How Do I Become a School Psychologist

If you enjoy working with children, are a patient listener and pay attention to details, you might wonder how to become a school psychologist. Like other types of psychologists and counselors, school psychologists provide support for individuals and their families, especially when dealing with challenging behavioral patterns or other problems. Unlike other professionals within the field of psychology, school psychologists work chiefly with students and their parents and teachers, and their work includes a focus on maintaining and improving the students’ educational success.

School psychologists help students of all ages and grade levels, from young children to adult college students. While the majority of school psychologists find employment in public institutions, others work in colleges or private schools. In fact, some school psychologists don’t work in a particular school at all, but instead operate a private practice or work within a healthcare facility like a clinic.

Regardless of where they work, school psychologists have similar goals. They seek to enhance the well being of students, including their mental and emotional health, their behavior and their academic success. When students struggle with emotional or social difficulties or display behavioral problems, school psychologists offer counseling. They also collaborate with teachers and administrators to develop effective methods for teaching and evaluating specific students and handling behavioral problems. School psychologists may consult with parents to provide support for problems.

Becoming a school psychologist requires pursuing a graduate-level education and earning and maintaining appropriate licensure or certification as required by the state. Aspiring school psychologists must earn a special type of master’s degree called an Ed. S. degree. During their graduate academic career, prospective school psychologists must complete a minimum of 60 semester hours studying both the disciplines of psychology, taking courses such as child development, and education, completing coursework in academic curriculum and assessment. This academic path includes a supervised internship in which the aspiring school psychologist must spend 1,200 hours acquiring real-world experience over the course of a year. Some school psychologists choose to further their education beyond the Ed. S. degree by pursuing a doctorate degree. In addition to the educational requirements, school psychologists must earn a license or certification that fulfills the requirements of the state in which they intend to work. School psychologists can seek certification through the National School Psychology Certification Board as well to enhance their resume and marketability.

School psychologists earn a median salary of $66,810 per year, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Aspiring school psychologists can also look forward to a positive job outlook. The BLS expects career opportunities for school psychologists to increase by 22 percent from 2010 to 2020, a noticeably higher rate of growth compared to the 14 percent growth rate predicted for all occupations. If you have a desire to help students succeed in school and in living a mentally and emotionally healthy life, knowing how to become a school psychologist could be the first step to a fulfilling new career.

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