Education plays an enormous role in becoming a psychologist. A four-year undergraduate degree is the starting point. You can choose any subject, but majoring in psychology is recommended. You’ll then need to earn a master’s degree and a doctorate in psychology.
It will take between 8 to 12 years to complete the education you need to become a licensed psychologist. But when you’re a licensed psychologist, education is never complete. Mandatory continuing education (MCE) is required for any licensed psychologist seeking to renew their license.
Mandatory Continuing Education
MCE for psychologists is required in every state. However, the required hours for psychology continuing education vary by state. For example, psychologists in Alabama need 40 hours of continuing education. But in Alaska, psychologists must complete 20 hours of continuing education.
Continuing Education Course Providers
MCE classes for psychologists must have the approval of the American Psychological Association. And EliteCME is an approved continuing education provider. Most states accept EliteCME courses, but you must check their website to see if your state is listed.
Note that EliteCME is a course provider. They track the number of MCE you need, provide the required courses, and provide a certificate showing that you’ve completed the required hours. But the course provider doesn’t renew your license. You have to do that step on your own.
Contact the local state licensing board in your state for instructions on how to renew your license.
What Type of Classes to Expect
The classes available to you depend on your course provider and state. For example, this article shows the type of classes a psychologist in Alabama can expect to encounter from EliteCME. Select your state on the website, and continue to the course listings. Alabama is chosen here, for example, purposes.
Example Psychology MCE Courses
Courses are grouped by credit hours. So, for example, Alabama requires 40 credit hours of continuing education. You’ll see courses that are 1 credit hour, 2 credit hours, 3 credit hours, and so on.
Select courses until you’ve reached the 40-hour requirement. Some states, including Alabama, allow you to carry over up to 6 hours. That means if you earn more than 40 hours, you can apply at least 6 of those extra hours to your credit the next time you renew your license.
In addition to how many hours you’ll earn, each course also provides an in-depth course description. Psychology: A Clinician’s Guide to DSM-5, 2nd Edition is an example of a 3-hour course.
The course is an intermediate-level offering that provides an in-depth look at the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). You’ll learn things such as the DSM’s history and how its diagnostic system continues to develop. There’s also a focus on new disorders, reclassified or removed disorders, and modifications to existing disorders.
Each course also includes information about the creator (or creators) of the course. This allows you to check the creator’s credentials and learn more about their area of expertise.
Psychology: ADHD: Etiology and Treatment is another example of an Alabama course. This course counts as 2 hours towards your continuing education hours. The course is an intermediate-level look into researching, diagnosing, and treating people of all ages who have ADHD.
In this course, you’ll explore the history and evolution of ADHD. There’s also an in-depth look into methods used to treat the disorder, including the use of psychotherapy, alternative treatments, and psychopharmacology.
Some states, including Alabama, require courses in ethics. In Alabama, at least 6 of the 40 hours must come from ethics courses.
To fulfill 3 hours of the 6-hour ethics requirement, an Alabama psychologist could take Doing the Right Thing: Essential Ethics in Practice. This course aims to make psychologists aware of the ethical dilemmas and issues associated with the profession.
Issues such as confidentiality, informed consent, and client autonomy are an area of focus. This particular ethics course is a beginner-level course aimed at the psychologist who is relatively new to the profession.
Each EliteCME course description includes a course expiration date. The expiration date is your deadline for completing the course.
You must score a 75 or higher on your course final exam. If you pass the exam, you’ll receive a certificate of completion.
Please note that the class examples contained here are for Alabama. The classes available in your state will likely differ.
Why Continuing Education is Important for Psychologists
Learning is an ongoing process. And continuing education allows psychologists to continue learning long after they’ve graduated from college. The courses are relevant in that they focus on the practice of psychology, new treatments, improved treatments, and general education in the field.
Continuing education builds upon the foundation created during early studies. The courses aren’t a substitute for a doctoral program or basic educational training in psychology.