Clinical Psychologists picture    Clinical Psychologists image

Clinical psychologists assess, diagnose, treat, prevent and alleviate the discomfort of mental disorders. Clinical psychologists help emotionally and mentally distressed patients adapt to life. They also promote personal development and help their clients deal with difficult situations. In addition, clinical psychologists also treat patients dealing with severe psychiatric disorders. Some clinical psychologists help patients deal with diseases or surgeries.

Clinical psychologists focus on the emotional, psychological, biological, intellectual, social and behavioral elements of human lives. Clinical psychologists are involved in psychotherapy, behavior therapy, psychoanalyses and biofeedback. They also provide cognitive retraining and rehabilitation.

Some clinical psychologists provide therapy in a variety of areas and some have specialties. Specialties include families and relationships, emotional disturbances, sports, geriatrics and health psychology. Some clinical psychologists focus on adults or children.

Clinical psychologists also perform research, help develop mental health public policy, develop programs, evaluate mental health delivery systems and participate in other activities which promote mental health.


  • Keep detailed records of diagnosis, goals, and treatment notes
  • Make behavioral assessments
  • Administer and evaluate tests regarding a patients mental disorder
  • Interview patients
  • Consult with doctors and specialists to develop and implement treatment plans
  • Consult with doctors and psychiatrists regarding medications for their patients

Job Characteristics

The work environment varies by the type of employment and the specialty. Psychologists that have their own practice create their own work schedule and have an office. Private practice psychologists often work in the evenings and sometimes on the weekends to accommodate their patients. Those that have positions in hospitals and healthcare facilities typically work in shifts. Psychologists that are employed by schools and clinics usually work standard daytime hours. Those that work for government agencies and industry have structured work schedules.

Clinical psychologists should be sensitive, compassionate, have patience and perseverance, and be emotionally stable. Those involved in research need to be proficient with detailed work and be able to work well as part of team. In addition, clinical psychologists are sometimes required to travel to perform research or attend conferences.

Employment Outlook

In 2006, there were approximately 166,000 psychologists jobs. The government has projected a 15 percent growth rate for psychologist positions from 2006 through 2016 which is higher than the average for all other types of employment. However, the growth rate will vary by specialty. The demand for those specializing in working with the elderly is expected to grow at a fast pace due to the growth in the number of senior citizens.

Those with doctoral degrees in psychology from a prominent university in a specialty such as health, counseling and school psychologists have the best prospects for employment. Psychologists with extensive training in quantitative research methods and computer science have an advantage over others for research positions. Clinical psychologists also have opportunities to teach at colleges and medical schools.

The median annual wage and salary for clinical, school and counseling psychologists in 2006 was $59,440. The highest 10 percent earned over $102,730 and the lowest 10 percent earned less than $35,280.

Clinical Psychology Programs, Certification, and Licensing

Completion of a doctoral or a master's degree program and a license are necessary for clinical psychologists to practice. Usually a doctoral degree is required in order to practice independently. Those with a doctoral degree are eligible to teach, perform research and work in a variety of clinical positions. Typically, clinical psychologists have four to six years of graduate training after earning a bachelor's degree.

About half of clinical psychologists are trained in Ph.D. programs that focus on research and the other half are trained in Psy.D. programs which emphasize practicing clinical psychology. Some schools provide master's degrees in clinical psychology which typically take between two and three years to complete.

Those with a master's degree in psychology are qualified to be employed as industrial-organizational psychologists. They're also eligible to perform research or make psychological evaluations of patients under the supervision of psychologists that hold a doctoral degree.

Clinical psychologists must have a license to practice in the United States. Most states allow licensed or certified psychologists to only practice in areas where they have acquired professional competence through training and experience. Each state has its own qualifications, however the common features among the states include having the appropriate degree from an accredited school and passing a written examination. Some states also require psychologists pass an oral examination.

The Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology is required to be taken in most states. Numerous states require additional examinations such as jurisprudence (mental health law). Most of the states also require clinical psychologists to earn continuing education credits each year in order to renew their license. Credits may be earned by taking approved workshops or taking classes. In addition, in most states a specialist degree is necessary to work as a school psychologist.

The American Board of Professional Psychology offers numerous specialty certificates. A doctorate in psychology, post-doctoral training in the applicant's specialty, professional endorsements and several years of experience are required for certification.


Major Employers

Some of the major employers are mental health services facilities, hospitals, counseling centers, colleges, substance abuse centers and managed healthcare companies. Other significant employers include schools, medical systems and government agencies.

Schools for Clinical Psychologists are listed in the Browse Schools Section.

Clinical Psychologists Skills

Below are the skills needed to be clinical psychologists according to their importance on the scale of 1 to 5 (1 being lowest and 5 being highest) and competency level on a scale of 1 to 7 (1 being lowest and 7 being highest).

Skill NameImportanceCompetence
Active Listening4.754.75
Social Perceptiveness4.755.12
Complex Problem Solving4.124
Critical Thinking4.124

Clinical Psychologists Abilities

Below are the abilities needed to be clinical psychologists according to their importance on the scale of 1 to 5 (1 being lowest and 5 being highest) and competency level on a scale of 1 to 7 (1 being lowest and 7 being highest).

Ability NameImportanceCompetence
Problem Sensitivity4.385
Oral Comprehension4.254.5
Oral Expression4.124.75
Written Comprehension4.124.62
Deductive Reasoning44.62

Clinical Psychologists Knowledge

Below are the knowledge areas needed to be clinical psychologists according to their importance on the scale of 1 to 5 (1 being lowest and 5 being highest) and competency level on a scale of 1 to 7 (1 being lowest and 7 being highest).

Knowledge AreaImportanceCompetence
Therapy and Counseling4.926.82
English Language4.55.19
Customer and Personal Service3.955.42
Law and Government3.163.29

Clinical Psychologists Work activities

Below are the work activities involved in being clinical psychologists according to their importance on the scale of 1 to 5 (1 being lowest and 5 being highest) and competency level on a scale of 1 to 7 (1 being lowest and 5 being highest).

Work ActivityImportanceCompetence
Assisting and Caring for Others4.946.19
Getting Information4.795.71
Judging the Qualities of Things, Services, or People4.696.08
Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships4.515.87
Interpreting the Meaning of Information for Others4.484.75

Clinical Psychologists Work styles

Below are the work styles involved in being clinical psychologists according to their importance on the scale of 1 to 5 (1 being lowest and 5 being highest).

Work StyleImportance
Concern for Others4.79
Stress Tolerance4.72
Self Control4.71

Metro Areas Sorted by Total Employment for
Clinical Psychologists

Listed below are the 10 largest metro areas based on the total number of people employed in Clinical Psychologists jobs , as of 2019

Metro AreaTotal EmploymentAnnual Mean Salary
Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim4,920$117,140
San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward2,930$110,070
Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington2,050$78,520
Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach1,880$80,660
Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land1,790$81,870
Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario1,790$104,860
San Diego-Carlsbad1,710$117,280
Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell1,480$98,710

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Total employment and salary for professions similar to clinical psychologists

Source : 2019 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2018-28 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics,; O*NET® 24.3 Database, O*NET OnLine, National Center for O*NET Development, Employment & Training Administration, U.S. Department of Labor,

We have some additional detailed pages at the state level for Clinical Psychologists.

Numbers in parentheses are counts of relevant campus-based schools in the state; online schools may also be available.