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

February 23, 2019 by University of Massachusetts Global

As you’ve explored your career options over the years, you may have finally come to the conclusion that you’ve been called 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 the schools doesn’t necessarily mean you have to lead your own classroom. If you’re more motivated by the opportunity to provide students with the tools they’ll need to be successful in the classroom and beyond, you may have considered 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 if pressed for an answer today, could you decipher the true differences between these important roles?

School psychologist vs. school counselor: Which path should you pursue?

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 distinct differences between the two. We put together this infographic to help you sort out the variances as you determine the best way for you to make an impact.


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 as they conduct psychological tests, develop individualized education plans and collaborate with parents and teachers regarding 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 20,000 school psychologist job openings from the last year.1 Most of these positions are looking for candidates with skills and experience in the areas of special education, psychology principles, speech language pathology, teaching and mental health.

The future looks promising for school psychologists, with experts projecting jobs in this realm to grow 14 percent by 2026—that’s double 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 $75,090.

What is a school counselor?

School counselors serve the social and emotional needs of students while helping them explore potential career options. Typically working in an office within a school, school counselors serve the entire student population as they counsel students regarding personal or behavioral issues, help to prepare them for future endeavors and discuss progress with parents and teachers. These professionals may also facilitate workshops on topics like drug prevention.

In our analysis of more than 49,000 school counselor job openings from the last year, we learned that employers are looking for candidates who are adept in the areas of teaching, customer service, scheduling, academic advisement and case management.2

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 $55,410. This is also a field set to see some notable growth, as projections indicate that school counselor jobs will grow 13 percent by 2026.

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

Now that you’ve collected more information about these two pivotal roles within our community schools, you should feel better equipped to take the next step in your personal journey toward career fulfillment. Start working toward a career you can be proud of by digging even deeper into the details of the path you feel is a better fit.

If you’re drawn toward a career as a school psychologist, check out our article, “What does a school psychologist do? An inside look at this invaluable role.”

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 20,813 school psychologist job postings, Oct. 01, 2017 – Sep. 30, 2018)

2 (analysis of 49,894 school counselor job postings, Oct. 01, 2017 – Sep. 30, 2018)

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