How to Become a Psychologist in Tennessee

Psychology Education Guide for Tennessee

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What is Psychology?


Tennessee is home to a number of colleges and universities that offer psychology degree programs at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Students interested in pursuing a career in psychology can find programs that fit their interests and needs both in-state and from all over the country if they want to attend an online program.

Psychology is the scientific study of behavior and mental processes. Psychologists seek to understand how people think, feel, and behave. They can use their knowledge to help people change their behavior and improve their mental health.

Psychologists can work in a variety of settings including schools, hospitals, clinics, private practices, and businesses. They often work with other professionals to provide services to clients or patients. Psychologists may also conduct research on psychological topics.

There are many different types of psychologists. Some specialize in helping people with specific problems, such as anxiety or depression. Others work with children or families to help them cope with life changes or improve communication skills.


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Online Psychology Education in Tennessee


Online psychology students can choose from programs that lead to a Bachelor of Arts (BA) or a Bachelor of Science (BS) in Psychology. Both types of programs provide students with a broad foundation in psychological principles and theories. However, BS programs also tend to include coursework in scientific research methods and statistics. These skills are important for students who plan to pursue graduate studies in psychology or enter the workforce as research psychologists.

Graduate students can pursue a Master of Arts (MA) or a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Psychology. MA programs typically emphasize applied psychological research and provide access to full licensure for counselors, while PhD programs prepare students for careers as academic researchers, professors, and psychologists.

Online Associate Degree in Psychology (AS)

An associate degree in psychology is a two-year undergraduate degree that provides students with an introduction to the field. Students who earn an associate degree in psychology typically go on to pursue a four-year bachelor's degree in psychology or a related field or, if they decide that psychology is not for them, they may transfer their general education credits and earn a bachelor’s in another field entirely.

An associate degree in psychology can be beneficial for students who are interested in pursuing a career in the helping professions, such as counseling or social work. The coursework for an associate degree in psychology covers topics such as human development, abnormal psychology, and research methods. This type of program can also prepare students to enter into entry-level positions in the mental health field, though it’s difficult to get into counseling or research with only an associate degree.

Online Bachelors Degree in Psychology (BS)

An online bachelor's degree in psychology can open the door to a number of different career paths. With a bachelor's degree in psychology, you can become a mental health counselor, a social worker, or a human resources specialist. You could also pursue a career in research or teaching at the collegiate level.

If you're interested in working with people to help them improve their lives, then a career in counseling may be for you. Mental health counselors work with individuals, families, and groups to help treat psychological disorders and promote mental well-being. Counselors typically need at least a master's degree, but having a bachelor's degree in psychology can give you a head start on the educational requirements.

If you're interested in working with people in a more general capacity, then social work may be the right career path for you. A bachelor’s in social work can be earned in the same four-year period as a degree in psychology, or you might be able to transfer credits earned in an associate degree in psychology and spend only two to three years earning a bachelor’s in this field.

Online Masters Degree in Psychology (MS or MA)

A master's degree in psychology can open the door to a variety of careers in the field of mental health. With a master's degree, you may find yourself working as a licensed clinical psychologist, conducting research, or teaching at the collegiate level.

If you're interested in pursuing a career in psychology, you'll need to obtain a minimum of a bachelor's degree from an accredited university. However, if you want to pursue a more advanced career in the field, such as working as a licensed clinical psychologist, you'll need to obtain a master's degree or doctorate from an accredited institution.

There are many different types of psychology degrees available at the master's level. Some programs focus on research, while others prepare students for careers in clinical practice or teaching.

Online PhD Degree in Psychology (PhD)

If you want to pursue a career in psychology at the highest level, you might need to earn a PhD in psychology. This degree can be earned at many different colleges and universities, and it will open up a variety of career opportunities for you. With a PhD in psychology, you could become a clinical psychologist, working with patients to help them overcome mental health disorders. Alternatively, you could work as a research psychologist, conducting studies on the human mind and behavior. You could also use your degree to teach at the college level, or to work in a hospital or other medical setting.

No matter what career path you choose, a PhD in psychology will give you the skills and knowledge you need to be successful. During your time in graduate school, you'll take courses on topics like human development, psychopathology, and psychological assessment.

Online Psychology Certifications

Psychology certifications are credentials that show that an individual has completed the necessary academic requirements to work in a certain field of psychology. Many states require psychologists to be licensed in order to practice, but a license is not the same as a certification. Certification typically requires additional coursework and/or exams beyond what is required for licensure and allows you to claim extra expertise, but it does not allow you to practice any specific form of counseling as licensure will.

There are several different organizations that offer psychology certifications, each with their own specific requirements. The American Board of Professional Psychology (ABPP) is one of the most well-known certification boards. To be eligible for ABPP certification, psychologists must have a doctorate in psychology from an accredited institution, complete an approved internship and postdoctoral residency, and pass a written exam. The National Register of Health Service Psychologists is another organization that offers certification for psychologists.

Become a Psychology Professional in Tennessee


Tennessee is home to many colleges and universities that offer psychology programs. There are several ways to become a psychology professional in Tennessee.

  • Step 1: Earn a bachelor’s degree in psychology from an accredited university

    There are many reasons to consider earning a bachelor’s degree in psychology from an accredited university. For one, a bachelor’s degree in psychology is the foundation for many different careers in the field of psychology. With a bachelor’s degree in psychology, you can work as a psychological assistant, a case manager, or even a human resources specialist if you decide that psychology isn’t for you. In addition, a bachelor’s degree in psychology can lead to further study in graduate school. If you choose to pursue a master’s or doctorate degree in psychology, you will be able to specialize in a particular area of interest within the field of psychology. For example, you could specialize in clinical psychology, counseling psychology, or forensic psychology.

  • Step 2: Pursue a master’s or doctorate degree in psychology

    A master’s or doctorate degree in psychology can lead to different career paths. With a focus on research, teaching, or clinical practice, students can tailor their degree to fit their interests. A doctoral degree in psychology is the highest level of education one can receive in the field. Students who pursue this type of degree are often interested in careers as psychologists, researchers, or professors at the collegiate level. The majority of doctoral programs take between four and six years to complete. A master’s degree in psychology is a terminal degree, meaning it is the highest level of education one can receive in the field short of a doctorate. A master’s program typically takes two years to complete and is ideal for those interested in careers as clinical psychologists, counselors, or therapists.

  • Step 3: Complete an internship under the supervision of a licensed psychologist

    Whether you choose to earn a master’s or a doctorate, you’ll still need to obtain some experience under a licensed supervisor before you are able to obtain full licensure in your chosen field. This is common for any form of counseling licensure, and there will be similar requirements for experience for those who wish to work as teachers or researchers. You’ll also need to complete the exams required for the type of licensure you choose, which can vary. This time working under a supervisor can give you a better understanding of the work that psychologists do and ensures that you fully understand your role. It can also provide you with valuable networking opportunities.

  • Step 4: Pass the licensure examination psychology

    Psychology licensure examinations are used to ensure that psychologists are competent and able to provide quality services to the public. The examination process varies by state, but generally includes a written exam and a skills assessment. Some states also require an oral exam. These exams cover topics such as ethics, professional standards, research methods, and psychological theory. The skills assessment tests a psychologist's ability to apply their knowledge in a clinical setting. The oral exam is typically a panel interview with members of the state psychology board. Passing the licensure examination is required in order to practice psychology independently in most states. Psychologists who wish to work in hospitals or other settings may be able to do so without being licensed, but they will need to have supervision from a licensed psychologist.

What Can I Do with a Bachelor's in Psychology?


A bachelor's degree in psychology can open the door to many different career opportunities. With a bachelor's degree in psychology, you can become a substance abuse counselor, a psychiatric social worker, or a research assistant. You can also use your degree to pursue a career in human resources, marketing, or another field that will benefit from your knowledge of human behavior but is not a part of the psychology or social services sector. If you're interested in becoming a licensed psychologist, you'll need to complete a doctoral program in psychology and an internship and pass the state licensure exam. If you're interested in becoming a psychiatric social worker, you'll need to complete a master's degree in social work.

Potential Careers for Psychology Graduates


  • Social Work Assistant:

    A social work assistant provides support to social workers in the delivery of direct services to clients. This may include providing information and referrals, conducting intakes and assessments, and assisting with case management. They also provide administrative support to a social work team including maintaining client files and documentation, scheduling appointments, and coordinating service delivery.

    Necessary Requirements:

    • A bachelor’s degree in social work or a related field is required
    • One year of experience working in a social service setting is preferred
    • Strong communication and interpersonal skills are required

    Estimated Salary

    • The median annual wage for social workers in the US in 2021 was $50,390
    • The median annual wage for social workers (all other) in Tennessee is $48,350 and mental health and substance abuse social workers earn $41,190
  • Community Service Manager:

    A community service manager will oversee and coordinate all aspects of the organization's community service programs. They will be responsible for developing and implementing community service initiatives, establishing partnerships with local organizations, and managing volunteer recruitment and retention. They will also ensure that all community service programs are aligned with the organization's mission and goals.

    Necessary Requirements:

    • Bachelor's degree in social work, public administration, or a related field
    • 3-5 years of experience working in community outreach or a related field
    • Strong interpersonal and communication skills
    • Ability to plan and organize programs and events

    Estimated Salary

    • The median annual wage for social and community service managers in the US in 2021 was $74,000
    • The median annual wage for social and community service managers in Tennessee is $72,620
  • Human Resources Specialist:

    A human resources specialist provides support in a variety of human resources functions which may include recruitment, performance management, employee relations, and compliance with labor laws.

    Necessary Requirements:

    • Bachelor's degree in Human Resources or related field
    • 3-5 years of experience in human resources

    Estimated Salary

    • The median annual wage for human resources specialists in the US in 2021 was $62,290
    • The mean annual wage for human resources specialists in Tennessee is $56,670
  • Psychology Teacher:

    A psychology teacher is responsible for teaching students about psychological concepts and theories. They develop lesson plans, deliver lectures, and lead class discussions. They also grade student work and provide feedback. This is most common at the postsecondary/college level.

    Necessary Requirements:

    • A bachelor's degree in psychology or a related field
    • A teaching license
    • Experience teaching psychology at the high school or college level

    Estimated Salary

    • The mean annual wage for psychology teachers, postsecondary in the US in 2021 was $88,390
    • The mean annual wage for psychology teachers, postsecondary in Tennessee is $78,840
  • Child Counselor/Psychologist:

    A child counselor or psychologist is responsible for providing psychological counseling and support to children who are experiencing emotional difficulties. They will work with a child and their family to identify the underlying causes of the child's distress and develop a plan to address the issue. In addition, these counselors will provide support and guidance to the child's parents or caregivers to help them better understand and cope with their child's condition.

    Necessary Requirements:

    • A master's degree or doctorate in psychology
    • Clinical experience working with children
    • Licensed as a psychologist in the state in which you practice

    Estimated Salary

    • The mean annual wage for clinical, counseling, and school psychologists in the US in 2021 was $87,450
    • The mean annual wage for clinical and counseling psychologists in Tennessee is $108,560
  • Psychiatrist:

    A psychiatrist is a medical doctor who specializes in diagnosing and treating mental health conditions. They may provide talk therapy, medication, or other treatments.

    Necessary Requirements:

    • Must be a licensed medical doctor
    • Must have completed a residency in psychiatry
    • Board certification in psychiatry is preferred

    Estimated Salary

    • The mean annual wage for psychiatrists in the US in 2021 was $249,760
    • The mean annual wage for psychiatrists in Tennessee is $195,990
  • Family and Marriage Therapist:

    A family and marriage therapist provides counseling and therapy services to individuals, couples, and families. They help people to resolve conflict, communication problems, and other issues that may be impacting their relationships.

    Necessary Requirements:

    • Master's degree in counseling, social work, or a related field
    • Licensed as a family and marriage therapist in the state in which they practice
    • 2-5 years of experience working as a family and marriage therapist

    Estimated Salary

    • The mean annual wage for marriage and family therapists in the US in 2021 was $59,660
    • The mean annual wage for marriage and family therapists in Tennessee is $43,560
  • Community Health Worker:

    A community health worker is responsible for providing health education and outreach to members of a community. They will develop and implement health promotion programs and work to increase access to healthcare resources.

    Necessary Requirements:

    • High School Diploma or GED
    • Community Health Worker certification
    • Bilingual preferred

    Estimated Salary

    • The mean annual wage for community health workers in the US in 2021 was $47,780
    • The mean annual wage for community health workers in Tennessee is $49,020

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