School Psychologist Career Guide 2024

Table of Contents

School Psychologist Salary in United States for 2023

Average Annual Salary: $81,500 Hourly Rate: $39.18

Data sourced from the U.S. Department of Labor via the ONET Web API. Updated at December 8, 2023

Best Colleges and Universities for School Psychologists in 2023

Best College Majors for School Psychologists in 2023

Projected Job Employment for School Psychologist:

Estimated YearProjected YearEstimated EmploymentProjected Employment% ChangeProjected Annual Job Opening

School Psychologist Career Path Overview

A career as a school psychologist offers a rewarding opportunity to positively impact the lives of students, supporting their academic, social, and emotional development. This career path is suited for individuals who are passionate about education and psychology, and who have a deep understanding of child development and learning processes.

Education Requirements for a School Psychologist

To embark on a career path as a school psychologist, the first step is to earn a bachelor's degree, ideally in psychology, education, or a related field. This foundational knowledge will prepare you for more specialized study later on. Following your undergraduate studies, you'll need to pursue a graduate degree in school psychology. Some programs offer an Educational Specialist degree (Ed.S.), which typically takes three years to complete and includes a one-year internship. Other programs may offer a doctoral degree (Ph.D. or Psy.D.) in school psychology, which can take up to five to seven years to complete and includes a dissertation based on original research.

Licensing and Certification

After completing your education, you'll need to become licensed to practice as a school psychologist. Licensing requirements vary by state, but they generally involve passing an exam and completing a certain amount of supervised work experience. In addition to state licensure, you may choose to become nationally certified by the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP). While not required, this certification can enhance your professional credibility and open up more job opportunities.

Skills Needed

School psychologists need a wide range of skills to effectively perform their duties. These include excellent communication skills to interact with students, parents, teachers, and other staff; problem-solving skills to help students overcome challenges; observational skills to assess student behavior; and cultural competence to work with diverse student populations.

Career Progression

The career progression for a school psychologist can be varied. Many start their careers providing direct services to students, such as assessment, counseling, and consultation. With experience, they may take on more responsibilities, such as program development and evaluation, staff training, and research. Some school psychologists eventually move into administrative roles within a school district or at the state level. Others may choose to teach at the college level or go into private practice. The opportunities for advancement are plentiful for those who are committed to ongoing professional development.

Job Outlook and Salary

The job outlook for school psychologists is positive. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of psychologists, including school psychologists, is projected to grow 3% from 2019 to 2029, about as fast as the average for all occupations. Salaries for school psychologists vary based on factors such as location, years of experience, and level of education. However, according to the National Association of School Psychologists, as of 2020, the median annual salary for a school psychologist in the United States was around $78,200. A career as a school psychologist can be both challenging and rewarding, offering the chance to make a real difference in students' lives while enjoying a stable and fulfilling professional path.

School Psychologist Career Path Education and Training

Aspiring school psychologists need a solid educational foundation to succeed in their chosen career path. This involves obtaining a relevant bachelor's degree, a graduate degree in school psychology, and the necessary certifications and licenses.

Bachelor's Degree

The first step on the school psychologist career path is earning a bachelor's degree. Though there isn't a specific degree requirement for undergraduate studies, it is beneficial to major in psychology, education, or a related field. Coursework often includes child development, statistics, research methods, educational psychology, and abnormal psychology. These classes provide a foundational understanding of human behavior and learning processes.

Graduate Degree

Following the completion of a bachelor’s degree, students must earn a graduate degree in school psychology. This can either be a master’s degree or an Education Specialist (Ed.S.) degree. Ed.S. programs typically take 3 years to complete and include a year-long internship. These programs delve deeper into the topics of child and adolescent development, learning theories, psychological assessment methods, behavior intervention strategies, and counseling techniques. Some individuals opt for a doctoral program (Ph.D. or Psy.D.) in school psychology. While this is not necessary for most school psychologist positions, it can open doors to more advanced roles such as supervisory positions or academic roles in higher education.


Before becoming fully qualified as a school psychologist, an internship is required. This typically takes place during the final year of graduate school. The internship provides hands-on experience under the supervision of an experienced school psychologist, allowing students to apply their theoretical knowledge in real-world settings.

Certification and Licensing

After completing their education and internship, aspiring school psychologists must obtain certification or licensure to practice professionally. The requirements for licensure vary by state, so it's important for individuals to check with their state’s educational board or the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) for specific guidelines. In general, candidates will need to pass an exam demonstrating their knowledge and skills in school psychology. Some states may also require continuing education credits to maintain licensure.

Continuing Education

Even after obtaining their initial certification or licensure, school psychologists are encouraged to pursue continuing education opportunities to stay updated with the latest research, theories, and techniques in the field. This can be achieved through workshops, seminars, professional development courses, or additional graduate studies. To summarize, becoming a school psychologist involves intensive study and hands-on practice. It requires dedication and commitment to education and training. But for those who are passionate about helping students achieve their full potential, the journey is well worth it.

School Psychologist Career Path Progression

The journey to becoming a school psychologist involves several stages. Each step presents its own unique set of challenges and learning experiences. This comprehensive guide will walk you through the progression of a school psychologist career path, from the educational requirements to the different stages of professional development.

Education Requirements

To pursue a career as a school psychologist, you need to start with a solid educational foundation. The first step typically involves obtaining a bachelor's degree in psychology, education, or a related field. After completing your undergraduate studies, the next step is to earn a master's degree in school psychology or a closely related discipline. However, note that most states in the U.S require school psychologists to hold an Education Specialist (Ed.S) degree, which is a post-master's program typically lasting for 2-3 years. This program involves intensive training in mental health, learning, and behavior to help students succeed acadically, socially, behaviorally, and emotionally.

Licensure and Certification

After completing the necessary educational requirements, you need to acquire licensure or certification to practice as a school psychologist. This often involves passing a comprehensive exam such as the Praxis II School Psychologist examination. The specific requirements may vary depending on your location, so it's crucial to check with your state's licensing board. In addition to licensure, some school psychologists opt to earn professional certification from the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP). While not always required, this certification can enhance your professional standing and employability.

Entry-Level Roles

After obtaining licensure and certification, you can start looking for entry-level positions as a school psychologist. These roles often involve working under the supervision of an experienced school psychologist. In this stage, you'll have the opportunity to apply the theories and skills you learned during your education and training. Your tasks may include conducting psychological assessments, designing and implementing intervention strategies, and providing counseling services to students.

Mid-Career Opportunities

As you gain more experience and expertise, you'll have the chance to take on more complex roles and responsibilities. Mid-career school psychologists often supervise other staff, lead initiatives to improve student outcomes, and participate in research. They may also specialize in specific areas of school psychology, such as behavioral intervention or crisis management.

Advanced Roles

In the advanced stages of your career, you might consider roles such as lead school psychologist, district-wide school psychologist, or even director of student services. In these positions, you'll likely be involved in policy development, program evaluation, and strategic planning. Some school psychologists also choose to pursue academic careers, teaching the next generation of professionals in this field. In conclusion, the career path progression for a school psychologist is a journey of continuous learning and professional growth. Each stage presents opportunities to deepen your knowledge and skills, broaden your professional network, and make a meaningful impact on the lives of students.

School Psychologist Career Path Specializations and Subfields

As a dynamic and evolving field, school psychology offers numerous specializations and subfields for professionals looking to further hone their expertise. These specializations can allow you to focus on specific populations, challenges, or techniques, providing a more personalized career path that aligns with your interests and passions.

Clinical School Psychology

Clinical school psychologists combine the principles of clinical psychology with an understanding of educational contexts. They specialize in assessing, diagnosing, and treating mental health issues within the school setting. This can include working with students who have learning disabilities, emotional disorders, or behavioral problems.

Educational Psychology

This specialization focuses on how students learn and develop over time. Educational psychologists use their understanding of child development, cognitive processes, and learning theories to help create optimal learning environments. They may work on curriculum development, teacher training, or research into new educational strategies.


School psychologists specializing in neuropsychology study how a student’s brain functions affect their behavior and learning. This can involve studying brain scans, carrying out cognitive tests, or designing interventions to support students with neurological conditions.

Behavioral School Psychology

In this subfield, the emphasis is on understanding and modifying problematic behavior in the school setting. Behavioral school psychologists use principles of behavioral psychology to assess students' behaviors, implement behavior management strategies, and support teachers and parents in managing challenging behaviors.

Consultation and Collaboration

Consultation and collaboration are crucial aspects of school psychology. Some professionals focus on this area, working to improve communication between teachers, parents, and other professionals. They may also advise on policies and procedures to promote positive mental health within the school.

Research and Policy Development

Some school psychologists choose to focus on research and policy development. This can involve conducting research to inform educational practices, influencing policy at a local or national level, or working in universities to teach the next generation of school psychologists.

Crisis Intervention

School psychologists specializing in crisis intervention are trained to respond to emergency situations in schools, such as violence, trauma, or severe mental health crises. They provide immediate support, assess the situation, and develop a plan to help students and staff cope with the aftermath. Choosing a specialization or subfield in school psychology can allow you to deepen your knowledge in a particular area and enhance your career prospects. Regardless of the path you choose, your work will contribute to a better understanding of student behavior and learning, ultimately helping students thrive in their educational journey.

School Psychologist Career Path Job Market and Outlook

School psychologists are vital professionals in the education sector, providing mental health support to students and helping schools create safe, healthy, and supportive learning environments. As awareness about the importance of mental health continues to grow, so does the demand for school psychologists. This article aims to provide an in-depth look at the job market and outlook for school psychologists. The job market for school psychologists has been growing consistently over the past few years. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of psychologists, including school psychologists, is projected to grow 14% from 2018 to 2028, much faster than the average for all occupations. This growth is driven by increased demand for psychological services in schools, hospitals, mental health centers, and social service agencies. School psychologists are often employed in public and private schools, colleges and universities, school-based health centers, school district-based early childhood and preschool programs, and juvenile justice programs. They may also work in private practice or as consultants. In terms of geographical distribution, states with higher populations typically have more job opportunities for school psychologists due to a larger number of schools. However, there are also opportunities in rural areas where there may be a lack of mental health resources. It's important to note that the job market can also be influenced by factors such as budget constraints at the local or state level and changing policies around mental health services in schools. However, as society becomes more aware of the importance of mental health support in schools, it's likely that the demand for school psychologists will continue to grow. In terms of salary, the BLS reports that the median annual wage for psychologists was $80,370 in May 2019. However, salaries can vary widely depending on factors such as location, years of experience, and specific employer. Overall, the job market and outlook for school psychologists is positive, with growing demand and solid salary potential. As schools continue to recognize the importance of mental health support for students, the need for qualified school psychologists will likely continue to increase.

School Psychologist Career Path Salary and Compensation

The role of a School Psychologist is not only fulfilling in terms of its impact on students' lives but also in terms of its financial benefits. As a professional in this field, you can expect a competitive salary and compensation package that reflects your level of experience, education, and expertise. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual wage for psychologists, including school psychologists, was $82,180 as of May 2020. However, it's crucial to note that salaries can vary significantly depending on several factors. These include geographical location, years of experience, level of education, and the specific setting in which you work.

Geographical Location

Salaries for School Psychologists can vary considerably from state to state. For instance, the BLS reports that psychologists in Oregon and California are among the highest paid in the nation, with average salaries exceeding $100,000 per year. In contrast, those working in states like West Virginia or Oklahoma may earn less than the national average.

Experience Level

Experience plays a significant role in determining a School Psychologist's salary. As you gain more experience and hone your skills, you're likely to see an increase in your compensation. Starting salaries for School Psychologists tend to be lower, but after 5-10 years of experience in the field, you can expect a significant rise in your income.

Education Level

Your level of education can also influence your earning potential as a School Psychologist. Those holding a Doctorate degree often command higher salaries compared to their counterparts with a Master's degree. However, even with a Master's degree, it's possible to earn a competitive salary by gaining specialized skills and experience.

Work Setting

The specific setting in which you work can also impact your salary. School Psychologists working in private practice or consulting may have the opportunity to earn more than those employed by public schools or other educational institutions. However, these roles may also require additional responsibilities and longer hours. In addition to a competitive salary, School Psychologists may also receive other benefits such as health insurance, retirement plans, paid time off, and opportunities for professional development. These benefits can significantly add to the overall compensation package, making this career path even more attractive. In conclusion, while the salary and compensation for School Psychologists can vary depending on several factors, the potential for earning a competitive salary and benefits package is quite high. This, coupled with the opportunity to make a positive impact on students' lives, makes a career as a School Psychologist a rewarding choice.

School Psychologist Career Path Tips for Success

Becoming a successful school psychologist involves more than just obtaining the necessary educational qualifications and licenses. It's about developing a comprehensive set of skills, gaining hands-on experience, networking with professionals in the field, and staying updated with the latest developments in school psychology. Here are some tips to help you navigate your school psychologist career path successfully.

Focus on Your Education and Training

The first step towards a successful career in school psychology is obtaining a strong educational foundation. This typically involves earning a bachelor’s degree in psychology or a related field, followed by a specialist-level degree (such as an Ed.S. or Psy.S.) or doctoral degree in school psychology. Some roles may require a doctoral degree, so consider your career goals carefully. In addition to formal education, it's essential to gain practical experience through internships or practicums during your course of study. This will give you hands-on experience with the day-to-day tasks of a school psychologist and help you apply theoretical knowledge to real-world situations.

Obtain Necessary Certification and Licensing

Licensing requirements for school psychologists vary by state. However, most states require a license or certification specifically for school psychologists to practice. Be sure to check with your state’s education department or board of psychology for specific requirements.

Develop Relevant Skills

As a school psychologist, you'll need excellent communication skills to interact effectively with students, parents, teachers, and other school staff. You'll also need strong problem-solving skills to help students overcome learning and behavioral challenges. Additionally, having empathy, patience, and cultural competence is crucial for working with diverse student populations.

Network with Other Professionals

Networking can open doors to new opportunities and provide you with valuable insights from experienced professionals. Join professional organizations such as the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) or the American Psychological Association (APA). These organizations often host conferences and workshops, offering opportunities for professional development and networking.

Stay Updated with Industry Trends

School psychology is a dynamic field, with new research and strategies continuously emerging. Stay updated by reading industry journals, attending seminars, and participating in professional development courses.

Consider Specialization

Depending on your interests and career goals, you might consider specializing in a particular area of school psychology such as behavioral intervention, crisis management, or special education. Specialization can make you more competitive in the job market and allow you to provide more targeted support to students.

Engage in Continuous Learning

Finally, remember that learning doesn't stop once you've obtained your degree or license. The field of school psychology is constantly evolving, and it's important to keep expanding your knowledge and skills through lifelong learning. This can be achieved through continuing education programs, workshops, webinars, and training sessions. By following these tips, you can navigate the school psychologist career path with confidence and success. Remember, each journey is unique, so adapt these guidelines to fit your personal career goals and aspirations.

What is a School Psychologist?

A school psychologist is a trained professional who works in educational settings to help students, teachers, and families. They use their expertise in psychology and education to understand and address learning difficulties, behavioral issues, and emotional problems. They work with students of all ages, from preschoolers to high school seniors, and often collaborate with other professionals in the school system to create a positive learning environment for every student.

What Does a School Psychologist Do?

School psychologists wear many hats. They perform various tasks such as assessing students' cognitive, social, and emotional development; designing and implementing intervention strategies; counseling students and their families; collaborating with teachers to develop effective teaching strategies; and conducting research on effective educational practices. In addition, they may also contribute to policy and program development in the school system.

What are the Educational Requirements for a School Psychologist?

The educational path to becoming a school psychologist typically involves obtaining a bachelor's degree in psychology or a related field, followed by a specialist-level degree (Ed.S., Psy.S.) or doctoral degree (Ph.D., Psy.D., or Ed.D.) in school psychology. Most states in the U.S. require school psychologists to have a specialist degree, which is a post-master’s program that includes a year-long supervised internship. It's also important to note that licensure or certification is necessary to practice as a school psychologist, with requirements varying by state.

What Skills are Required for a School Psychologist?

School psychologists need a wide range of skills to be successful in their roles. Strong interpersonal skills are crucial as they frequently interact with students, parents, teachers, and administrators. Critical thinking and problem-solving skills are needed to assess students' needs and devise appropriate interventions. Additionally, communication skills are essential for conveying complex psychological concepts to non-experts. School psychologists also require patience and empathy to work with students who may be struggling with various issues.

What is the Average Salary of a School Psychologist?

The salary of a school psychologist can vary widely depending on factors such as location, years of experience, and the specific school district. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of May 2020, the median annual wage for school psychologists was $78,200. However, the top 10% earned more than $132,070.

What are the Career Advancement Opportunities for a School Psychologist?

School psychologists have various opportunities for career advancement. With experience, they may take on leadership roles within their schools or districts, such as becoming a lead psychologist or special education director. Some school psychologists choose to specialize in a particular area, like early childhood or high school, and become experts in those fields. Others may transition into academic roles, teaching future school psychologists at colleges or universities. Additionally, some school psychologists may choose to open their private practice, providing consulting services to schools or direct services to children and families.