School Psychology Careers

Earnings, outlook, pros, and cons

School psychologist helping students working on digital tablet
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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.

U.S. News and World Report consistently names school psychology as one of the top one hundred professions and the field is expected to grow.

What 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, there are 10 domains in which school psychologists provide services, including:

  1. Data-based decision making and accountability
  2. Consultation and collaboration
  3. Interventions and instructional support to develop academic skills
  4. Interventions and mental health services to develop social and life skills
  1. School-wide practices to promote learning
  2. Preventive and responsive services
  3. Family-school collaboration services
  4. Diversity in development and learning
  5. Research and program evaluation
  6. Legal, ethical, and professional practice

School psychologists also act as educators by helping others understand more about child development, behavioral problems, and behavior management techniques.

Where School Psychologists Are Employed

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.

Earnings and Outlook

According to the "Occupational Outlook Handbook" published by the U.S. Department of Labor, the median salary for a psychologist working in an elementary or secondary school is $72,910. The job outlook for school psychologists is that the field is expected to grow 14 percent from 2016 to 2026, which is faster than average.

Type of Degree Needed

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. You will need certification or licensure in the state in which you work as well. Before you choose a school psychology graduate program, be sure to check the specific licensing requirements in your state.

Pros and Cons of a Career in School Psychology

Some benefits of a career in school psychology include:

  • Being able to help students succeed.
  • Keeping a school day schedule, since most school psychologists work in elementary to secondary school settings.
  • Collaborating with a variety of community members, including counselors, teachers, parents, and students.

Some drawbacks to a career as a school psychologist include:

  • 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.

Sources:

Bureau of Labor Statistics. Occupational Outlook Handbook: Psychologists. U.S. Department of Labor. Updated October 24, 2017.

National Association of School Psychologists. NASP Practice Model 10 Domains.