How To Become A School Psychologist
A school psychologist help students be successful in their endeavors at school and promote their social and emotional health. Just like educational psychologists, school psychologists work in the field of education. School psychologists focus on different aspects of the field. Educational psychologists are more concerned at analyzing the institutional level issues faced in school settings so that the overall learning experience of students can be improved.
School psychologists, on the other hand, deal directly with students and help them address the problems they are facing. They provide direct intervention to help students evaluate their needs, improve their academic achievement and ultimately make their learning experience a better one.
As a school psychologist, you will be working with students who have educational and developmental issues that make it difficult for them to adjust in school. You’ll be helping students who have social problems and learning disabilities and disorders that affect their academic performance and behavior.
You will also help students who are suffering from mental disorders like depression, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and other learning disabilities. You will have the opportunity to help those students who have suffered from violence, abuse and other social conditions that affect their ability to thrive in the school environment.
You will be using various tools, such as interviews and performance assessments to figure out what a student’s problem is. School psychologists consult with parents, teachers and other members of the school community to find out the behavioral problems that children are having at school.
You will also be coordinating with doctors to help address the problems of children who are chronically ill or have genetic and physical problems. You will also be designing intervention programs to help these children.
School psychologists implement intervention programs that will be included in regular counseling sessions with the students. In some cases, you may even have to do the sessions together with their families.
To succeed in this profession, you need to have a genuine love and concern for school age children. You also need to be very observant especially since students may not always say everything that they feel. You also need to be highly analytical since you will be determining what a student’s problem is and providing the necessary interventions to help them solve it.
In order to help students, you need to be able to empathize with them but at the same time still be able to look at the situation from an objective point of view in order to come up with a sound and practical solution. Good communication and listening skills are a must in this profession.
Why Become A School Psychologist
One reason to become a school psychologist is that it gives you the opportunity to help students who are suffering from behavioral and developmental disorders that greatly affect their ability to learn. You will be helping them cope with various problems in their formative years and work towards making their learning experience a positive one.
The employment outlook for school psychologists is expected to be good in the next few years as schools need them to manage students with special needs. This means that there will be job opportunities in store for those who want to pursue this profession. It’s also a career that pays very well.
School Psychologist Work Environment
School psychologists work primarily in school settings, such as elementary schools, high schools and universities. Most are employed in public schools—from the preschool to college levels. They may also work with hospitals, clinics and community treatment centers. Some have their own private practices. They typically work fulltime although school psychologists who have their own practices can meet clients during evenings or weekends.
School Psychologist Salary
The Occupational Employment and Wages report of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics revealed that the mean annual wage of clinical, counseling and school psychologists is $72,710. This is a lower than the $87,960 paid to industrial-organizational psychologists. All other psychologists earned a mean annual wage of $88,400.
Average School Psychologist Annual Salary
The average annual salary for school psychologists is $81,330 a year. Salaries start at $42,460 a year and go up to $123,920 a year.
Average School Psychologist Hourly Wage
The average hourly wage for a school psychologist is $39.10. Hourly wages are between $20.41 and $59.58 an hour.
Stats were based out of 108,060 employed school psychologists in the United States.
Highest Paying States For School Psychologists
- 1. New Jersey $47.01 / hr $97,790 / yr
- 2. Alaska $46.32 / hr $96,350 / yr
- 3. Hawaii $45.91 / hr $95,500 / yr
- 4. California $45.63 / hr $94,910 / yr
- 5. Oregon $44.75 / hr $93,070 / yr
Top Paying Cities For School Psychologists
- 1. Salinas, CA $56.91 / hr$118,360 / yr
- 2. San Jose, CA $53.63 / hr$111,540 / yr
- 3. San Francisco, CA $53.46 / hr$111,190 / yr
- 4. Santa Maria, CA $52.73 / hr$109,690 / yr
- 5. Vallejo, CA $52.27 / hr$108,730 / yr
Data provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
School Psychologist Career Outlook
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has projected a good employment outlook for psychologists in the next few years. In general, the job growth for all psychologists is forecasted to be at 12 percent in the ten-year period covering 2012 to 2022. The employment rate for school psychologists, together with that of clinical and counseling psychologists, is expected to grow 11 percent in the same time period. This is about as fast as the national average for all job types.
Students with special needs and learning disorders as well as those with behavioral needs will spur the demand for school psychologists. It will also be fueled by the need for schools to have a psychologist who will evaluate and counsel students. They will also be needed to undertake studies on the factors within the school and outside of it that will have an impact on learning. Their findings will be used by school authorities to enhance the quality of education.
School Psychologist Degree
The journey towards becoming a school psychologist starts with a bachelor’s degree in psychology. They will then need to obtain an advanced degree so that they will be eligible to apply for a license to work in this capacity. A common postgraduate degree that school psychologists get is the specialist degree (Ed.S.). To graduate with this degree, students will need to finish at least 60 graduate semester hours and undergo supervised internship which lasts for 1,200 hours.
Another advanced degree that aspiring school psychologists take is a doctoral degree in school psychology. In some doctoral programs, schools only accept students after they have obtained a master’s degree in psychology. Others, however, only require a bachelor’s degree in psychology for admission. Check with the college or university that you are planning to enroll in for requirements.
A doctoral degree in school psychology typically touches on topics on education and psychology inasmuch as their work encompasses concerns in both these areas. As school psychologists, they need to be well-versed on the role that education plays in the social, emotional and mental health development of students.