Looking Ahead to a Career as a Clinical Psychologist

by Princess Fanning

As I get ready to attend college in the fall, I’ve had many ideas about what I want to study. My passion is talking to people and doing something to change their life for the better, or to just giving them hope. I decided that I wanted to be a clinical psychologist.


ladderClinical psychologists mostly deal with the assessment, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of mental disorders. I chose this profession because I want to study the human brain and what triggers people to make the decisions that they do. I often come in contact with people who have problems explaining what’s wrong with them or can’t handle situations in a logical manner. I often get feedback after I’ve helped someone that I’m easy to talk to and I give really good advice because I’ve helped them with their problem.

The clinical psychologist profession is like other psychological professions, but varies in the amount of schooling. It requires a doctorate degree in clinical psychology, which can take seven to nine years. Some of the specialty areas in clinical psychology include: child mental health, adult mental health, learning disabilities, emotional disturbances, substance abuse, geriatrics, and health psychology.

There are two major training options you can take in psychology:  the Ph.D. program, which emphasizes the role of the research and science, or the Psy.D. program, which is primarily focused on clinical and practitioner work. The Psy.D. program takes approximately a year less time to complete than a Ph.D. The average wage for clinical psychologist is $68,000.

There are pros and cons to every job. Here are some benefits to being a clinical psychologist:

  • Helping people overcome problems can be extremely rewarding.
  • Differing client needs and challenges allow clinicians to search for creative solutions.
  • There are opportunities for self-employment.

Some disadvantages in this profession include:

  • Insurance companies require that clinicians keep extensive client records, so there is a considerable amount of paperwork.
  • There is a risk of burnout due to the demanding nature of therapy.
  • Clinical psychologists often work long hours with clients who can be demanding, argumentative, or unstable.

There are many skills necessary to work as a clinical psychologist.  A clinical psychologist should have strong communication skills because you must be able to actively listen and comprehend what clients tell you. You need to be able to speak clearly with clients about sensitive issues. Analytical skills are also important to help you evaluate, identify, and diagnose disorders.  Knowledge of science is a must, since you use objective research and scientific methods when diagnosing and treating disorders. Finally, you can’t go into this profession if you don’t get along well with people. People skills are important since you have to be very good at dealing with stress and working under pressure.  You need to be able to gain the client’s trust and commitment so you can help the client solve their problems.


Princess Fanning is a part of the STEP-UP Achieve program with a summer internship in the Labor Market Information Office and Workforce Development Division at the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development.


One thought on “Looking Ahead to a Career as a Clinical Psychologist

  1. Mai Xiong January 15, 2015 / 11:36 am

    Although the job requires extensive work and often leads to burnout, I feel that this profession is very rewarding. I always feel honored to be a part of my client’s life and find it fascinating to learn about the uniqueness of their lives and culture.


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