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How do I Become an Educational Psychologist?

By Harriette Halepis
Updated May 17, 2024
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Educational psychologists work with students who have academic or behavioral troubles. The goal of an educational psychologist is to study the way that certain children understand, interact, and contribute to a learning environment. Through counseling, observation, and research, psychologists are able to work with teachers and parents in order to enhance a child's educational atmosphere.

The concept of analyzing a student's academic environment is not a new one. The roots of educational psychology can be traced back to Ancient Greece. Legendary philosophers Aristotle and Plato often contemplated the ways in which students learn. Through experimentation, these philosophers were able to make some acute observations that are still used by educational psychologists today.

In order to become an educational psychologist, a recently graduated high school student must obtain a psychology degree. In some countries, a bachelor's degree is enough to secure a well-paid positions as a psychologist, though this is rarely the case. Instead, most employers prefer candidates with a master's degree.

Often, those with master's degree can obtain sought-after educational psychologist positions. Some of the more desirable positions include working within a school environment, constructing a private practice, and working as a consultant within a social program. In addition to a solid educational background, in order to become an educational psychologist candidates must posses certain personality traits.

Psychologists who work within the education system must be both analytical and patient. Practical skills such as research ability, child development knowledge, and assessment capabilities are also highly useful. Since educational psychologists often work with a number of other people, these professionals must be willing to work as part of a larger team.

The work of a psychologist can be difficult and challenging. This job position involves a high level of stress, frequently daily disruptions, some nighttime work hours, and busy scheduling. Although it takes a lot to become an educational psychologist, this profession is not without its rewards. Working within a team environment can be invigorating, and many of these professionals also enjoy long school vacations.

Those seeking to become an educational psychologist should begin their search by looking at job boards. Some job openings are also available through job placement agencies, or by applying directly to an elementary, high school, or college that may be in need of a psychologist. While advancement in this field is rare, choosing to become an educational psychologist is often lucrative.

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Discussion Comments

By Bhutan — On May 06, 2011

@Subway11 - I agree and I know that sometimes an educational psychologist might also go into to private practice and specialize in academic testing. This field is really broad and there are a lot of evaluations that they can offer a parent to tell them about their child.

The most common evaluations involve I. Q, testing in which the educational psychologist can tell the parent if the child has learning disabilities or if the child qualifies for gifted education.

I took my daughter to an educational psychologist in order to qualify her for a gifted program and I was charged $350 for 90 minutes, so I think that educational psychologists that strike out on their own can make a handsome sum with these evaluations.

By subway11 — On May 03, 2011

@Moldova - I think that it would be rewarding to be an educational psychologist, but it can also be heart wrenching. I have a friend that worked as an educational psychologist and was responsible for several schools in the area.

She would tell me really sad stories about some of the children. You really have to have a lot of compassion because many of the children that you work with are troubled and have a difficult home life.

Some may have learning disabilities in addition to an unstable home life and the educational psychologist is the one person that they can count on in their life. It can be an incredibly moving experience especially when you make progress with a lot of these children. I think that this is why people become a psychologist.

By Moldova — On Apr 29, 2011

@Oasis11 - I have a friend that is an educational psychologist and she told me that another thing that colleges look for in order to admit you is the amount of work that you have done with children in the past.

If you don’t have a teaching degree, I believe that you will need several years of volunteer experience working with children. They want to make sure that you enjoy working with children before you go into this course of study.You could get a specialist degree or a doctorate.

There are some programs that lead to a doctorate but for the practice of an educational psychologist, you only need the Ed.S or the educational specialist degree.

This degree normally is conferred by the school of education in most universities. It is the only specialty within the field of psychology where you can call yourself a psychologist and not have the doctorate.

By oasis11 — On Apr 28, 2011

I looked into how to become a school psychologist and the requirements were a little different than what a traditional psychologist would have to do. For an educational psychologist you could actually have a Bachelor’s degree in education or a psychology.

You would then have to go into an advanced Masters Degree program in order to become an educational psychologist. I believe it is over 90 credits that you have to take and most people finish the program in three years if they go full time.

There are also a required number of hours that you have to have as part of your internship. It is really important to look for a program that it accredited because the accredited programs will prepare you for your licensing exam.

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