Psychology Careers in Schools

School psychologist helping students working on digital tablet
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A school psychologist is a type of psychologist that works within the educational system to help children with emotional, social, and academic issues. The goal of school psychology is to collaborate with parents, teachers, and students to promote a healthy learning environment that focuses on the needs of children.

School psychology is still a relatively young profession. The National Association of School Psychology (NASP) was established in 1969.

What School Psychologists Do

School psychologists work with individual students and groups of students to deal with behavioral problems, academic difficulties, disabilities, and other issues. They also work with teachers and parents to develop techniques to deal with home and classroom behavior. Other tasks include training students, parents, and teachers about how to manage crisis situations and substance abuse problems.

According to the National Association of School Psychology, there are 10 domains in which school psychologists provide services, including:

  1. Data-based decision making
  2. Consultation and collaboration
  3. Interventions and instructional support to develop academic skills
  4. Interventions and mental health services to develop social and life skills
  5. School-wide services to promote safe and supportive schools
  6. Preventive and responsive services
  7. Family, school, and community collaboration
  8. Diversity in development and learning
  9. Research and program evaluation
  10. Legal, ethical, and professional practice

School psychologists also act as educators by helping others understand more about child development , behavioral problems, and behavior management techniques.

Where School Psychologists Are Employed

While most work in elementary and secondary schools, there are a number of different areas where school psychologists might find employment. Private clinics, hospitals, state agencies, and universities are possible sectors of employment. Some school psychologists also go into private practice and serve as consultants, especially those with a doctoral degree in school psychology.  

Earnings and Outlook

According to the "Occupational Outlook Handbook" published by the U.S. Department of Labor, the median salary for a psychologist working in an elementary or secondary school is $77,560. The job outlook for school psychologists is that the field is expected to grow 3 percent from 2019 to 2029, about as fast as average.

Choosing a Career as a School Psychologist

You should look at the benefits and drawbacks involved with this career to help decide if it is the right choice.

  • Being able to help students succeed.

  • Keeping a school day schedule, since most school psychologists work in elementary to secondary school settings.

  • Collaborating with a variety of community members, including counselors, teachers, parents, and students.

  • Difficulties with students or parents can lead to high stress levels.

  • Work-related stress and frustration can lead to burnout.

  • School psychologists often face hectic schedules and an overload of clients.

Type of Degree Needed

Two or three years of graduate school is the minimum level of training required by most states. However, each state has different requirements for school psychologists. You will need certification or licensure in the state in which you work as well. Before you choose a school psychology graduate program, be sure to check the specific licensing requirements in your state.  

6 Sources
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. National Association of School Psychologists. Who Are School Psychologists .

  2. National Association of School Psychology. NASP 50 Forward .

  3. American Psychological Association. School Psychology .

  4. National Association of School Psychologists. NASP Practice Model 10 Domains .

  5. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Occupational Outlook Handbook: Psychologists Pay .

  6. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Occupational Outlook Handbook: Psychologist Job Outook .

By Kendra Cherry
Kendra Cherry, MS, is the author of the "Everything Psychology Book (2nd Edition)" and has written thousands of articles on diverse psychology topics. Kendra holds a Master of Science degree in education from Boise State University with a primary research interest in educational psychology and a Bachelor of Science in psychology from Idaho State University with additional coursework in substance use and case management.