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• What steps would you recommend I take to prepare to enter this field?

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David’s Answer

I thought Jennifer Webb's answer was very complete; the only thing I can add is that in most states there may be different "kinds" of psychologists, such as clinical or counseling psychologists, school psychologists, forensic psychologists, etc., and each may have different college and graduate school preparation pathways and credentialing requirements. In California, for example, School Psychologists get credentialed by the Dept. of Education whereas professional psychologists (those who are licensed to offer services to the public for a fee) are licensed by the Board of Psychology. Some careers as a psychologist require you to have a license whether or not you plan to practice independently, including many positions in clinics, hospitals, public schools, and most governmental agencies. Other careers as a psychologist do not necessarily require getting licensed, such as university or college level teaching and research positions.

David recommends the following next steps:

As you continue to identify your personal and career interests in psychology, also look into what the typical education, training (e.g., internship), and credentialing requirements are in your state.
If you haven't checked it out yet, the American Psychological Association's website (click on Careers) has a lot of information for students about becoming a psychologist.

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Jennifer’s Answer

The field of counseling and psychology is a noble profession, and at this time especially, there is a great need for people with compassion and integrity in this career . There are many different opportunities and facets to this field, so you can make good use of your time now by exploring different age groups you want to work with in order to narrow your goal. Also, think about what environment you see yourself working in most successfully. Do you want to work in a school or hospital setting, or would you like to have your own practice?

One thing that I encourage you to do which will help you decide your specific career goals is to watch the news, and be up on local and national current events. Whether it be LGBTQ, racism, gun violence, homeless, notice which topics you are drawn to and which groups you sympathize with most, and this will help you decide your desired setting. Once you have an idea of where you want to be, try to learn as much on your own about these groups of interest.

Your community college or four year college will also help you explore opportunities, and you can be doing volunteer work during the summers to obtain good experience. Your graduate degree will require that you choose a specific internship so that you will become an expert in a chosen area. This will help you prepare to be successful in your profession.

Best of luck to you while you work hard toward accomplishing your goals!

Jennifer recommends the following next steps:

Keep up on current events and the news to find out what conflicts you are most interested in: homelessness, marriage and family, suicide, LGBTQ, gun violence , etc.
While you are obtaining your undergraduate degree in psychology, find ways to volunteer in your topics of interest
As you are doing your graduate degree, obtain your internship working in the setting you are most interested in : hospital, school, private practice, etc.