Chief Psychologist: Job Duties and Education Requirements

Oct 20, 2021

A career as a chief psychologist requires extensive postsecondary education. Chief psychologists must have a Ph.D. in a field related to psychology. They must also have a valid state license.

Essential Information

Psychology involves analyzing, interpreting and understanding human behavior and mental processes. Chief psychologists provide direction, conduct research studies and develop policies for a psychology group. These professionals typically hold a Ph.D. in Psychology, as well as several years of work experience. Licensure is also required.

Required Education Ph.D. in Psychology or related field
Other Requirements Licensure for the state in which the psychologist practices
Projected Job Growth (2019-2029)* 3% for all psychologists
Median Salary (2020)* $82,180 for all psychologists

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Chief Psychologist Job Duties

A chief psychologist holds a high level of responsibility. As the head supervisor of the group, chief psychologists can responsible for the vetting process and approval of new hires. All treatment policies, research studies and procedures may require the chief psychologist's evaluation and approval. Chief psychologists are also responsible for developing new and effective treatment plans according to the group's research.

Chief psychologists often perform clinical duties in addition to administrative work. Less experienced psychologists may require the knowledge of a chief psychologist for the targeted treatment of complex, difficult cases. Chief psychologists may analyze and interpret patients' mental processes in a clinical setting, in some cases communicating directly with patients and their families.

Chief Psychologist Education Requirements

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), psychologists with a doctoral degree qualify for positions in many different organizations, such as hospitals, schools and the government ( Chief psychologist positions often require a Ph.D. in a psychology-related field. Future psychologists can start with a 4-year degree program in psychology. The coursework in a bachelor's degree program typically covers numerous types of psychology and social studies in addition to general education. Students must maintain a high GPA to qualify for a graduate program.

Doctorate programs typically require a combination of coursework, research and clinical work. Most doctorate programs take from four to six years or longer to complete beyond the bachelor's degree level. The first two years may focus on general coursework, specialty electives and completion of a master's thesis. After finishing the academic work, students must typically complete original research projects and perform a clinical internship.

After obtaining a Ph.D., future chief psychologists must obtain a state license to begin work. According to the BLS, license requirements typically include a doctoral degree from an accredited institution, a background check, clinical internship experience, an oral exam and a written exam.

Career and Salary Information

The BLS predicts that job positions for all psychologists will increase by 3% between 2019 and 2029, which is as fast as the average compared to other career fields. The annual median salary for psychologists (all other) was $105,780 as of 2020.

A chief psychologist oversees the psychologists within their department. They hire staff, evaluate procedures and policies and develop new ways to improve treatment using their group's research. They perform both clinical and administrative tasks.

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