5 Things To Know Before Becoming A Psychologist

As more and more of us understand the importance of mental health, the need for psychology has risen. In terms of job opportunities, psychologists are currently going through a boom.

However, before you take on this important role, you need to be aware of what this process entails. 

1. Becoming A Licensed Psychologist Takes Time

Generally speaking, you need have a psychology degree before you can become a licensed psychologist. This job requires you to know a lot of information, be educated on client care, and continue to update your knowledge as the research continues to progress.

This means that although it will take you 10 years to get the qualifications, you won’t ever stop learning or studying. 

After you graduate high school, your next course of study will be psychology at a university. This course will take you 4 years to complete. With this background knowledge, you can start your doctoral program which will take 5 years.

To apply for your doctoral degree, you need to finish university with a high grade. Every university will have a different bar you need to pass, but this means you cannot slack during your education.

Once you have passed your doctoral degree you need to complete one more year of postgraduate training. This training includes supervised experience, proving that you can use your theoretical knowledge in action.

2. Psychology Degrees Include More Than Emotional Theory, Math Is Involved Too

Some people wrongly believe that psychology is all about listening to someone speak and directing them to a new path. Although you will be expected to use this technique, you will also need to understand quantitative data and statistics.

This mathematical element is needed to break down the studies you will be reading. Without a firm understanding of statistics, you will not be able to truly grasp the details of a study and how the results or methods could help your patients.

To pass your degree you will need to understand mathematics at an undergraduate level.

3. Choose A Specialization Within Psychology

At an undergraduate level, it doesn’t matter what you take as a major. As long as you study psychology to a specific degree, you will have the knowledge you need to get to the graduate level.

Once you study for your doctorate, however, you need to know what type of psychology you wish to study. This could mean studying behavioral psychology, mathematical psychology, cognitive psychology, developmental psychology, or any of the options presented to you.

Taking developmental psychology as an example, through these classes you will learn about methods and theories which directly correlate with how a child develops, how a teenager may change or require different needs, and how an adult may need different emotional regulations compared to a child.

The focus will be on how someone changes throughout their life and how these changes link to other areas of their experiences. For more information, read about Piaget’s stages of moral development in the link provided.

4. Learn To Separate Work From Home

At some point in your working career, you will hear the phrase “Don’t take your work home with you.” As simple as this advice might seem, the emotional impact of helping others through trauma and confusion is hard to leave at your desk.

Throughout your career, you will see horrors, hardships, and concerns which can easily slip into your own life. This could mean working during your rest time which will end up causing burnout, or it could mean absorbing someone else’s trauma and carrying it like it is your own.

Both of these situations will be bad for your health, both mentally and psychically. 

It’s human to care about your patients, but you will need to distance yourself to prevent yourself drowning in their worries. 

It can take years to figure out a healthy work-life balance. Ask your colleagues what they do to step away, and be sure to focus on your own needs. If you aren’t stable in your own life, you will not be able to help your patients.

5. Being Licensed In One State Doesn’t Make You Licensed In Another

Although you may already know that being licensed in one country doesn’t make you licensed in another, the same can be said across states too.

If you plan on moving, make sure that your license is recognized in your new location.


Don’t let all of these points put you off from becoming a psychologist, as the job is rewarding. Simply be aware of the struggles you might face on your journey to help other people.

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