How to Become a

School Psychologist

The complete career guide to be a School Psychologist: salary, job growth, employers, best schools, and education you may need to get started.

Why We Love It

  • $76,040
    Potential Avg. Salary
  • 19.7%
    Job Growth Rate
  • Growing Demand
    Job Outlook
  • Dependable Daily Workload
    Career Attribute

School psychologists work with children, adolescents, and teenagers in school environments. They help children, teachers, and families by diagnosing mental, learning, and behavioral disorders, and by helping students overcome disorders and disabilities through thought and behavior modifications.

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What is a School Psychologist?

The following job responsibilities are common for individuals in school psychologist roles:

  • Evaluate student needs through observation, testing, and interviews in order to diagnose learning disabilities and behavioral disorders
  • Counsel students in order to provide guidance and techniques for overcoming issues that impact social life and educational achievement
  • Work with teachers and parents to implement programs and routines that enable students with disabilities and disorders to excel in social and educational environments
  • Refer families to outside services when required, such as doctors who can prescribe medications

A Day in the Life of a School Psychologist

School psychologists work with children, adolescents, and teenagers in educational institutions. They work with students with special needs, diagnosing, treating, and monitoring learning disabilities and behavioral disorders. They conduct one-on-one sessions with students to observe and evaluate behaviors and thought patterns in order to diagnose the cause of issues that impact education or social integration. Often, they test students for disabilities and discuss results with teachers and families.

For younger students, the role of the school psychologist may be to teach the student methods of controlling behaviors, learning techniques, and how to interact positively with others. However, as students get older, school psychologists may have to deal with much more complex situations like suicidal students, students with substance-abuse problems, and students engaging in gangs and other dangerous situations. School psychologists counsel students in these situations and may inform parents.

Another role of the school psychologist is to help teachers and administrators create a positive learning environment for students of all needs. They may advise on special needs programs, or they may offer alternative solutions for students with learning disabilities. For example, a school psychologist may recommend alternative testing arrangements—such as untimed tests—for students who struggle with formalized testing. Their goal is to ensure the mental health and success of all students in a school.

Typical Work Schedule

School Psychologists often have a full-time working schedule that follow the schedule of the normal school day. The psychologists may sometimes need to arrange sessions outside the schedule for counseling of students, teachers or families. Additionally, school psychologists get long vacations during the summer, winter holiday break or the spring break. This makes this job the perfect choice for people who consider life-work balance at the top of their priorities. You will commonly participate in conferences, workshops and professional events to stay updated on the recent theories and treatments. Another important point to consider about this job is the commitment to treat some cases that take long time to improve. This requires more stability in a particular school for a long time before moving to another place.

Projected job growth

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for psychologists including school psychologists is projected to grow 8% from 2019 to 2029. This is higher rate of growth compared to other jobs in the market. This is attributed to the rising concerns and increasing mental health issues that many students can face including self-esteem, relationships, bullying, disabilities and environment changes. Other factors can also increase these concerns as changes in the economy and special situation as the COVID-19 epidemic. There is also increasing trend that psychologists participate in helping the students develop the important personal skills which is essential for finding their future jobs.

Typical Employers

The typical employers of school psychologists are educational institutions including schools and colleges where their job would focus on helping students with whatever mental health issue they could face as well as prepare them for the job market.  You may also choose to work in multiple schools in a specific district or city. The schools vary depending on a school’s available budget, size, and need, which may sometimes force the building or district to have multiple School Psychologists on staff. Additionally, if you have enough experience and successful record, you can deliver trainings or workshops to teachers or families. You may also participate in the development of the educational programs. In addition, Some School psychologist may work in childcare centers, juvenile facilities and mental health centers.

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How To Become a School Psychologist

The first step in becoming a school psychologist is earning a bachelor’s degree. The bachelor’s degree earned is somewhat flexible—a master’s degree is also required—though most aspiring school psychologists choose to major in either education or psychology. While a psychology degree provides a thorough grounding in the concepts you’ll use as a school psychologist, an education degree will also provide you with training in pedagogy and a teaching license.

After earning a bachelor’s degree, you’ll need to complete a master’s degree program. Most aspiring school psychologists pursue an education specialist master’s degree (Ed.S.). This degree program generally requires 60 credit hours of coursework and the completion of a 1,000+ hour internship with a professional school psychologist. Other programs may provide sufficient credentials to work as a school psychologist as long as the program includes coursework in both education and psychology topics.

In addition to having a bachelor’s and master’s degree, state licensure to work as a school psychologist may also be required, though each state has its own laws regulating the practice. Licensure may require school psychologists to work in an internship, assistantship, or apprentice program under a licensed school psychologist as well as pass a written examination.

School Psychologist Salary Data

We’ve provided you the following to learn more about this career. The salary and growth data on this page comes from recently published Bureau of Labor Statistics data while the recommendations and editorial content are based on our research.

National Anual Salary

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High Range


National Hourly Wage

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High Range


How do School Psychologist salaries stack up to other jobs across the country? Based on the latest jobs data nationwide, School Psychologist's can make an average annual salary of $76,040, or $37 per hour. On the lower end, they can make $53,190 or $26 per hour, perhaps when just starting out or based on the state you live in.

Salary Rankings And Facts

  • #163 Nationally for All Careers

  • Above Average Salary Nationally

Programs and Degrees

Here are the most common degrees for becoming a School Psychologist. a is usually recommended and specifically a degree or coursework that prepares you for the particular field, see below.

Highest Education Among School Psychologists

  • 49.3%   Doctorate
  • 44.3%   Masters
  • 5.6%   Bachelors
  • 0.2%   Associates
  • 0.2%   College
  • 0.2%   High School
  • 0.2%   Less than High School

Job Growth Projections and Forecast

2014 Total Jobs


2024 Est. Jobs


Job Growth Rate


Est. New Jobs


How does School Psychologist job growth stack up to other jobs across the country? By 2024, there will be a change of 30,600 jobs for a total of 185,900 people employed in the career nationwide. This is a 19.7% change in growth over the next ten years, giving the career a growth rate nationwide of Above Average.

Growth Rankings And Facts

  • #53 Nationally for All Careers

  • Above Avg. Growth Nationally

What Companies Employ The Most School Psychologists

Industry Current Jobs New Jobs Needed % Increase
Self-employed workers 47,500 16,100 16%
Elementary and secondary schools; local 38,300 2,300 2%
Offices of mental health practitioners (except physicians) 13,500 5,300 5%

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