SOC Code: 19-3031.02    Clinical Psychologists

Pay Band(s):  4, 5, and 6       (Salary Structure)

Standard Occupational Description:

Clinical Psychologists: Diagnose or evaluate mental and emotional disorders of individuals through observation, interview, and psychological tests, and formulate and administer programs of treatment.

Psychologist positions in the Commonwealth are assigned to the following Roles in the Psychological Services:

Psychologist I

Psychologist II

Psychologist III

Psychology Manager

Practicing Clinical Psychologist positions within the Commonwealth are assigned to the Psychological Services Career Group.  Individuals interested in pursuing related management opportunities in Health and Human Services or Public Safety may be interested in the following Career Groups:

Program Administration

General Administration


(Technical and Functional Expertise)

Note: The technical and functional skills listed below are based on general occupational qualifications for Clinical Psychologists commonly recognized by most employers.  Typically, you will not be required to have all of the skills listed to be a successful performer.  Recruitment and selection standards for an individual state job must be based on the specific knowledge, skills, and abilities for that job as indicated in the job announcement and job description in the Employee Work Profile.

  1. Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
  2. Being aware of others' reactions and understanding why they react as they do.
  3. Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.
  4. Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
  5. Talking to others to convey information effectively.
  6. Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.
  7. Understanding the implications of new information for both current and future problem solving and decision-making.
  8. Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.
  9. Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.
  10. Identifying measures or indicators of system performance and the actions needed to improve or correct performance, relative to the goals of the system.

Note: The technical and functional knowledge statements listed below are based on general occupational qualifications for Clinical Psychologists commonly recognized by most employers.  Typically, you will not be required to have all of the knowledge listed to be a successful performer.  Recruitment and selection standards for an individual state job must be based on the specific knowledge, skills, and abilities for that job as indicated in the job announcement and job description in the Employee Work Profile.

The Knowledge of:

  1. Human behavior and performance; individual differences in ability, personality, and interests; learning and motivation; psychological research methods; and the assessment and treatment of behavioral and affective disorders.
  2. Principles, methods, and procedures for diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation of physical and mental dysfunctions, and for career counseling and guidance.
  3. The structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
  4. Business and management principles involved in strategic planning, resource allocation, human resources modeling, leadership technique, production methods, and coordination of people and resources.
  5. Principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.
  6. Principles and methods for curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.

Note: The technical and functional abilities listed below are based on general occupational qualifications for Clinical Psychologists commonly recognized by most employers.  Typically, you will not be required to have all of the abilities listed to be a successful performer.  Recruitment and selection standards for an individual state job must be based on the specific knowledge, skills, and abilities for that job as indicated in the job announcement and job description in the Employee Work Profile.

The Ability to:

  1. Listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
  2. Read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
  3. Communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
  4. Tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing there is a problem.
  5. Combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events).
  6. Communicate information and ideas in writing so others will understand.
  7. Apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.
  8. Offer a number of ideas about a topic (the number of ideas is important, not their quality, correctness, or creativity).
  9. Come up with unusual or clever ideas about a given topic or situation, or to develop creative ways to solve a problem.
  10. Speak clearly so others can understand you.

The following is a list of sample tasks typically performed by Clinical Psychologists.  Employees in this occupation will not necessarily perform all of the tasks listed. 

  1. Consult reference material such as textbooks, manuals, and journals in order to identify symptoms, to make diagnoses, and to develop approaches to treatment.
  2. Counsel individuals and groups regarding problems such as stress, substance abuse, and family situations, in order to modify behavior and/or to improve personal, social, and vocational adjustment.
  3. Develop and implement individual treatment plans, specifying type, frequency, intensity, and duration of therapy.
  4. Discuss the treatment of problems with clients.
  5. Evaluate the effectiveness of counseling or treatments, and the accuracy and completeness of diagnoses, then modify plans and diagnoses as necessary.
  6. Identify psychological, emotional, or behavioral issues, and diagnose disorders, using information obtained from interviews, tests, records, and reference materials.
  7. Interact with clients to assist them in gaining insight, defining goals, and planning action to achieve effective personal, social, educational, and vocational development and adjustment.
  8. Observe individuals at play, in group interactions, or in other contexts to detect indications of mental deficiency, abnormal behavior, or maladjustment.
  9. Obtain and study medical, psychological, social, and family histories, by interviewing individuals, couples, or families, and by reviewing records.
  10. Provide occupational, educational, and other information to individuals so that they can make educational and vocational plans.


Like people, occupations have traits or characteristics.  These characteristics give important clues about the nature of the work and work environment, and give you an opportunity to match your own personal interests to a specific occupation.  When you choose a job in an occupation that matches your own interests you have taken an important step in planning a successful and rewarding career.

Occupations in the field of psychology demonstrate Investigative, Artistic, and Social characteristics.

Investigative — Investigative occupations frequently involve working with ideas, and require an extensive amount of thinking. These occupations can involve searching for facts and figuring out problems mentally.

Artistic — Artistic occupations frequently involve working with forms, designs and patterns. They often require self-expression and the work can be done without following a clear set of rules.

Social — Social occupations frequently involve working with, communicating with, and teaching people. These occupations often involve helping or providing service to others.


Licensure is required.  Virginia law defines "Clinical psychologist" as an individual licensed to practice clinical psychology.

The "Practice of clinical psychology" includes, but is not limited to:

  1. "Testing and measuring" which consists of the psychological evaluation or assessment of personal characteristics such as intelligence, abilities, interests, aptitudes, achievements, motives, personality dynamics, psychoeducational processes, neuropsychological functioning, or other psychological attributes of individuals or groups.
  2. "Diagnosis and treatment of mental and emotional disorders" which consists of the appropriate diagnosis of mental disorders according to standards of the profession and the ordering or providing of treatments according to need. Treatment includes providing counseling, psychotherapy, marital/family therapy, group therapy, behavior therapy, psychoanalysis, hypnosis, biofeedback, and other psychological interventions with the objective of modification of perception, adjustment, attitudes, feelings, values, self-concept, personality or personal goals, the treatment of alcoholism and substance abuse, disorders of habit or conduct, as well as of the psychological aspects of physical illness, pain, injury or disability.
  3. "Psychological consulting" which consists of interpreting or reporting on scientific theory or research in psychology, rendering expert psychological or clinical psychological opinion, evaluation, or engaging in applied psychological research, program or organizational development, administration, supervision or evaluation of psychological services.

The Virginia Board of Psychology regulates licensing of Clinical Psychologists.  Information on the licensing process is available on the Department of Health Professions' web site at


The State Council of Higher Education publishes a list of Virginia colleges and universities that offer degree programs in psychology.  Visit their web site at to view the list.

The Department of Labor reports that a doctoral degree usually is required for employment as an independent licensed clinical. Psychologists with a Ph.D. qualify for a wide range of teaching, research, clinical, and counseling positions in universities, healthcare services, elementary and secondary schools, private industry, and government. Psychologists with a Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.) degree usually work in clinical positions or in private practices.

A doctoral degree usually requires 5 to 7 years of graduate study. The Ph.D. degree culminates in a dissertation based on original research. Courses in quantitative research methods, which include the use of computer-based analysis, are an integral part of graduate study and are necessary to complete the dissertation. The Psy.D. may be based on practical work and examinations rather than a dissertation. In clinical or counseling psychology, the requirements for the doctoral degree usually include at least a 1-year internship.

Persons with a master's degree in psychology may work as industrial-organizational psychologists or school psychologists. They also may work as psychological assistants, under the supervision of doctoral-level psychologists, and conduct research or psychological evaluations. A master's degree in psychology requires at least 2 years of full-time graduate study. Requirements usually include practical experience in an applied setting and a master's thesis based on an original research project. Competition for admission to graduate programs is keen. Some universities require applicants to have an undergraduate major in psychology. Others prefer only coursework in basic psychology with courses in the biological, physical, and social sciences; and statistics and mathematics.

A bachelor's degree in psychology qualifies a person to assist psychologists and other professionals in community mental health centers, vocational rehabilitation offices, and correctional programs. They may work as research or administrative assistants or become sales or management trainees in business. Some work as technicians in related fields, such as marketing research.

Clinical psychologists—who constitute the largest specialty—most often work in counseling centers, independent or group practices, hospitals, or clinics. They help mentally and emotionally disturbed clients adjust to life and may help medical and surgical patients deal with illnesses or injuries. Some clinical psychologists work in physical rehabilitation settings, treating patients with spinal cord injuries, chronic pain or illness, stroke, arthritis, and neurological conditions. Others help people deal with times of personal crisis, such as divorce or the death of a loved one.

Clinical psychologists often interview patients and give diagnostic tests. They may provide individual, family, or group psychotherapy, and design and implement behavior modification programs. Some clinical psychologists collaborate with physicians and other specialists to develop and implement treatment and intervention programs that patients can understand and comply with. Other clinical psychologists work in universities and medical schools, where they train graduate students in the delivery of mental health and behavioral medicine services. Some administer community mental health programs.

Areas of specialization within clinical psychology include health psychology, neuropsychology, and geropsychology. Health psychologists promote good health through health maintenance counseling programs designed to help people achieve goals, such as to stop smoking or lose weight. Neuropsychologists study the relation between the brain and behavior. They often work in stroke and head injury programs. Geropsychologists deal with the special problems faced by the elderly. The emergence and growth of these specialties reflects the increasing participation of psychologists in providing direct services to special patient populations.

Often, clinical psychologists will consult with other medical personnel regarding the best treatment for patients, especially treatment that includes medications. Clinical psychologists generally are not permitted to prescribe medications to treat patients; only psychiatrists and other medical doctors may prescribe medications. (See the statement on physicians and surgeons elsewhere in the Handbook.) However, one State, New Mexico, has passed legislation allowing clinical psychologists who undergo additional training to prescribe medication, and similar proposals have been made in additional States.

Additional information on educational and learning opportunities and licensing requirements can be obtained from recognized professional organizations, including:

American Psychological Association

Based in Washington, DC, the American Psychological Association (APA) is a scientific and professional organization that represents psychology in the United States. With more than 150,000 members, APA is the largest association of psychologists worldwide.

The mission of the American Psychological Association shall be to advance psychology as a science and profession and as a means of promoting health, education, and human welfare by the

  • encouragement of psychology in all its branches in the broadest and most liberal manner;
  • promotion of research in psychology and the improvement of research methods and conditions;
  • improvement of the qualifications and usefulness of psychologists through high standards of ethics, conduct, education, and achievement;
  • establishment and maintenance of the highest standards of professional ethics and conduct of the members of the Association;
  • increase and diffusion of psychological knowledge through meetings, professional contacts, reports, papers, discussions, and publications

thereby to advance scientific interests and inquiry, and the application of research findings to the promotion of health, education, and the public welfare.

Virginia Psychological Association

Virginia Academy of Clinical Psychologists


Competencies are a set of identified behaviors, knowledge, skills, and abilities that directly and positively impact the success of employees and the organization. Competencies can be observed and measured.  When consistently demonstrated, competencies make employees particularly effective in their work.  Competencies help lay out a road map to career success.  You can use the Commonwealth Competencies to help improve your individual performance by adopting behaviors that make high performing employees successful in their jobs. In this way, you can use the Commonwealth Competencies for your further professional development.

The Commonwealth Competencies are:

  1. Technical and Functional Expertise
  2. Understanding the Business     
  3. Achieving Results
  4. Serving the Customer
  5. Teamwork
  6. Interpersonal and Communication Skills
  7. Leadership and Personal Effectiveness

The above competencies may be applied to employees throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia.  They can be rank-ordered by agencies and hiring managers to represent the needs of a specific job.  The rank ordering will change depending upon the occupation, an organization's priorities, the actual job requirements, and the supervisor's preferences. 

Career success is both about what you do (applying your technical knowledge, skills, and ability) and how you do it (the consistent behaviors you demonstrate and choose to use) while interacting and communicating with others.  Hopefully, by studying the Commonwealth competencies, identifying your developmental opportunities, and working to refine your own competence, you can take charge of your career!

For additional information about the Commonwealth Competencies go to:  For the competencies, we first list the competencies and then define each.  Finally, we list competency indicators; to describe what successful performance looks like. 


Career opportunities in the Commonwealth are not limited to moving “up” to the next highest role and pay band, changing positions, or to becoming a supervisor.  That's because most roles describe a broad group of occupationally related positions that perform a range of work that requires increased knowledge and skills.  For that reason, Commonwealth roles describe the career paths within the same or higher-level role for the same or different Career Group.  The broad salary range and the Commonwealth's pay practices provide flexibility in recognizing career development and advancement. (Salary Structure)

The following roles describe the collective characteristics of the work performed by employees in the Psychological Services Career Group. The roles define the typical career paths for (1) psychologists (licensed clinicians) and (2) unlicensed clinicians who render psychological services under the supervision of licensed psychologists as defined by the regulations governing the practice of Psychology in Virginia. 





Psychologist I

Psychology Associate I



Psychologist II

Psychology Associate II



Psychologist III

Psychology Associate III

Psychology Manager

Psychologist I/Psychology Associate I

The Psychologist I/Psychology Associate I role provides career tracks for licensed psychologists and unlicensed associates who are responsible for conducting psychological assessments and administering, scoring and interpreting a variety of psychological tests. Psychologists/Psychology Associates I provide treatment to clients using didactic, psychotherapeutic and behavioral techniques and principles to include individual, group, and family services, crisis intervention and risk assessment, and counseling.  All work is performed by, or under the supervision of a higher-level clinical psychologist. 

Psychologist II/Psychology Associate II

The Psychologist II/Psychology Associate II role provides career tracks for advanced-level licensed psychologists and unlicensed associates who deliver a variety of comprehensive psychological services to clients. Services may include complex diagnostic testing and evaluation, treatment planning and intervention, applied behavior analysis, individual, group and family therapy, research, and staff training.  May supervise subordinate psychologists, associates, therapists, and counselors and develop treatment policy for the assigned program area. Exercises independent judgment regarding individual client care.

Psychologist III/Psychology Associate III

The Psychologist III/Psychologist Associate III role provides career tracks for expert-level licensed psychologists and unlicensed associates who provide the full range of direct services to clients and/or clinical and administrative supervision to staff in caseload management, resource allocation, clinical decisions, crisis intervention, and on-going program planning and implementation.  May provide and oversee the development, implementation and evaluation of policy, services, and programs.

Psychology Manager

The Psychology Manager role is for licensed psychologists who are responsible for long-range activities associated with administering and directing the design and delivery of comprehensive psychological services programs.


American Psychological Association

Virginia Psychological Association

Virginia Academy of Clinical Psychologists

O*NET (Occupational Information Network)

Virginia Employment Commission

Department of Human Resource Management

Career One Stop

Virginia Career Resource Network