I am writing this blog because within the past two days I have had five inquiries for School Psychologist job positions. They were for both part and full-time employment. Many of the agencies that reached out to me had multiple job offerings throughout California, Nevada, Arizona and other states. Some were flex-time, a few added bonuses for signing and one event mentioned moving assistance. There were “temporary full-time” placements, as well – meaning that there was a psychologist on emergency or maternity leave and they needed someone to finish a contract. All in all there must have been 25-30 positions for the remainder of this year and next year.
So, I decided that perhaps I should write about the career of School Psychology and why I believe there is such a need.
I believe there are a multitude of reasons why this profession is much needed and perhaps the need has even increased.
First, there are more children who survive premature birth. These children tend to have more complicated developmental patterns and they are at risk for learning disorders. Plus, the increase of autism identification and awareness results in an upswing of children receiving early intervention services.
Moreover, sadly we live in a complicated world. Many children have been subjected to abuse, witnessed violence, been born to drug effected parents or have other circumstances that make their lives “atypical”. Schools often have to address the needs of these children and their very heavy “baggage”. School Psychologists also are called upon to to help school staff with children who need much more than traditional teaching and curriculum.
Course of Study:
School Psychology is an “amalgam” career – a blend of many disciplines of psychology in to one position. First, a School Psychologist must know a lot about testing and measurement. They are often tasked to complete full psycho-educational batteries on students that include intellectual, educational, processing, behavioral and adaptive behavior measures. (Note: if you hate statistics don’t become a School Psychologist.) The reason for so much testing is to determine if a child with learning differences is in need of special support within the school. For example, a child may have processing challenges that qualifies them for extra services in reading or math. Or another child may need services for severe mental health issues. And, a child on the autism spectrum also may have special services availed to them. These “needs” all can fall under the umbrella of “special education’.
A psychologist in the schools needs to be up to date on behavioral programs, curriculum, administration best practices, counseling, and crisis services. More and more – crisis intervention and prevention is a skill-set that a School Psychologist must have.
School Psychology is a field that usually requires a doctorate or at the very least a “super -sized ” master’s degree. When you have finished your course of study, internships and thesis – you are then subjected to a multitude of state and national board exams.
Most states accept the NCSP (Nationally Certified School Psychologist certificate) – with a few exceptions. California is an exception. Once you have your NCSP you often are able to practice School Psychology in many states and the District of Columbia.
There are many plusses to this career. Obviously, there are jobs available. The pay can be substantial. There (almost) is offered a comprehensive benefit package. And, if you passed requirements in your state – you may be able to work exclusively or in addition to a school setting in a private practice.
Some “School Psych” positions allow the employee to follow teacher hours and schedules. Meaning you work school hours and have a nice summer vacation.
The biggest “perk’ is at the end of the day you have made a difference in the life of a child or several. This can be a huge reward and reason to go in to this field. It is what motivated me to get up early and stay late. Each child and their educational needs was important. Whether they were the first child I saw early in a school year or the last child before summer break. Their education mattered.
Read more about this field, expectations, experiences of others and requirements per state at NASPonline.org
If you are a School Psychologist looking for a position – please see this current listing from Linkedin.
Lastly, people have asked me why I don’t practice in schools anymore. My answer is simple. I have retired from this career and feel that I can help children and families in other ways.