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The responsibilities of school psychologists extend well beyond lending an ear to uneasy parents and troubled administrators about the academic struggles of a student. As a researcher, they comb through test scores to analyze whether a child is a candidate for special services. Other techniques used to assess a child's needs include observation, review of school records, and consultation with parents and school personnel. Administration is also a critical component of the occupation, as school psychologists are responsible for maintaining special education reports, confidential records, records of services provided, and behavioral data. While a majority of school psychologists work in the school system, they can also work in residential treatment centers, local mental health agencies, or start their own private practice.
In the coming years, classrooms will swell and educate more students who have special needs, learning disabilities, and behavioral issues. Schools tending to their needs will increase demand for school psychologists. The Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS) expects employment growth of nearly 22 percent in the occupation by 2020.
According to the BLS, school psychologists earned $67,880 in 2011. The best-paid earned about $110,410 while the lowest-paid earned less than $39,060. Top-paying areas of the industry include employment services, business schools and computer and management training, and scientific research and development services. If you're looking for a position in a geographic area that compensates well, consider the metropolitan areas of Trenton, N.J., San Luis Obispo, Calif., and Hanford, Calif.
A master's degree is required to become a nationally certified school psychologist. Within that framework, aspirants must complete a three-year program that consists of 60 hours of coursework along with a minimum of 1,200 hours of an internship. The supervised school internship is generally done in a school setting. A passing score on the Praxis II exam in school psychology is also required. While most school psychologists earn their post-graduate degree with the intent of working with children, others earn a doctorate for the express purpose of teaching and studying human behavior.
During the final stages of the graduate program, aspiring school psychologists set the wheels in motion for landing a job via an internship. "For a lot of people, their internship turns into a job," explains Kelly Vaillancourt, director of government relations for the National Association of School Psychologists. While school budget cuts in recent years have slowed this trend, Vaillancourt notes that the shortage in school psychologists makes for a very hospitable job market: "It's rare when school psychologists are unable to find employment."
|Upward Mobility||Above Average|