How do I Become a Career Psychologist?

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  • Written By: wiseGEEK Writer
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 10 January 2019
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A career psychologist is usually a licensed psychologist who helps working people who might be looking for new careers, might have routine difficulties in the workplace or who need advice looking for work. There are also career counselors, but they may not have the same training. Typically it is this training which defines how people become a career psychologist.

The person looking to become a career psychologist can begin as early as high school to study in this area. First, many schools have different counseling internship programs. The counseling department often runs peer counseling and it’s not a bad idea to participate in such a program if offered. Remember that school counselors may do a small to great amount of career counseling too, since some students enter the workforce instead of progressing to college. Asking to assist or shadow a high school counselor with the goal to someday become a career psychologist can give valuable experience, and in peer counseling, students can perhaps start to help students with work related issues.


While working closely with a high school counseling department, start asking for suggestions on where to go to school to pursue a degree in psychology. While many psychology doctorate programs will accept other majors, they usually will prefer students to have studied psychology at the undergraduate level. However, while in college pursuing a four-year degree, students might want to take a few other classes like introduction to human resources. Those who want to become a career psychologist need to understand the other fields with which they’ll be interacting. Having knowledge about the possible careers available, or how company departments like human resources work can be very valuable.

Once students are in their junior year they will need to start looking for graduate schools, and these can offer either a Psy.D or a PhD. Either degree is fine, but Psy.D tends to focus more on counseling. Most important is looking for a graduate school that will provide people with the most tools for helping others on career related issues. Talk to faculty, read up on each school and visit campuses if possible. Bear in mind though, that career psychologist is not a protected title, and any person who has earned their doctorate and a license can call themselves this title, no matter what their focus in doctoral studies.

Once students have been accepted to a grad school, they’ll spend between 3-5 years studying and preparing a dissertation prior to getting their degree. Since counseling will be part of the job, people will then need to do about a year’s length internship prior to getting a license to practice in the state. At this point people can open up shop and become a career psychologist, or they can counsel people on a variety of topics. For those especially interested in workplace counseling, there are sometimes large companies that hire psychologists to be available to employees. More often, career psychologists maintain a private practice.



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