How much do school psychologists make?
If you are considering becoming a school psychologist, you might be driven by a desire to work with students, help them succeed and ensure an equitable learning environment. In this career, you will advocate for children with behavioral, mental and emotional disorders and work closely with parents and teachers. While money might not be your primary motivation, it’s wise to research the earning potential and other important aspects of any future career.
Read along to find more information about how much school psychologists make, what kind of skills and qualities help them succeed and more answers to common questions.
How much do school psychologists make?
The short answer to this question is that the median annual salary for school psychologists in 2019 was $78,200, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Keep in mind that a median figure means half of employed school psychologists make more than the stated amount and half earn less.
It’s also important to note that the school psychologist salary will fluctuate according to location, employer, education level and years of experience. If you really want to get specific details on your earning potential, you could start by asking and answering some questions to help guide you:
Do you want to work/live in a rural or urban area?
What age of students would you prefer to work with? (Elementary school, young adults like high schoolers or college freshman, etc.)
Do you aspire to earn a doctoral degree? Or would you like to start working after finishing a master’s and an internship?
What is the job market like for school psychologists?
The job outlook for the field of psychology is comparable to the average across all occupations, according to the BLS. However, the need for clinical, counseling and school specialties is projected to increase faster. The demand for school psychologists is expected to grow as more people understand the importance of mental health and how it affects every area of life, including education.
What do school psychologists do?
Now that you have some of the important career data, you’re probably curious about the typical daily duties of a school psychologist. These specialists assess, diagnose and treat a variety of disorders and support the mental health and well-being of students.
On top of the work they do directly with students, they also advocate at the individual and system level to ensure all children have equal access to education. In addition, they counsel and advise teachers and fellow staff on how to support students with mental, emotional and behavioral disorders.
For a more in-depth look at this role, check out this article: What does a school psychologist do?
Where do school psychologists work?
81 percent of school psychologists work in K–12 public schools, according to the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP). The remaining 19 percent are employed in private schools, community health organizations and universities. Most school psychologists work full time during regular business hours Monday through Friday.
Depending on the role, your practice could include elementary school students who can’t yet read or write or college freshman facing the unique problems of young adults.
What skills do school psychologists need?
Most professionals pursuing a career in this field will have developed a core set of psychology skills throughout their training. To get a better understanding of what these skills entail, we used real-time job analysis software to examine more than 25,000 school psychologist job postings from the past year.*
The data helped us identify the most desirable skills employers are seeking in candidates. The following skills were among the most commonly listed:
What qualities do successful school psychologists share?
School psychologists have direct daily contact with students, parents, teachers and staff, giving them a holistic view of the learning environment. Their practices are often embedded in the schools and communities they serve. This type of work requires several soft skills to complement the technical skills listed above.
A successful school psychologist will excel in most or all the following areas*:
Teamwork and collaboration
Interpersonal and group communication
If you can relate to many of the qualities above, you may be a natural fit for a career in school psychology.
How do you become a school psychologist?
Just like other mental health professions, you will need an advanced degree to practice as a school psychologist. According to our job analysis, 87 percent of the school psychologist jobs included a minimum education requirement of a master’s degree.*
To practice as a licensed school psychologist, most U.S. states require the following steps:
Earn a bachelor’s degree: While there is no specific school of study required, most choose to earn a B.A. or B.S. in psychology or education. Be prepared to take courses in general child and developmental psychology, statistics, critical thinking, research methodology and more.
Earn a graduate degree: Some schools like University of Massachusetts Global offer a combination degree and credential program in school psychology which is ideal for pursuing this career path. Other common options for graduate education would be a Master of Arts in Education, a Master of Arts in Special Education, a Master of Arts in Psychology or a Master of Science in Psychology. In addition, you will also have to complete a 1,200-hour internship.
Qualify for licensure: Once you earn an advanced degree, you can apply for licensure in your state. These requirements vary by location, so be sure to refer to your state’s Department of Education for specifics.
Begin your journey toward becoming a school psychologist
You now know about the typical school psychologist salary and the skills and training you’ll need to be qualified for the position. If this information has solidified your desire to pursue a career in this field, it’s time to start planning your next steps.
There are many different education paths you can take on your way to practicing as a school psychologist. Explore University of Massachusetts Global’s School of Education to learn more about undergraduate, graduate and doctoral programs.
*Source: Burning-Glass.com (analysis of 26,622 school psychologist job postings, Dec. 1, 2019 – Nov. 30, 2020)
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