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Counseling And School Psychologist Career

Career Description

Counseling and School Psychologists diagnose and treat mental disorders; learning disabilities; and cognitive, behavioral, and emotional problems using individual, child, family, and group therapies. May design and implement behavior modification programs.

Common Work Tasks

  • Use various techniques, including interviewing and testing, to advise people on how to deal with problems of everyday living,  including career or work problems and problems faced in different stages of life
  • Collaborate with teachers, parents, and school personnel to create safe, healthy, and supportive learning environments for all students
  • Address students’ learning and behavioral problems, suggest improvements to classroom management strategies or parenting techniques, and evaluate students with disabilities and gifted and talented students to help determine the best way to educate them
  • Improve teaching, learning, and socialization strategies based on their understanding of the psychology of learning environments
  • Evaluate the effectiveness of academic programs,  prevention programs, behavior management procedures, and other services provided in the school setting
  • Identify psychological, emotional, or behavioral issues and diagnose disorders, using information obtained from interviews,  tests, records, and reference materials
  • Use a variety of treatment methods, such as psychotherapy, hypnosis, behavior modification, stress reduction therapy,  psychodrama, and play therapy
  • Counsel individuals and groups regarding problems, such as stress, substance abuse, and family situations, to modify behavior or to improve personal, social, and vocational adjustment
  • Develop and implement individual treatment plans, specifying type, frequency, intensity, and duration of therapy
  • Interact with clients to assist them in gaining insight, defining goals, and planning action to achieve effective personal,  social, educational, and vocational development and adjustment

Other Job Titles

Counseling and School Psychologists are also known by other titles, including:

  • Clinical Psychologists
  • Research Psychologists
  • Developmental Psychologists
  • Social Psychologists

Education,  Training, and Experience

Education and Training
A doctoral degree usually is required for independent practice as a psychologist.  Psychologists with a Ph.D. or Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.) qualify for a wide range of teaching, research, counseling and school, and counseling positions in universities, health care services, elementary and secondary schools, private industry, and government. Psychologists with a doctoral degree often work in counseling and school positions or in private practices, but they also sometimes teach,  conduct research, or carry out administrative responsibilities.

A specialist degree or its equivalent is required in most States for an individual to work as a school psychologist, although a few States still credential school psychologists with master’s degrees. A specialist (Ed.S.) degree in school psychology requires a minimum of 3 years of full-time graduate study (at least 60 graduate semester hours) and a 1-year full-time internship. Because their professional practice addresses educational and mental health components of students’ development,  school psychologists’ training includes coursework in both education and psychology.

Certification and Licensure
The National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) awards the Nationally Certified School Psychologist (NCSP) designation, which recognizes professional competency in school psychology at a national, rather than State, level.  Currently, 29 States recognize the NCSP and allow those with the certification to transfer credentials from one State to another without taking a new certification exam. In States that recognize the NCSP, the requirements for certification or licensure and those for the NCSP often are the same or similar. Requirements for the NCSP include the completion of 60 graduate semester hours in school psychology; a 1,200-hour internship, 600 hours of which must be completed in a school setting; and a passing score on the National School Psychology Examination.

Aspiring psychologists who are interested in direct patient care must be emotionally stable, mature, and able to deal effectively with people. Sensitivity,  compassion, good communication skills, and the ability to lead and inspire others are particularly important qualities for people wishing to do counseling and school work and counseling. Research psychologists should be able to do detailed work both independently and as part of a team. Patience and perseverance are vital qualities, because achieving results in the psychological treatment of patients or in research may take a long time.


The median annual salary for a Counseling and School Psychologist is $62,000. The top 10 percent earn more than $104,000, and the lowest 10 percent earn less than $37,000.  Median earnings in the industries employing the largest number of counseling and school psychologists are:

  • Elementary and Secondary Schools  - $66,040
  • Offices of Other Health Practitioners - $81,160
  • Individual and Family Services - $60,030
  • Outpatient Care Centers  - $60,890
  • State Government - $72,140

Job Outlook

  • 2006-2016 Employment growth:  16%
  • Number of new jobs created 2006-2016: 24,000
  • Employment 2006 : 152,000
  • Employment 2016:  176,000
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