How Do You Become a School Psychologist?

The behavior health and educational needs of children are very important and those interested in the field may inquire on how to become a school psychologist. School psychologists are highly qualified professionals that support and help students’ learning and teachers’ teaching abilities. They use their know-how of mental health and child and adolescent behavior to assist students in academic success while addressing their social, behavioral, and emotional needs. They commonly collaborate with teachers, administrative staff, and other professionals to establish a safe and supportive academic environment for all children. They also work with families to enhance the connections between school and home. There are specific steps on how to become a school psychologist, including obtaining a bachelor’s degree, completing a master’s degree in school psychology, attaining licensure, and additional requirements.

Earn a Bachelor’s Degree

Aspiring school psychologists must first earn a bachelor’s degree. Many pursue degrees in related fields, such as child psychology, social work, or education. Those who earn a degree in an unrelated area are often required to take correlated courses, like educational psychology, social psychology, abnormal psychology, developmental psychology, and statistics. Gaining experience in a school-psychology related area, like volunteering or working with children may provide students with a competitive edge for graduate programs.

Complete a Master’s Degree in School Psychology

In order to become a school psychologist, individuals must complete a master’s degree in school psychology, or closely related program. Many programs join a master’s degree with a specialization certificate. When choosing a program, students must make sure it is approved by the National Association of School Psychologists to ensure they are eligible for national licensure. The programs commonly take three years to complete and require foundational courses and core graduate courses in school psychology. Common courses include psychopathology, cognitive assessment, counseling methods, intervention methods, ethics in school psychology, behavioral management, and statistics and research techniques. Programs in school psychology typically require students to complete practicum experiences as well as full-time internships to gain experience in the field.

Become State Licensed

Many individuals wondering on how to become a school psychologist ask about licensure. All states require school psychologists to become licensed in the state they practice. Licensing requirements differ by state, but commonly include completion of an accredited master’s degree program in school psychology or related area and a minimum amount of supervised hours in school settings. In general, students must have at least 1,200 hours of supervised internship experience, with a minimum of 600 of those hours in an educational setting.

Additional Requirements

Many individuals gain the optional Nationally Certified School Psychologist professional certification from the National Association of School Psychologists. The requirements for this credential, individuals must complete a graduate degree in school psychology and an internship. They must also receive a satisfactory score on the school psychology Praxis II examination. Individuals who gain second language abilities, such as Spanish or American Sign Language often have a major advantage in the career field as they have the ability to communicate with an array of individuals. Excellent communication, stress management, and compassion are important traits of school psychologists.

Related Resource: Neuropsychology

School psychologists are a vital part of the school team to make sure all students receive the necessary support and resources to succeed. The main goal of school psychologists is making sure students are happy, healthy, successful in their learning environment. Completing a bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, and licensure are necessary on how to become a school psychologist.