Whether you are interested in psychology, working with young people, or both, you may consider school psychology as a possible career path. After all, being a school psychologist is a good career move. However, it is possible that you’ve never even heard of school psychology before. In the past, guidance counselors were much more common. Regardless, you may find yourself wondering, what is a school psychologist? While there can still be a great deal of variety in the career paths of school psychologists, all share some common experiences, skills, and training. In order to answer the question, what is a school psychologist, let’s first explore some of the defining characteristics of the job.
Required Education and Training
School psychologists must complete much of the same coursework as psychologists of other specialties. However, school psychologists also usually receive additional training in education. Before beginning to practice, school psychologists must complete extending coursework and practical experience in both of these areas. This is usually done through a specialized degree program like a master’s degree or a Ph.D. program. Both master’s and Ph.D. programs include a 1,200 hour, year-long internship according to the National Association of School Psychologists. Ultimately, both the technical training and practical experience are vital components of school psychologists education.
While every state has certification or license requirements for school psychologists, not every state shares the same requirements. State-specific requirements can certainly limit your ability to move between states when practicing, so be sure to research the specific requirements of your state when considering a move. However, the National Association of School Psychologists, mentioned above, does offer a national certification accepted by many states in lieu of their respective requirements. This certification consists of completing an accredited program, completing the 1,200-hour internship, and passing the National School Psychology Exam. Although it is not accepted by every state, this certification can be very beneficial to the career of a school psychologist.
A Day in the Life
After completing the required education and training and securing the necessary licensing, you’ll be ready to begin your exciting new career as a school psychologist! But practically, what will a day of work in this profession look like? As a school psychologist, you could find yourself working with students of all levels, from preschool to college. You will also likely find that you have more interaction with adults than expected via teachers and the families of children. However, ultimately, your primary responsibility will be to listen to the concerns of students. Since children often do not yet have the tools needed to process life’s challenges you will have the privilege of helping them learn skills that they will use for the rest of their lives.
School Psychologist Salary
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary of clinical, counseling, and school psychologist was $73,270 in 2016. This said, the annual salary of school psychologists specifically may be a little bit higher. Elementary and secondary schools constitute the fifth best paying industry for these three jobs with an annual mean salary of $75,670. Regardless, the average school psychologists can expect to earn between $70,000-$80,000 per year.
What is a School Psychologist?
So, given the information above, what is a school psychologist? A school psychologist, in many ways, is similar to any other psychologist. They work to help identify issues and develop plans to address them. However, school psychologists find themselves in the unique position of helping children develop and prepare for life. The American Psychological Association defines school psychology as “the science and practice of psychology with children, youth, families; learners of all ages; and the schooling process.” While this definition is certainly true, it does not fully capture the profound impact that this profession can have on the children, youth, and families that school psychologists work with. Ultimately, a school psychologist is a resource for the next generation of leaders.
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