School Psychology
A Career That Makes a Difference
©2010, National Association of School Psychologists
“Being a school psychologist means
providing equitable education for all
students and supporting their social,
emotional, and academic needs.”
— Wendy Scott, EdS, NCSP
School Psychologist, San Diego, CA
If you want to…
• Help children reach their potential
• Promote children’s mental health
• Work collaboratively with others
• Develop interpersonal and communication skills
• Have a variety of career options
then …
School Psychology
could be the career for you!
What is a School Psychologist?
School Psychologists understand that all
children learn when given:
• Adequate supports and resources
• Recognition of their individual needs
• Connection to and trust in adults
• Opportunities to achieve
• Acceptance and encouragement
• Cooperation between school and home
School Psychologists link mental health to
learning and behavior to promote:
• High academic achievement
• Positive social skills and behavior
• Healthy relationships and connectedness
• Tolerance and respect for others
• Competence, self-esteem, and resiliency
When Do Children Need A School Psychologist?
Learning difficulties
Behavior concerns
Attention problems
Problems at home or with peers
Fears about war, violence, terrorism
Depression and other mental health issues
Coping with crisis and trauma
Poverty, violence, or life changing events
Advocacy of their learning and mental health
What Is the Role of a School Psychologist?
Consultation for student and systems-level change
Staff, parent, and student education
Research and program development
Mental health care
School psychologists work with children, parents and
staff to help determine a child’s:
• Academic skills and instructional level
• Learning aptitudes, strengths, and weaknesses
• Personality and emotional development
• Social skills and behavioral concerns
• Learning environment and school climate
• Special education eligibility
Consultation: Child-Centered
School psychologists:
• Provide knowledge to help improve student
learning and mental health outcomes
• Implement and manage academic and behavioral
• Help teachers, parents, and other professionals
understand a child’s development and learning
• Meet or communicate with others involved with a
child to determine the best way of managing or
improving a particular concern
Consultation: Consultee-Centered
School psychologists:
• Collaborate with teachers to help them identify
classroom-based problems and implement databased interventions
• Support implementation of effective instruction and
behavior management at the classroom level
• Assist parents to develop skills to help their children
succeed at home and in school
• Collaborate with the principal and other school
personnel to identify systemic concerns and promote
systems-level change
School psychologists:
• Implement programs to build positive connections
between students and adults
• Support early identification of potential academic
skill deficits and/or learning difficulties
• Design and implement programs for at-risk
• Foster tolerance and appreciation of diversity
• Create safe, supportive learning environments
School psychologists:
• Work directly with children, teachers,
administrators, and families
• Develop individualized classroom, and school-wide
interventions for learning and adjustment
• Design and implement crisis response plans
• Provide counseling, social skills training,
academic, and behavioral interventions
• Develop strategies for modifying instruction to
optimize student progress
School psychologists provide teachers and parents
training in:
• Teaching and learning strategies and interventions
• Parenting and disciplining techniques
• Classroom and behavior management techniques
• Working with exceptional students
• Strategies to address substance abuse, risky
behaviors, or mental illnesses that affect students
• Crisis prevention and response
Research and Program Development
School psychologists:
• Recommend and implement evidence-based
programs and strategies
• Conduct school-based research to inform practice
• Evaluate effectiveness of programs and
interventions independently and as part of a
school-based consultation team
• Contribute to school-wide reform and
Mental Health
School psychologists:
• Deliver school-based mental health services such
as group, individual and crisis counseling
• Coordinate with community resources and health
care providers to provide students with complete
seamless services
• Partner with parents and teachers to create
healthy school environments
• Promote mental health in the school setting
NASP and state professional associations are
dedicated to advocacy. School psychologists
encourage and sponsor:
• Appropriate education placements
• Education reform
• Legislative involvement
• Community services and programs
• Funding for adequate resources
• Employment of highly qualified school personnel
“I enjoy building trusting and caring
relationships with students, which I
strongly believe promotes learning and
positive choices in their future.”
— Claudia Gomez, MS
School Psychologist,
Huntington Beach, CA
Where Do School Psychologists Work?
• Public and private schools
• Private practice
• Colleges and universities
• Community mental health centers
• Institutional/residential facilities
• Pediatric clinics and hospitals
• Criminal justice system
• Public agencies
Who Are Today’s School Psychologists?
• 74% are women
• 47.5% are over 50 years of age
• Employed:
» 83.1% work in public schools
» 5.2% work in private schools
» 6.5% work in universities
» 4.1% work in independent practice
» 7.0% work in other
(Curtis et al., 2006)
Ethnicity of School Psychologists
Asian-American/Pacific Islander
American Indian/Alaskan Native
Source: 2004-2005 NASP membership survey
Ethnicity of the U.S. Population
American Indian/Alaskan Native
Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander
Source: 2010 U.S. Census Bureau
Linguistic Diversity
• 19.7% of the U.S. population over the age of five
speaks a language other than English at home
• Approximately 12.5% of the U.S. population is
foreign born
For example, more than 90 foreign languages are
spoken by students in the Los Angeles Unified
School District in California.
Source: 2010 U.S. Census Bureau
“As a Diné (Navajo) school psychologist, I
am working back in my ancestral homeland
with my people, using my cultural
knowledge and indigenous language to
provide a diverse service delivery. I am
making a difference by being accessible.”
— Elvina Charley, EdS
School Psychologist, Chinle, AZ
Career Opportunities
• Pending retirements have lead to shortage of
qualified practitioners
• Current shortage of qualified university faculty in
school psychology
• Wide gap between ethnicity of practicing school
psychologists and students served
• Serious need for more ethnic and linguistic
diversity in the field
A Great Career Choice
• Work with children who need you
• Help parents and educators
• Enjoy a flexible school schedule
• Have a variety of responsibilities
• Receive training in useful skills
• Choose from a variety of work settings
• Have confidence in the stability of your position
Rise to the Challenge!
• Children in difficult situations need solutions to
difficult problems
• Parents need ideas for managing children’s
behavior and mental health
• Teachers need help working with students’ varied
educational needs and behaviors
• Society needs mentally healthy, well-educated
“I wanted a career that focused on youth
advocacy in the schools but would allow
me to integrate my passion for cultural
awareness, equity and diversity into the
school community.”
— Cristina Noel-Motta, MS
School Psychologist, Dartmouth, MA
So how do I become a
School Psychologist?
Undergraduate Training
• Must complete a Bachelor’s degree
• Consider an education, psychology or related field
• Take courses in
Child development
General and child psychology
Statistics, measurement, and research
Philosophy and theory of education
Instruction and curriculum
Special education
Graduate Training
• Education Specialist
» In most states, certification as a school psychologist
requires training at the specialist level.
» Specialist-level degrees can be identified by several
acronyms including; Educational Specialist (EdS),
Masters (MA, MS, MEd) and Certificate of Advanced
Graduate Studies (CAGS/CAS) etc.
• Doctorate (PhD, PsyD or EdD)
Graduate Training - Program Length
• Specialist-level:
» 3-4 years (60+ semester credit hours) of full-time
training including a 1200-hour internship*
• Doctorate:
» 5+ years or more (90+ semester credit hours) of fulltime training including a minimum 1500-hour
internship*, and dissertation
» *At least (600) hours of the internship must be completed
in a school setting.
Graduate Coursework
Learning theory
Psychological assessment and intervention
Consultation skills
Diversity and multiculturalism
Normal and abnormal development
School organizational systems
Counseling theory and practice
Statistics and research
Applied behavior analysis
Choosing a Graduate Program
Specialist vs. Doctoral degree
NASP approval/alignment and/or APA accreditation
Size of cohort and location of program
Department of Education or Psychology
Theoretical orientation
Specialties (e.g., early childhood, low incidence,
urban, rural, bilingual etc.)
• Research opportunities
• Financial support (assistantships/fellowships)
Applying to a Graduate Program
• GRE: Graduate Record Exam
» Some programs may require the GRE—Psychology
• Undergraduate transcripts
• Letters of recommendation
• Personal statement(s)
• Practice or research interests
FAQ: How does a School Psychologist differ
from a school counselor?
School Counselor
School Psychologist
At least 2 yrs grad school
At least 3 yrs grad school
Trained in ed./counseling
Trained in ed./psychology
Individual and group counseling
addressing a variety of issues,
career planning, and course
Assessment, consultation,
behavioral/academic intervention,
crisis prevention/intervention,
individual /group counseling, and
program evaluation
Employed in public schools and
Employed in public/private schools,
private practice, mental health
centers, and universities
advisement centers
FAQ: How does a school psychologist differ
from a child psychologist?
School psychologists focus on how social emotional issues,
family problems, neurological factors, and mental illness
affect learning
Child clinical psychologists:
• Usually work in a hospital, mental health center, private
clinic, or university setting
• Are not typically trained in education, instruction, or
classroom management
• Do not focus primarily on the multiple factors that affect
“School psychology is a career that
uniquely offers daily challenges and
rewards, all within a collaborative
— Allison Nebbergall, PhD, NCSP
Education Researcher, Fairfax, VA
Job Outlook?
Excellent both at present and long-term!
Not enough graduates to meet demand
Retirement will soon open many positions
School Psychology was named one of the “best
careers” for 2010 by US News and World Report
Source: US News: Money/Careers
What types of salaries do School Psychologists
• Median salaries range from $47,880.00 to
$67,070.00, while top salaries can exceed
• Mean per diem salary for practitioners at the
specialist level is $287.00 and $350.00 at the
doctoral level.
» However, many school systems do not make
salary distinctions between doctoral and nondoctoral school psychologists.
• Salaries for school psychologists vary by state and
(Curtis et al., 2007)
Curtis, M. J., Lopez, A.D., Batsche, G. M., & Smith, J. C. (2006, March). School psychology
2005: A national perspective. Paper presented at the annual convention of the
National Association of School Psychologists, Anaheim, CA.
Curtis, M. J., Lopez, A. D., Batsche, G. M., Minch, D., & Abshier, D. (2007, March). Status
report on school psychology: A national perspective. Paper presented at the annual
convention of the National Association of School Psychologists, New York City.
Fagan, T. K., & Wise, P. S. (2007). School psychology: Past, present, and future 3rd Ed.
Bethesda: NASP.
Hosp, J. L., & Reschly, D. J. (2002). Regional differences in school psychology practice.
School Psychology Review, 31, 11-29.
Thomas, A. & Grimes, J. (2008). Best practices in school psychology V. Bethesda: NASP.
U.S. Census Bureau (2010). Place of Birth of the Foreign-Born Population: 2009.
Washington, DC: U.S. Census Bureau.
U.S. Census Bureau (2010). Race and Hispanic Origin of the Foreign-Born Population in the
United States: 2007. Washington, DC: U.S. Census Bureau.
Wolgemuth, L. (2009, Dec 28). Americas best careers 2010. U.S. News & World Report.
Retrieved from
For more information, contact:
National Association of School Psychologists
(301) 657-0270