If you enjoy talking to, helping and working with students and teachers in a school setting, you may be interested in a career as a school psychologist. Want to learn more about this career? Continue reading and learn what a school psychologist does and what the path is to become one.
What is a School Psychologist?
A school psychologist is a trained professional who works in public school settings and talks with students, teachers and parents regarding academic, emotional and behavioral issues. The school psychologist also has consultations with school administrators, parents, teachers and health providers regarding these issues. In addition to working in a public school setting, school psychologists may also work in private schools, universities, hospitals and clinics. Depending on the degree level, the school psychologist may work as a practitioner, an administrator or a faculty/researcher.
What Degree is Needed to Become a School Psychologist?
Each state has its own requirements for the type of degree required to become a school psychologist. While there may be a couple states that will allow a school psychologist to only have a master’s degree, the majority of the states require that you have a doctoral degree or specialist degree in psychology. The student generally chooses the Psy.D (Doctor of Psychology) degree.
School psychologists, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, must have an advanced degree. To earn an advanced degree requires completion of at least 60 semester hours at the graduate level, a doctoral degree and a 1,200-hour supervised internship. Of the 1,200 hours, at least 600 must be spent working in a school. As part of the doctoral degree program in psychology, the student will complete coursework in both psychology and general education. They must also pass the Praxis™ School Psychology Exam.
Related Resource: Teaching in a Private School
Is Other Training or Certification Required?
The National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) reports that school psychologists must be licensed and/or certified in the state in which they work. In addition to licensure, the school psychologist may obtain national certification through the National School Psychology Certification Board (NSPCB) and earn the Nationally Certified School Psychologist credential. However, to be eligible for national certification, the candidate must meet the various standards set by the NASP.
States vary in their initial and continuing education requirements. For instance, the state of Wisconsin requires a doctoral degree in psychology, but may possibly allow a master’s degree if the school allows it. They also require the candidate either complete an internship or have two years working experience under a licensed school psychologist. The state of Wyoming is one of the states that only require a master’s degree in psychology. The school psychology license is good for five years in Wyoming. To maintain licensure, the individual must complete 70 credit hours of continuing education every five years.
Tennessee requires that their school psychologists complete a graduate degree program, but licensure is valid for ten years once the school psychologist has worked for at least five years out of ten. As stated above, each state varies in what it requires as far as certification, licensure and continuing education. Aspiring school psychologists need to check with the state in which they plan to work to determine the requirements. The NASP offers a map that indicates the requirements for each state.