One career option within the allied health field is a School Psychologist, a professional responsible for addressing the needs of students, as well as working with parents, teachers, and administrators of those students.
The School Psychologist consults with students, parents, and school personnel based on the behavioral issues, special needs, or learning disabilities of students. In addition, this professional also conducts a number of administrative details, such as assessing a student’s needs for special services by reviewing school records, special education reports, confidential records, and behavioral data.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) indicates the minimum degree for entry-level positions as a School Psychologist is a master’s degree or an Education Specialist degree (Ed.S.), but many schools prefer a doctorate degree in psychology (Psy.D.).
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) includes School Psychologists in the following category and provides 2010-2020 statistics for job growth rate projections and 2010 annual wages as follows:
- Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychologists: 22 percent; $66,810.
How to Become a School Psychologist
In order to become a School Psychologist, you need at least a master’s degree in psychology, or an Education Specialist (Ed.S.) degree, which includes minimally 60 graduate semester hours.
Many schools, however, require a doctorate in psychology (Psy.D.) degree, as well as the completion of a one-year internship, and acquisition of the appropriate licensure or certification required by the state to practice as a psychologist. In addition, school psychologists must obtain specific licensure to work in schools; you can learn more details about your respective state’s requirements at the National Association of School Psychologists.
School Psychologists obviously work in schools, but may also work in residential treatment centers, local mental health agencies, or in their own private practices.
How Education Can Help
Whether you begin with a master’s degree or pursue a doctorate degree to become a School Psychologist, traditional or online education offers multiple options.
Traditional schooling will require you to attend classes in a college or university locally or within your state, or to enroll in one out-of-state where you will attend and live as a residential student during the term of your program.
If an existing career and other responsibilities make it difficult for you to consider traditional schooling, then an online program would probably work better for you. The convenience and flexibility of online education, combined with less time to earn the degree, makes it less disruptive to your lifestyle. Note, however, that even online programs will require the completion of an internship or practicum, which you may complete locally, or you may have to complete a brief residency period at the school.
Keep the following information in mind: if you have not yet earned a degree, you will have to dedicate anywhere from six to ten or more years to earning sufficient degrees and satisfying academic and professional requirements to become a School Psychologist. If you already have a bachelor’s degree, then you may be prepared to launch your new career in about four to six years, depending on your degree choice, and whether you choose traditional or online studies.
Your School Psychology program will include both education and psychology courses, such as the following:
- Role and Function of the School Psychologist
- Academic Assessment and Remediation
- Cognitive Assessment and School Consultation
- Psychoeducational Clinic
If you are not sure how to pay for your college education, fill out your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to learn about your eligibility for federal student aid.
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Considerations for a Career as a School Psychologist
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) includes School Psychologists in these May 2012 salary and 2010-2020 job outlook predictions for psychologist positions:
- Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychologists: Median annual wage in May 2012 was $67,650, ranging from less than $38,450 to more than $109,340. Thejob outlook from 2013 to 2020 predicts a 22 percent increase in job openings, faster than average among all occupations, from 2010 figures of 154,300 to 188,000 Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychologists employed by 2020.