How Do I Become a Rehabilitation Psychologist?

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  • Written By: Alicia Sparks
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 18 March 2020
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    Conjecture Corporation
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To become a rehabilitation psychologist, it’s important to determine which specific field you want to work in. This will help you choose the college or university from which you’ll receive your training. Often, training programs require completion of clinical practice or internships, which will give you on-hand experience and a more accurate idea of the job itself. During or after you’ve completed your training, you might need to obtain a special license to work in your area or even at the facility you want to work with. Once you’ve completed school and obtained any required licenses, you can begin looking for jobs as a rehabilitation psychologist.

You must receive the proper training before you can become a rehabilitation psychologist, and often this training begins once you decide which kind of rehabilitation you’re interested in. You might want to work in a medical setting, such as an acute-care hospital or a center than treats various health conditions. On the other hand, you might want to work with a rehabilitation center than helps people with specific disabilities, like multiple sclerosis or cerebral palsy.


It’s important to choose a school that will provide the exact training you need to become the kind of rehabilitation psychologist you want to be. Some schools might offer a mixed-training curriculum, which will teach you a variety of skills, and others might offer a more focused course of study for your degree. Regardless of the school, most likely you will need to obtain a doctoral degree, which can include five to seven years of graduate study, presentation of original research, and completion of an internship. Some students opt to minor in rehabilitation psychology, while others find programs that focus specifically on rehabilitation psychology. Browse and interview with several schools to find the one that offers the best program for your career goals.

Before you can officially become a rehabilitation psychologist, you might need to obtain a specific license. This license might be attached to your degree, or it might be a special license required by the area in which you intend to work. For example, rehabilitation psychologists in America usually need to obtain a license in the state in which they work. Most often, they cannot work in another state unless they obtain a license for that state, too. Generally, college and university professors help students navigate the licensing process before they graduate.

Since many schools require the completion of clinical practices and internships to become a rehabilitation psychologist, you might find job opportunities with the employers for whom you interned. A variety of settings regularly employ rehabilitation psychologists, including hospitals, long-term and assisted living facilities, and health care facilities that focus on certain kinds of injuries such as sports injuries or those related to occupational performance. Some centers are dedicated to providing rehabilitation services to a specific group such as military or war veterans. After working as a rehabilitation psychologist, you might find you’re interested in teaching the profession. Ultimately, the job you choose will reflect your education and training, as well as personal and professional interests.



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