What is School Psychology?

The field of school psychology deals specifically with the issues that kids in school face every day.

Though some schools still use guidance counselors, many keep school psychologists on staff because those professionals can identify potential problems and notify both the school board and all parents involved.

Before choosing this as your college major, keep in mind that you will need to go to graduate school also. Learn more about what those professionals do on the job every day, how you can become one and how much you might make.

What School Psychologists Do

A school psychologist provides guidance and support to students of all ages. They are the ones who talk with students about their future career plans, help them complete their college applications and give them information about possible colleges and vocations. School psychologists are also responsible for identifying problems and issues relating to specific students and within the general school population. They might hold meetings and events to talk with students about the dangers of illegal drug use, underage drinking or premarital sex. School psychologists also identify the signs of abuse at home and look for signs of bullying in students.

Becoming One

You cannot become a school psychologist without first going to college. Most study general psychology, but some colleges and universities now offer a school psychology major for undergrads. When you study the topic at the graduate school level, you’ll usually do some type of fieldwork or a residency program. Fieldwork requires that you spend a semester or more working in a local school district and gaining some experience working with students. Some graduate schools and most doctoral programs require that you spend as much time as 3,000 hours doing supervised fieldwork in a residency program.

Featured Programs

Related: 10 Most Affordable Online School Psychology Programs

Getting Certified

Even after going to school for six years or more, you cannot work as a school psychologist until you have your certification. The American School Counselor Association is the organization responsible for those certificates. The ASCA offers an examination that you will need to take and pass to get your certification, but you will also need to ensure that you meet any of the requirements in your state too. Many states require that school psychologists have at least two years of experience as a teacher and that they have a teaching license in the state. You will also need to take and pass a criminal background check.

Future Outlook and Earnings Potential

Before you begin making plans for the future, you may want to look at the future outlook and the earnings potential within that field. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary for school psychologists today is $53,370 a year or $25.66 an hour. The BLS keeps track of employment changes and the future outlook for various jobs as well. It found that this field will grow by a rate of 8%, which represents the addition of more than 22,000 school psychologist jobs by the end of 2024.

Psychologists working in schools today need a deep understanding of the issues that students face, including self-esteem issues, bullying and abuse at home. They must also help students with their future career or educational goals. To work in school psychology in today’s world, you need a teaching license, a graduate degree and certification from the ASCA.