What Education Does a School Psychologist Need?

If you have ever considered studying psychology, you might be wondering what career opportunities exist in this field. Psychology is a very multi-faceted field, and those who study this discipline can work with all types of populations. If you have an interest in working with children and teenagers in an educational setting, you should consider becoming a school psychologist. School psychologists are highly trained counselors and mental health professionals who provide counseling services to children and teenagers in very diverse academic settings. Here is a comprehensive overview of what education you need in order to become a school psychologist.

Undergraduate Education

First, students interested in becoming a school psychologist, must make sure they complete a bachelor’s degree in psychology, education or another social science. Typically in the first two years of your education, you will take general education courses such as English composition, speech, mathematics, social sciences, history, biology and physical sciences. Some undergraduate programs also require that students take foreign languages. In the last two years of undergraduate education, students will take advanced-level psychology courses such as: child psychology, education psychology, cognition, human behavior, psychotherapy, counseling, sports psychology and the history of psychology. (See our ranking of the Top 10 Best Online Sports Psychology Degree Programs.) Make sure that you get at least a 3.0 or higher in your undergraduate program. Most psychology graduate programs require prospective candidates to have at least a 3.0 in order to gain successful entry.

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Graduate Education

Most states require that school psychologists have a master’s degree. You should start looking for accredited master’s degree programs that offer concentrations in school psychology. These programs can be completed at either traditional brick-and-mortar institutions or online colleges and universities. You will take a variety of courses that will prepare to work in an academic setting dealing exclusively with the educational, emotional and psychological needs of students. Courses include I/Q evaluation, counseling, psychotherapy and educational psychology.

Resource: Top 15 Most Affordable School Psychology Degrees 2014

Licensure and Certification

To become a school psychologist, you will need to become a nationally certified school psychologist through the National Association of School Psychologists. You must complete 60 semester/90 quarter credits through an accredited school psychology graduate program. Also, you will need to have completed an organized internship giving you work experience within an an academic setting such as a school or university. This internship must be at least 1200 hours, with 600 hours being based at a school. Once you send in certified copies of your school transcripts and proof of internship completion, you will be allowed to take the National School Psychology examination which is administered through ETS, the same organization that administers the SAT and Praxis exams. You must obtain a passing score of at least 165 in order to obtain this certification.

Career opportunities in school psychology will continue to rise in demand. According to the United States Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, school psychologists make on average $34 an hour, with an annual median salary of around $70,000. Salary will obviously vary based on region, work setting, employer, and years of experience.