How to Become a Psychologist in Washington

Search Programs

What is Psychology?


Washington state is a state full of immense beauty. From the Olympic Peninsula across the Cascades to Spokane in the eastern side of the state, Washington has something for everyone. Seattle is one of the nation's most cutting-edge cities, full of top tech companies, an excellent music scene, and mind-blowing culinary art as well. The state's economy is naturally robust and diverse. There's salmon fisheries, logging, tourism, and arts and tourism. In fact, Washington's economy is currently led by real estate, owing to the fact that so many are moving there for the terrific job opportunities.

Psychology professionals are vital in helping other fields progress. Retailers, for instance, rely on social science data to know what products to develop, which to discontinue, and even how to present those products for an eager audience. Elsewhere in the economy, psychological professionals help maintain the state's equilibrium. For instance, forensic psychologists help law enforcement better understand the criminal mind. They also help parole boards with insights into minds that may or may not yet be ready for re-introduction to civilian life.

Thus, Washington's many colleges and universities work hard to attract the best faculty members to their ranks. Not only do they seek professors with the very best academic credentials, but they also look for psychological professionals from the state economy who can lend special insights to the courses they teach.

A psychology professional is a worker who deals with human behavior as the primary part of their work. Many immediately think of counselors when they think of a psychology professional, but the field contains many more professions. Even in counseling, there are multiple levels of counseling licensure offered by the state of Washington including addiction counselors, marriage and family therapists, and pastoral counselors, to name a few.


Search Programs


Online Psychology Education in Washington


Other top industries in the state include information technology, manufacturing, business services, and retail trades. Each of those ranks in the top 20 nationwide, with information technology ranking third in the United States. When it comes to progress and economic development, Washington is hard to beat.

In fact, the state's sixth strongest industry includes healthcare, which presupposes mental health and psychological careers. Yet, psychology professionals are found all throughout the Washington economy. Even the tech sector needs psychology professionals in its ranks to help with many aspects of its functioning. It's organizational psychology professionals who help tech firms create the sort of spaces that best nurture creativity and optimal efficiency for its programmers, IT support, and more.

There are also psychology professionals who work primarily with data. Research faculty in a university, for instance, may never speak to a client or even interview subjects in a study. Rather, they aggregate available data and write reports to help various clients. There are also psychology professionals who consult with corporations to help them overcome personnel issues including how to arrange the workplace. Some even take their psychology background and apply it in fields where they may counsel people on sensitive issues, if not the deepest psychological matters.

Online Associate Degree in Psychology (AS)

An online associate psychology degree is a great choice for many students who are interested in launching a career. Psychology teaches critical thinking as well as quantitative analysis. Online students who add statistics to their course load may find added benefits in the workplace. They might be able to land an entry-level position in a marketing department where they can review the marketing data. The degree may also be helpful for those starting in the mental health field as an addiction counselor.

Though an online associate psychology degree is a great foundation for launching a career, most who have a passion for psychology may to gain more education later. This is because most of the careers we associate with psychology require a master’s degree. Nevertheless, a savvy student can apply their two-year degree in the workplace and then return to school after a few years. Since Washington community colleges charge far less per credit hour, students will have a lower debt load when they return to complete their bachelor’s degree. Their experience will also be helpful later when they seek out an internship or admission to a master’s psychology degree program.

Online Bachelor's Degree in Psychology (BS)

An online bachelor’s psychology degree is a great place from which to launch a career. Businesses like to hire psychology graduates at this level because they have mastered both quantitative and qualitative analysis. They also know how to initiate and complete a psychological study as part of their research methods course. Furthermore, a bachelor’s psychology student can always augment their major degree with a minor in a field such as sociology, statistics, or even economics. In fact, an online psychology student who adds a minor concentration (or double major) in management or some other business field can find great success in a number of fields.

Of course, a bachelor’s psychology degree is also a necessary requirement for a master's psychology degree. Since so many psychology professions require a master's degree, psychology students should start looking for a suitable graduate psychology degree program before they graduate with their undergraduate degrees. Further, students who decide to switch gears into another field will have their undergraduate degrees to use when they apply for a more advanced degree.

Learn More About a Bachelors in Psychology

Online Master's Degree in Psychology (MS or MC)

An online graduate psychology degree is where most psychology students want to be. A master's degree is necessary for those who desire a career in mental health counseling. It's also vital for those who seek a career in psychological research or in academia. There are even other options, such as a dual MBA degree, which may pave the way to a career in organizational psychology or as an analytical marketing professional.

In Washington, as in many states, a master's psychology degree can lead to a career in counseling. Students need to pass an examination as well as fulfill other requirements, especially the experiential requirement. Most clinical psychology graduate degree programs will require a great many internship hours, which will help satisfy Washington state's requirements, but students will still need to log more hours after earning their degrees in order to qualify for licensure. These hours will also help those who seek a PhD and a career as a psychologist.

Learn More About a Masters in Psychology

Online PhD Degree in Psychology (PhD)

An online PhD is the ultimate academic degree. Psychology professionals who earn a doctorate have many avenues to pursue. For some psychology specialties, a doctorate is required. For instance, forensic and other psychologists may need a doctorate to pursue their field, and it's a highly desired degree for those in organizational psychology. For counseling professionals, a PhD isn't required but those with a doctorate can charge insurers more per hour while also enjoying elevated professional status. Psychiatrists also need to complete a doctorate degree.

A PhD is also a de facto requirement for anyone who wants a career in academia. It is possible to teach with a master's psychology degree, but it's very hard to land a full-time, permanent position with anything less than a PhD. A doctorate is certainly needed to land a tenure-track position for most candidates. A doctorate is also necessary for those who wish to pursue a career in psychological research.

Become a Psychologist in Washington


Psychology is a very attractive field for many people. As we progress through life, we often try to understand not only the motivations of our fellows but our own motivations, as well. It's no wonder that psychological dramas are so popular, and psychology related videos are also popular on YouTube. However, to make a career out of this fascination is another matter.

To get started on the road to a psychology career, it's important to start cultivating one's knowledge. This may start in high school or early in college. Some schools offer an introductory psychology course that may be so popular that it's hard to land a seat in the class. On top of this, there are many non-academic outlets for learning on the internet. Some online courses even offer a certificate for those who wish to pay extra. However, in many cases, anyone can learn for free. Such informal learning can prove invaluable later on.

Naturally, it's vital to earn a degree in psychology. The field is highly regulated and so, to find success, most pursue a license, which naturally requires a degree. Some can start with a license as an addiction counselor if counseling is their passion, which only requires an associate psychology degree, or a degree in a related field. However, to truly dive into the field, a master's degree is the true goal. A master's degree allows a professional to work as a mental health counselor in private practice and can provide a solid foundation for those interested in research. However, to pursue a career in psychological research, a PhD is required.

It's important to note that there are many ways to use a psychology degree. Not every student will go on to work as a therapist or researcher. In fact, many take their knowledge of human behavior and apply it in fields such as social work, guidance counseling, career counseling, marketing, and management. The world of business is so dependent on human relationships and understanding human behavior, that a psychology degree can provide a real edge in negotiations or understanding marketing data.

Potential Careers for Psychology Graduates


  • Psychiatric Technician:
    These professionals work in the mental health field where they support the psychiatrists and psychiatric nurses they work with. A psychiatric technician assists with patient needs and may require a state licensure. In fact, Washington state does license this profession so candidates should consult the Washington State Department of Health for their current requirements.
  • Social Work Assistant:
    This position is often an administrative job that requires office skills and a high level of organization. A social work assistant can be asked to maintain a social worker's calendar, might field telephone calls from clients and others, while even conducting preliminary interviews with clients. This may be a great entry-level position for someone with an associate psychology degree or an equivalent.
  • Social Worker:
    This title can apply to many different job descriptions. Some social workers are Licensed Clinical Social Workers (LCSW) who operate as independent counseling professionals. Other job descriptions may call for no specific degree. Social workers may work for the state as case workers for foster children, mentally unstable adults, or developmentally delayed individuals. Some social workers even work in the court system or hospitals where they help people find the resources they need.
  • Substance Abuse/Addictions Counselor:
    This is, sadly, a growing field in this country. Addictions counselors work with individuals stricken with substance abuse disorder. These clients may be addicted to any number of substances including alcohol, opioids, or cocaine, to name a few options. Washington state licenses addictions counselors with degrees starting at the associate psychology degree level.
  • Human Resources Specialist:
    These business professionals work with a firm's personnel issues. This can include anything from negotiating the best benefits package to managing employee disputes. HR specialists may conduct trainings on such issues as insider trading, sexual harassment, or current employment laws. While business knowledge is imperative, HR specialists also need a keen insight into human behavior. A degree in psychology can be immensely helpful in a human resources career.
  • Child Psychologist:
    There are many specialty areas for a psychologist to pursue and child psychology may be one of the most important of them. A child counselor works with young people to help them overcome traumas and other psychological difficulties that may be holding them back. This practice may involve creative approaches such as art therapy, play therapy, and even movement therapy.
  • School/Education Psychologist – School Counselor:
    To become a school counselor, professionals need to earn an MEd degree that concentrates on counseling. They must also earn a teaching certificate from the state of Washington. School counselors work with students to help them overcome various difficulties that may be holding them back from success.
  • Psychiatrist:
    At one time, psychiatrists were the default choice for those seeking psychotherapy. However, that role has largely shifted to counselors and psychologists, who hold either an MA or PhD, respectively. Psychiatrists are medical doctors who focus on the medical reasons for psychological distress. They spend most of their time analyzing blood samples and interviewing patients to determine the best medications and dosages for them.

Search Programs