licensing laws, all require clinical psychologists to restrict their practice to the area of expertise they developed through training and experience. All states require clinical psychologists to pass an examination in order to become licensed. For license renewal, some states require continuing education.
The U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics states that job growth for psychologists is faster than average. Employment opportunities are most lucrative for those who hold a doctorate in psychology. This makes clinical psychologists one of the most sought-after specialists in psychology.
According to Payscale.com, the average salary for a clinical psychologist with less than a year of experience is $38,654 to $60,818. After 20 years of experience, a clinical psychologist has the capability to earn between $65,921 and $101,538.