Psychology Career Certification or License Overview

Some people who work in certain psychology careers may benefit from obtaining a certification in their field. In other cases, a license may be needed to work in their specific area. Branches of psychology careers, such as clinical psychology and clinical social work, are two examples of careers that require a license. Certifications are offered in psychology careers, such as counseling and music and art therapy.

Both certifications and psychology licenses were developed to ensure people working in their field meet a certain standard for education and knowledge in the field. This is especially important for psychology professionals who are in private practice. It is a way to help protect the public from an unqualified person claiming to be counselor or therapist.

Whether you decide to obtain a certification voluntarily or it is required for your position, understanding the requirements and following the process carefully is essential.

Processional psychology licenses will usually be issued through the state in which you are working. The requirements will vary by state. Certifications in psychology are often issued through professional psychology associations, such as the American Psychology Association and the American Art Therapy Association. The certification process will also vary according to the type of certification.

If a certification is optional for the branch of psychology you want to work in, you may want to consider getting it anyway. The certification often improves your chances of landing a position. It may also enhance your knowledge level.

Psychology Certification or Licensing…What Is It?

Depending on what area of psychology you wish to work in, a certification or license may be required. Certifications and licenses for psychology careers are intended to ensure the individual has the training and knowledge to perform the duties required for the position. Incompetent and unqualified people working in the field could inadvertently harm individuals who come to them seeking help. Having to obtain a license or certification ensures at least a minimum standard is set.

There are a number of different licenses and certifications available in the field of psychology. Licenses and certifications differ in some ways. Usually a license in the field of psychology is issued by the state and is required by law in order to practice. For example, a clinical psychologist would need to be licensed in order to open a private practice.

Certifications, on the other hand, are often offered through professional organizations in the field of psychology. There are a number of certifications in the field, such as alcohol and drug counseling certification, as well as art therapy and music therapy certification. Although they may be voluntary in some cases, some employers will only hire individuals with the relevant certification.

Many different psychology careers require either a license or certification. In addition to clinical psychologists, licensed clinical social workers must have a state license. In some states, counselors will need to be licensed if they are in private practice. In many cases, if the psychology professional wants to work in private practice, a license for the particular specialty area will be required.
Not all areas of psychology require a license or certification. Still, it may be advisable to obtain a certification when it is available. This will show a high level of expertise and commitment to the profession. It also may give you the edge when hiring decisions are being made.

Some individuals may choose to become both licensed by the state they work in and obtain additional certifications. For instance, the National Board for Certified Counselors offers a certification that is separate from any state counseling licensing. Having both a license and a certification improves qualifications and marketability in the field.

There is no one set way to become licensed or certified in various psychology areas.
Becoming licensing or certified varies widely depending on the area you are interested in. Various levels of education may be needed, ranging from a bachelor’s degree to a doctorate degree. In some cases, an exam must be passed or a specific number of clinical hours must be completed in order to be considered for a license or certification.

Preparing for Certification Tests

Some people may choose to work in various psychology careers that require or encourage a certification. The certification process may include an application, exam, and fee. Understanding the certification process and what is involved can help it go more smoothly.

The first step in the certification process is to be sure you follow the registration process for taking the exam. Associations offering certifications have varied registration processes. Be sure to read instructions carefully and meet any deadlines for taking the exam.

When it comes to taking the certification exam, some people experience anxiety. While some people do really well on tests, others experience increased heart rate and sweaty palms at the mere thought of taking an exam. However, there are ways to overcome fears and do well on a certification test.

The most important thing is to go into the test feeling prepared. Test preparation may be accomplished in a few ways.

  • Study guides and practice tests may be available through the certifying association or organization. Take as many of these practice tests as you need to in order to feel comfortable with the test format and type of questions.
  • Give yourself enough time to study for the test. Nothing increases test anxiety worse than having to cram everything in a few days before the exam.
  • Make studying a habit. Do a little work each day.

To reduce test anxiety, try to stop any negative self talk before the exam. Get enough sleep the night before the test and eat a good breakfast. Remind yourself about all the preparation you did and that you are ready to take the exam. If all else fails, try to keep it all in perspective. A poor test score may be a setback, but is not the end of a career.