What Types of Certifications Should a School Offer with a Master’s in Psychology?

Psychology is a field clouded by confusing educational requirements, from undergraduate and graduate degrees to certifications and licensing requirements that can easily leave some graduates feeling out of the loop. Generally, work as a psychologist requires an undergraduate degree in the field as well as a graduate-level degree in either a broad or narrow psychological discipline.

With those requirements cleared up, aspiring psychologists will need to seek certification in the specific area that they wish to practice. This can range from psychoanalysis to school counseling, with different certifications being offered by each university. Though all certifications are not available at all schools, those considering a career in this field should look for one or more of the following at the institution where they intend to study:

Certification as a School Psychologist

Finding a position as a school psychologist is definitely one of the most rewarding ways to combine a love of education with a love of childhood psychology and working with today’s youngest learners. Though this field is engaging and competitive, it does require certification from a separate board than most other certification and licensing programs. In order to practice in today’s public or private schools, psychologists will need to meet the requirements of the National Association of School Psychologists.

The NASP offers its own certification program, officially called the Nationally Certified School Psychologist program, which is a prerequisite for virtually everyone in this field. Most universities do offer this, and some even pair it with a special graduate-level program in school psychology.

Professional Certifications in an Area of Specialty

While certification as a school psychologist has both its own certification program and its own association of professionals, other fields within psychology are generally all governed by the same body. Psychologists looking to practice either within larger organizations or on their own will need to pursue certification through the American Board of Professional Psychology. The ABPP offers subject-specific practice areas including:

– Psychoanalysis
– Clinical Health
– Rehabilitation
– Forensic Psychology
– Group Counseling
– School Counseling
– Family Counseling

Many other content areas are also covered. These exams are often offered through universities to those students who have competed a relevant course of study. Certification is often a steppingstone to state licensure and sole practice, so it’s important to make sure that the university offers both the proper graduate-level course of study and the necessary certification program. If not, it may be worthwhile to consider a competing institution.

Multiple Certifications are Allowed

Universities generally offer a single certification to students based on their elected concentration during graduate studies, but this is not the only option available. Where fields overlap, including family and group counseling or clinical health and rehabilitation, professional psychologists may be able to pursue additional certifications that open up additional career options after completion.

Plenty of Certifications Available to Students

The key thing to remember about certifications is that they’re not all offered at a single institution. Many smaller universities will offer only the most popular program to students, making research absolutely essential prior to application and acceptance of admission. With great research and careful program selection, however, a long and rewarding career in the field will be easier to achieve.