How to Become a School Psychologist

A school psychologist is an invaluable asset to any institution that wants a safe and healthy environment for its students and their future. The increase in anxiety and depression rates among children makes it crucial to create systems where qualified professionals assist those who need help. Here’s everything the role entails, including psychologist education requirements, and a step-by-step guide.

What is School Psychology?

School psychologists work closely with teachers, administrators, and parents to help students learn skills that will help them in school or life. These professionals encourage students and support a safe learning environment.

School psychologists are knowledgeable about how children learn and how instructors teach.  As such, they can work with students to accentuate their strengths and improve their weaknesses. What’s more, school psychologists may also contribute to reshaping teaching practices for K-12 schools as well.

What does a School Psychologist do?

School psychologists work with students to manage various behavioral, emotional, and academic issues. They also serve on interdisciplinary teams that address the needs of at-risk learners. Besides, some school districts have implemented new mental health programs for their schools in response to increased demand from parents. Many school psychologists work independently or through consulting other professionals, such as teachers.

Steps to Become a School Psychologist

There are four steps to becoming a school psychologist.

Here’s a step-by-step guide.

1. Complete a degree

A degree in psychology could be all you need to pursue this career path. But, if you’re planning on specializing in children from kindergarten through fifth grade, you’ll also need an undergraduate degree in a related field. While it’s not mandatory, a postgraduate study for educational psychologists can enhance your chances of getting a good gig. 

Additionally, the Ed.S (Education Specialist) qualification is a popular choice for students who want to study education. Specifically, it helps those who don’t have enough time or funding to complete their Master’s degree and need an additional credential to be qualified for higher positions requiring two degrees.

2. Obtain State Licensure

What are the requirements in your state?  While every place has slightly different rules, you’ll need at least 60 credit hours of coursework and over 1,200 supervised training hours before getting licensed.  You also have to take an exam, which might vary depending on the state in which you’ll be working.

3. Secure the Job

Aspiring school psychologists should always be looking for work, even before completing their education and supervision.  This helps build a network of fellow professionals who are in similar positions as yourself that may come through with job opportunities when they arise.  There is no one type of environment where these specialists will find themselves working, so you must keep an open mind about the possibilities.

4. Maintain certification

Getting the job is one thing, but maintaining credentials and staying current in the field is another. Foremost, you must ensure that your school psychologist certification is up-to-date by undertaking continuous professional development activities.  Keeping the certification also means meeting various requirements, which vary with the state. Some states require renewal every 2-5 years, while others only set that requirement if your license expires or is revoked due to disciplinary action. 

However, all of them mandate at least one continuing education course within the first five years for new license applicants.  As a school psychologist, you’ll be in tune with the kids and their parents. You must also possess strong diplomatic skills and compassion for those around you. The rewarding part of this position is that you get to help young people become better versions of themselves, implementing change within your community.