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School Psychologist

In this article we learn what a school psychologist is and what the main duties of the school psychologist are. The article also gives details on what education is required to become a school psychologist. Read on to learn more...

When schools function well, it is because they have the necessary expertise in each area, whether it’s instruction, building maintenance, or administration. The school psychologist is an important part of this equation, bringing expertise to address a range of critical and everyday circumstances that occur in the school environment.. For more information about the role of the school psychologist, keep reading.

What Is a School Psychologist?

A psychologist is someone who studies the workings of the human mind, particularly in relationship to behavior, and a school psychologist is a psychologist specially qualified for work in a school. These are some of the things that school psychologists do:

  • Assessment The school psychologist administers existing standardized (or, in special situations, devised) assessment to answer questions about students’ capabilities, limitations, needs, and progress. This includes identifying students with special needs, answering questions about children who are performing much better or less well than expected, and for other purposes, such a psychological assessment. The school psychologist also scores the assessments, analyzes the results, and reports on them, along with providing recommendations.
  • Counseling The school psychologist is available to counsel students and their families in order to address issues having to do with transitioning into the school and other learning-related problems or problems that are impeding learning.
  • Intervention Intervening in dangerous situations and moments of crisis and providing crisis response in the case of a student or faculty death, whether at the school or not, as well as responding to school violence, or any other emotionally fraught incident or situation is all part of the school psychologist’s role.
  • Wellness Promotion and Prevention The school psychologist works to enhance wellness for all members of the school environment and prevent any type of dysfunction.
  • Consultation The school psychologist consults with the classroom teacher, special educator, paraprofessionals, parents, and other professionals such as speech language pathologists, as necessary in working through any issues facing students and in setting up IEPs.
  • Program Development and Evaluation Based on the standards-based assessment, the school psychologist develops, or helps as a member of a team in developing, plans for individual students (Individual Education Programs, IEP).
  • School-based Research The school psychologist uses research to discover the best approach for introducing programs that address educational, psychogical, and social needs of students.

Become a School Psychologist

Because of the special training involved, a school psychologist often holds a higher degree than many of his or her colleagues. In fact, in some places, either a Specialist degree (Ed.S.) or a Doctorate is required. In this field, the Specialist degree, which is an extended Masters degree, is considered to be the entry level degree.

It is essential to check state licensure requirements in order to choose a program that will meet them. Requirements may also include the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) certification, Nationally Certified School Psychologist (NCSP) and/or have a degree that has NASP or American Psychological Association (APA) approval. Although a Master’s degree is available, the certification of NCSP is not available until after the completion of the Specialist degree.

Three different doctorates are available in the realm of school psychology:

  • Ph.D. or Doctor of Philosophy is the most commonly awarded doctorate in school psychology.
  • Psy.D. or Doctor of Psychology is a second type of doctorate
  • Ed.D. or Doctor of Education is a third type.

In the field of school psychology, doctoral programs can be entered after one has obtained a Bachelor’s Degree (i..e., a Master’s or Specialist Degree need not be obtained first).


O*NET Online: School Psychologist -

Vermont Department of Education: School Psychologist Endorsement - Employment Development Department: Occupational Guides - Psychologists -

NASP Certification: A Career in School Psychology: Selecting a Master’s, Specialist,
or Doctoral Degree Program that Meets Your Needs -

American Psychological Association -