What Can You Do With a PhD in Clinical Psychology?

May 30, 2020

Students who choose to earn a PhD in clinical psychology typically choose a major area of focus, such as child psychology, neuropsychology, or health psychology. As part of the degree, they engage in coursework related to the developmental, social, and biological aspects of human behavior. These programs come with a strong research component, including focus on quantitative methods used to collect data. Graduates have access to a wide range of careers, some of which are profiled below, along with growth and salary statistics.

PhD in Clinical Psychology Jobs/Salary

Job Title Median Salary (2019)* Job Growth (2018-2028)*
Psychologists $80,370 14%
Clinical Case Managers $44,147** (2020) 11% (social workers)
Occupational Therapists $84,950 18%
School Psychologist $78,200 (clinical, counseling, and school psychologists) 15% (clinical, counseling, and school psychologists)
Child Psychologist $68,611** (2020) 12% (psychologists, all other)

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **PayScale.com

PhD in Clinical Psychology Careers


Psychologists keep track of current research within their field and develop treatment plans for their clients based upon their goals, circumstances, and core values. They help clients deal with various life circumstances or mental health issues. Though a master's may allow someone to work as a psychologist, a PhD is typically required.

Clinical Case Manager

Clinical case managers manage the healthcare of patients under their charge. They work with insurers as well as patients to manage physical or mental health problems. The job entails making sure clients have access to various health and community resources and services. They may also help patients manage mental health disorders in conjunction with psychiatrists or psychologists. This is an advanced form of social work that requires a strong awareness of mental health issues and treatments, so a PhD in clinical psychology can provide the background knowledge necessary.

Occupational Therapists

Occupational therapists work with patients who have physical or cognitive disabilities, injuries, or impairments. They conduct evaluations, examine medical records, and work with patients on completing specific tasks. Occupational therapists may discuss end goals with the patient and tailor their treatment plans to address individual issues and challenges. Some of these professionals practice with a master's degree, but others have a PhD. While occupational therapists may specifically study occupational therapy, a PhD in psychology can be particularly useful when dealing with cognitive issues and impairments.

School Psychologist

School psychologists work with children and young adults, as well as their families, to develop effective treatment options and coping mechanisms for academic and behavioral issues. They work directly with schools to foster a healthier learning environment and to lessen the occurrence of social, cognitive, behavioral, and emotional problems among students. Furthermore, they collect data on students within a school system and make recommendations for programs. This is a specialty area of psychology, and requires the advanced understanding of treatment methodologies, theories, and childhood development acquired through a PhD program.

Child Psychologist

Child psychologists help clients treat and manage emotional, mental, behavioral or social issues. These professionals have a deep understanding of the impacts that family interactions and social context have on behavior, overall development, and social interactions. They work with their clients to discover issues related to cognition, mental health, and biological vulnerabilities. A PhD is typically required for this career as it provides the educational background necessary to identify issues and develop appropriate treatment plans.

Graduates who have earned a PhD in clinical psychology will have a range of career options to choose from. Their extensive knowledge of human cognition and behavior make them ideal candidates jobs that involve assessment and treatment of various behavioral, developmental, and psychological conditions.

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