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How do I Become a School Psychologist?

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  • Written By: wiseGEEK Writer
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 11 September 2018
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The school psychologist may work for a single school or a district and could work directly with students, administer tests on students that are at risk academically or behaviorally, and from this information help create plans to assist students in the learning environment. Psychologists may also work with a student’s parents to find them additional counseling or community resources and to make suggestions on how the home environment can support the student’s learning. Alternately, they work in the school setting to follow a variety of students who have come to them or been referred to them for extra support. The job can be varied, but there are usually two related paths for the person who wants to become a school psychologist.

The minimum requirements to become a school psychologist is to earn a master’s degree in school psychology. This is the bare minimum, though people with a bachelor degree may do sometimes part of the work mentioned above. Most people, however, will want to first get a bachelor degree in psychology or sometimes in education, prior to getting into master level work. Each school psychology program may have a different focus or emphasis, and requirements for each entrance to each program can differ. Some students do not earn a master’s degree in school psychology but instead earn one in psychology or counseling. These might also work, but focus on the school environment can help a person better prepare for work in a school.

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It is considered preferable by many students to become a school psychologist by getting a doctoral degree in school psychology, which is called an Ed.D. This program takes longer, usually about 3-5 years, and doctoral programs may look for applicants who are well trained in psychology and/or education. There are people who again earn a PhD or Psy.D in psychology, but the Ed.D is more typically associated with school psychology and is frequently preferred. Training specific to credentialing or exams may be offered in Ed.D programs that is not often offered in PhD or Psy.D programs.

Once people have completed whatever graduate level training program they choose, they have more steps before they become a school psychologist. It is necessary to obtain certification and licensing, and the requirements for this are set up by each state. Most people can expect to complete an internship prior to getting licensing to practice, and many take an examination. Those who want to become a school psychologist can also apply for national certification, after completion of degrees, through the National Association of School Psychologists, which is ideal if a person has any plans to relocate to other states, while retaining ability to work.

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