Studying in the field
The Occupational Outlook Handbook offers the following description of the school psychology: "school psychologists work in elementary and secondary schools or school district offices to resolve students' learning and behavior problems. They collaborate with teachers, parents, and school personnel to improve classroom management strategies or parenting skills, counter substance abuse, work with students with disabilities or gifted and talented students, and improve teaching and learning strategies. They may evaluate the effectiveness of academic programs, behavior management procedures, and other services provided in the school setting" (Bureau of Labor Statistics). Additionally, cultural diversity affects educators at every level; therefore, the school psychologist also serves to facilitate educators' appropriate responses to such issues affecting our present day educational system.
Graduate level school psychology programs are offered to students at the Masters level, doctoral level, and through graduate certificate programs. Each of these levels determines the school psychologist's permissible role within the educational system. Doctoral level programs prepare students for independent practice and offer eligibility for state licensure. Students are also afforded the opportunity to receive full membership in local, state and national associations. At the Masters level, students are trained to work with teachers, parents, and other professionals working within the educational system, with the chief goal of resolving students' learning and behavior problems. At the certificate level, students are certified as school psychologists, performing similar functions of those at the Masters level. However, the certificate holder is not legally qualified for independent or unsupervised practice and cannot practice within private agencies. Depending on your area of interest, research multiple programs to determine which program will fit your needs.
Job opportunities in the field
School psychologists are currently employed in various educational settings as researchers, teachers or practitioners. Some of these settings include: schools, clinics, community mental health centers, and child or adolescent units of hospitals. Additionally, school psychologists are also employed with child and pediatric services connected to federal, state and municipal agencies.