About The Profession

Want to learn more about the School Psychology profession and field? Here is information from the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP).

Who Should Become School Psychologist

School psychologists can make a positive, lasting difference in children’s lives. They are a vital part of the effort to unlock each child’s potential for success. School psychology is an ideal career for individuals that are interested in:

  • Working directly with children and adolescents
  • Supporting students with mental health needs by providing counseling, skill instruction, and learning and support plans 
  • Assessing and evaluating individual differences to identify intervention strategies
  • Working collaboratively with parents and teachers to support children’s success
  • Changing practices and policies to improve school outcomes
  • Engaging in challenging and diverse activities that change from day to day
  • Using research to inform practices
  • Developing strong team member and leadership skills
  • Promoting appreciation and support for human diversity
  • Demonstrating the highest standards for ethical and professional behavior
  • Helping students thrive at home, in school, and in life

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What Do School Psychologists Do?

School psychologists apply expertise in mental health, learning, and behavior to help children and youth succeed academically, socially, behaviorally, and emotionally. They provide assessment, support, and intervention services to students; partner with families, teachers, and other professionals to create safe, healthy, and supportive learning environments; work with school administrators to improve school-wide policies; and collaborate with community providers to coordinate services for students. They help schools successfully:

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Where Do School Psychologists Work?

The vast majority of school psychologists work in K–12 public schools. They also provide services in a variety of other settings, including:

  • Private and charter schools
  • Preschools and other early childhood settings
  • School district administration offices
  • Colleges and universities
  • School-based health and mental health centers
  • Community-based day treatment or residential clinics and hospitals
  • Juvenile justice programs
  • Independent private practice

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Urgent need for School Psychologists

Demand for school psychologists is exceptionally strong and on the rise. School psychology has consistently been rated among the 100 Best Jobs in U.S. News and World Report. Awareness of the need to provide mental health and instructional supports for children and youth in schools continues to grow. Furthermore, the profession currently faces shortages of qualified school psychologists to fill positions nationwide. There is a particular need for professionals from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. School psychology provides a stable career with growth opportunities, good health and retirement benefits, and an opportunity to positively impact youth and families.

Today’s schools face daunting challenges. School psychologists are at the forefront in trying to fulfill the complex demands of:

  • Keeping children safe from violence
  • Supporting students and teachers in meeting high academic standards
  • Helping students with serious physical and mental disabilities
  • Providing safe and supportive environments for children who may face chaos in other parts of their lives.

The state of Washington, like many other states in the country, faces a serious shortage of school psychologists at a time when the need for their services and skills in schools is greater than ever. 

What Training do School Psychologists Receive?

School psychologists’ training emphasizes using research-based methods, understanding both individual and environmental factors influencing learning and behavior, and individual and systems level interventions. More specifically, school psychologists develop knowledge and skills in areas such as:

  • Data collection and analysis
  • Assessment
  • Resilience and risk factors
  • Consultation and collaboration
  • Academic/learning interventions
  • Mental and behavioral health
  • Instructional support
  • Prevention and intervention services
  • Special education services
  • Crisis preparedness, response, and recovery
  • Family–school–community collaboration
  • Diversity in development and learning
  • Cultural competence
  • Research and program evaluation
  • Professional ethics and school law

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What Credentials Are Required to Practice?

One must hold the proper state-issued credential to practice as a school psychologist in any given state or territory. Specific requirements vary across states. Be sure to check credentialing requirements for the states where you want to work, and use NASP’s resource for state credentialing information. Also, visit the State Credentialing FAQs  and the School Psychology Credentialing Fact Sheet to learn more about school psychology credentialing.

NASP also maintains the NCSP credential. The majority of states now recognize the NCSP as partially or fully meeting state credentialing requirements.

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