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Clinical Psychology CareersWhat does a Clinical Psychologist do?

A Clinical Psychologist works in the scientific field of medicine, specializing in the diagnosis and treatment of mental health illnesses. Clinical Psychology is the largest specialty in the field of Psychology. A Clinical Psychologist works with patients on mental health issues, both emotional and behavioral. A strong sense of compassion for helping others overcome obstacles that plague their mental well-being leads many to a career in Clinical Psychology.

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What Is a Clinical Psychologist Responsible For?

Clinical Psychologists support patients in mental health and personal development. They work with patients to develop their awareness of psychological problems and create treatment plans to help them achieve their mental health goals. A Clinical Psychologist meets with a patient and sometimes their spouse and other family members to discuss problems and how they affect the patient and family. They review the patient’s medical history and background, conduct personal interviews, and use their findings to develop a plan for treatment. Diagnostic testing, hypnotherapy, psychotherapy, and prescription medication are some of the treatment techniques used by Clinical Psychologists.

A Clinical Psychologist tracks their patient’s progress through detailed notes taken during each therapy session. They routinely evaluate the effectiveness of the treatments and make modifications to the treatment plan as needed.

In addition to counseling, Clinical Psychologists may teach classes, conduct research, and publish their findings in industry publications.

A successful and effective therapist will learn and utilize the following skillsets:

  •        Excellent communication, including clear speech and good listening technique
  •        Empathy and the desire to help others
  •        Calm demeanor in stressful and emotional situations; able to work with people in distress
  •        Critical thinking, problem-solving, and effective decision-making skills
  •        Patience
  •        Integrity and high ethics
  •        Active learning and research skills
  •        Social perceptiveness
  •        Effective writing
  •        Negotiation and coordination to bring people together

Where Does a Clinical Psychologist Work?

Clinical psychology jobs are typically in the arena of healthcare, providing counseling services in hospitals, private practices, psychotherapy centers, nursing centers, and rehabilitation facilities. Some Clinical Psychologists work in academic settings as professors and researchers. They may also work in fields of specialty, the military, government agencies, private business associations, and consultancies.

What Career Options Are Available to a Clinical Psychologist?

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There are a variety of career opportunities for Clinical Psychologists. Following are a few options:

Substance Abuse Counselor 

One of the fastest growing careers in the U.S., a Substance Abuse Counselor works closely with patients to overcome addiction problems. Patients addicted to illegal drugs, as well as prescription medications, require strong counselors to overcome their addiction, manage withdrawal symptoms, and achieve a successful recovery. Part of a successful recovery is the patient’s ability to manage triggers that can cause a relapse. The counselor analyzes the behavior and circumstances that led to the addiction and develops a plan for the patient to manage those triggers.  State certification varies, but normally includes licensure. 

Human Resources Position

A comprehensive Human Resources Department is an integral part of successful organizations. Evaluating the behavior and past performance of prospective employees ensures the right people are hired for the right positions in a company. Ongoing evaluation of skills, performance, and attitudes preserves the desired corporate climate. Establishing and implementing policies and procedures secures fair internal practices for the company.  

Family / Marriage Counselors 

This career option can lead a therapist to the hospital setting, working with Psychiatrists and Social Workers, or opening private practices. The Clinical Psychologist may work with couples who are experiencing marital conflict or treat a family dealing with a child with behavioral problems.

Forensic Psychologist

A Forensic Psychologist works with law enforcement as an expert witness and is assigned to evaluate defendants for competency to stand trial, or to assess if the defendant is sane or mentally ill. As a credible witness, the psychologist must evaluate, provide treatment recommendations, determine credibility of other witnesses, and possibly recommend terms of sentence. 

Child Psychologists 

Children have very specialized mental health needs. A Child Psychologist works with children to sort out home problems, including neglect and abuse, as well as diagnoses and treats mental health problems. They also teach habits and skills that can be used into adulthood to help manage mental health issues.  

Learning Disabilities Specialist

Elementary schools and High schools require mental health specialists who can diagnose and treat children with learning disabilities. A Learning Disabilities Specialist works closely with students, educators, and parents to develop and implement a plan to treat Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), Autism, and other learning impairments so the student can learn to overcome and excel in the educational environment. 

What Degree Is Required to Become a Clinical Psychologist? What Do They Study?

A student of Clinical Psychology begins with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology. The bachelor’s degree teaches the student fundamental principles and disciplines of Psychology, with heavy training on theory and practice.

Once the Psychologist completes their bachelor’s degree, it is time to select a field of specialty and pursue a master’s degree. In some cases, they may invest further in their education by obtaining a doctorate degree in Psychology.

State laws require a Clinical Psychologist to be licensed in the state they are practicing. Applicants must prove they have worked under a licensed professional for two years and they need to pass the state board exam.  Some states require the psychologist to present a valid case study for review.

What Skills are Required in Clinical Psychology?

Clinical Psychologists must possess knowledge of psychological theory and practice and have an interest in how humans think and interact with one another. They must have strong research and teamworking skills but they must also be able to work on their own. Students who pursue Clinical Psychology should have strong critical-thinking skills and have the ability to quickly identify the effectiveness of a treatment plan and then make adjustments to better benefit their clients. They must possess strong communication skills and be able to empathize with a broad range of personalities.

How Much Money Does a Clinical Psychologist Earn?

Salaries for Clinical Psychologists vary widely based on many different factors. Recent U.S. Bureau of Statistics (BLS) indicate the average annual income for Clinical Psychologists is $91,677. Actual salaries vary based on location, specialization, and experience.

Field of specialty can greatly affect earnings, too. The average salary for Marriage and Family Psychologists is around $54,000 and for Psychology Teachers is approximately $84,000. Salaries for Corporate Psychologists varies significantly, ranging from $44,000-$85,000. A Forensic Psychologists averages $72,000 per year.  

See our clinical psychology salary guide for more information.

Latest Clinical Psychologist Jobs Listings

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Position Company Location Posted
Licensed Doctoral-Level Psychologist Orenstein Solutions, PLLC Memphis, Tennessee US 08/09/2022
Immediate Job Opportunity (to begin June of 2022):SEEKING PART-TIME PSYCHOLOGISTSOrenstein Solutions, PLLC, a group psychology practice, is seeking part-time psychologists to provide Veterans disability evaluations (consisting of record reviews and structured interviews) in our Memphis, TN office. We provide complimentary training to ensure that the clinician is complying with the evaluation ... More
PMHNP - Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner Stella Center Chicago, Illinois US 08/09/2022
Stella Center is seeking a dedicated Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP). This person will join our collaborative and innovative team whose core values are focused on leading every action with trust and kindness, taking bold action to transform emotional trauma, and earning respect through honesty and integrity. Our results are measured by lives changed and trauma de-stigmatized, both of which are at the forefront of our daily efforts. As a Psychiatric ... More
Psychologist Kansas State University Manhattan, Kansas US 08/09/2022
About This Role:This position will provide professional counseling and psychological services to individual, couples, and groups, including assessments, consultations and crisis coverage.Provide clinical supervision/training for doctoral psychology interns and/or other trainees as they provide psychological services, which may include leading seminars in areas as assigned. Engage in staff and team meetings by expressing ideas and collaborating within ... More
Practice and Leadership Development Manager Kaiser Permanente - Washington Permanente Medical Group (WPMG) Renton, Washington US 08/09/2022
About Us Washington Permanente Medical Group (WPMG) is a clinician-led, self-governed and independent multi-specialty group practice, providing care to the more than 700,000 Kaiser Permanente patients in Washington state. We work unencumbered by traditional health care obstacles and without silos; prioritizing people over profits, collaboration over ego, and driven by a singular goal: our patients' health. At WPMG, we take care of the whole person, with a team to address ... More
Optometrist, Hourly Locum, Riverfront Medical Center Kaiser Permanente - Washington Permanente Medical Group (WPMG) Spokane, Washington US 08/09/2022
About Us Washington Permanente Medical Group (WPMG) is a clinician-led, self-governed and independent multi-specialty group practice, providing care to the more than 700,000 Kaiser Permanente patients in Washington state. We work unencumbered by traditional health care obstacles and without silos; prioritizing people over profits, collaboration over ego, and driven by a singular goal: our patients' health. At WPMG, we take care of the whole person, with a team to address ... More
Adult Psychiatrist, Generous Signing Bonus Offered Kaiser Permanente - Washington Permanente Medical Group (WPMG) Seattle, Washington US 08/09/2022
About Us Washington Permanente Medical Group (WPMG) is a clinician-led, self-governed and independent multi-specialty group practice, providing care to the more than 700,000 Kaiser Permanente patients in Washington state. We work unencumbered by traditional health care obstacles and without silos; prioritizing people over profits, collaboration over ego, and driven by a singular goal: our patients' health. At WPMG, we take care of the whole person, with a team to address ... More
Peer Recovery Research Specialist (Community Outreach Worker 2) University of Maryland, Baltimore Baltimore, Maryland US 08/09/2022
The University of Maryland School of Social Work is accepting applications for a Peer Recovery Research Specialist (PRRS) (Community Outreach Worker II). This grant-funded position supports the efforts of two active research projects: (1) Innovations in Recovery through Infrastructure Support (IRIS), funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, and (2) Evaluation of a Behavioral Health Urgent Care Clinic funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration ... More
Psychiatric Care Coordinator - Skagit and Snohomish Counties Catholic Community Services of Western Washington Bellingham, Washington US 08/09/2022
OverviewStatus: Full time, 37.5 hours per week. The office this position will be working out of will be based in Bellingham/ Whatcom County, providing work and support to Skagit & Snohomish CMH programs.Starting Salary/Hourly Rate: $21.01- $22.06 per hour DOE, plus excellent holiday / vacation / sick pay and health benefits!The Psychiatric Care Coordinator (PCC) provides direct assistance to the psychiatrist(s) for Snohomish and ... More
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