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At a Glance

  • There are three types of psychologists--research, counseling, and applied
  • Work closely with clients
  • May work days, evenings, or weekends
  • Have at least a master's degree
  • Almost always need a license

Career summary

Psychologists counsel people who have life or emotional problems. They also study human behavior and mental processes.

#No alternate titles CJ

There are three major types of psychologists:

Research psychologists

Research psychologists study people and behavior. They study what people think, do, and feel. For example, they study what motivates people to act or think in certain ways. Much of their work involves:

They interpret their results for others and use their own or other researchers' theories to explain their findings. Research psychologists talk to peers, attend seminars, and read professional journals.

Counseling psychologists

Counseling and clinical psychologists help people solve life and mental health problems. They begin by determining the level of a patient's troubles. They ask patients questions. They may also have patients take psychological tests.

Psychologists tailor treatment plans to meet the needs of each patient. In general, counseling psychologists work with people who have temporary problems, such as adjusting to changes in life. Clinical psychologists are more likely to work with people who have deeper, ongoing struggles and conflicts.

Some psychologists dedicate their practice to one treatment method, such as psychoanalysis. Others use whatever method works best for each client. Some focus their work on specific groups, such as children, adolescents, or the elderly.

Applied psychologists

Applied psychologists apply psychological theories and research to real life situations. They work in health and human services, management, and education.

Educational psychologists focus on ways to improve the teaching and learning process. They may look at what effect factors such as culture, poverty, and teaching styles have on school achievement. They consult with teachers, staff, and peers to develop teaching strategies and school programs.

Industrial-organizational (I/O) psychologists apply principles of psychology to the work place. Their goal is to increase productivity and the quality of work life. They commonly serve as human resources specialists.

Related careers

This career is part of the Human Services cluster of careers.

Related careers include:

Military careers

Job duties

Task list

The following list of tasks is specific to psychologists.

Common work activities

Psychologists perform the following tasks. These tasks are common to many careers.

Work requirements

Working conditions

In a typical work setting, psychologists:

Interpersonal relationships

Physical work conditions

Work performance


Physical demands

Psychologists frequently:

It is important for psychologists to be able to:

It is not as important, but still necessary, for psychologists to be able to:

Skills and abilities

Psychologists need to:


Reason and problem solve

Use math and science

Manage oneself, people, time, and things

Work with people

Education and training

Educational programs

The programs of study listed below will help you prepare for the occupation or career cluster you are exploring.

Programs of study directly related to this occupation

Other programs of study to consider


To work as a psychologist, you typically need to:

Education after high school

Most psychologists earn a doctoral degree (PhD). You need this degree if you are going to do counseling. As a doctoral student, you can focus in areas such as school counseling or clinical psychology. If you want to teach at a college or university, you almost always need a PhD.

Some psychologists have just a master's degree. If you are an industrial-organizational psychologist this is the required degree in the field. For most other types of psychologists, a master's degree prepares you to be an assistant, but not the lead research or counselor.

A bachelor's degree in psychology is a good foundation for many occupations outside of psychology. However, within psychology your options are limited if you have only a bachelor's degree. You can be an assistant to a researcher or counselor.

On-the-job training

Clinical and counseling psychology students complete an internship while in school. As an intern, you work with clients and an experienced psychologist supervises your work. Internships last from one to two years depending on the degree you are earning. An internship is usually required to become a licensed psychologist.

Military training

The military does not provide initial training to become a psychologist. However, it can provide work experience to those who have at least a master's degree in this field.

Helpful high school courses

In high school, take classes that prepare you for college. A college preparatory curriculum may be different from your state's graduation requirements.

You should also consider taking some advanced courses in high school. This includes Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) courses if they are available in your school. If you do well in these courses, you may receive college credit for them. Advanced courses can also strengthen your college application.

Helpful electives to take in high school that prepare you for this career include:

Many psychologists are self-employed. If you want to run your own business some day, you should consider taking these courses as well:

The courses listed above are meant to help you create your high school plan. If you have not already done so, talk to a school counselor or parent about the courses you are considering taking.

You should also check with a teacher or counselor to see if work-based learning opportunities are available in your school and community. These might include field trips, job shadowing, internships, and actual work experience. The goal of these activities is to help you connect your school experiences with real-life work.

Join some groups, try some hobbies, or volunteer with an organization that interests you. By participating in activities you can have fun, make new friends, and learn about yourself. Maybe one of them will help direct you to a future career. Here are examples of activities and groups that may be available in your high school or community.

Things to know

Most employers require clinical and counseling psychologists to have a PhD or PsyD. They also must have completed an internship. Employers also require psychologists who work with clients to be licensed.

Employers require educational psychologists to have at least a master's degree and have completed a one-year internship. Most industrial/organizational psychologists need a master's degree.

Employers prefer candidates who receive their training from accredited programs. Employers prefer people who are emotionally stable and can work well with people. They prefer people who are sensitive to the experiences of others. Counselors and clinicians must be able to inspire or motivate others. Research psychologists should be able to do detailed work on their own and as part of a team.

Experienced workers are hired based on a combination of experience and education. Experience as a teacher may be helpful in some settings.


Volunteering at a mental health center, crisis clinic, or psychiatric hospital may be helpful. Courses in social and behavioral sciences as well as activities in cooperative work experience are beneficial.

Costs to workers

Some psychologists may wish to join a professional association, which may have annual dues.

#removed info on school psychology cert as is covered in separate occupational description lh 3/16


Psychologists who offer services directly to the public (for example, clinical psychologists in private practice) must be licensed by the Washington State Department of Health.

General requirements are:

Once they have received their license, psychologists must complete 60 hours of continuing education every three years, including four hours in ethics.

For more information, contact:

Washington State Department of Health
Board of Psychology (external link)

PO Box 47877
Olympia, WA 98504-7877

For information on the licensing examination, contact the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards (external link).

# Unless I misunderstood, post-degree supervision changed from 12 months to the above, rest of info the same, 3/19/19 cj. 2/10/20

Job listings

Listed below are links to job categories from the National Labor Exchange that relate to this career. Once you get a list of jobs, you can view information about individual jobs and find out how to apply. If your job search finds too many openings, or if you wish to search for jobs outside of Washington, you will need to refine your search.

To get a listing of current jobs from the WorkSource system, go to the WorkSource website (external link).


Clinical, counseling, and school psychologists (SOC 19-3031)

Pay Period
Washington Hourly $21.85 $27.06 $34.46 $42.07 $49.02
Monthly $3,787 $4,689 $5,972 $7,291 $8,495
Yearly $45,440 $56,290 $71,670 $87,510 $101,960
    Bremerton-Silverdale Hourly $20.71 $26.62 $31.32 $37.91 $43.93
Monthly $3,589 $4,613 $5,428 $6,570 $7,613
Yearly $43,093 $55,365 $65,134 $78,848 $91,378
    Clarkston-Lewiston Hourly $12.57 $16.59 $21.02 $30.32 $36.23
Monthly $2,178 $2,875 $3,643 $5,254 $6,279
Yearly $26,127 $34,513 $43,728 $63,071 $75,366
    Kennewick-Richland Hourly $13.86 $26.73 $33.63 $37.83 $43.12
Monthly $2,402 $4,632 $5,828 $6,556 $7,473
Yearly $28,824 $55,599 $69,947 $78,685 $89,684
    Longview Hourly $25.66 $27.83 $31.44 $37.28 $43.34
Monthly $4,447 $4,823 $5,449 $6,461 $7,511
Yearly $53,361 $57,885 $65,386 $77,534 $90,155
    Mount Vernon-Anacortes Hourly $26.83 $28.60 $31.55 $35.90 $38.94
Monthly $4,650 $4,956 $5,468 $6,221 $6,748
Yearly $55,814 $59,495 $65,630 $74,680 $80,993
    Olympia-Tumwater Hourly $28.81 $32.80 $37.33 $43.32 $49.24
Monthly $4,993 $5,684 $6,469 $7,507 $8,533
Yearly $59,941 $68,234 $77,639 $90,101 $102,432
    Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue Hourly $22.36 $27.65 $36.23 $44.84 $51.51
Monthly $3,875 $4,792 $6,279 $7,771 $8,927
Yearly $46,510 $57,530 $75,367 $93,268 $107,141
    Spokane-Spokane Valley Hourly $28.08 $32.30 $37.51 $45.13 $50.31
Monthly $4,866 $5,598 $6,500 $7,821 $8,719
Yearly $58,411 $67,189 $78,024 $93,879 $104,645
    Vancouver Hourly $22.73 $30.16 $40.70 $57.82 (1)
Monthly $3,939 $5,227 $7,053 $10,020 (1)
Yearly $47,277 $62,722 $84,654 $120,272 (1)
    Wenatchee Hourly $27.13 $31.58 $36.57 $40.86 $47.30
Monthly $4,702 $5,473 $6,338 $7,081 $8,197
Yearly $56,435 $65,677 $76,048 $84,981 $98,382
    Yakima Hourly $26.17 $30.36 $37.51 $44.29 $48.50
Monthly $4,535 $5,261 $6,500 $7,675 $8,405
Yearly $54,430 $63,152 $78,027 $92,112 $100,877
United States Hourly $21.18 $27.99 $37.01 $48.44 $62.17
Monthly $3,670 $4,851 $6,414 $8,395 $10,774
Yearly $44,040 $58,220 $76,990 $100,760 $129,310

(1) Wage estimate is not available.

Industrial-organizational psychologists (SOC 19-3032)

Pay Period
    Vancouver Hourly $23.21 $30.57 $37.70 $49.27 $95.74
Monthly $4,022 $5,298 $6,533 $8,538 $16,592
Yearly $48,273 $63,595 $78,415 $102,485 $199,140
United States Hourly $24.69 $29.78 $46.76 $66.43 $92.38
Monthly $4,279 $5,161 $8,104 $11,512 $16,009
Yearly $51,350 $61,950 $97,260 $138,180 $192,150

Wages vary by employer and area of the country. The psychologist's experience and reputation also affect wages.

Salaried psychologists who work full time usually receive benefits such as paid vacation, sick leave, and health insurance. Self-employed psychologists must provide their own insurance.

Employment and outlook

Washington outlook

The table below provides information about the number of workers in this career in various regions. It also provides information about the expected growth rate and future job openings.

Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychologists (SOC 19-3031)

Location Current employment Growth over 10 years Annual openings
Washington 3,948 19.7% 16.1% 430
    Adams, Chelan, Douglas, Grant, and Okanogan Counties 86 19.8% 13.4% 9
    Asotin, Columbia, Ferry, Garfield, Lincoln, Pend Oreille, Stevens, Walla Walla, and Whitman Counties 227 5.3% 8.6% 17
    Benton and Franklin Counties 133 18.0% 15.0% 13
    Clallam, Jefferson, and Kitsap Counties 146 18.5% 11.9% 15
    Clark, Cowlitz, and Wahkiakum Counties 319 21.6% 15.2% 36
    Grays Harbor, Lewis, Mason, Pacific, and Thurston Counties 223 20.6% 14.1% 25
    Island, San Juan, Skagit, and Whatcom Counties 158 22.8% 14.6% 18
    King County 1,046 21.2% 19.6% 117
    Kittitas, Klickitat, Skamania, and Yakima Counties 153 20.3% 13.8% 17
    Pierce County 871 21.9% 15.2% 99
    Snohomish County 320 18.8% 12.4% 34
    Spokane County 292 14.0% 13.9% 28
United States 162,000 14.7% 5.2% 14,600

Industrial-Organizational Psychologists (SOC 19-3032)

Location Current employment Growth over 10 years Annual openings
United States 1,400 14.3% 5.2% 100

National employment

About 30% of psychologists are self-employed.

Major employers:

National outlook

Demand for this occupation will grow faster average. New federal health care laws mean that more people can seek mental health services. Businesses will hire industrial-organizational psychologists to help increase productivity.

Job prospects will be best for psychologists with a doctorate (PhD). Those who have a master's degree in clinical or industrial-organizational psychology should also have good job opportunities. There may be strong competition for jobs as there are many qualified people in this field.

Other resources


Career cluster

Career path

O*Net (external link) occupations

O*Net job zone (external link)

DOT occupations

Strong Interest Inventory

Holland occupational clusters