School psychologist vs. school counselor: Which career is your calling? [Infographic]

As you’ve explored your career options over the years, you may have finally realized your calling to dedicate your life’s work to supporting the youth in your community. And where better to do this than in our schools?

But working in education doesn’t necessarily mean you have to lead your own classroom. If you’re more motivated by providing students with the tools they’ll need to be successful, you may consider a career as a school psychologist or a school counselor.

Chances are, you’ve interacted with one of these professionals at some point during your own years as a student. But when comparing the roles of a school psychologist versus school counselor, could you explain the differences? Read on for a breakdown of both roles plus career projections.

What’s the difference between a school counselor and a school psychologist?

While both school psychologists and school counselors focus their work on the mental health, emotional well-being and academic achievement of students, there are some distinctions between the two. We put together this infographic to help you sort out the variances as you decide the best way for you to make an impact.

See a visual comparison about the difference between school counselor and school psychologist in this infographic.   

What is a school psychologist?

School psychologists help identify issues holding students back from success and determine solutions to pave the way for personal and academic achievement. These professionals work with students who may qualify for special services. They conduct psychological tests, develop individualized education plans and inform parents and teachers about behavior modification techniques.

Most school psychologists are employed in schools, community health centers and clinics. To qualify for one of these important roles, you’ll want to become well-versed in the skills employers are looking for.

We used real-time job analysis software to examine more than 19,000 school psychologist job openings from the last year. This data helped us determine what employers are looking for in candidates.

School psychologist skills in highest demand1

  • Special education
  • Psychology principles
  • Mental health
  • Crisis intervention
  • Behavioral health

The future looks promising for school psychologists, with experts projecting jobs in this realm to grow 10 percent by 2030, which is faster than the rate of the national average. Armed with an advanced degree in the field, you could land a job as a school psychologist, which currently boasts a median annual salary of $79,510.

What is a school counselor?

School counselors serve the social and emotional needs of students while helping them explore potential career options. They typically work in an office within a school and serve the entire student population. Counselors advise students regarding personal or behavioral issues; help prepare them for the future and discuss progress with parents and teachers. These professionals may also facilitate workshops on topics like drug prevention.

In our analysis of more than 17,000 school counselor job openings from the last year, we learned what employers are looking for in candidates for this position.

School counselor skills in highest demand2

  • Teaching
  • Mental health
  • Special education
  • Assessment data

With a master’s degree, you could qualify for an impactful role as a school counselor, which could earn you a median annual salary of $60,510. This is also a field set to see some notable growth, as projections indicate that school counselor jobs will grow 14 percent by 2030.

School psychologist vs. school counselor: Which path is right for you?

This side-by-side comparison should have you feeling more equipped to take the next step in your journey toward career fulfillment. Now that you know the difference between a school counselor and a school psychologist, which do you feel aligns best with your personal skills and interests?

If you’re drawn toward a career as a school psychologist, check out our article "What does a school psychologist do? Breaking down this collaborative career."

But if you’re feeling more compelled to pursue a career as a school counselor, head over to our article "What does a school counselor do? A closer look at this student-centric role."


1 (analysis of 19,105 school psychologist job postings, Aug. 01, 2021 – Jul. 31, 2022) (analysis of 17,442 school counselor job postings, Aug. 01, 2021 – Jul. 31, 2022)

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