Psychologist Job Description

Clinical Psychologist providing individual therapy.  Psychologists help people learn to cope with life.

Clinical Psychologist providing individual therapy.  Psychologists help people learn to cope with life stressors. 

Psychologist Job Description: Psychologists study the human mind and human behavior. Research psychologists investigate the physical, cognitive, emotional, or social aspects of human behavior. Psychologists in health service fields provide mental health care in hospitals, clinics, schools, or private settings.

Psychologists employed in applied settings, such as business, industry, government, or nonprofit organizations, provide training, conduct research, design organizational systems, and act as advocates for psychology.

Psychologists apply their knowledge to a wide range of endeavors, including health and human services, management, education, law, and sports. They usually specialize in one of a number of different areas.

Clinical Psychologist Job Description: Clinical psychologists—who constitute the largest specialty—work most often in counseling centers, independent or group practices, hospitals, or clinics. They help mentally and emotionally distressed clients adjust to life and may assist medical and surgical patients in dealing with illnesses or injuries.

Some clinical psychologists work in physical rehabilitation settings, treating patients with spinal cord injuries, chronic pain or illness, stroke, arthritis, or neurological conditions. Others help people deal with personal crisis, such as divorce or the death of a loved one.

Clinical psychologists often interview patients and give diagnostic tests. They may provide individual, family, or group psychotherapy and may design and implement behavior modification programs. Some clinical psychologists collaborate with physicians and other specialists to develop and implement treatment and intervention programs that patients can understand and comply with.

Other clinical psychologists work in universities and medical schools, where they train graduate students in the delivery of mental health and behavioral medicine services. Some administer community mental health programs.

Clinical Psychologists frequently work as part of a multi-disciplinary team composed of psychiatrists, psychologists, nursing, and other disciplines to provide holistic or comprehensive medical and counseling services to patients.

Other psychologist job descriptions include gerontology or the study of the elderly, neuro-psychological, school and counseling.

Working Environment

Working conditions are usually pleasant with the work environment being indoors in well lighted exam rooms and hospitals. Hours of work frequently exceed 60 hours a week in the busier practices. Psychologists have a slightly higher than average risk of having to deal with aggressive or violent patients. In some settings they may be on call resulting in some irregular hours.

Training and Qualifications - to be a Psychologist

A doctoral degree usually is required for independent practice as a psychologist. Psychologists with a Ph.D. or Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.) qualify for a wide range of teaching, research, clinical, and counseling positions in universities, health care services, elementary and secondary schools, private industry, and government. Psychologists with a doctoral degree often work in clinical positions or in private practices, but they also sometimes teach, conduct research, or carry out administrative responsibilities. 

Licensing and Credentialing

In all 50 states and the U.S. Territories Psychologists are regulated. The usual method to be a credentialed and licensed Psychologist is:
1) Possess the amount of training and/or a degree from an accredited school
2) Complete an accredited program of psychology
3) Pass a national exam
4) Apply for licensure in the state you wish to practice in.

Significant Points for the Psychologist Job Description

About 34 percent of psychologists are self-employed, compared with only 8 percent of all workers.

Competition for admission to graduate psychology programs is fairly intense

Overall employment of psychologists is expected to grow faster than average.

Job prospects should be the best for people who have a doctoral degree in an applied specialty, such as counseling or health, and those with a specialist or doctoral degree in school psychology

Career Progression

The outlook for psychologists is projected to be very good. Significant shortages exist in many areas throughout the country. The trend towards group practices will provide opportunities for more psychologists to hold positions of leadership and authority. This still remains one of the best paying professions in the healthcare industry.

Resources for Psychologists Job Description:

Psychologists: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition.

American Psychological Association (APA)