Becoming a Practitioner

For the graduating practitioner, a new world of licensure, liability and record keeping awaits. Finding a clinical job or starting your own practice can be daunting tasks, but help is out there.

Your Career

Are you really ready for private practice?

As a new psychologist, starting your own business is a challenging feat. Here's some expert advice to smooth the way. 

Practitioner Profile

Corps health care

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.

  • Early Practitioner Resources 
    Overcoming barriers to serving Medicaid patience, continuing education, APA grant opportunities and other support information.


On the Job 

Book Cover: How to Survive and Thrive as a Therapist 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. 

Read a review of this book
Earrn CE credits after reading it