How to Become a School Psychologist

If you are interested in becoming a school psychologist, it is essential that you have a higher education. You will be required to have a graduate degree in school psychology followed by minimum one-year school psychology internship. Many states demand a school psychology graduate to meet certain licensing requirements and pass a state examination to practice school psychology. In order to become a successful school psychologist professional, you should be well trained in both psychology and education and have a natural aptitude to assist children with emotional and mental health issues.

Nature of Work

School psychology is the study of the mental processes and behavior pattern of all children attending primary, middle and high schools. As a school psychologist, you will work in unison with parents, teachers, school administrators and other school staff members to create a healthy, purposeful, and constructive learning environment for every student attending the school.

School psychologists are also concerned with the learning challenges of school students and administer necessary treatment to effectively overcome them. The possible solutions include new parenting methods, revised classroom management strategies, therapeutic intervention, counseling and other similar programs. School psychologists not only deal with students with disabilities, but also normal students to help identify for them the best possible educational opportunities. 

Additional Professional Duties:

One important way to acquire professional expertise is to volunteer participation at day care centers, summer camps, extra-curricular activities and after-school recreation programs. Some school psychologists take a lot of initiative to perform certain special duties aimed at professional excellence:

  • Conduct periodic review meetings individually and collectively with parents and teachers to study learning, behavioral, and family problems of the students
  • Undertake research work to devise innovative learning programs and help to introduce them in schools
  • Acquire updated knowledge about modern behavioral management techniques and train faculty, staff and parents
  • Counsel parents/teachers on ways to prevent student abuse and help overcome learning/study deficiencies
  • Evaluate and advise school administration on various punishment methods and introducing innovative disciplinary procedures that do not damage the student psyche

Career Prospects

There is a steady growth in the demand for school psychologists and this upward trend will continue in the coming years. School psychologists who further obtain specialist degrees and advanced training in computer science or adolescent psychology will have promising career opportunities. Apart from schools, the school psychologists find employment opportunities in certain other areas like student-based health centers, child hospitals and clinics, student-related community and state programs etc. There are some school psychologists who also become independent practitioners.

Miscellaneous Information

The National Association of School Psychologists confers the Nationally Certified School Psychologist title in recognition of national competency in school psychology. They offer professional certification, which comprises of a master's program of 60 semester hours duration, a supervised 1200-hour internship. You must also pass the National School Psychology Written Test. The American Psychological Association (APA) does accreditation of school psychology programs at the doctorate level.