How to Become a Psychologist in Florida

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What is Psychology?


Earning a psychology degree will allow you to pursue a wide variety of career paths in social services. While there are many different specialties within the field, most professionals use a combination of psychological knowledge and research to address problems like treating mental illness or substance abuse. Individuals with this type of academic background may also work with scientists to conduct psychological research and/or teach students at colleges and universities.

A common goal is to become a psychologist. This profession is often broken down into three categories: applied psychologists, research psychologists, and mental health psychologists. The most familiar option is likely mental health psychologists, who work with people experiencing mental disorders or psychological distress. Research psychologists, on the other hand, focus their efforts on conducting studies and experiments using humans and/or animals to advance knowledge in the field. Applied psychologists bridge the gap between the other two types, utilizing both psychological principles and research to solve real-world problems.

Specific job requirements will vary, but some of the most common responsibilities for psychologists include conducting scientific studies of behavior and brain function, observing individuals during surveys, identifying emotional patterns, and discussing possible treatment plans with clients. Professionals in this field may also write articles, research papers, and reports to highlight findings with others in the field. Another likely task is supervising interns, clinicians, and/or other counseling professionals.

Earning a degree in psychology does not limit your professional prospects to becoming a psychologist. Other related employment opportunities include becoming a counselor or therapist. All professionals in this field, however, are dedicated to helping other people live healthier, happier lives. They are often trained to assist with a variety of social, emotional, and mental health problems, as well as serve as advocates, helping their patients manage the physical and psychological difficulties that can accompany ailments.


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Psychology Education in Florida


Are you considering enrolling in a psychology degree program in Florida? This major is ideal for those interested in studying cognitive, emotional, and social processes, and behaviors. Every program is different, but most are designed to help student develop the knowledge and skills necessary to observe, interpret, and record how people relate to one another and to their environments.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment for psychologists and many counseling occupations is expected to increase nationwide from 2019 to 2029. Employment for psychologists in particular, however, is only projected to grow 3% during that period. Some related counseling professions, on the other hand, will see a rise in employment opportunities of between 21 and 25%. Jobs with the greatest growth potential include substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors, marriage and family therapists, and genetic counselors.

Anticipated employment growth for clinical, counseling, and school psychologists is due primarily to increasing demand for psychological services in schools, hospitals, mental health centers, and social service agencies. The availability of school psychologist positions is also likely to increase as awareness of the connection between mental health and learning become more prominent. Additionally, aging populations are expected to need these services more and more as they deal with mental and physical changes associated with growing older. Another demographic likely to influence job necessity is veterans suffering from war trauma.

The educational services, healthcare, and social assistance industry is the third largest in Florida. It accounts for $100 billion in revenue each year. As of May 2020, the state employed 1,520 psychiatrists and tens of thousands of counselors with various specialties. Florida consistently hires more professionals in many of these fields than most other states.

Those planning to pursue psychologist and counseling positions in Florida should strongly consider enrolling in a local college or university program. Choosing to earn a degree somewhere else can make gaining licensure more complicated. Every state has different licensing requirements; Florida institutions and educators will be most familiar with the state’s process and expectations. Local colleges and universities know how to prepare students to meet the state’s credentialing requirements best and tend to offer the most geographically relevant coursework.

If you are pursuing a career in psychology or a related field, you will need to enroll in at least one academic program. Degrees are available at every level, but highly educated job candidates will have better prospects. Consider your professional goals carefully before deciding which degree is best.

Associate Degree in Psychology (AS)

While some colleges and universities offer associate degrees in psychology, this level of education is not enough to pursue most professions in the field. Students enrolled will receive a broad introduction to the career and coursework may help build related skills. Some entry-level jobs in social services, management, or customer service may be available, but additional education will be necessary to qualify for most professional opportunities.

Associate degrees in psychology and related majors generally consist of 60 credit hours of coursework. For full-time students, graduation requirements can generally be met within two years.

Students will be able to choose from a wide variety of elective classes, but examples of core psychology coursework include:

  • Child Psychology
  • Social Psychology
  • Abnormal Psychology
  • Psychology of Aging
  • Counseling

Bachelor's Degree in Psychology (BS)

Bachelor’s degrees in psychology are extremely popular in the United States. This is due in large part to the fact that graduates can choose to pursue a wide variety of careers, as well as further education that can lead to even more opportunities and higher pay potential. Psychology degrees at this level can also be beneficial for those pursuing seemingly unrelated fields, such as management and business.

Bachelor’s degrees consist of 120 credit hours of coursework and take full-time students approximately four years to complete. Part-time students are likely to need an additional two to four years to graduate. Curriculums vary, but students can anticipate taking a mixture of psychology coursework, labs, and electives. Common coursework includes social psychology, biological psychology, sensation and perception, and introduction to addiction theories. While every college and university program is different, most are designed to prepare students to enter graduate counseling programs in the future.

Many colleges and universities also offer opportunities to select a concentration.

Some of the most common specialties in this field are:

  • General Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Addiction Counseling
  • Behavioral Psychology
  • Organizational Psychology

Master's Degree in Psychology (MS or MC)

It’s common for those with bachelor’s degrees in psychology to enroll in master’s programs after graduation. This is because many counseling-related professions in the state require candidates to have, at minimum, graduate-level degrees from accredited institutions. It’s important to note, however, that a general psychology degree may not suffice for every job type. To become licensed as a clinical social worker in Florida, a master’s degree in social work from a Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) accredited school of social work is necessary. Graduates from any mater’s program will have more employment opportunities and are likely to make more money than those with only bachelor’s degrees.

Most master’s degrees in psychology consist of 60 credit hours of coursework and take full-time students approximately two years to complete. Every program is a little different, but coursework tends to focus on social psychology, cognitive process, and theories of personality. Students can expect a combination of classroom learning, research, and practical applications. Some programs will tend more towards research, theory, or clinical work than others.

Common courses include:

  • Social Psychology
  • Developmental Psychology
  • Evolutionary Psychology
  • Research Methods
  • Theories of Personality

It is also common for colleges and universities to offer psychology students opportunities to specialize in a specific area.

Some of the most common concentrations offered include:

  • Educational Psychology
  • Research
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Cognitive and Behavioral Neuroscience
  • Industrial-Organizational Psychology

PhD Degree in Psychology (PhD)

A doctorate in psychology is the highest possible degree in the field. Not only can it lead to many exciting, personally rewarding, and lucrative career opportunities, but it is required to become a licensed psychologist in Florida. This degree level is not, however, necessary for many other related professions.

Prospective students will need to choose between the doctor of psychology (PsyD) degree and the doctor of philosophy in psychology (PhD) degree. The PsyD degree is best suited for those interested in clinical work, while the PhD tends to be more appropriate for professionals pursuing careers in research.

Most doctoral degrees consist of between 60 to 90 credit hours and take full-time students five to seven years to complete. Prior to graduation, students will need to pass a comprehensive examination and write a dissertation.

Every institution is different, but some examples of possible coursework include:

  • Behavioral Assessments
  • Professional Ethics in Psychology
  • Research Methods
  • Cognitive Development
  • Neuroscience

Become a Psychologist in Florida


If you want to become a psychology professional in Florida, the first step is determining your ultimate career goals in the field. As previously mentioned, degrees at each level can lead to varying employment opportunities. Identifying the type of work you want to perform most will help guide your search for an applicable degree program.

Licensed psychologists must have doctorate degrees in order to practice in Florida. The licensure process for aspiring professionals is overseen by the Florida Board of Psychology.

There are several licensure types available in the state:

  • Psychologist Licensure by Examination
  • Psychologist Licensure by Endorsement: ABPP
  • Psychologist Licensure by Endorsement: 10 Years of Experience
  • Provisional Psychologist
  • Limited License Psychologist
  • Board Approved Continuing Education Provider
  • Out-of-State Telehealth Provider

Those seeking psychologist licensure by examination will need to submit official doctoral level transcripts as proof of graduation from a program accredited by the American Psychological Association (APA). They must also have 4,000 hours of supervised experience. Additionally, candidates must take and pass the national Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP) and the Florida Laws and Rules examination prior to licensure.

The Florida Board of Clinical Social Work, Marriage, Family Therapy, and Mental Health Counseling oversee licensure for many related positions in the field.

Some of the available licensure options include:

  • Licensed Clinical Social Worker
  • Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist
  • Licensed Mental Health Counselor
  • Certified Master Social Worker
  • Qualified Supervisor

Education and experience requirements will vary depending on the credential sought and can be found on the state’s government website. Most of these professions, however, necessitate master’s degrees, a set number of supervised clinical experience hours, and a passing score on one or more related examinations.

Careers for Psychology Graduates


Depending on the type of psychology degree you choose to earn, you will be qualified for many different career pathways in Florida.

While salaries and daily duties will vary, some of the most common professions in the field include:

  • Psychiatric Technician
  • Social Work Assistant
  • Clinical Social Worker
  • Community Service Manager
  • Administrative Service Manager
  • Human Resources Specialist
  • School / Guidance Counselor
  • Career Advisor / Counselor
  • Teacher
  • Victim Advocate
  • Child Counselor / Psychologist
  • School / Education Psychologist
  • Psychiatrist
  • Substance Abuse / Addiction Counselor
  • Family and Marriage Therapist
  • Psychology Researcher
  • Psychology Professor – Postsecondary
  • Genetic Counselor
  • Private Practice Counselor
  • Community Health Worker
  • Residential Counselor
  • Clinical Therapist
  • College Counselor
  • Family Therapist
  • Group Counselor
  • Psychologist
  • Psychiatrist
  • Marriage and Family Counselor
  • Mental Health Counselor
  • Substance Abuse / Addiction Counselor
    Substance abuse and addiction counselors provide treatment and support to patients struggling with or recovering from substance abuse. They often provide counseling to individuals and groups, create treatment plans for their patients, implement therapeutic treatments, evaluate patient progress, and maintain documentation. These professionals are also responsible for updating patient histories. According to PayScale, substance abuse and addiction counselors make an average base salary of $39,900 per year.
  • Residential Counselor
    Residential counselors provide individual and group counseling services to residents in live-in patient facilities. They often oversee treatment for a variety of patient types, from people with disabilities or addictions to the elderly or troubled youth. These professionals may also help facility staff members handle crucial situations and resolve conflicts within the residence. According to PayScale, residential counselors make an average base hourly rate of $14.46, or approximately $39,700 per year.
  • Mental Health Counselor
    Mental health counselors provide diagnoses and treatment to patients with mental health issues and illnesses. They often specialize in a particular area of care, including eating disorders, addiction, and young adult development, offering one-on-one and group counseling sessions. According to PayScale, mental health counselors make an average base salary of $44,250 per year.
  • Grief Counselor
    Grief counselors help guide patients through the bereavement process, providing assistance with issues related to the deaths of loved ones. They offer support and insight to those moving through the various stages of grief. These professionals also promote healthy coping mechanisms to ensure recovery. According to PayScale, grief counselors make an average base salary of $46,850 per year.
  • School / Guidance Counselor
    School and guidance counselors help students identify, work towards, and achieve their personal, academic, social, and developmental goals. They often assist newly transferred students adjust and offer guidance to individuals preparing for college. These professionals may also work with parents, refer students for additional support services, and intervene during challenging situations. According to PayScale, school counselors make an average base salary of $51,350 per year.
  • Clinical Social Worker
    Clinical social workers provide emotional and mental support to individuals through therapy. They may perform a wide variety of tasks including communicating with patients, conducting psychosocial evaluations, and coordinating patient care interactions. These professionals often work in hospitals, mental health clinics, residential nursing facilities, home healthcare companies, and substance abuse treatment centers. According to PayScale, clinical social workers make an average base salary of $57,600 per year.
  • Psychiatrist
    Psychiatrists evaluate patient symptoms, behaviors, and past medical histories in order to determine whether or not mental disorders are present. Once they identify issues that are present and offer a diagnosis, they provide the necessary guidance to work towards recovery. These professionals also prescribe treatments and/or medications to assist patients in managing, easing, or healing disorders. According to PayScale, psychiatrists make an average base salary of $215,600 per year.

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