What is the Employment Outlook for Clinical Psychologists?

In 2008, clinical psychologists held 152,000 positions. By 2018, that figure is expected to increase to 168,000 jobs. With so many industries, e.g., healthcare, government, academia, social services, etc. needing clinical psychologists, the employment outlook for clinical psychologists is marked by growth, innovation and diverse opportunities.

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Definition of Clinical Psychologists

Clinical psychology has a short but varied history. Sigmund Freud was the father of psychoanalysis. Lightner Witmer helped children with learning disabilities and was the first psychologist to coin the term “clinical psychologist.” Albert Ellis developed the concept of Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy.

Clinical psychology is one of the largest specialty areas within the field. Today, the methodologies of these famous contributors are still being used.

Clinical psychologist assess patients, diagnose disorders and recommend treatment. They focus on individual differences and differentiate between normal and abnormal behavior. They also diagnose mental disorders. The work with patients to help them learn resilience and appreciate their own strengths.

Education and Training

The American Psychological Association states, “In the United States, the doctoral degree is generally recognized and accepted as the education credential for license eligibility to practice independently as a clinical psychologist.”

Some master’s degree programs are preparatory for doctoral instruction. Each state has mandates for licensure. Programs include scientifically-based psychological theories, research in interventions and testing administration.

Contributing Environmental Factors

The employment outlook is positive because the specialized skills of clinical psychologists – interacting with people, analyzing complex issues, providing training with measurable results – are in demand. Consider the following scenarios.

  • Baby Boomers total 76.4 million in the U.S. Elderly people often face physical problems as well as mental health issues such as depression, bipolar or schizophrenia.
  • Military families often struggle with the transition of soldiers returning from war. Post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and physical ailments including the loss of a limb will require a lifetime of therapy and readjustment.
  • Corporations striving to remain competitive in the global marketplace need to be trained on the best practices for training and development.
  • Divorce and child custody cases continue to affect our nation. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cited 813,862 divorces in 2014.
  • Dissemination and Implementation Science is a new domain of clinical psychology that strives to educate psychologists in specific evidence-based interventions. It requires removing obstacles to circulation at the practitioner level.

Career Opportunities

Employment opportunities exist in academia, government, law, military, business, substance abuse treatment centers and private practice. Positions include consulting on cases entailing forensic psychology, researching specializations and writing self-help books.

On February 29, 2016, Monster had 870 jobs for clinical psychologists. Indeed had 5,946 positions and Simply Hired showed 76,240.


Career opportunities abound and are based on work setting, experience and location. The U.S. Department of Labor reports that the median annual salary is $67,800 as of May 2011.

According to “A historical and theoretical analysis of some broad trends in clinical psychology” by Julian B. Rotter, “Clinical psychology has changed considerably in its short history…” Global cultural conditions and the commitment of the academic institution providing training affect the career path of the clinical psychologist.

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