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Become A School Psychologist

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Working As A School Psychologist

  • Getting Information
  • Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates
  • Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships
  • Documenting/Recording Information
  • Making Decisions and Solving Problems
  • Deal with People

  • Mostly Sitting

  • Make Decisions

  • Stressful

  • $65,155

    Average Salary

What Does A School Psychologist Do

Psychologists study cognitive, emotional, and social processes and behavior by observing, interpreting, and recording how people relate to one another and their environments.

Duties

Psychologists typically do the following:

  • Conduct scientific studies of behavior and brain function
  • Collect information through observations, interviews, surveys, and other methods
  • Identify psychological, emotional, behavioral, or organizational issues and diagnose disorders, using information obtained from their research
  • Research and identify behavioral or emotional patterns
  • Test for patterns that will help them better understand and predict behavior
  • Discuss the treatment of problems with their clients
  • Write articles, research papers, and reports to share findings and educate others

Psychologists seek to understand and explain thoughts, emotions, feelings, and behavior. Psychologists use techniques such as observation, assessment, and experimentation to develop theories about the beliefs and feelings that influence a person.

Psychologists often gather information and evaluate behavior through controlled laboratory experiments, psychoanalysis, or psychotherapy. They also may administer personality, performance, aptitude, or intelligence tests. They look for patterns of behavior or relationships between events, and use this information when testing theories in their research or treating patients.

The following are examples of types of psychologists:

Clinical psychologists assess, diagnose, and treat mental, emotional, and behavioral disorders. Clinical psychologists help people deal with problems ranging from short-term personal issues to severe, chronic conditions.

Clinical psychologists are trained to use a variety of approaches to help individuals. Although strategies generally differ by specialty, clinical psychologists often interview patients, give diagnostic tests, and provide individual, family, or group psychotherapy. They also design behavior modification programs and help patients implement their particular program.

Some clinical psychologists focus on certain populations, such as children or the elderly, or certain specialties, such as the following:

  • Health psychologists study how psychological and behavioral factors interact with health and illness. They educate both patients and medical staff on psychological issues and promote healthy-living strategies. They also investigate and develop programs to address common health-related behaviors, such as smoking, poor diet, and sedentary behavior.
  • Neuropsychologists study the effects of brain injuries, brain disease, developmental disorders, or mental health conditions on behavior and thinking. They test patients affected by known or suspected brain conditions to determine impacts on thinking and to direct patients’ treatment.

Clinical psychologists often consult with other health professionals regarding the best treatment for patients, especially treatment that includes medication. Currently, Illinois, Louisiana, and New Mexico allow clinical psychologists to prescribe medication to patients. Most states, however, do not allow psychologists to prescribe medication for treatment.

Counseling psychologists help patients deal with and understand problems, including issues at home, at the workplace, or in their community. Through counseling, they work with patients to identify their strengths or resources they can use to manage problems. For information on other counseling occupations, see the profiles on mental health counselors and marriage and family therapists, substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors, and social workers.

Developmental psychologists study the psychological progress and development that take place throughout life. Many developmental psychologists focus on children and adolescents, but they also may study aging and problems facing older adults.

Forensic psychologists use psychological principles in the legal and criminal justice system to help judges, attorneys, and other legal specialists understand the psychological aspects of a particular case. They often testify in court as expert witnesses. They typically specialize in family, civil, or criminal case work.

Industrial-organizational psychologists apply psychology to the workplace by using psychological principles and research methods to solve problems and improve the quality of work life. They study issues such as workplace productivity, management or employee working styles, and employee morale. They also work with management on matters such as policy planning, employee screening or training, and organizational development.

School psychologists apply psychological principles and techniques to education and developmental disorders. They may address student learning and behavioral problems; design and implement performance plans, and evaluate performances; and counsel students and families. They also may consult with other school-based professionals to suggest improvements to teaching, learning, and administrative strategies.

Social psychologists study how people’s mindsets and behavior are shaped by social interactions. They examine both individual and group interactions and may investigate ways to improve interactions.

Some psychologists become postsecondary teachers or high school teachers.

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How To Become A School Psychologist

Although psychologists typically need a doctoral degree in psychology, a master’s degree is sufficient for some positions. Psychologists in independent practice also need a license.

Education

Most clinical, counseling, and research psychologists need a doctoral degree. Students can complete a Ph.D. in psychology or a Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.) degree. A Ph.D. in psychology is a research degree that is obtained after taking a comprehensive exam and writing a dissertation based on original research. Ph.D programs typically include courses on statistics and experimental procedures. The Psy.D. is a clinical degree and is often based on practical work and examinations rather than a dissertation. In clinical, counseling, school, or health service settings, students usually complete a 1-year internship as part of the doctoral program.

School psychologists need an advanced degree and certification or licensure to work. The advanced degree is most commonly the education specialist degree (Ed.S.), which typically requires a minimum of 60 graduate semester credit hours and a 1,200-hour supervised internship. Some school psychologists may have a doctoral degree in school psychology or a master’s degree. School psychologists’ programs include coursework in both education and psychology because their work addresses education and mental health components of students’ development.

Graduates with a master’s degree in psychology can work as industrial-organizational psychologists. When working under the supervision of a doctoral psychologist, master’s graduates can also work as psychological assistants in clinical, counseling, or research settings. Master’s degree programs typically include courses in industrial-organizational psychology, statistics, and research design.

Most master’s degree programs do not require an undergraduate major in psychology, but do require coursework in introductory psychology, experimental psychology, and statistics. Some doctoral degree programs require applicants to have a master’s degree in psychology; others will accept applicants with a bachelor’s degree and a major in psychology. 

Most graduates with a bachelor’s degree in psychology find work in other fields such as business administration, sales, or education.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

In most states, practicing psychology or using the title of “psychologist” requires licensure. In all states and the District of Columbia, psychologists who practice independently must be licensed where they work.

Licensing laws vary by state and type of position. Most clinical and counseling psychologists need a doctorate in psychology, an internship, at least 1 to 2 years of supervised professional experience, and to pass the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology. Information on specific state requirements can be obtained from the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards. In many states, licensed psychologists must complete continuing education courses to keep their licenses.

The American Board of Professional Psychology awards specialty certification in 15 areas of psychology, such as clinical health, couple and family, or rehabilitation. The American Board of Professional Neuropsychology offers certification in neuropsychology. Board certification can demonstrate professional expertise in a specialty area. Certification is not required for most psychologists, but some hospitals and clinics do require certification. In those cases, candidates must have a doctoral degree in psychology, state license or certification, and any additional criteria of the specialty field.

Training

Prospective practicing psychologists must have pre- or post-doctoral supervised experience, including an internship. Internships allow students to gain experience in an applied setting. Candidates must complete an internship before they can qualify for state licensure. The required number of hours of the internship varies by state.

Important Qualities

Analytical skills. Psychologists must be able to examine the information they collect and draw logical conclusions from them.

Communication skills. Psychologists must have strong communication skills because they spend much of their time listening to and speaking with patients. 

Observational skills. Psychologists study attitude and behavior. They must be able to watch people and understand the possible meanings of facial expressions, body positions, actions, and interactions.

Patience. Psychologists must be able to demonstrate patience, because conducting research or treating patients may take a long time.

People skills. Psychologists study and help people. They must be able to work well with clients, patients, and other professionals.

Problem-solving skills. Psychologists need problem-solving skills to design research, evaluate programs, and find treatments or solutions for mental and behavioral problems.

Trustworthiness. Psychologists must keep patients’ problems in confidence, and patients must be able to trust psychologists’ expertise in treating sensitive problems.

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School Psychologist Jobs

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School Psychologist Demographics

Gender

Female

70.7%

Male

26.7%

Unknown

2.6%
Ethnicity

White

63.0%

Hispanic or Latino

16.0%

Black or African American

10.8%

Asian

6.6%

Unknown

3.7%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

47.9%

French

13.5%

Russian

5.2%

German

4.2%

Chinese

3.1%

Hebrew

3.1%

Mandarin

3.1%

Polish

3.1%

Swedish

2.1%

Japanese

2.1%

Korean

2.1%

Italian

2.1%

Norwegian

1.0%

Samoan

1.0%

Vietnamese

1.0%

Braille

1.0%

Portuguese

1.0%

Ukrainian

1.0%

Armenian

1.0%

Thai

1.0%
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School Psychologist Education

Schools

Hofstra University

7.6%

Temple University

7.2%

Capella University

6.7%

Rowan University

6.7%

Southern Connecticut State University

5.4%

Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine

5.4%

Duquesne University

5.4%

College of Saint Rose

5.4%

National University

4.5%

California University of Pennsylvania

4.5%

Marist College

4.5%

Georgia State University

4.5%

University of Florida

4.5%

University of Northern Colorado

4.0%

Saint John's University - New York

4.0%

Fordham University

4.0%

Nova Southeastern University

4.0%

Touro College

4.0%

Northeastern University

4.0%

Pace University - New York

3.6%
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Majors

School Psychology

30.3%

Psychology

20.0%

Counseling Psychology

13.8%

Clinical Psychology

8.8%

Education

6.1%

Educational Leadership

3.3%

School Counseling

2.9%

Special Education

2.8%

General Education, Specific Areas

1.8%

Experimental Psychology

1.5%

Elementary Education

1.5%

Mental Health Counseling

1.3%

Philosophy

1.3%

Human Development

1.0%

Business

0.8%

Social Work

0.7%

Management

0.6%

Family Therapy

0.6%

Human Resources Management

0.6%

English

0.6%
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Degrees

Masters

34.9%

Other

26.0%

Doctorate

23.2%

Bachelors

7.7%

Certificate

7.1%

Diploma

0.5%

License

0.3%

Associate

0.3%
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Real School Psychologist Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
School Psychologist Functional Life Achievement, Inc. New York, NY Nov 01, 2013 $100,176
Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychologists St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital Center New York, NY Sep 09, 2013 $88,421
Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychologists Che Senior Psychological Services, PC New York, NY Feb 19, 2014 $80,000
Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychologists Industrial Medicine Associates, P.C. Rochester, NY Aug 05, 2014 $80,000
Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychologists Che Senior Psychological Services, PC New York, NY May 30, 2014 $80,000
School Psychologist Federal Way Public Schools Federal Way, WA Jan 09, 2016 $78,972
School Psychologist Town of Greenwich Greenwich, CT May 01, 2015 $78,749
School Psychologist Top Echelon Contracting, Inc. Yakima, WA Aug 01, 2013 $78,576
Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychologists Massachusetts General Hospital Boston, MA Mar 18, 2014 $78,500
School Psychologist SHC Services, Inc. Federal Way, WA Sep 06, 2014 $78,263
School Psychologist Hospital Clinic Home Center, Inc. New York, NY Oct 01, 2013 $77,177
Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychologists The Child & Family Counseling Group, PLC Fairfax, VA Feb 28, 2014 $77,000
School Psychologist Princeton International School of Mathematics and Princeton, NJ Sep 12, 2013 $70,000
Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychologists Portia Bell Hume Behavioral Health & Training Ctr Concord, CA May 07, 2014 $69,500
School Psychologist Town of Greenwich Greenwich, CT Nov 19, 2015 $69,365
Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychologists Through The Looking Glass Berkeley, CA Oct 29, 2013 $69,285
Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychologists Through The Looking Glass Berkeley, CA May 07, 2014 $69,285
Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychologists Hospital Clinic Home Center, Inc. New York, NY Jan 24, 2013 $69,118
Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychologists University of Maryland College Park, MD Sep 19, 2014 $68,769
Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychologists Familias First DBA Tello and Associates San Gabriel, CA Feb 07, 2014 $58,240
Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychologists Boston College MA Mar 11, 2014 $58,000
School Psychologist EBS Healthcare, Inc. Spanaway, WA Dec 18, 2016 $57,393
School Psychologist EBS Healthcare, Inc. Spanaway, WA Aug 01, 2013 $57,393
School Psychologist EBS Healthcare, Inc. Spanaway, WA Dec 18, 2013 $57,393
School Psychologist Park Hill School District Kansas City, MO Sep 01, 2013 $57,097
Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychologists Lyle R Cadenhead Houston, TX Oct 28, 2013 $55,245
Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychologists Turkish American Society, Inc. Mount Prospect, IL Mar 06, 2014 $55,182

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Top Skills for A School Psychologist

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  1. Special Education Teachers
  2. Functional Behavior Assessments
  3. IEP
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Collaborate and work closely with special education teachers and administration.
  • Conduct functional behavior assessments and develop individualized behavior intervention plans, for students with severe emotional/behavioral needs.
  • Maintain documentation in PowerIEP program.
  • Participated in crisis intervention meetings and evaluations, and presented recommendations for appropriate courses of action.
  • Administered a variety of standardized psychological measures to address cognitive functioning, academic achievement, social/behavioral issues, and adaptive functioning.

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Top 10 Best States for School Psychologists

  1. California
  2. Oregon
  3. Alaska
  4. Minnesota
  5. Connecticut
  6. Rhode Island
  7. Colorado
  8. Michigan
  9. Nevada
  10. North Dakota
  • (2,011 jobs)
  • (69 jobs)
  • (15 jobs)
  • (129 jobs)
  • (46 jobs)
  • (12 jobs)
  • (107 jobs)
  • (346 jobs)
  • (56 jobs)
  • (6 jobs)

Top School Psychologist Employers

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Jobs From Top School Psychologist Employers

School Psychologist Videos

The ABC's of School Psychology

School Psychology (PsyD) degree, Faculty Advice Video from drkit.org

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