How to Become a School Psychologist (and Why!)

Last Updated on August 2, 2023

smiling school psychologist with blue collared shirt and glasses, talking to student with taupe backpack and ponytail

Are you interested in helping students succeed both academically and personally? Do you have a passion for psychology and education? If yes, then school psychology jobs might be the perfect career path for you! But, just how do you become a school psychologist and jumpstart this rewarding career? 

Here’s everything you need to learn about how to become a school psychologist, including the responsibilities, benefits, job outlook, skills, and education requirements.

The Role of a School Psychologist

In school psychology roles, you play a crucial role in supporting students’ academic and personal development. Not only can you help them become the best students they can be, but you can help them become the best individuals they can be.

As you learn how to become a school psychologist, it’s important to understand your role and the important work you’ll do.

What Do School Psychologists Do? 

School psychologists address students’ social, emotional, behavioral, and academic needs. They work closely with teachers, parents, and other educational professionals to assess, diagnose, and treat students struggling with mental health or learning issues. 

School psychology clinicians conduct individual and group therapy sessions, develop and implement intervention plans, and provide consultation and training to staff and parents.

According to the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP), school psychologists have six main responsibilities: 

  1. Support academic performance.
  2. Encourage positive behavior and mental health.
  3. Advocate and accommodate the needs of diverse learners.
  4. Help foster a physically, mentally, and emotionally safe school culture.
  5. Close the gap between the school and parents in students’ goals.
  6. Assess students’ progress and the school’s outcomes.

Where Do School Psychologists Work? 

School psychologists can work in a variety of educational settings. While most work in K-12 public schools, you can also find opportunities in private schools, preschools, universities, district administration offices, and juvenile justice programs. 

Who Do School Psychologists Work With?

A school psychologist works with students, teachers, families, and other counselors in different capacities. You’ll provide students with mental health services while consulting with teachers, staff, and families on how they can support the student’s needs. 

Benefits of Becoming a School Psychologist

Before you learn how to become a school psychologist, you must understand why you should become one:

  • Enjoy a Flexible Schedule & Work-Life Balance.

Your schedule matches your students’ schedules. 

For the most part, this means you’ll have evenings, weekends, summers, and major holidays off. This can foster a great work-life balance, allowing you to recharge and arrive at work refreshed each day.

  • Make a Positive Difference in the Lives of Youth.

One of the biggest benefits of becoming a school psychologist is the opportunity to make a positive impact on students’ lives. By helping children overcome academic and personal challenges, you’ll contribute to building a brighter future. 

Above all, mental health support saves lives. You can empower the upcoming generations by providing them with resources to help them learn healthy coping mechanisms, improve their self-esteem, and feel seen, heard, and understood during difficult times.

  • Every Day is Different.

Your student’s needs are always changing. The conversations, breakthroughs, and guidance you share will vary from day to day. This can keep you engaged and satisfied as you grow your career in school psychology.

  • Join One of the Best Social Service Roles.

U.S. News & World Report ranked school psychology #3 in “Best Social Services Jobs.”

School Psychologist Job Outlook

Working in schools can provide you with stable and long-lasting employment. There is currently a significant demand in schools for mental health professionals:

  • Is the School Psychology Job Market Growing?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the school psychology job market is expected to grow 5.5% from 2021 to 2031. Many estimate this number will grow even more due to an increased awareness of and need for mental health services.

  • Is There a Shortage of School Psychologists?

88% of public school students in the U.S. don’t have access to a school psychologist. That leaves over 5.4 million students in districts without one. 

How to Become a School Psychologist: The Top Skills Needed

Growing up is hard for kids! As the world grows more and more complex, our students need professional mental health resources more than ever. Becoming a school psychologist requires a unique set of skills, such as:

  • Empathy, compassion, & patience
  • Critical thinking & problem-solving
  • Collaboration, communication, & relationship-building
  • Ability to manage stress & conflict
  • Sensitivity to diverse individuals of unique backgrounds
  • Specialty in child development
  • Ability to conduct and evaluate assessments

>Pro Tip: Make sure you include these key skills on your resume. Explore more tips on for landing an allied health job!

How to Become a School Psychologist: State Requirements & Certifications

Once you’ve developed your skills, it’s time to meet the requirements to get the job.

Wondering how to become a school psychologist? Here’s a general breakdown of what you’ll need:

A lime green-colored diagram illustrating five tips on how to become a school psychologist, including check your state requirements, getting a bachelors degree, earning a graduate degree, and obtaining your credentials
  • 1. Check Your State’s Requirements.

The exact qualifications vary from state to state. You can find NASP’s requirements for how to become a school psychologist in each state here.

  • 2. Get Your Bachelor’s Degree.

First, you’ll need to earn your bachelor’s degree in psychology or a related field.

  • 3. Earn Your Graduate Degree.

Next, you’ll need a graduate degree in school psychology. Most states require a minimum of 60 graduate credits and a 1,200-hour internship to become licensed. 

You can also pursue a doctoral degree. This is helpful to expand your career options, especially if you’re looking for research-based positions. 

>Note: You can’t become a school psychologist with a master’s degree. At a minimum, you’ll need a specialist-level degree. This takes about three years vs. the standard two years for a master’s degree.

  • 4. Obtain Your Credentials.

In general, there are two options to become a credentialed in school psychology: 

  1. If you have a specialist-level degree, you can become a nationally certified school psychologist (NCSP) through NASP. 
  2. If you have a doctorate, you can get certified through the American Board of School Psychology.
  • 5. Get Licensed in Your State.

Lastly, you’ll need to get licensed through your state’s Department of Education, Department of Public Instruction, or other department indicated by the state. Once you’re licensed, you’re ready to earn experience and get into the field!

Start Your Journey to Becoming a School Psychologist

Whether you’re finished with your credentials or just getting started, you’re in the right place. At CareerStaff, we’re here to help you develop the skills, network, and experience needed to find your dream role.

Let us help you find a job as a school psychologist or boost your resume in a related role.  Quick apply now to get connected with a recruiter, or start browsing school psychology jobs here!

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