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Career Profile: School Psychologist

Why Is School Psychology a Job of Tomorrow?
As the stress in students’ lives intensifies, the demand will increase for clinical psychologists to help them manage it in a productive way. A growing number of struggling students will benefit from sessions with a school psychologist. Employment positions for school psychologists are expected to increase 16 percent by 2016, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The average annual salary for school psychologists is $61,290.

What Does a School Psychologist Do?
School psychologists do many of the same things that clinical psychologists do, except their office is inside a school building rather than at a private care facility. They work to improve the mental health of students, who can range from grade schoolers to high schoolers. To do so, school psychologists are responsible for diagnosing cognitive conditions or emotional disorders. Psychologists gain an understanding of the patient’s problems through free-flow discussions, background history and other conversational methods of obtaining information. After assessing each individual case, school psychologists will create a therapy plan to aid the student. These can involve additional talk sessions, advice on how to handle and avoid future stressful situations or simple lifestyle changes that the student can employ.

What Kind of Training Do I Need to Become a School Psychologist?
Most states require school psychologists to earn an advanced degree in psychology before they can be licensed to practice. Psychology degree courses cover behavioral science, clinical practice methods and individual assessment techniques. Doctoral level degrees typically take four to six years to complete after obtaining a bachelor’s degree. To earn licensure, program graduates must pass a national certification exam, then complete an internship and provide evidence of one to two years of professional working experience in that internship. Some states require that psychologists participate in continuing education to renew their licenses. This practice ensures that practicing clinical psychologists remain current with new developments in the field.

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