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How To Become A School Psychologist: Degree and Career Guide
One of the most amazing things we can do as a society is to give children the opportunity to thrive, equip them with the mental and emotional strength that they need to face the world, and provide them with ongoing and unwavering support.
One of the ways that this is done is by schools having school psychologists on board to help children with a wide array of issues that they may be facing. School psychologists provide a safe support structure for children when dealing with issues that go beyond the confines of school and academics.
To become a school psychologist, you would need to obtain your bachelor's degree, master's, and doctoral degree, you would need to gain certification, and become licensed, and then you can begin seeking a suitable role.
Let us take a look at this extremely valuable career path and what steps you would need to follow to pursue this role.
What Is A School Psychologist?
A school psychologist is a psychologist who focuses on the mental health and well-being of young children. They assess if children seem to be falling behind, are struggling with their current curriculum, and if they would need to be placed in special learning facilities.
School psychologists conduct learning assessments, personality assessments, and behavioral assessments on children to determine if these aspects may impact their learning in any way.
They then work with the school, teachers, parents, and the student to get through any challenges they may face, and they counsel the students in a way that aids integration and provides emotional and mental support for any difficulties the student may face.
What Does A School Psychologist Do?
Not only do school psychologists work with students and families in overcoming difficulties associated with learning and behavior, but they also counsel students through any challenges and difficulties that the child may be facing outside of school.
For example, if a child's parents are going through a divorce, it will very likely have an impact on the child's behavior in the school setting. They may lash out, their school performance may decrease, and their overall demeanor may change.
School psychologists will work with the child in understanding, dealing with, and facing these specific issues.
School psychologists can be seen as playing the role of a psychologist but specifically treating children within a school setting. They have the skills, expertise, and qualification to diagnose and treat mental illnesses and disorders that may present in young children.
School psychologists actually play a phenomenal role in creating a mentally healthier generation.
Their primary place of employment is in school settings and can be at private or public schools, learning centers, and even university campuses. They may also work at juvenile correctional facilities.
Lastly, they also work with families and peers in understanding when a problem exists with a child, and they help the family in providing an effective support role during the difficulties and issues that the child may face.
Steps To Become A School Psychologist
Step One: Obtain Your Bachelor's Degree
The first step in becoming a school psychologist is to obtain your bachelor's degree in psychology. It is here where you will gain skills from coursework directly related to behavioral psychology, abnormal psychology, child psychology, and educational psychology.
It is here where you will learn how interactions may differ from child to adult and how you can do this successfully.
Step Two: Obtain Your Master's And Doctoral Degree
Once you have a sturdy foundation laid in the form of your bachelor's degree, you will then need to pursue your graduate degrees and obtain a master's and doctorate. With a unique combination of theoretical coursework, combined with research that involves practical hands-on operations, your graduate degree plays an important role in preparing you for your career.
Step Three: Obtain Certification
Next, you will need to obtain the Nationally Certified School Psychologist (NCSP) certification. While these certifications are voluntary in some states, in other states it is a requirement. It is for that reason that you need to check your state requirements before pursuing your certification.
Step Four: Gain Practical Experience
Whether it is through an internship, volunteer work, or research that you are working on in your degree program, gaining practical experience is extremely important in the field of school psychology. You would also need to garner this experience under the supervision of an experienced school psychologist.
Step Five: Obtain A License To Practice
In all states, you are required to be licensed by the state to practice as a school psychologist. It is therefore extremely important that you obtain your NCSP, complete your practical hours, and successfully pass all required exams to obtain your license in your desired state.
What Degree Do You Need To Be A School Psychologist?
To practice as a school psychologist, you would need to obtain a doctorate in psychology or even in education, both of which will equip you with the skills and expertise that you need to treat children psychologically in a school environment.
What Is The Average Salary For A School Psychologist?
According to the Statistics, school psychologists earn an average annual salary of $82,770, and they earn a median annual salary of $78,780.
What Makes A Good School Psychologist?
Aside from having theoretical and academic knowledge and understanding of psychology, it is important to have extreme patience because you are working with children from a variety of different age groups. It is also important to have a passion and a joy for working with kids.
Having empathy and understanding is extremely important. As adults, we often forget that things that seem small and insignificant to us are actually major for children. School psychologists need to have an understanding of adjusted priorities and know what is important for children and why.
What Does A School Psychologist Do?
They work with schools, teachers, children, and families to help children overcome the academic and personal challenges they may face. While practicing in a school setting, they usually also advise and counsel children regarding family issues and issues they may face that are unrelated to school.
Do School Psychologists Work In The Summer?
With schools closing for the summer, school psychologists may choose to take the summer off and spend some time resting. Others may choose to work at youth centers, and even at correctional facilities.
Are There Different Types Of School Psychologists?
While most school psychologists are generally equipped with the same or similar knowledge and expertise, some may choose to focus on working in elementary schools or high schools, while others may choose to work with younger children or even specifically work in schools where children face learning, developmental, and mental disabilities.
Is It Hard Being A School Psychologist?
Any career that requires you to work with a vulnerable population can be extremely stressful. Children are innocent and unfortunately have to face hard realities. Being the person to counsel these children and help them can place a lot of strain on your shoulders. Sometimes, feeling helpless can be the biggest cause of stress in this career.
While no career is easy, this one is certainly worth it, even if you just manage to help one child in your entire career.
School psychologists play an important role in keeping students in a healthy and safe environment. They work with many stakeholders in ensuring that each child has a safe and healthy mental, physical, and emotional space.
With children being completely impressionable, we must create a world where these young individuals can grow and thrive in a positive way, and not be swayed by the negative aspects of this world.
This career is a great one to pursue if you have a passion for working with kids and if your goal in life is to help children.
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