An educational psychologist studies educational institutions and the students learning within them. You will be working at the organizational level, doing research and assessing and developing programs that help improvec the learning environment of all students. You will also be conducting psychometric tests to assess the attributes of learners in a particular school setting.
Unlike a school psychologist who works at an individual level with each student, your job as an educational psychologist is usually done at the group level. You will be working with and training teachers in designing and implementing new educational programs that would benefit a particular set of students, such as those with special needs. Since your focus will be at the institutional level, you will be working with multidisciplinary teams to come up with solutions to various problems that students encounter in school. You will also help come up with interventions that support and advance the emotional and psychological wellbeing of everyone in the school system, especially the students, and coming up with initiatives that improve the level of education given.
Research will be an integral part of your work as an educational psychologist. You will be actively looking into school programs to determine which ones are working and which ones need to be improved or changed entirely. You will gather data regarding the perception of students and teachers about a particular program by interviewing or asking them to answer survey forms. You could also collect hard evidence in the form of test scores to assess the efficacy of a particular educational program. In extraordinary situations, you may look at the causes and dynamics behind a particular event by conducting a more in-depth case study.
To succeed as an educational psychologist, you first need to be genuinely interested in education and want to contribute ways to improve it. You also need to be very analytical since you will be doing research and are presented with different kinds of data that you need to correlate with each other to get a clear picture of the entire situation. You also need to be very observant about the trends and happenings within the educational system so that you can come up with recommendations that would enhance the learning and instruction given to students. You also need to have excellent communication and people skills since you will be working with teachers, students and school administrators. The ability to be persuasive and convincing is going to help in this profession since some of your suggestions might not be taken very positively especially if a school has been using the same system for a long time.
Why Become An Educational Psychologist
One of the most important reasons to become an educational psychologist is that it gives you the opportunity to actually improve the standard of education for all students. Through your research and observations, you have the chance to develop and come up with instructional methods and materials that would benefit all the stakeholders of the educational system. In doing so, you are actually doing something concrete to literally improve the future of young people. Other reasons to strive to become an educational psychologist are that the field is expected to grow in the next few years and it’s a profession that provides decent earnings.
Educational psychologists can work in schools and school districts, government agencies, private research organizations and educational services firms. The schedule is typically fulltime and work is done during regular business hours. However, educational psychologists may need to travel to a particular school location to do research, conduct a program evaluation or train teachers and administrators about a new program or curriculum.
Educational Psychologist Salary
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics does not gather salary data specifically for educational psychologists. However, it does have wage information for clinical, counseling and school psychologists, industrial-organizational psychologists and all other psychologists. The Occupational Employment and Wages report of the agency revealed that the mean annual wage of clinical, counseling and school psychologists is $72,710. Industrial-organizational psychologists received $87,960 annually while all other psychologists got $88,400.
Educational Psychologist Career Outlook
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics does not have employment projections for educational psychologists but states that the employment rate of psychologists is expected to be positive in the next few years. In general, the job outlook of psychologists is set to increase 12 percent in the decade covering 2012 to 2022. This is about the same as the national average. Clinical, counseling and school psychologists are projected to have an employment rate of 11 percent within that time period.
The demand for school psychologists, a closely-related occupation to that of educational psychologists, will stem from the increased number of schools who are accepting students with special needs. The research that educational psychologists do will be integral in improving programs that address students with varying degrees of learning disabilities. Their knowledge and expertise will also be important in helping schools address the behavioral problems of their students. The insight that educational psychologists provide on such issues as bullying and parental absenteeism will help students, parents and educators alike in coming up with interventions to address these issues.
Educational Psychologist Degree
The road towards becoming an educational psychologist is a bit lengthy. It begins with a bachelor’s degree in psychology or related course which typically takes a fulltime student four years to finish. After obtaining a bachelor’s degree, the next step is to work towards a master’s degree in educational psychology. This program teaches students lessons on learning and human development, teaching evaluation and research, among others. It can usually be finished in two years. Generally a master’s degree in educational psychology would require 60 credit hours and an additional 1,200 hours of practical training to complete. Finishing this degree would enable one to perform research and do the work of educational psychologists.