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Washington Psychology Licensure Requirements

In Washington, the Washington State Department of Health issues psychologist licenses. To become a psychologist in Washington, you will need to complete a doctoral degree in psychology, obtain a certain number of hours of 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. Included in our guide below are answers to many commonly-asked questions about becoming a psychologist in Washington State, including:

» How do I become a psychologist in Washington?
» I have earned a PhD or PsyD and I am ready to learn how to get a psychologist license in Washington.
» What are Washington’s supervised professional experience rules and regulations?
» What psychology exams are required in Washington?
» I am already a licensed psychologist in another state; how do I become licensed in Washington by endorsement?
» How do I renew my psychology license in Washington?
» How much do psychologists in Washington make?

Three Steps to Becoming a Psychologist in Washington

There are three broad steps to becoming a psychologist in Washington. First, you will need to complete an undergraduate degree, and may also choose to complete a master’s degree in psychology. Second, you will need to complete a doctoral degree in psychology. After completing these steps, then you will be ready to begin the process of obtaining a license to practice psychology in Washington.

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

Once you have decided you would like to become a psychologist in Washington, the first step is to complete a bachelor’s degree. This will require that you attend school full-time for approximately four years, or 120 credit hours. At the end of your program, you will earn either a Bachelor of Arts (BA) or Bachelor of Science (BS) degree, both of which are accepted by graduate programs in psychology. You do not have to major in psychology during your bachelor’s degree; in fact, many psychologists studied other areas while they were in college.

After you have completed your bachelor’s degree, you may choose to also complete a master’s degree in psychology. This is an optional step, as most students who attend doctoral programs in psychology earn master’s degrees during their programs (see Step 2). However, these programs can be helpful if you did not major in psychology for your bachelor’s degree or if you are not sure what types of doctoral programs you would like to apply to.

To be admitted into a master’s program in psychology, you will likely need to take the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) and may be asked to complete certain educational prerequisites. Some master’s degree programs offer generalist studies, while others focus on specialized areas of psychology. Although requirements for these programs can vary, in general you can expect that a master’s degree will take about two years (35-45 credit hours) of full-time attendance. These programs may award either Master of Arts (MA) or Master of Science (MS) degrees.

2. Earn a PsyD or PhD in psychology.

After you have completed your bachelor’s degree (and a master’s degree if you decide to), you will need to complete a doctoral degree in psychology to be qualified for licensure in Washington. There are two options for these types of degrees in the United States: a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Psychology, or a Doctor of Psychology (PsyD). For more information about the differences between these degrees, please visit this page from the American Psychological Association (APA).

Most doctoral programs in psychology take between four and seven years to complete. The amount of time it takes to complete these degrees varies based on the specific requirements for each program, which can include the amount of research that students must complete, the amount of clinical experience they are required to gain, and the number of classes they are asked to take.

In Washington, applicants for psychology licensure must have attended a regionally accredited doctoral program that meets specific educational requirements set forth by the state (see here for more information about these specific requirements). 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. Get licensed to practice psychology in Washington.

Once you have completed your doctoral degree in psychology, you will be ready to begin the process of obtaining a license to practice psychology in Washington. Because this can be a particularly time-involved process, below are detailed instructions on how to complete this step.

Washington Psychologist Licensing Process

1. Complete two years of supervised experience.

The first step to obtaining a psychology license in Washington is to complete two years (3,000 hours) of supervised experience. These hours include activities such as direct work with patients, attending supervision, and administrative tasks related to clinical work. At least 300 of these hours must be completed in a practicum during your doctoral program, and another 1,500 must come from your pre-doctoral internship. If you have attended a doctoral program that meets the requirements set forth by Washington (see Step 2 above), you will have already completed these by the time you finish your doctoral degree. The remainder of your hours can come from additional practicum hours or a formal preinternship They can also be obtained after you have completed your degree (postdoctoral hours). The rules for receiving supervised postdoctoral hours can be found here.

2. Submit your application to the Board.

Once you have completed the required 3,000 hours of supervised experience, you can submit an application to the Department of Health. The application has both an online component as well as a Licensure by Examination Application Packet that you will need to print and mail. During this step, you will need to pay an application fee of $206.

You can also choose to submit your application through the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Board’s (ASPPB) Psychology Licensure Universal System (PLUS) Program. This is a system that saves your credentials and allows you to apply online for licensure in Washington and other states that participate in PLUS. To register with the PLUS program, you will need to pay a $200 fee in addition to the application fee for Washington. This is not a required step, but could be useful if you think that you may eventually want to become licensed in one of the other states that participate in PLUS. Washington’s Licensure by Examination Application Packet includes instructions on submitting through the PLUS program if you choose this route.

3. Pass the Washington psychology licensing exams.

After your application has been reviewed by the Department of Health, 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. There is a $600 fee to register for the EPPP, and you will also need to pay a fee of $87.50 to the test site where you take the exam.

The second exam you will need to take is Washington’s jurisprudence exam (JP Exam). After you have successfully 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.

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

After you have completed 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 as well as a Psychology License by Endorsement Application Packet that you print and mail. You will also need to pay an application fee of $206 when you complete these forms.

If your state has already been reviewed by the Department of Health and determined to be equivalent, this will likely be a quick process. If your state has been determined to be non-equivalent, there are specific additional requirements you will be asked to meet and provide documentation for. Some states have not yet been reviewed by the Department of Health to determine equivalency, and also may require additional steps beyond submission of the application. To check whether the state you are licensed in has been deemed equivalent or not, visit this page at the Washington State Department of Health’s website.

Licensing Renewal and Continuing Professional Education Information

Once you are licensed as a psychologist in your license, you will need to meet certain requirements to keep your license active. First, you will need to complete 60 hours of continuing education (CE) credits every three years. At least four of these hours must be in ethics-related topics. Additionally, every six years, you will need to complete at least six hours of CE in topics related to the assessment and treatment of suicide. Additional information about CE requirements can be found here. If you get more CEs than you need in a three-year period, you cannot transfer any of them over to the next period.

In addition to completing your CEs, you will need to 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.

Washington Psychology Jobs and Salary Information

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, psychologists in Washington, excluding teachers earn an average annual salary of $86,830.1 This varies by specialty: clinical, counseling, and school psychologists have an average salary of $72,480 and psychologists falling into the “all other” category have an average salary of $101,180, which makes it the fourth-highest-paying state in the nation.1,2 Postsecondary psychology teachers in Washington have an average salary of $69,130.1

The number of jobs for psychologists is expected to increase by an average of 15.85% between 2016 and 2026.3 Clinical, counseling, and school psychologists are expected to see the largest growth in jobs during this time, with an increase of 21.4%, while psychology positions in the “all other” category are expected to increase by 10.3%.3

OccupationNumber EmployedAverage Annual Salary
Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychologists2,160$72,480
Industrial-Organizational PsychologistsN/AN/A
Psychologists, All Other410$101,180
Psychology Teachers, Postsecondary980$69,130

Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics as of May 2017.1

Frequently Asked Questions

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

Becoming a psychologist in Washington can take many years: you will need to complete a bachelor’s degree, which usually takes four years, as well as a doctoral degree, which can take four to seven years. There are additional steps, such as choosing to get a stand-alone master’s degree, which can extend the process. Although this is not a fast process, it can lead to an extremely rewarding career with many well-paying job options.

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, psychologists in Washington, excluding teachers, earn an annual salary of $86,830.1 However, this varies depending on specialty: average clinical, counseling, and school psychologist salaries are $72,480 and average psychology salaries in the “all other” category are $101,180.1 The average postsecondary psychology teacher in Washington earns $69,130.1

Additional Resources

References:
1. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics, May 2017 State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, Washington: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_wa.htm
2. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics, Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2017, 19-3039 Psychologists, All Other: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes193039.htm
3. Projections Central, Long Term Occupational Projections (2016-2026): http://www.projectionscentral.com/Projections/LongTerm