Psychology Schools and Careers in Washington
The state of Washington has institutions offering numerous award-winning psychology programs that are designed to prepare you for a career in the mental health field. Psychology and mental health jobs are growing in Washington, so now may be a great time to work towards earning your license in the psychology specialty of your choice.
How to Become a Psychologist in Washington
There are many types of psychologists, including school, behavioral, clinical, and counseling psychologists, just to name a few. To become any kind of psychologist in Washington, you need to earn a doctorate degree and a license.
To become a psychologist in Washington, follow these main steps:
- Find a bachelor’s program: To earn a doctorate, you must first earn a bachelor’s degree. A bachelor’s degree in psychology takes around four years or 120 credit hours to complete, and you can earn either a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) or Bachelor of Science (B.S.). Some graduate programs accept bachelor’s degree holders who majored in an area outside of psychology, like sociology.
- Complete a graduate program: A master’s degree in psychology isn’t a prerequisite to doctoral programs, but you might find some roles in mental health with either Master of Arts (M.A.) or Master of Science (M.S.) degrees. If you want to hold the title of psychologist, however, you need to earn either a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Psychology or a Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.). If your undergraduate degree wasn’t in psychology, you might want to earn a master’s before completing your doctorate in psychology. You can also continue straight from a bachelor’s in psychology to a regionally accredited doctorate program, which usually take between four and seven years to complete. Program lengths vary based on the research and clinical experience hours required.
- Complete supervised experience hours: Washington licensure requires a total of 3,300 hours of supervised experience, which takes around two years to complete. The hours are split between a required one-year residency (750 hours) and a 300-hour practicum, with 1,500 hours in a pre-doctoral internship. Doctoral programs in the state should meet these requirements before you finish the degree. The remaining hours can come from additional practicum hours, pre-internships, or post-doctoral hours, but you must reach the total before gaining licensure.
- Choose a specialization: With many specializations available, the option you select determines what type of license you need.
- State licensure: Earning your Washington psychology involves completing your education and supervised experience and passing the required exams.
- Complete exams: For licensure, you must pass both state and national exams after submitting your application to the Department of Health.
Washington Psychology Licensing and Exams
You must earn a psychology license from the Washington State Department of Health before you can practice in the state.
To apply, you must complete a regionally accredited doctoral program in psychology and 3,300 hours of supervised experience. You’ll submit your application through both an online portion and an application packet (downloads as PDF) that you must print and mail, along with your application fee of $206.
You can also apply for licensure in Washington online using the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards’ (ASPPB) Psychology Licensure Universal System (PLUS) Program. Some other states use PLUS to register for licensure, which may make it easier if you plan to move to a new state. There’s a $200 fee in addition to the $206 Washington state application fee, and you may still need to submit Washington’s licensure application packet by paper.
After the Department of Health reviews your application, you complete licensing exams. The state notifies you when you’re approved to move to this stage, and there are both state and national exams.
You’ll take the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP) first, which is the national psychology exam. It contains multiple-choice questions, and you need a score above 500 to pass. The registration fee is $600 for the EPPP plus $87.50 for the testing site’s fee.
Then, you must pass the jurisprudence exam (JP Exam) for the state of Washington with no less than 90% correct. It’s an open book online exam with 25 multiple-choice questions. The topics on the exam include psychology law, the Uniform Disciplinary Act, the Health Care Information Act, the Mental Illness Act, abuse of children and vulnerable adults, psychologist rules, whistleblower complaints, and administrative procedures and requirements for credentials. The Department of Health notifies you when you pass the EPPP and can move on to the JP Exam.
Once both exams are complete, the Department of Health notifies you when your license is issued.
Transferring Licensure from Another State
If you’re already licensed to practice in another state and want to move to Washington, you can transfer your license with an endorsement. To qualify, you must hold licensure in your previous state for no less than two years. You can apply online and complete the print-and-mail Psychology License by Endorsement Application Packet, which requires a $206 fee.
Once the Department of Health reviews your forms and determines that you meet their requirements, you earn licensure in Washington. Some states may not match up closely, so you may need to take additional steps or supply additional documents to determine equivalency. You can check if your state has a close equivalent through the Department of Health to speed up the process.
Job Growth and Psychologist Salary in Washington
The average Washington psychologist salary depends on the specialty. An average psychologist salary in Washington, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, 2018), is between $48,430 and $102,760. (These figures are based on average salaries of clinical, counseling, school, industrial, and “all other” types of psychologists.)
The projected job growth in Washington for psychologists in any specialty appears bright. According to O*Net, nationwide growth for clinical and school psychologists is expected at around 8%, while Washington state is as high as +21%. Similar growth expectancies extend to clinical, counseling, and school psychologists, as well as behavior disorder, substance abuse, and mental health counselors. The BLS projects psychologist careers overall will grow by 14% by 2028.
Mental Health Careers and Job Growth in Washington
|Career||Mean Annual Salary (2018)||Average Mean Wage Per Hour||Expected Job Growth (2018-28)|
|Educational, Guidance, School, and Vocational Counselors||$64,210||$30.87||+21%|
|Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychologists||$73,840||$35.50||+21%|
|Psychologists – All Other||$102,760||$49.40||+10%|
|Licensed Clinical Social Worker||$73,180||$35.18||+10%|
|Marriage and Family Therapist||$47,470||$22.82||+13%|
|Behavioral Disorder, Substance Abuse, and Mental Health Counselor||$48,430||$23.28||+20%|
There are many mental health specializations you can focus on in Washington. While many psychology positions focus on mental illness, not all roles focus on these issues. Some positions require master’s while others require a doctorate. The list below includes a sample of some of the mental health specialties in Washington.
Washington Psychology Spotlight Programs
Seattle Pacific University (Seattle, WA)
The faith-based clinical psychology doctoral program at Seattle Pacific University is unlike any other. They have B.A. and B.S. degrees as well as masters and doctoral programs in marriage and family therapy, clinical psychology, and industrial-organizational psychology. Graduate programs vary from $799 to $851, depending on specialization. The clinical psychology program, for example, is estimated at around $47,620 for on or off-campus students. Undergrads in the 2019-2020 school year can expect to pay tuition fees of around $44,604.
University of Washington (Seattle, WA)
The University of Washington Department of Psychology is well-known for its challenging and top-rated Clinical Psychology Ph.D. program, even gaining recognition from the APA. They offer undergrad (B.A. or B.S.) and a variety of graduate degrees and specializations. Graduate programs tend to be more flexible, but most courses are mentor-based rather than online. Tuition (PDF download) in 2018 ranged from an estimated $32,594 for Seattle undergrads to $15,305 for Seattle graduates.
Whitman College (Walla Walla, WA)
The Psychology Department at Whitman College offers a wide range of courses and research labs, including an animal and human laboratory facility for undergrads to investigate behavior. They offer off-campus study opportunities, but most courses take place on campus. The estimated cost of attendance from 2019 to 2020 is $68,732.
University of Puget Sound (Tacoma, WA)
Students love the passionate and engaging professors at the University of Puget Sound’s psychology department, where you can study human and animal thought and behavior. They offer a bachelor’s degree in psychology, and classes take place on campus. There are also a wide array of internship and volunteer opportunities. Tuition for 2019 to 2020 is $32,370.
Washington State University (Pullman, WA)
The doctoral program in clinical psychology from Washington State University is award-winning. The program includes either research or clinical studies and a year-long internship, which makes it highly competitive. They offer undergrad and graduate research opportunities in cannabis, adult psychopathology, clinical child and adolescent psychology, cognitive psychology, drugs and alcohol, health psychology, etc. Tuition varies based on residency, costing around $23,922 for residents and $38,500 for out-of-state students.
Northwest University (Kirkland, WA)
Unlike other schools, Northwest University is a Christian school that offers a B.A. in psychology online or in-person with five concentrations available. They also have a Master of Arts in clinical mental health counseling and a Psy.D. in counseling. Tuition varies, with undergrads paying around $41,960 in 2019 to 2020. Graduate and online programs vary in price as well.
Western Washington University (Bellingham, WA)
Western Washington University is excellent for earning a B.S. in psychology. The Department of Psychology also offers graduate programs in experimental, clinical mental health counseling, and school counseling. Washington residents pay costs around $25,285 for an undergrad degree, while out of state students pay around $41,632. Graduate prices also vary based on residency.
Washington Psychology Scholarships and Loan Repayment
Psychology scholarships are widely available through various states and for different types of students. Aside from nationally offered scholarships, some programs offer scholarships:
Washington Internships and Fellowships
Internships and fellowships can also help you pay for your education or further your studies. Available options in Washington include:
Washington Psychology Resources
Explore the following resources for help becoming a psychologist in Washington:
- District of Columbia
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York
- North Carolina
- North Dakota
- Puerto Rico
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
- West Virginia