1. Education

School Psychology Careers

By

School Psychology

School psychology involves helping children with emotional, social and academic issues

Photo by Heriberto Herrera

What Is School Psychology?:

A school psychologist is a type of psychologist that works within the educational system to help children with emotional, social and academic issues. The goal of school psychology is to collaborate with parents, teachers, and students to promote a healthy learning environment that focuses on the needs of children.

School psychology is still a relatively young profession. The National Association of School Psychology (NASP) was established and formally recognized as a doctoral specialty by the American Psychological Association (APA) in 1968. In 2002, U.S. News and World Report named school psychology one of the top ten "hot professions." Many school psychologists in the field are retiring, creating a demand for qualified school psychologists.

What Do School Psychologists Do?:

School psychologists work with individual students and groups of students to deal with behavioral problems, academic difficulties, disabilities and other issues. They also work with teachers and parents to develop techniques to deal with home and classroom behavior. Other tasks include training students, parents and teachers about how to manage crisis situations and substance abuse problems.

According to the National Association of School Psychology (NASP), there are five major areas where school psychologists provide services: (1) consultation, (2) evaluation, (3) intervention, (4) prevention, and (5) research and planning. School psychologists also act as educators by helping others understand more about child development, behavioral problems and behavior management techniques.
While most work in elementary and secondary schools, there are a number of different areas where school psychologists might find employment. Private clinics, hospitals, state agencies, and universities are possible sectors of employment. Some school psychologists also go into private practice and serve as consultants, especially those with a doctoral degree in school psychology.

How Much Do School Psychologists Typically Earn?:

According to the Occupational Outlook Handbook published by the U.S. Department of Labor, the average salary for a psychologist working in an elementary or secondary school is $58,360. Reschly and Wilson (1995) found that the average salary for a school psychologist in a faculty position was $57,000. The average salary for a practicing school psychologist with a doctoral degree was $51,000, with master's-level professionals earning an average of $40,000 per year.

What Type of Degree Do School Psychologists Need?:

Two or three years of graduate school is the minimum level of training required by most states. However, each state has different requirements for school psychologists. Eighteen states now require national certification, in which students complete an internship in school psychology. Before you choose a school psychology graduate program, be sure to check the specific licensing requirements in your state.

What Are the Pros and Cons of a Career in School Psychology?:

Benefits of a Career in School Psychology

  • School psychologists are able to help students succeed.
  • Since most school psychologist work in elementary to secondary school settings, they enjoy a predictable schedule.
  • School psychologists are able to collaborate with a variety of community members, including counselors, teachers, parents, and students.

Downsides of a Career in School Psychology

  • Difficulties with students or parents can lead to high stress levels.
  • Work-related stress and frustration can lead to burnout.
  • School psychologists often face hectic schedules and an overload of clients.

Learn more about psychology careers:

References:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2006-07 Edition, Psychologists, on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos056.htm

Reschly, D. & Wilson, M. (1995). School psychology practitioners and faculty: 1986 to 1991-92 trends in demographics, roles, satisfaction, and system reform. School Psychology Review, 24(1), 62-80.

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.