Clinical directors supervise and assist staff in providing services to mental health clients. They may hire and train employees, seek and monitor grants, and oversee programs. Preparing for a career as a clinical director may begin with enrolling in a bachelor’s degree in applied psychology program.

Job Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that employment in the psychology field, including clinical psychology positions, should grow steadily in coming years. Job growth will result from an increasing demand for psychological services. Advanced education will lead to the best career opportunities.

Clinical Director Job Duties

Essentially, clinical directors are responsible for ensuring quality care to clients and patients. Typically working for research firms, community health clinics or educational organizations, clinical directors develop, implement and assess mental health treatment programs. They may also oversee budgets, personnel and compliance with federal and state laws.

Often, clinical directors train employees and supervise interns and support staff. They may establish relationships with social service agencies and other mental health providers to meet patient needs. They also provide consultation to primary care providers and health educators on matters relating to mental health.

Keeping accurate records is an important aspect of a clinical director’s job. These professionals typically work a 40-hour week; on-call hours during the evening, weekends and holidays are sometimes required.

Clinical Director Salary Potential

The BLS reports that in May 2009, jobs in the field of clinical, counseling and school psychology had a median salary of $66,040. While the lowest 10% made about $39,270, the highest 10% brought in $109,470 per year. National salary data compiled by CareerBuilder.com indicates that clinical services directors earned an average salary of $88,501 as of August 2010. Recent bachelor’s graduates will generally start out in entry-level jobs with lower salaries, but can work their way up to a director-level position with experience and further education.

Education and Training

While clinical practicing psychologist positions generally require a doctoral-level degree, bachelor’s degree holders may be able to obtain a clinical services coordinator position that can provide the experience required for a clinical director role. Previous clinical experience is attractive to many employers, and can be obtained through summer jobs or internship programs while pursuing a degree in applied psychology.

The first step to a clinical director career can be a bachelor’s degree in applied psychology with a concentration in clinical psychology. Coursework typically includes introduction to psychology, multicultural issues, psychology of personality, and clinical and community psychology.

Employers can be confident that graduates of an applied psychology program are able to:

  • Appreciate the key concepts and complexity of sociocultural and international diversity.
  • Identify practical solutions to problems facing organizations of today.
  • Understand the biology behind human behavior.
  • Apply advanced skills, knowledge and experience in a clinical director role.

Many employers offer opportunities for continuing education. It’s possible to gain an entry-level clinical services job with a bachelor’s degree and use a tuition assistance program to pay for a master’s degree or doctorate.

Is a Clinical Director Career a Good Choice for You?

Clinical directors must have excellent supervisory, communication and interpersonal abilities. Also critical are strong time management and leadership skills, as well as proficiency in working with emotionally fragile people. If you posses these attributes and are interested in human behavior, becoming a clinical director could be a great fit.

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