Becoming a school psychologist is a big decision which should not be taken lightly. As a school psychologist, you must be able be an active listener, have an understanding of social perception, and be able to solve complex problems. In addition to this, it is important to be able to negotiate, make decisions, persuade others, teach, and implement changes to improve student performance within a school setting. It isn’t simply just selecting a career choice for a school psychologist, you must also determine if you want to complete your doctoral degree.
Setting Your Career Goals
When obtaining your degree as a school psychologist it’s important to think about your short term and long-term goals. Most states require school psychologist to work beyond their bachelor degree. For states that require national certification, additional course work will be required. This is when it’s important to determine whether or not you will earn a masters or doctoral degree. Do you plan to mainly work with students up to high school? Will you want to take on supervisory responsibilities within a school district? Is teaching at the college level of interest to you?
Most jobs will want candidates to have at least a specialist degree, which generally is accepted for certification as a school psychologist. It’s also important to note that non-doctoral level graduates are not recognized under the title of psychologist by the American Psychological Association, so independent practice opportunities will be limited by this.
Obtaining one of the doctoral degrees in school psychology will open up more future career paths. A doctoral degree means you may teach future school psychologists and help them to become licensed. In addition to this, a doctoral degree will allow more opportunities for advanced research in your field. With this degree, you will not only be able to work in a school, but also obtain your license to be an independent psychologist with the proper requirements.
Making the Doctoral Choice
When selecting to get your doctorate in school psychology, you open up more overall career paths for your future. While you may think you only want to work with students in a high school setting, later on it may change. Decades later, you may want to have a private practice where you are able to work in a community health facility in a larger capacity. In addition to this, you will also be able to work to help future school psychologists by teaching courses at colleges or universities.
One other important factor to consider is that down the road there may be changes made. While school psychology pathways have two options of coursework now, later on it may be an entry level doctoral program. This can complicate things later on when you look for a new job. Most will be looking to hire based on the current standards and not the past. Being proactive and getting your doctoral degree from the start will give you the most flexibility with your future career.
Do you have a doctoral degree and are looking for a school psychology position? Check out all of our school pscyhology openings on our job search page!