How to Become a School Psychologist

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School psychologists have become an integral part of public and private education, evaluators and counselors to children who face emotional or psychological challenges. These professionals are highly trained in psychology and education and are uniquely qualified to provide the support and assistance that children with emotional and mental health issues need.


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What does a school psychologist do?

Psychology is the study of mental processes and behavior of humans. School psychology is a specialization in school-age children: preschool, elementary, middle or high school kids fall into this specialty. They work in partnership with parents, teachers, and other school staff to create a healthy, safe, and supportive learning environment for every student.

School psychologists, also called school counselors, address a student’s behavioral and learning challenges and devise solutions and treatments to improve them. They may suggest alternative parenting strategies and different classroom management techniques. School psychologists also assess students with disabilities and those that are gifted or have special talents to help establish the best possible education plan and teaching methods.

The school psychologist will also address methods in teaching and learning, based on the learning environment. They may also assess the effectiveness of academic programs, behavior management techniques, prevention programs, and other school services.

What kind of training does a school psychologist need?

School counselor education is rigorous and strict. Most states require a specialized school psychology degree, but a master degree in psychology with education coursework is accepted in some states. A specialist degree in school psychology (Ed. S) requires at least 3 years of full-time graduate education (a minimum of 60 graduate semester hours) and a minimum of a 1-year full time school psychology internship. Since professional school psychology addresses the academic and mental health elements of students’ development, school psychology training combines coursework in psychology and education. All states require each school psychology graduate to meet licensing requirements and pass a state examination.

The National Association of School Psychologists grants the Nationally Certified School Psychologist title to recognize a recipient’s national competency in school psychology. The National Association of School Psychologists and the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education assists in approving advanced education programs in school psychology. The American Psychological Association (APA) also accredits many school psychology programs at the doctorate level.

What are the prospects for a career in school psychology?

School psychologist jobs are expected to experience higher than average growth. Employment of psychologists, including school psychologist employment, is projected to grow 15% from 166,000 jobs in 2006 to about 191,000 jobs in 2016, which is faster than average for all professions. (1)

The boost in awareness of how behavior and mental issues affect learning is determined to potentially cause an increased need for school psychologists to provide mental health services and counseling to school-age children. School psychologists possessing specialist degrees and significant training in computer science and quantitative methods will have the best job opportunities.

How much do school psychologists make?

As of April 2009, the middle 50% of school psychologist salaries are between $68,775 and $90,031 a year, with the highest 10% earning more than $100,700 a year. (2).

People who enjoy working with children challenged by mental or emotional difficulties are well-suited for school psychologist careers. School psychologists must be able to work efficiently as part of a team and work well under pressure and stress due to tight schedules and deadlines. Emotional stability, sensitivity, inspiration, patience, and compassion are also essential.

Joshua T Osborne

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