I have always been told that the competition for an academic job in Clinical psychology is easier than for other fields, given that 90% or so of clinical graduates end up in a clinical job. I have been hearing on this site that the competition in clinical psychology is more fierce than other positions? I understand that the competition is probably fierce for all academic jobs in the field, but which field actually has more/better looking (academically speaking) applicants?
Date: 07 Dec 2013 22:45
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In my experience, the competition for clinical jobs is less than for other areas. By that I mean that the expectations for publication record are lower. It may be that as more clinical programs are more and more oriented toward teaching researchers (rather than training practitioners) the number of individuals who are pursuing academic jobs may be growing so the competition is growing. But generally, the number of applicants for clinical jobs is not as high and the level of productivity is lower than say for social or cognitive. A clinical colleague with whom I have served on numerous search committees always ends up laughing about the sheer number of applicants and the sometimes astronomically high number of pubs the applicants have in nonclinical areas.
As one point of data, our last non-clinical hire had about 80 applicants, and our last clinical hire had about 30. (Note: these numbers are probably on the low side in both categories for a variety of reasons…. I think the non-clinical hire would have had a lot MORE applicants if we hadn't been very specific in the job add about what we could and could not offer). The caliber of applicants seems to be pretty high in both groups. Clinical and developmental folks probably have fewer publications due to the type of research conducted….treatment outcome and other longitudinal studies take a lot more time than running lab-based experiments.
I would be careful not to confound the 'requirements' around publication record/H-index with the concept of how competitive is the application process. In the case of clinical faculty work, remember that departments are not just looking for research productivity, but also level of expertise in teaching/supervising clinical training. So clinical vs. non-clinical positions may be equally competitive, but the weight of that competition that rests on publication record vs. other aspects of the applicant's record (e.g. prestige of internship site, scope of clinical training, rigor of clinical outcome research) may differ. At my graduate institution, the last clinical faculty search brought in almost 200 applications; these folks not only had great publication records and research programs, but a wide range of experience in working with diverse clinical populations, in multiple settings, and with varied evidence-based treatments. That rusty old saw about how clinical folks wear a lot of 'hats' apparently remains true and is a strong factor in landing a job.
Clinical graduate programs are typically more competitive than programs in other areas of psychology, so one could argue that the clinical job candidates (at least those coming out of top schools) are stronger even if the applicant pools for clinical jobs are smaller. At my R1 university, we just got 400 applicants for likely 5-7 spots in our clinical Ph.D program. I don't think social, developmental, and other areas get numbers like these. Clinical applicants may have fewer publications when they are on the market, but they also have generally completed >1000 predoctoral training hours and done a year of full-time clinical internship pre-Ph.D. And I disagree that 90% of clinical graduates pursue clinical jobs - maybe that's true if you include all the Psy.D programs out there, but most of the graduates in my clinical program ended up in positions with at least some involvement in research, teaching, and supervision (if not pure t-t academic jobs).