Psychology Jobs > School Psychologist

The work of a school psychologist incorporates aspects of several broader disciplines encompassed within the field of psychology, such as abnormal psychology and cognitive psychology. Many school psychologists work primarily with children, so training in child psychology is important.

School psychology is also related to educational psychology, although there is not a complete overlap between the tasks and responsibilities of the two disciplines.

Although an educational psychologist creates testing and evaluation methods in addition to educational curriculum development, a school psychologist spends most of his or her time counseling and applying psychological testing to students in order to understand their individual needs.

Employment as a School Psychologist

School psychologists serve students of all ages, from pre-school children to those enrolled in college. They are employed by both public and private school systems, as well as colleges and universities across the country. A school psychologist may work at a single school or at several schools within a particular school system. Allocating time between different schools is especially common in rural areas or in smaller school systems.

The field of school psychology has changed in recent years in several important ways. With the rise of public pre-schools that include children as young as three years of age, the age of the students that a school psychologist may serve has dropped. Educational budget cuts in many public school systems has resulted in increased workloads and changed the employment conditions for many school psychologists.

What Issues do School Psychologists Encounter?

Most students receive counseling from school psychologists for issues such as behavioral problems, interpersonal conflicts and changes in academic performance. School psychologists are trained to assist students in modifying negative behavior, addressing personal issues, resolving conflicts and improving social and academic skills.

School psychologists are also qualified to work with students regarding family issues or other crises that may have a negative impact on a student’s academic performance and emotional well-being.

In recent times, it’s become more common for School Psychologists to deal with special needs issues; everything from identification to dealing with learning disabilities and mental health problems. For example, psychologists may help students cope with emotional or traumatic events, such as the death of a friend, family member or teacher.

Likewise, issues such as highly publicized crimes that involve children, natural disasters, such as a tornado or an earthquake, or large-scale events, such a terrorist attacks, can be traumatic for children. School psychologists can offer counseling geared toward helping children feel safer while working through the emotional issues associated with the events.

What Does a School Psychologist Do?

The day to day responsibilities of a school psychologist differs based on the age of the students served and the educational setting in which he or she is employed. However, the work of most school psychologists includes any or all of the following activities:

school psychologist job Student Counseling
Students are generally referred for counseling by their teachers, parents or at the request of the student themselves.
Students may receive individual counseling for personal issues, or two or more students may see a counselor together in order to resolve a conflict or deal with an issue that affects more than one student, such as a potential bullying situation.

will help the child psychologist develop an understanding of the reasons for a child's behavior. The toys can also be

Student Evaluation

School psychologists may also evaluate students to determine their need or eligibility for special educational programs or social services. If a student is proving to be especially gifted or is requiring additional attention in the classroom as a result of a learning disability, the psychologist may perform an evaluation in order to determine the best method to address the student's performance.

These evaluations may be completed by the school psychologist working alone or as part of a larger assessment team. Not surprisingly, dealing with issues such as ADHD have become common for many school psychologists in recent years.

Working with Families

Communicating with parents and guardians is another important responsibility undertaken by school psychologists. Psychologists often reach out to parents to let them know of the problems that arise with their child and can help parents develop a plan to address issues faced by their student. If the conflict is between the student and a member of their family, the school psychologist may serve to mediate any issue that may be impacting the student's academic performance.

Coordinating with Educational Professionals

School psychologists also work with teachers and administrators to address issues that impact more than one student, such as bullying or abuse. The psychologist may assist with the development of school-wide programs and campaigns, and may prepare presentations tailored to different classes or age groups.

Referrals and Contacting Authorities

Another task of a school psychologist is to write referrals for students with serious, ongoing mental problems that require in-depth care or treatment that cannot be provided by the educational system. Parents or guardians may need assistance coordinating services for those students needing more than counseling to resolve their problems. School psychologists are also responsible for alerting the appropriate authorities in the event that physical or sexual abuse, neglect or criminal activity are suspected or alleged.

Becoming a School Psychologist

As part of their education and training, school psychologists take coursework in both psychology and education to be equipped to interact with students, families, teachers, administrators and other mental health professionals. To be permitted to work as a school psychologist, an individual must complete a four-year Bachelor’s degree and a graduate degree from an accredited psychology program at a college or university.

While completing their graduate studies, students are also required to complete a 1,200-hour internship. If a student is looking to pursue a doctorate in school psychology, they will be required to complete a 1,500-hour internship during their studies in addition to their dissertation in order to receive their degree.

All fifty states require professional licensure of school psychologists. In addition to state licensure, there are many professional boards and organizations relating to this field, including the National School Psychology Certification Board and the National Association of School Psychologists. These organizations oversee professional accreditation and certification for school psychologists and school psychology educational programs.

Job Outlook for School Psychologists

The job market for school psychology is expected to grow substantially over the next 10 years. Many in the field are expected to retire which will make room for new positions. Salaries for school psychologists are contingent on amount of experience, level of expertise and the location in which the practitioner seeks employment.


Salary will vary based on state, as will the overall need for the position. The average salary for a school psychologist is $67,650, which equates to approximately $32.53 per hour. Entry level positions can be as high as $38,450 or $18.49 per hour, and those with more experience in the field can make up to $109,340 annually or $52.57 per hour.

The industries with the highest level of employment for school psychologists are Elementary and Secondary schools, Offices of Other Health Practitioners, and Individual and Family Services. The states with highest level of employment for this particular field are California, New York and Pennsylvania.

A position in the field of school psychology can be highly rewarding with the right amount of dedication. There are a variety of opportunities available for aspiring school psychologists as the industry is expected to grow in the coming years.