Washington Psychology Licensure Requirements

In Washington, the Department of Health issues professional licensure for psychologists. To become a psychologist in Washington, you must complete a doctoral degree in psychology, obtain supervised experience, submit an application to become licensed, and pass national and state exams. Because this process can be complicated and time-consuming, we’ve prepared a step-by-step guide to help you through it.

Table of Contents

How to Become a Psychologist in Washington

1. Earn a bachelor’s degree and (optionally) a master’s degree in psychology.

The first step to becoming a psychologist in Washington is to complete a bachelor’s degree. Bachelor’s degrees take approximately four years, or 120 credit hours, to complete. You do not have to major in psychology during your bachelor’s program; in fact, many psychologists study other areas for their undergraduate degree. However, if your undergraduate degree is not in psychology, you must take prerequisites before entering a graduate program.

After completing a bachelor’s degree, you can pursue a master’s degree in psychology. This is an optional step, as most students earn master’s degrees during their doctoral programs. However, a master’s degree can be helpful if you did not major in psychology for your bachelor’s degree or are unsure what types of doctoral programs you would like to apply to. Although requirements for these programs can vary, you can generally expect a master’s degree in psychology to take about two years (30 to 40 credit hours) of full-time study.

2. Earn a doctoral degree in psychology.

After you complete your bachelor’s degree (and a master’s degree if you decide to), you will need to complete a doctoral degree in psychology to qualify for licensure in Washington. Prospective psychologists can pursue either a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Psychology or a Doctor of Psychology (PsyD). Our home page covers the key differences between a PhD in Psychology and a PsyD.

Most doctoral programs in psychology take between four and seven years to complete, depending on the requirements, including the amount of research and clinical experience required as well as the number of classes in the curriculum.

In Washington, applicants for psychology licensure must attend a regionally-accredited 40-credit doctoral program that meets specific educational requirements set forth by the state, including a practicum of at least 300 hours and an internship of at least 1,500 hours. An optional 1,500 hours of the 3,300 hours of supervised experience may be completed during a pre-internship that would take place between the practicum and internship.

Please visit our Psychology Schools in Washington page for more information about doctoral programs in Washington that you may want to consider applying to.

3. Complete postdoctoral supervised experience, if necessary.

Prospective psychologists in Washington must complete at least 3,300 hours of supervised experience to be eligible for licensure. At least 300 of these hours must be completed during the doctoral practicum and 1,500 hours during the doctoral internship. The rest of the required experience (up to 1,500 hours) may be completed during an optional pre-internship during the doctoral program or if all supervised hours are not completed by the time the doctoral degree is complete, the rest can be completed through postdoctoral supervised experience. The rules for obtaining supervised postdoctoral experience can be found on the Washington state legislature website.

4. Submit your application to the Department of Health.

Once you have completed the required supervised experience, you can apply to the Department of Health. The application can be completed online or by mail. As part of your application, you’ll have to answer personal data questions and provide an application fee of $206.

5. Pass the Washington psychology licensing exams.

After the Department of Health has reviewed your application, they will notify you when you are approved to take the licensing examinations required to obtain your license.

The first exam you will need to take is the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP), a national exam that assesses psychology knowledge across a variety of domains. The EPPP consists of 225 multiple-choice questions, and to pass the exam you will need to obtain a scaled score of at least 500.

The second exam you will need to take is Washington’s jurisprudence exam (JP Exam), which is available online. After you have passed the EPPP, the Department of Health will send you instructions for completing the JP Exam, which is a 25-item, multiple-choice test that assesses knowledge of regulations and laws related to the practice of psychology in Washington. The JP Exam is open-book and completed online, and you will need a score of at least 90% to pass.

6. Wait to receive notification that your license has been issued.

After you have passed the EPPP and the JP Exam, you’re almost ready to begin practicing independently! At this point, you will just need to wait for notification from the Department of Health that your license has been issued.

Washington Licensure by Endorsement

If you are licensed in another state, you may be interested in transferring your license to Washington. To qualify for licensure by endorsement, you must have been licensed in your current state for at least two years. If you qualify, first, you will need to complete an online application and pay an application fee of $206. While you wait for approval, you may apply for a temporary permit.

Some states have equivalent requirements for psychologist licensure, fast-tracking licensure transfer between states. If your state has already been deemed equivalent by Washington’s Department of Health, you can apply for a temporary permit while you wait for full Washington licensure. The temporary permit is free to apply for and is valid for 90 days within one calendar year.

If your state has been determined to be non-equivalent, you must meet and provide documentation for additional requirements. Some states are pending review by the Department of Health to determine their equivalency status and may require additional steps beyond the submission of the application. To check whether the state you are licensed in has been deemed equivalent, visit Washington’s Department of Health website.

License Renewal and Continuing Education

Once you are licensed as a psychologist, you will need to meet certain requirements to keep your license active. First, you must complete 60 hours of continuing education (CE) credits every three years. At least four of these hours must be on ethics-related topics. Additionally, every six years, you will need to complete at least six hours of CE on topics related to the assessment and treatment of suicide. CE hours cannot be carried over to the next three-year period. Additional information about CE requirements can be found on the Washington Department of Health website.

In addition to completing CEs, you must renew your license every year on your birthday. You can renew your license through mail once your renewal form is mailed to you, or you can renew online. The fee for renewing your license is $226 plus a $2.50 convenience fee if you complete it online.

School Psychologist

In Washington, school psychologists are regulated by the Washington Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction. To become a school psychologist, you need to apply for an Educational Staff Associate (ESA) Certificate. For a Residency First Issue Certificate, you need a master’s degree in school psychology and to complete a state-approved school psychologist preparation program.

If you did not complete a school psychologist preparation program, you can still qualify with three years of out-of-state experience as a school psychologist or with a Nationally Certified School Psychologist (NCSP) credential by the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP).

You must also pass the Praxis exam for school psychologists and submit fingerprints for a background check. To be eligible for a Professional Certificate, you must meet all the requirements for the Residency ESA First Issue Certificate, hold a valid NCSP credential, complete an issue of abuse course, and an approved suicide prevention training course.

Washington Psychologist Jobs and Salary Information

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), psychologists in Washington, excluding teachers, earned an average annual salary of $103,667 as of May 2022.1 This varies by specialty: clinical and counseling psychologists have an average salary of $105,950, psychologists falling into the “all other” category have an average salary of $105,640, and school psychologists make $99,410 on average annually. 1 Postsecondary psychology teachers in Washington earned less than other groups, with an average salary of $72,380 as of May 2022.1

Employment growth for all psychology specialties is expected to be positive, according to Projections Central. The number of psychologist job openings in Washington from 2020 to 2030 is expected to increase by 18.5% for clinical, counseling, and school psychologists, and 15.6% for postsecondary psychology teachers over the same time period.2

OccupationNumber Employed1Average Annual Salary1
Clinical and Counseling Psychologists1,030$105,950
Industrial-Organizational PsychologistsN.Av.N.Av.
Psychologists, All Other380$105,640
Psychology Teachers, Postsecondary1,060$72,380
School Psychologists1,420$99,410

Additional Resources

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does it take to become a psychologist in Washington?

Becoming a psychologist in Washington can take eight to 12 years. Prospective psychologists must complete a bachelor’s degree, which usually takes four years, and a doctoral degree, which can take four to seven years. After completing the required education, prospective psychologists must meet additional licensure requirements, including accumulating supervised experience hours and passing scores on an exam. There are additional steps, such as choosing to get a stand-alone master’s degree, which can extend the process.

What degree do I need to be a licensed psychologist in Washington?

To become a licensed psychologist in Washington, you will need to complete either a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Psychology or Doctor of Psychology (PsyD) degree.

How much do psychologists in Washington make?

On average, clinical and counseling psychologists in Washington, excluding teachers, earned an annual salary of $103,667 as of May 2022.1 However, this varies depending on specialty: the average clinical and counseling psychologist salary was $105,950, the average “all other” psychologist salary was $105,640, and the average postsecondary psychology teacher in Washington earned $72,380 as of May 2022.1

1. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics, May 2022 State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, Washington: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_wa.htm
2. Projections Central, Long Term Occupational Projections: https://projectionscentral.org/Projections/LongTerm