School Psychologist

Nature of Work

  • Consults with professionals, parents, and school personnel about learning, social and behavior problems;
  • Teaches lessons on parenting skills, learning strategies, substance abuse, and other topics pertinent to healthy schools;
  • Researches the effectiveness of academic programs and behavior management procedures, and study new information about learning and behavior;
  • Assesses and evaluates the wide variety of behavior, skills, emotions, and goals in the schools they serve;
  • Intervenes directly with counseling services for students and families;
  • Acts as an interdisciplinary team member in the special education eligibility process, administering IQ, personality, and achievement tests;
  • Articulates test results to parents who are not familiar with psychological tests;
  • Includes working with a wide range of student emotional and academic factors;
  • Generally has offices in individual schools and serve one or more schools. Some school systems, however, centralize their psychology staff into a single building.

Education Required

  • With rare exception, a master's degree in psychology or counseling is the minimum requirement. Two states (Hawaii and Maine) require a doctorate degree, and Massachusetts, Nebraska, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania allow persons with a bachelor's degree to serve as school psychologists if they have completed the required number of internship hours.
  • All school psychologists must be certified and/or licensed by the state in which they practice. National certification is available through the National Association of School Psychologists and consists of a master's degree plus 30 graduate semester hours, a 1200-hour supervised internship, and a passing score on the National School Psychology Examination.
  • More than 200 U.S. colleges and universities offer school psychology programs. Students enrolled in master's degree programs will take courses in analysis of human behavior, behavior disorders, professional and ethical foundations, interview techniques, tests and measurements, assessment of personality, and psychopathology of childhood and adolescence.

Personal Qualities

  • Mature, stable, and patient
  • Excellent communication skills, both listening and speaking
  • Inspires trust and confidence
  • Intrigued with human behavior

Job Outlook and Advancement

  • Employment of psychologists in all areas is expected to grow faster than average for all occupations through the year 2007.
  • Indications are strong that students who are affected by family strife, crime, alcohol and drug abuse, and other problems, will increasingly seek counsel of school psychologists.
  • Those with doctorate degrees will find employment opportunities as administrators in large school systems or in school districts, or working at the state level in education.

How to Prepare for a Career

  • Study human behavior
  • Volunteer or find summer employment in a day care center, preschool, or a recreation center that serves children
  • Be active in student activities that need problem solving and critical thinking skills
  • Enroll in English, science, psychology, and communications classes in high school
  • Ask your high school or university counseling staff if any volunteer positions are available that include peer mentoring, peer mediation, or peer support.


  • American Psychological Association
    750 1st Street, NE
    Washington, D.C. 20002
    (202)-336-5962 Fax
  • National Association of School Psychologists
    4340 East-West Highway, Suite 402
    Bethesda, Maryland 20814-9457
    (301)-657-4155 TTY