An advanced degree in psychology isn’t always enough to get the job you want. According to the American Psychology Association, psychology is such a high-demand discipline it takes extra effort to stand out from the pack. Psychology certifications show that you’ve gone beyond the body of information you learned during your degree. A general psychologist can become certified in many different niches. A relevant certification assures a potential employer that you’re the right candidate.
Typically, new practitioners don’t have enough time in the field to be certified in areas outside their degree. For example, a professional with a master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT) can take the certification exam fairly rapidly, but a certification in a field like clinical psychology will take more time in practice.
Psychology Certifications and Licenses: Will You Need Both?
Licensure and certification are kinds of credentials that speak to the expertise needed to practice. A state-granted license is necessary to practice psychology. Certifications aren’t essential to practice psychology, but they’re helpful on a resume. A license is a governmental mark of permission to practice a profession, occupation or trade. Each state has legal authority to regulate the practice of psychology via licensure. A certification is a standard given to a practitioner after meeting advanced performance or knowledge criteria. A certificate is a sign of high professional qualifications with specialized learning that’s relevant to a particular subspecialty of psychology.
Certificates are issued by state boards that regulate the practice of psychology and its sub-disciplines. Licensure speaks to legal issues; certifications demonstrate expertise in a given field. State boards are made up of high-level professionals who, by following national standards, create and maintain state standards for excellence.
State Licensure in Psychology
A state-issued license to practice is an essential qualification. An employer can hire a licensed person and be assured that they meet stringent criteria for knowledge, experience, and professionalism. Anyone who wants to practice psychology in a clinical setting must be licensed by their state or states of practice. States vary in their requirements for licensure. These are the most consistent requirements:
Educational requirements: a master’s degree or a doctoral degree from an APA accredited institution. A master’s degree is the minimum acceptable amount of education in all US states.
Tests: all states have licensing boards, which are intensive tests that make sure all practitioners have a
Supervised clinical time: Professionals seeking licensure must have 1500 to 2000 hours of practicum and internships under the supervision of a trained supervisory psychologist.
Common licensure in psychology includes the licensed associate counselor (LAC) and licensed professional counselor (LPC). A licensed associate counselor (LAC) has a master’s degree in counseling or a related field but is practicing under the supervision of a senior therapist who’s trained in supervision. A LAC becomes a licensed professional counselor after having so many hours of experience as a counselor. This may range from 2,000 to 3,000 hours of client contact. “Client contact hours” aren’t clock hours, but a measure of experience. A licensed professional counselor has completed their time in supervision.
Specialty Psychology Certifications
Beyond licensure, certifications fall into specialty areas. A psychologist may become certified in tools that speak to their experience in their area of practice. The following are among the most helpful psychology certifications approved by the American Board of Professional Psychology.
Certified Cognitive-Behavioral Therapist (CCBT). Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a common, highly effective form of psychotherapy. CBT is used for so many kinds of counseling and therapy applications that having a CCBT increases the attractiveness of your resume immediately, especially if you’re interested in any form of clinical or counseling psychology. Having the CCBT on your resume lets a potential employer know that you’re ready to start providing CBT services immediately upon hiring. A CCBT requires at least a master’s degree in counseling, psychology or a related field. A CCBT also requires six years of experience as a CBT provider.
Clinical Psychology. Clinical psychology is the assessment and treatment of mental illness and behavioral disorders. Unlike general psychology or experiment psychology, clinical psychology is concerned with treating problems as opposed to studying and researching them.
Couple and Family Psychology. The Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT) is the most common degree that leads to certification in couple and family psychology. Marriage and family therapists specialize in treating issues within the family, including marital relationships, parent-child issues, divorce and separations, sexual abuse and infidelity.
Counseling Psychology. Counseling psychology helps people manage emotional, mental and social adjustment. Although counselors work with clients who have mental illness every day, a counselor focuses on helping people take care of themselves while learning new and better ways to cope with problems.
Forensic Psychology. Forensic psychology applies psychological knowledge and training to legal issues, in both civil and criminal arenas. It’s a fast growing and popular field. Forensic Psychology requires a PhD.
Geropsychology. Geropsychology is also a rapidly growing field as the US population is full of Baby Boomers who are transitioning to senior citizens. Geropsychology deals with the issues common to the latter stages of life.
Rehabilitation Psychology. Rehabilitation psychology deals with the needs of people with disabilities, including chronic health disorders. A rehabilitation certification may also serve professionals who work in the mental health and addiction recovery fields.
School Psychology. School psychology is consistently one of the most in-demand areas of certification. School psychologists address all the issues that can interfere with learning, from grade-school through high-school. Unlike guidance counselors, who focus on career development, school psychologists and school counselors work with student’s psychological and emotional well-being.
Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology. Clinical Child and Adolescent psychologists treat children and adolescents with mental or emotional and behavioral disorders.
Organizational and Business Consulting Psychology. Organizational psychology uses the principles of psychology to help workplaces and industries thrive.
Preparing for Certification
Getting adequately prepared for certification is an important step to the process that should not be forgotten. Failure to prepare often results in a failed exam. Additional examinations then consume significantly more time and money and should be avoided altogether.
The Clep series of educational books is an excellent resource for prep toward many of the psychology certification exams today. This series is written to cover a wide variety of subjects, and its coverage of these psychology subjects is as good as all of its others across its many publications. Clep books have been trusted for many years and are highly recommended by educators and professionals from a vast array of fields.
Like the Clep book series, Kaplan is another excellent educational series of books that covers a range of subjects and material therein. These books are specifically setup to focus on the key areas of examination students will face in their certification exams and are highly recommended by the pros for their efficacy and accuracy. Some of the components of Kaplan study books include practice questions, sample tests, test information, score-boosting strategies, and even a guarantee system that guarantees a great test score to anyone who has fully utilized the material.
Websites and Apps
There are also many websites and mobile apps that are designed to help future test-takers to do well on their upcoming psychology certification exams. While many of these are highly reputable and trustworthy, not all are. For this reason, it’s best to seek outside reviews and other information about an app or website before utilizing the test prep materials therein.
Additional Psychology Resume-Boosters
Aside from having the right certifications and other educational accolades, standing out from the rest of the crowd via additional accolades is the best way to be recognized for that valuable psychology position. So, what are some additional resume-boosting items that help to gain attention for that desired job? Public service and volunteer work is one great way to gain additional attention and respect from the potential employer. This is especially true if the work involves psychology-related tasks.
Membership in a psychology-based organization is another great way to stand out from the crowd. This kind of activity shows complete devotion to the field. Membership in other professional associations of merit can also help one to stand out as a serious professional candidate.
General Resume-Boosting Tips
For the general purpose of presenting a high-quality resume, there are a number of quick tips that, when utilized, can really make a resume shine in the potential employer’s eyes. Abide by some of the following general rules to be certain of a great final product here.
- Be sure of an easily-read product that is void of filler and clutter.
- Utilize numeric figures where beneficial.
- Use professional fonts.
- Call attention to important achievements.
- Use active language as opposed to passive language.
- Consider the use of differing resumes for different positions.
For more useful tips on pro-grade resume writing, Indeed, a leading job ad and professional resource site, offers some valuable guidance on the subject.
Professional Associations of Further Interest
Additional preparedness toward upcoming psychology certification exams as well as entry into the field as a worker can be further achieved through checking into the resources of some of the top professional associations that represent the psychology industry today. The following organizations are highly recommended for the resources they offer in this capacity.
American Psychological Association
The APA, or American Psychological Association, is arguably the most authoritative and representative force in the whole professional psychology community. The APA is responsible for certain areas of accreditation, cutting-edge research work in psychology subject matter, unity and advocacy across the psychology field, and much more. For those looking to learn more about the field or specifically about a psychology certification of any type, this organization is likely to have the information.
Association for Psychological Science
Boasting over 33,000 members, the APS, or Association for Psychological Science is another leading authority that represents the greater field of psychology and its many workers today. This group is a vast research-based non-profit that was formerly known as the American Psychological Society. Here, members and non-members alike can find a plethora of resources including educational materials, up-to-date news feeds, numerous publications about psychology subject matter, points of contact for all manner of personal inquiry, and plenty more.
Society for Personality and Social Psychology
The Society for Personality and Social Psychology, also known as SPSP throughout the psychology community, is a formidable face in the field. SPSP offers a wide variety of educational resources, event opportunities, publications, grant and award opportunities, and more. Non-members are welcome to utilize many of its resources as well as reach out via personal inquiries, while full-fledged members can utilize these resources in addition to further advocacy, networking, and representative benefits.
American Educational Research Association
The American Educational Research Association, or AERA for short, is a large organization that is dedicated to the advancement of research and education relative to all professional fields including psychology. AERA was founded in 1916, and with over 100 years of representative experience, is a foremost leader helping those who wish to learn to do so in their respective fields of study. Today, AERA is composed of 12 divisions and 155 special interest groups, and anyone can consult with the group’s many resources or reach out via personal inquiry with regard to educational or research matters.
American Board of Professional Psychology
Finally, the American Board of Professional Psychology is yet one more excellent resource that upcoming psychology professionals and already-established professionals alike can look to for all manner of assistance. This organization actually oversees many of the certifications in psychology today and is a top authority in psychology educational programs. Resources found at the group’s website include links to publications, educational materials, news feeds, important events, and much more.
There are many other certifications in psychology that can help your resume land at the top of the pile. Many professional psychologists don’t have certifications because they are not required to practice. Earning a certification makes your resume leap off the stack and catch the eyes of hiring officers. After all, you’ve worked hard and spent years investing in your career. You deserve all the recognition that hard work deserves.
BS Psychology | Arkansas State University
MA Rehabilitation Counseling | Arkansas State University
MA English | Arkansas State University