How to Become a School Psychologist
Interested in helping kids reach their full potential? Working as a school psychologist is a fantastic way to help kids overcome struggles and make the most of their education. Here, we’ll take a look at everything you need to know about becoming a school psychologist, from the education you’ll need to earn your license to the salary you can expect to make once you’re working in your field.
Deciding which degree to work towards is the first step towards becoming a school psychologist. Typically, the higher-level degree types will open up more options for the budding school psychologist.
- Bachelor's Degree – Earning a bachelor’s degree in education or psychology is a smart first step in becoming a school psychologist. This degree typically takes four years to complete.
- Master's Degree – After completing your bachelor’s degree, you may choose to enter a two-year master’s degree program. This can be a good choice if you intend to become a school psychologist. At this level, you’ll be able to work as a school counselor, which can provide you with helpful field experience as you work toward becoming a psychologist.
- Doctorate Degree – In order to become a school psychologist, you’ll need to earn your doctorate degree in order to qualify for licensure (in most states). This degree typically takes eight to ten years of additional study following the completion of your bachelor’s degree. A doctorate can come in the form of a PhD or a PsyD.
It’s important to check the requirements for licensing in your state regularly, as they change from time to time, and keeping up with your continuing education requirements will allow you to stay on top of the accepted best practices in the field as they change with new research. The steps below are general guidelines as to what you’ll need to become licensed as a school psychologist.
Internship / Practicum Experience
You’ll need to perform practice hours in order to gain licensure as a school psychologist. This can take place in a public or private elementary, middle, or high school. During your internship and practicum experience, you’ll report to an experienced faculty member in your program who will help you utilize the information and experience you’re gaining to inform your future practice.
School psychologists generally need to pass Praxis I and II. Passing scores are dependent on your state. If you’re a licensed psychologist, you may be excused from taking the Praxis exams, depending on the requirements in your state.
Generally, you’ll need to go through some continuing education classes to maintain your licensure as a school psychologist. This may involve going through training programs or taking additional graduate-level classes over the course of your career. Check your state’s Board of Psychology for more information on requirements.
You’ll be able to work in many school environments after you complete your education and licensure as a school psychologist.
What Careers Can I Pursue With a School Psychology Degree?
Working as a school psychologist often also qualifies you to work as a school counselor or college counselor. You may also be qualified to work in higher education, or as a psychology professor for those who are interested in pursuing a career in school psychology.
Where Can I Work With a School Psychology Degree?
You’ll be able to work in many environmental settings with a school psychology degree, including elementary, middle, and high schools. You may also be able to work in centers for troubled youth, such as outpatient and inpatient psychiatric and psychological clinics. You may also be able to work in rehab centers for people who are under the age of 18.
The salary for a school psychologist can vary greatly depending on your experience and education level, as well as the area where you choose to live. Some schools are only able to hire school psychologists on a part-time basis due to budgetary issues, so you may need to keep more than one job in order to maintain a full-time salary. According to U.S. News and World Report, school psychologists made an average of about $80,000 per year in 2020.