School Psychologist Careers

NUMBER OF JOBS

174,000

JOB OPENINGS

37,700

JOB GROWTH

22%

AVG. SALARY

$68,460 /yr

$33.00 /hr

All Stats from BLS.gov

School psychologists work in elementary and secondary schools. They counsel students, administer psychological tests, and consult with parents and teachers to solve student behavior problems. They also may run special education classes, group counseling sessions, in-class workshops, or other programs designed to improve student mental health and learning.

What is a School Psychologist? 

School psychologists generally have expertise in adolescent psychopathology, child psychology, adolescent psychology, and therapeutic intervention. They may work with parents to stop student substance abuse, develop strategies to help kids with homework, or improve parenting skills. They may have input into school disciplinary practices and procedures. They may also refer students to outside counseling organizations when needed.

School psychologists may work for a single school or rotate throughout different schools in a district, depending on the size of the school and the district.

How do I Become a School Psychologist?

Earn a Bachelor’s degree. You’ll need to start by earning a four-year degree. To get into a postgraduate psychology program, it isn’t required to earn a Bachelor’s degree in psychology or education—although it can help.

Earn a Master’s or specialist degree. After you graduate from a Bachelor’s program, you have two options: earn a Master’s degree or a specialized Ed.S. degree in psychology, counseling, or school psychology. The Ed.S. degree usually requires at least 60 graduate semester hours of study, and frequently takes about three years to earn—while most Masters programs in the area take about two years. Most states require that school psychologists earn at least a Master’s or Ed.S. degree.

Earn a doctoral degree. Some states require a doctoral degree in school psychology, education, special education, or psychology for a position as a school psychologist. And while some states do not require it, many school districts give precedence to candidates with doctoral degrees in staffing higher-level positions.

Get certified or licensed. School psychologists must be licensed or certified by the state in order to work in schools. Every state has its own certification or licensure program, which is usually administered by the Department of Education at the state level. The APA Practice Central website [http://www.apapracticecentral.org/] has a state-by-state breakdown of requirements throughout the country.

In some states, school psychologists are required to pass the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology or the PRAXIS Series II if they plan to work in public schools.

The National Association of School Psychologists also offers a certification program that is accepted in 30 states as a replacement for state-level requirements. It requires completion of a Master’s degree program worth at least sixty credit hours; completion of an internship worth at least 1,200 hours, and a passing score on the National School Psychology exam.

Can I Become a School Psychologist With an Online Degree?

To earn a certification from the National Association of School Psychologists, you must graduate from an NASP-accredited program. They do accredit some schools that run online degree programs, such as Arizona State University. However, it’s important to point out that a hands-on component is an important part of their accreditation—so it’s likely that if you do attend an online program, it will need to have some clinical component in order to be recognized in the field.

Check out the National Association of School Psychologists website to find out which schools are accredited.

What is the Average School Psychologist Salary and Job Outlook?

According to the Occupational Outlook Handbook, the median salary for clinical, counseling, and school psychologists was $66,810. Jobs in this area are projected to grow 22% within the net decade, driven by a growing population of students in most schools nationwide—especially students with special needs and learning disabilities.

In addition, growing regulations affecting public schools have increased demand for school psychologists to test student populations and identify the mental needs of students.

Pros and Cons of Becoming a School Psychologist 

School psychologists receive fairly decent pay, but the job requires a high level of investment in education. In some school districts, it can also be stressful—requiring dealing with difficult students and those with severe behavior problems.

However, the job can also be very rewarding for those with a passion for child psychology and student care. In addition, it’s showing steady growth in the education sector, which has had to contract recently because of budget cuts at the state and local government level. These factors can combine to make the drawbacks worth it for the right candidates.

Where to Look for School Psychologist Jobs

Indeed.com

SimplyHired.com

NASP Career Center