Community Psychologists work with vulnerable individuals, such as those in the criminal justice system and drug rehabilitation programs, to help prevent mental health disorders. You can pursue some community psychology jobs with a graduate degree. However, a doctoral degree (along with licensure) is needed for most of them.

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of 2019, the United States had over 113,270 Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychologists and more than 283,000 Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder and Mental Health Counselors. Do you also have similar career aspirations? Read this piece to understand how to become a Community Psychologist in America.

Should I Become a Community Psychologist?

EducationUndergraduate, Graduate and Doctoral Degrees
Area of Study/Major Requirement 

Psychology

License/CertificationRequired for Clinical Practice
Experience/TrainingRequired
Key SkillsTherapy and Counseling, Active Listening, Communication, Service Orientation, Problem Sensitivity, Social Perceptiveness.
Annual Mean Salary (2019)-National$87,450 (Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychologists )
Job Outlook (2018-2028)14% (Psychologists)

Sources: O*Net Online and US Bureau of Labor Statistics

Community Psychologists work on improving the mental as well as physical health of individuals. Their work differs from clinical psychologists in that they are more concerned with preventing the onset of mental health problems rather than diagnosing and treating them at a later stage.

Career Outlook

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics has projected a 14% growth in jobs for Psychologists from 2018 to 2028. These increases will be driven by the ever-growing need for mental health support.

Steps to Become a Community Psychologist in the US

Following is the process of becoming a Community Psychologist in the United States.

  1. Finish Undergraduate Education
  2. You will start things off by enrolling in a Bachelor’s degree program in Psychology. During this 4-year stint, you will take courses in cultural psychology, social psychology, ethics, biology, developmental psychology, etc. If you opt for a major other than Psychology at this stage, then you will probably have to take some prerequisite courses in the subject before moving on to post-graduate education.

  1. Complete Your Master’s Studies
  2. The 2-year Master’s degree program will have greater emphasis on intervention techniques and field research. Some other courses will be in statistics, public services and grant writing. Following the completion of your Master’s degree, you may be able to find work in some capacity.

    However, you are advised to go for a doctorate degree to have complete access to all types of employment opportunities. Furthermore, if you do intend to pursue a doctoral education program, then you may be able to skip the standalone Master’s degree and earn it later on as part of the doctorate studies program.

  1. Get a Doctoral Degree
  2. Most aspiring mental health practitioners choose one of the following options when enrolling in a doctoral education program.

    • Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)
    • Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Psychology

    It will take you around 4 to 7 years to complete your doctorate degree in Psychology.

  1. Grab Your License
  2. While you may be able to work without a state license in some mental health counseling capacities, you will need one if you want to work directly with clients/patients. All states have slightly varying licensing requirements but applicants normally have to pass a standardized exam, such as the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP), among other criteria.

How Long Does It Take to Become a Community Psychologist?

You will need about 8 to 13 years to become a Community Psychologist in the US. Of these, the first 4 will be spent getting a Bachelor’s degree. After that, you will spend 2 years in a Master’s program (optional) while around 4 to 7 years will be needed for the doctorate degree.

What Are the Requirements to Become a Community Psychologist?

Following are the requirements to be fulfilled if you want to become a Community Psychologist in the United States.

  • Get your Bachelor’s degree.
  • Complete a Master’s (optional in some cases) education program.
  • Earn a doctorate degree.
  • Get licensed by the relevant state body.

How Much Can I Make After Becoming a Community Psychologist?

Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychologists earned $87,450 in annual mean wage in 2019. This has been reported by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.