Becoming a Practitioner
As a new psychologist, starting your own business is a challenging feat. Here's some expert advice to smooth the way.
Health psychologist Darryl Salvador explains how he paid off his student loans via service in the National Health Service Corps.
Licensure, Certification and Specialization
Many psychologists applauded the APA policy change that recommended eliminating the postdoc requirement for licensure. But that change has had unforeseen implications — limiting some practitioners' ability to practice in other states. If another state may be in your future, consider building flexibility into your licensure and banking your credentials.
Guidance on the licensure progress can be found in the gradPSYCH magazine article What you need to know to get licensed or in the APA book Psychology Licensure and Certification: What Students Need to Know [out of print as of Oct. 17, 2013].
Licensure requirements: The Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards (ASPPB) maintains an up-to-date Handbook on Licensing and Certification Requirements listing requirements for American and Canadian jurisdictions. For complete details, contact the licensing boards directly.
Speciality certification: Preparation for board certification can begin in graduate school. Learn how to prepare in the gradPSYCH article Gaining specialty certification.
Finding a Job as a Practitioner
Psychology job forecast: Partly sunny: In the coming decade, those with doctoral degrees will face stiff competition from master's degree counselors in the direct-service delivery fields. On the other hand, those with either masters or doctoral degrees will see growing opportunities elsewhere — especially in geropsychology, neuropsychology and I/O psychology. For those with doctoral degrees, other expanding career options may include assessment psychology. Some psychologists are also thinking about new ways to deliver treatment and care.
Getting what you're worth: Before you say "yes" to that first job offer, determine the salary and perks you need and negotiate for them. One source of salary data is the Doctorate Employment Survey from APA's Center for Workforce Studies.
On the Job
How to Survive and Thrive as a Therapist: A handy nuts-and-bolts guide to starting, growing or improving a psychotherapy practice. Tips include creating a business plan; marketing your services; developing forms, policies and procedures; finding the right attorney; and responding wisely and appropriately to malpractice or ethics complaints.
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Practice practicalities: It's never too soon to develop the business smarts and insurance know-how you'll need to establish a private practice.
Keeping track: New professionals need to know how to keep, safeguard and destroy records.
Are you and your assets protected? While focusing on building businesses, relationships and finances, early career psychologists need to consider how to secure and protect their assets.
Earning a Living Outside of Managed Mental Health Care: 50 Ways to Expand Your Practice: This book provides ideas for early career psychologists and graduate students interested in starting a private practice as well as advice for seasoned practitioners who want to develop alternative income sources to minimize dependence on insurance companies.