Wanted: School Psychologists

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.

Read more about special education categories.

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.

What Can I Do with a Degree in Psychology?

The Class of 2015 recently crossed the podium to receive their degrees in venues that were filled with proud parents, amazing keynote speakers and scores of hopeful graduates. While many may have already secured jobs or slots in graduate schools, a fair number are unsure of their “next steps”.  Many of those who are in limbo have completed coursework and earned a degree in Psychology.  These alumni are able to converse about human behavior, statistics and learning theory, however, are sans prospects for employment. What to do once you have obtained a degree in Psychology and have no immediate plans for graduate school? To answer this question we first will need to ask a few more.

Examine the Big Why? Why did you study Psychology? What was your vision for the future when you first entered your freshman Psychology 101 class?

Many people enter the field of Psychology because they have an interest in what makes people “tick”.  They are people watchers who can view groups or individuals at hours on end.  Fascinated by a child’s play or perhaps arguments among couples, the student of psychological behavior enjoys being a voyeur of the human element.

Each person has what I like to call the Big Why. It is what inspires you. Your passion.  What keeps you studying when you rather be out with friends.

My catalyst for becoming a Psychologist was when I read Virginia Axline’s book, DIBS, In Search of Self.  This book about an Autistic child and play therapy piqued my interest regarding a single topic in a way that I had never experienced before. I delved in to the stacks of my hometown library to read everything I could find on the subjects of play therapy, autism and psychology. By the time I had exhausted all available resources I knew for certain what would be my career path.  I had discovered my Big Why.

Read more about the life of Virginia Axline and play therapy 

While many, like myself, enjoy interpersonal relationships and social engagement, there are those interested in the field of Psychology, but, prefer to keep their days within a laboratory setting. While not for me I have met many who are more enamored with psychology as a research science vs. a social science.

If you are interested in Psychology be sure to ask what is your Big Why? Do note that we all have the right to change our minds.  Maybe studying Psychology wasn’t what you expected and now you need to modify your course and forge ahead by looking for your next vocation. Consider interning, finding a mentor or becoming a volunteer as you learn about other professions. In my opinion, it is great to pursue what you feel passionate about as long as it provides you with a stable income.

 Find out what are the most popular college majors

What is stopping you from going to graduate school and continuing in the field of Psychology?

Many people are just tired of studying.  The thought of one more book, one more test, or one more term paper makes some want to scream.  If you are a Psychology major and have lost interest in studying but the profession, then take some time off to recharge and rejuvenate.  Consider becoming a “shadow” to several people who are employed as Psychologists (or in related fields).  Sample the various occupations that utilize the skills you have learned and figure out what you need to acquire.  Don’t let being tired now be the excuse that hinders you from a successful future.

If it is a financial concern, consider seeking counsel by college coaches who know about scholarships, grants and much more. Jodi Okun, founder and owner of  College Financial Advisors conducts a weekly Twitter chat – #CollegeCash – that is chocked full of information for anyone seeking the 411 about  resources on career, financing graduate school and overall college planning.

Have you thought out of the box?

Perhaps you can use your degree to work in a field that uses “people skills” but doesn’t need graduate school.  Sales and marketing careers are dependent on good interpersonal skills, as is the travel and hospitality industries.  Education also is a option and if traditional graduate programs in Psychology are not your “cup of tea” then consider becoming a School Psychologist.  This is one field where there is more demand than supply, especially in larger states such as California.

Learn about School Psychology via NASP

The online gaming industry also uses people and analytic skills – both that are stressed in Psychology coursework. This industry is growing by leaps and bounds with many openings cropping up on job boards nationwide.

How to find a job in online gaming, travel, sales, etc?  When seeking a job in Psychology be sure to first update your social media profiles (including securing your privacy settings on anything you don’t want a future employer to know about you.)  Linkedin, Indeed and other career sites have a plethora of online job listings.  I recommend to job seekers to splurge for the premium Linkedin membership during your job search. Uploading profiles on multiple sites widens the possibilities of being seen by potential employers. Don’t forget to highlight your talents. Speak a second language? Be sure to add that to your profile! A whiz in social media or computer programming? Add that, too!

Also don’t forget that  there is a lot to be said about a career in the armed forces.  While not a first choice for some, the military has proven to be an excellent career choice for many.

In closing, while studying Psychology has been thought to be a stepping stone to graduate school and a career as a Psychologist, it doesn’t have to be the only choice.  With a little creative thinking and flexibility you will find an occupation that fulfills you. Good luck!


April 2nd is now recognized as WORLD AUTISM AWARENESS DAY.  Last week statistics hit the news that cited that one of every 88 children born in the United States will be diagnosed with Autism prior to their eighth birthday.  Seriously, this fact took my breath away.  I clearly recall the first time I ever heard the word, AUTISM.  It was back in the 1970’s and not many people knew what it meant.  Fewer had ever seen or worked with a child with Autism.  Talking with phrases “On the Spectrum” or “Having mild autism- Asperger’s- was never heard.

Years later I now not only understand what Autism means but have worked in the trenches with children with Autism for over two decades.  Many of them have secondary disorders, such as Deaf AND Autistic.  I also have acquired a very deep and heartfelt respect for the parents who give to their children unconditionally and would sell their souls to find ways to make their child’s lives easier.  In addition, I cannot give enough Kudos to the educators, therapists and other professionals who work tirelessly to help children “on the spectrum”.

Since my work is “all about education”, I am listing some of my most favorite resources. Not all are dedicated solely to Autism, but if you click on them perhaps you will find information, assistance or some value to the company or organization listed. My apologies in advance for forgetting to mention sites that may have slipped my  mind.  I will be sure to add to the list as the days go on.  AND.. PLEASE  feel free to add to the list in the comments section below of your favorite Autism related materials/ websites/ resources, too. 

As always, thank you for reading!

SPIRIT of AUTISM  – Founded by a mom of a child with Autism and who is a paramedic, Debi Taylor developed the AUTISM TIPS CARD to be used by First Responders in the field.  The goal- keeping children with Autism SAFE and ALIVE.  (Signing Families offers this card at every workshop now)

AUTISM SPEAKS- This is what many consider as the “FACE” of Autism organizations.  Their website is full of great information. Although for some it may be very overhwhelming.

EDUCATION.com  – This website is packed full of information about Autism and much, much more.  From A-Z you can receive information and assistance. I am proud to be a member of Education.com as one of their JustAsk contributors!

AUTISABLE – Blogs, info and more

 THE COFFEE KLATCH I first followed this group on TWITTER (#TCK) and now am a huge fan of all their work, including the TCK website and radio programs.

THE AUTISM NEWS / ZAC BROWSER and more – this is a set of websites constructed by a dad and his teen son with Autism.  Filled with no nonsenese information, as well as games that are helpful for kids on the spectrum.

KABONGO – Interactive methods to teach reading skills. Great for kids who relate virtually. I love this site and you will, too!

KIBOOMU and LISTEN TO ME PLEASE – Music can be a great force to help children learn who have language and social-emotional challenges. These websites are great! Kiboomu offers apps as well.  Listen to me Please has corresponding reading materials, such as their award winning books. Both sites are exceptional and worth more than a glance.

AMAILIA STARR , author of RAISING BRANDON.  So much is written about children who have Autism.  However, not much is scribed about adults with Autism. Here is a book that will tug at your heart strings and give you hope at the same time. I know Amalia personally and am proud to list her here!

AUTISM at LONG BEACH  Soon I will be making the greater Long Beach, California area my home.  I am over the top excited to be working in conjunction with this amazing group of parents, professionals and kids! There model of cooperative education to benefit the children and support parents is exceptional. Check them out! (Bravo to Jane Tipton for creating this group)

KYLES TREEHOUSE  For parents, by parents. This website is full of amazing resources, especially for those searching for information about treatments and accommodations. Love this site! (Note- Jen Westphal went to great lengths to make a resource page that is outstanding. Please peruse it for loads more resources. )

NATIONAL ASSOCIATION FOR SCHOOL PSYCHOLOGISTS  and  WRIGHTS LAW These two websites are premiere for understanding the IEP process and the laws regarding Special Education.

I could be here for hours more typing more resources for you. Instead, I will let you comment below with YOUR favorites.

Thank you, in advance, for contributing to our “community”

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