School Psychology Careers

What is School Psychology?

School is a very influential part of a child’s life, and for good reason. Children typically spend a large amount of times attending school, starting at the age of five or even younger. Besides getting their first tastes the world of academia, children will also experience a number of other first while in school – first friends, first enemies, first loves, and first heartbreaks. It is also in school when children first begin to really learn about their strengths and weaknesses.

These sudden changes can be hard to adjust to for some students. Other situations and problems, like family discord and learning disabilities, can also make doing well in school very difficult for some students.

School psychology is a branch of psychology that concentrates on students and how to help them make the best of their education. This area of psychology focuses not only on the students’ academics, but also social, behavioral, emotional, and personal factors that might also influence their education.

The main purpose of school psychology is to help create happy, health, safe, supportive, and effective learning environments for all children. Professionals in this field are adamant about making sure that the needs and welfare of students are put first at all times.

This branch of psychology was first discussed in 1954, when the American Psychological Association (APA) held a conference at the Hotel Thayer in West Point, NY. This conference was appropriately called the Thayer Conference. During this conference, members of the APA met to discuss the purpose of school psychologists, as well as the roles that they would play in the school systems. Necessary education requirements and credentials of school psychologists were also discussed at this conference. Finally, in 1968, school psychology became an official division of the APA.

Today, school psychology careers are as important as ever. In fact, this profession was deemed to be one of the top ten professions by U.S. News and World Report in 2002.

Featured School Psychology Master’s Program

Why Do We Need School Psychology?

Young students’ minds are very impressionable, and the events that they experience in school will often stick with them for the rest of their lives. For this reason, it is very important to mold our young future leaders to become relatively emotionally stable, socially adept, and intelligent – not sociopaths.

Students who have a rough time in school may be impacted for the rest of their lives, or they might have trouble learning like they should. This can cause problems later on in life or impede them from being accepted at a good college.

School psychologists can help the students adjust better to their schools and peers, which can help them become happier and more successful adults.

What Does a School Psychologist Do?

School psychologists typically work with students, teachers, families, and school administrators to help ensure that students are getting the best education possible.

  • StudentsSchool psychologists typically have a lot of contact with students. These professionals are typically responsible for assessing and evaluating students for such things as learning disabilities, social problems, emotional problems, and mental problems. School psychologists can also usually help students with problems in their lives, such as home life problems – such as abuse – and social problems – such as bullying.
  • Family

    Schools and school officials are not the only responsible parties when it comes to children’s education. To make the most of a child’s education, that child’s parents or guardians should also be actively involved. School psychologists will often help parents and guardians understand their children’s educational needs and work to help them make the most of their school years.
  • Teachers

    Teachers are the faculty members that students interact with the most while they’re in school. School psychologists and teachers can work together to create pleasant and effective learning environment for children. A school psychologist might also be called upon to help create discipline systems for unruly students or work out misunderstandings between students and teachers.
  • School AdministratorsBesides teachers, school psychologists will also work closely with other faculty members, such as school administrators. School psychologists might offer advice on how to improve school policies or create outreach programs.

Where Do School Psychologists Work?

One would probably think that school psychologists work at…well, schools. And one would generally be correct.

School psychologists work in all types of schools, including public schools and private schools. They work with students of all ages, including students in elementary schools, high schools, colleges, universities, and technical schools. Some school psychologists might also work in day care centers, juvenile detention centers, and orphanages.

What are the Education Requirements for a School Psychology Career?

Below is the complete educational path for the Psychologists:
Psychologist Educational Track
School Programs Average Education Length Choosing Online or Campus
1. Earn a Bachelor's Degree View Programs 4 Years Online or Campus
2. Earn A Master's Degree View Programs 2 Additional Years Online or Campus
3. Earn a PHD or PsyD View Programs 2-4 Additional Years Online or Campus

School psychology is often thought of as a cross between counseling or clinical psychology, and educational psychology. Therefore, individuals interested in pursuing school psychology careers should try to ensure that their education reflects this.

To start, aspiring school psychologists should usually earn bachelor degrees in school psychology, counseling psychology, educational psychology, or general psychology. Whatever their majors, future school psychologists should take courses in each of these areas, as well as courses such as developmental psychology.

Although some graduates with bachelor degrees might be able to secure entry-level positions, most states have very strict requirements concerning education requirements for becoming licensed school psychologists. For instance, many states require school psychologists to have 60 or more graduate school credits in school psychology, and they are also usually required to complete a 1,200 hour internship.

More often then not school psychologists will have to complete their education with  Master’s degrees and Doctoral Degrees.

To find schools that offer these courses in your area, visit our Find a School Page.

What is the Median Salary of a School Psychologist?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, clinical, counseling, and school psychologists earned a median salary of $73,090 in 2010. General psychologists who worked in elementary and secondary schools made a median salary of $89,570 in that same year.

Influences on School Psychology
  • Granville Stanley Hallwas a big influence on the child-study movement, and he believed that studying how administrators, teachers, and parents of gifted children could help influence how all children were taught.
  • Arnold Gesell was the first person to officially be called a school psychologist. He was also one of the first individuals to evaluate students and make special recommendations on how to teach them.

Additional Resources and Further Reading